By Ashley Stahl, Originally Published in Forbes
Many of the clients I work with are struggling with the decision of whether or not to relocate and how to job search from afar. The most common question I get is, “Do I have to move before I land the actual job?”
It’s a valid question, as it’s undeniably more difficult to job search when you’re not local. However, relocating first poses a financial risk, as there’s no way to know how long it’ll take you to land a job in the new city.
Despite all that, the truth is that you absolutely don’t need to move first. I have helped clients land jobs in different geographic areas all the time — including one who recently landed her dream job in Germany — without moving first, so I can tell you it’s totally doable. Use these five tactics in your job search, and you’ll have no problem landing a job in a new locale without having to take the plunge of moving there first.
- Do your homework. Research the job market in the city you’re excited to move to. Some areas are leaders for certain industries (Silicon Valley for IT, Washington, D.C. for politics and government, manufacturing in the Midwest), so make sure there are jobs available in your field. If you’re not familiar with the city, plan a visit so you can picture yourself living and working there while you’re physically present. The last thing you want to do is put a lot of work into landing a job in a new city only to discover it’s not somewhere you actually enjoy living.
- Target specific companies in the city that you’d like to work for. Make a list of 3-5 ideal companies and get as much information as you can about them and their hiring process. Follow them and interact with them on social media. Reach out to supervisors or hiring managers directly via a private message, introduce yourself, and ask if they have 10 minutes for you to drop by and learn about their inspiring work life next time you’re in town.
- Start building a network there. One of the biggest downsides of leaving your current city is not being able to fully utilize the local network you’ve spent years building. So it’s important to start building the foundation of a new network in your new city. Reach out to friends or family members in the area. Ask if they know anyone in your field they could introduce you to. Use your alumni network to make connections. Get on LinkedIn, particularly their “Groups” feature, to find professionals in your field in the area and introduce yourself.
- Consider whether to remove your address from your resume. There are pros and cons to taking it off. If you remove it, it’s not glaringly obvious that you’re not local, and many recruiters will tell you its fine to take off for privacy reasons. However, removing it could cause recruiters to just assume you’re not local, and if it’s obvious from your work experience that you’re living in another city, it’s a moot point. A possible solution is to use the local address of a close friend or family member, but only if it’s a place you would feasibly be staying for a while once you land a job. Another alternative is to use your current address, but make your commitment to moving during a certain timeframe very clear in your cover letter.
- Be prepared to travel for an interview. Yes, a last-minute flight and hotel will cost you, but don’t get caught up on the costs and the details of planning a whirlwind trip. It’ll still cost you less than moving first and going without a salary for weeks — possibly even months — so fork over the cash and plan a trip if you land an interview. Before you plan out all the details, check to see if there are any networking or social events being held during the time you’ll be in town so you can do some networking and get more bang for your buck. Plus, you can add the dates of your travels to your cover letter so prospective employers will know that you’re available during that time if they want to meet with you.
It’s important to manage your expectations during the process. Finding the right job takes time in the best of circumstances, and searching from a different location may take longer than the standard search, but people land solid offers in new cities all the time.
If you get discouraged, just remember my client who’s at her dream job in Germany, a job she scored from 7,000 miles away and a few informational Skype call requests. Have a little patience and persistence, you’ll find yourself on that one-way flight in no time.