People often ask me how to land a job in a different city. Some had given up on finding work in their community. Others want to pursue a new adventure, be closer to a loved one, or find a better paying position elsewhere. Many just want to expand their job search to a wider area.

Regardless of their reason, I give them the same advice: Establish yourself as a local, even if you don’t yet live in your target city. Why? Many companies prefer to hire locally to avoid transportation and relocation expenses and the risks involved in hiring someone who may decide not to move after all.

To compete successfully against locals for out-of-town jobs …

  1. Research target cities and select the one that best fits your lifestyle, career aspirations, comfort level, family situation, and income. Target a city that has lower unemployment in your field than your current community. Conduct such research online, through your local library or by speaking with current or former residents of the target city.
  2. Firm up your relocation plans including your move time frame, strategy, and budget.
  3. Learn about companies in the target area through sites like Hoovers, D&B, Glassdoor, or Jobitorial. Research nonprofits through Charity Navigator or Charity Watch.
  4. Sign up for geographic-specific job sites. Quintessential Careers has an extensive list. You can also receive job alerts for openings in your target city through well known national job sites such as Monster and Indeed.
  5. Establish a local address to use on application materials. Use a friend’s or family member’s address (with their permission) or rent a mail box at a local Mail Boxes Etc., or similar company. If you opt not to establish a local address, make it clear on your application materials when you will be moving to the city.
  6. Be ready to handle requests for immediate in-person interviews. Since you are portraying yourself as a local, company representatives may assume that you can attend in-person interviews easily. Prepare now how to relay how soon you CAN meet with them or offer options for how you can meet with them sooner by video conference (Skype) or phone. Have a general understanding of flight times and airfare and/or drive time to your target city now so that you won’t stumble for words when setting up an interview.
  7. Sign up to receive local news (such as a local newspaper’s daily e-news blasts and the local Business Journal) to learn what’s going on in the community and about target companies. Also read the news sections of target company web sites.
  8. Join locally-focused LinkedIn groups, particularly job seeking and networking groups and groups related to your field. Participate in discussions and establish mutually beneficial relationships with members.
  9. Look through your LinkedIn connections’ connections list to find people who live in your target city. Ask your connections to introduce you to them through the LinkedIn Get Introduced feature. Learn about the city and the best places to live, work, etc.) from your new local acquaintances. A simple way to perform this tip is to go to the Advanced People Search page on LinkedIn and type one of the city’s zip codes into the Postal Code box. Your 1st, 2nd, and 3rd degree connections in that city should appear in the search results.
  10. Use the LinkedIn “Follow companies” feature to follow companies in your target city so you can learn about their new job postings and recent hires and departures. Simply click the Companies tab and then Search Companies. Type a company name into the Search for Companies box or click the blue Search Companies link to refine your search by location, size, industry, and relationship to you. By taking this step, you can easily follow dozens or even hundreds of companies in your target city. Information about companies you elect to follow will appear in your LinkedIn Network Updates along with all of your other updates on your home page, or you can click the Company tab to just view updates from your target companies. Research the company’s LinkedIn company page, as well as its web site, before interviews.
  11. Seek phone interviews to establish rapport with target companies. If they become well acquainted with you, they will be much more likely to arrange an in-person interview with you.
  12. Visit your target city to make sure it is right for you. Set up informational or referral interviews in advance. Stay long enough in your target town to accommodate second interviews.
  13. Take a class at a local college and make it clear on your application materials that you are doing so, even if it is through distance learning. By being enrolled, you can access the school’s career center resources. It also helps you sound more local.
  14. Consider using a recruiter. Select someone who specializes in your field and your target city.
  15. Join local associations and organizations. Assist them with projects even if from a distance. For example, help them write articles for their web site or e-newsletter or assist them in creating their membership directory by selling ads by phone or handling the design of the directory. Get to know members through LinkedIn groups, phone calls, etc. Particularly try to network with people within your target companies. Let everyone you interact with know you are seeking work in their city.
  16. Let it be known if you are not seeking interview transportation and relocation expenses. Some interested companies may willingly cover such expenses for highly qualified candidates in sought after positions, but many companies prefer to hire less costly local candidates. Quintessential Careers has a different and equally valid perspective about letting hiring companies know this information.
  17. Consider temping or doing contract work while looking for work in your new city, but resist taking a lower level position or a job that is not related to your field, lest you get pigeon holed into long-term work that you don’t want. View staffing agencies / contract companies at the bottom of this job site list.
  18. Most importantly, make it clear to hiring companies that you are:
    • The most qualified for the job
    • Committed to making the move
    • Worth the risk and expense over local candidates
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Prepare well to seek jobs in other cities … after all; it can help you Get a Job!

What tips or comments do you have about job seeking in another city?

Share them via the Comments box or the Contact Us tab and if can be of help to you, let me know. Invite me to connect on LinkedIn. I will accept and then feel free to ask questions.