Jobs are tricksy bastards — hard-to-get at the best of times and seemingly even more adept at melding into the wallpaper the more desperate you are to find them.
I mean, think of the contradictory truisms that accompany talk of a job search: it’s easier to find a job if you already have one — but the job search should be your full-time job. I guess the takeaway from that is if you’re going to be laid off, use the time while you’re still employed to find a new job, while doing just enough work to ensure you still get a good reference.
And it all becomes even more true whe you start looking for a job outside your geographic area. Brazen Careerist Penelope Trunk’s advice for the long-distance job search is: don’t do it. Or at least, only do it if you’ve got something really special to offer and a support network on the ground.
That said, a layoff is a good time to relocate, if that’s what you’ve been wanting to do, especially if you have a severance package to cover some of your inevitable startup costs. But if you’re like me, you won’t want to move and then start looking for work; you won’t commit to the move until an employer has committed to you. I’m not saying that’s the best way to go — if I’d had less of a security fetish I’d probably be somewhere in Montreal right now, living the boho, louche life of a francophone intellectual. Woulda coulda shoulda…
The long-distance job search is a tough slog but that doesn’t mean it can’t be done. In the end, it’s not all that different, in its essentials, from the at-home search. You identify your preferred geographical location (in a perfect world), research the current job market, identify potential employers there, do your homework on the companies, find a contact and introduce yourself to them, via letter or email. And then follow up with a call.
Ideally, you’d have contacts in the place where you want to go, so tap your networks, because you never know — someone might know someone there. And again, ideally, you’d move somewhere that you already had contacts, that makes life in general, and not just the job search, a lot easier.
In a perfect world, a prospective employer will be blown away by your CV and cover letter, will want you on the spot and will pay for you to come out in order to give you the hard sell on the job. That’s unlikely to happen, just so’s you know. More likely, you’ll have to decide when to make the trip to your chosen city and pay for it yourself. One way to go about it is to send out your cold-call letters, follow up with a phone call and say you’re planning to be in town on such-and-such a date, could you come by for a chat? It shows a willingness on your part to make the move. And face-to-face is the best way to sell yourself.
Going on your own dime has its benefits too — you get an opportunity to explore the city your way, to see if it’s a place that you could live in or if maybe it’s best admired from a distance, or as a tourist. Some great tourist towns are less attractive to the locals.
As always, research, research, research, know what you want and then go get it.