THE BRAZEN CAREERIST- Job jaunt: How to find an out-of-town job

Here is my advice about job hunting long-distance: Forget it. It's not going to work for most of you, and you'll need to relocate before you get the job. But for a few of you, there's hope, so here's some advice if you must make it work:

1. Pitch yourself as specialized

Most people are relocating from a city that is in low demand to a city that is high demand. For example: Tucson to San Francisco. Employers in San Francisco seldom have to look to Tucson to find specialized help, but employers in Tucson may need to hire someone from San Francisco. So, the first thing about getting a job in a city in which you don't live getting very specialized to boost demand for your services. The idea behind specialization is that you are so good at a very specific thing that people are unlikely to find someone as good as you locally. Sometimes, a good career coach can help you rewrite your resume to focus on a specialty. If you don't have one, a good primer for finding a specialty is reading about the funeral industry, where you have to specialize in something (sometimes weird) in order to survive.

2. Pitch yourself as a big-city catch

Some of you are trying to move the opposite direction: New York City to Tuscaloosa. In that case, you can pitch yourself as having big-city know-how that you can bring to a smaller city. I know from having a company in Madison, Wisconsin that when we hear a star performer from a big city is relocating to Madison, we automatically consider interviewing that person. It's a bias that stems from the fact that competition is so much tougher in big cities that people who have risen to the top are probably worth looking at because we don't see a lot of those people.

3. Get a reality check

If you can't pitch yourself in either of those ways, then you're going to have to relocate before you get a job. Think about it: Why would someone fly you in for an interview when there are plenty of local people who could do the job? It makes no sense.

4. Be amazing at building local networks

If you are still determined to get a job before you move, you should commit a lot of time to building a network. You know that most jobs come from networking. So you need to have a strong network on the ground where you want to relocate. This does not mean inviting 40 people in that city to connect with you on LinkedIn. Those are not the type of connections where the person goes to bat for you. You need a network of people you have real conversations with, and share real ideas with. After a while, these people will care about you and want to help you.

5. Consider your friends and family

Before you relocate for money, consider that the number-one factor for whether or not your next job will improve your happiness is whether you'll be moving closer to friends and family. Because, you already know this, but money does not buy happiness. And, you might not know this, but a job does not make you happy, either. A job can make you unhappy, but once you have the basics of a good job, it's your relationships that make you happy.


Penelope Trunk has started several companies and worked for many more.