How to Launch a Successful Job Search in a New City

ImageEd. note:  This is a guest post from Jodi Glickman as part of our Career Series. Jodi is a regular blogger for the Harvard Business Review, contributor to Fortune.com and author of the book “Great on the Job.”  

Finding a job in today’s market is daunting enough, even with friends and family cheering you on. But moving cross-country and looking for a job at the same time — it’s enough to throw any sane person over the edge. Launching a job search in a new city is undoubtedly harder than finding a new gig in your hometown, but today you’ve got more resources to help make the transition smooth, seamless and successful.  Here are 8 things to keep in mind as you load up your VW, board that plane, or head for the other coast…

1. Know Why You’re Moving

Ask yourself the tough (or obvious) questions and be straight with yourself.  Are you making a lifestyle choice, (Boulder anyone?) moving to be close to friends and family, or making a career change? Any of these factors will likely impact your job prospects and earning power post-move.  Whatever the case, be honest with yourself about the reality of the situation and adjust your expectations accordingly.

2. Get to Know Your new City

Start reading the local papers online and find some niche blogs that speak to you. Research the business drivers in your new city—is your destination a high tech zone, like Silicon Valley; a booming college-town like Austin, Texas or a burgeoning start-up community like Chicago? How robust is the local economy? Are you moving to Bismark, ND (3.8 % unemployment) or Detroit (10.8% unemployment)?  Take into account the strength of the local economy as you factor in how long your job search will actually take.

3. Tell the World you’re Moving!  

Update your LinkedIn profile with your headline — “moving to Minneapolis — looking for a new job in consumer products.”  Post your new status on Google+, Twitter, Facebook — and any other social networking sites you use. Send personal messages to your trusted LinkedIn connections and let people know you’re coming to town. A cross-country move is a great excuse to reach out to former colleagues or classmates and ask for assistance with introductions, informational interviews, or job leads.

4. Leverage Your Network 

It’s time to leverage your network and start building new relationships. Use LinkedIn Groups to find like-minded job seekers or networking groups in your new city. The Groups Directory page will give you suggestions of groups to join or allow you to search by keyword or category. And don’t underestimate the power of your alumni network. My Cornell alumni page on LinkedIn is a treasure trove of information — it gives me an incredible dashboard that tells me where fellow alumni live, who they work for and what they do. In a single snapshot, I can tell who is working in business development in the San Francisco Bay Area and presto — I’ve got my target list of people to reach out to to find a biz dev job in that city.

For the more adventurous who want to take networking offline, consider joining an in-person MeetUp group. The Portland Job Seekers Group, for example, hosts regular networking and recruiting events around town.

5. Ask for Help

Once you’ve tapped into your network, old and new, go ahead and take the plunge— ask for the help you need. People relish being the expert on their city and enjoy helping friends and acquaintances find their footing in a new locale. Ask your friends, friends of friends, friends’ parents— who they know who can help your cause. Be as specific as possible in your requests for help.  Do you want contacts in digital media and entertainment or are you looking for informational interviews with consumer products professionals in Cincinnati?

I recently spoke to a job seeker who’s moving to Chicago from New York City.  Micah relies extensively on both her alumni network and LinkedIn community—asking her growing network for help with everything from putting her in touch with local headhunters, making introductions to contacts at financial services firms, even recommending pre-schools for her toddler.

6. Make the Job Search Work for You

There’s absolutely too much information out there to sift through. Instead, make your job search work for you by using the advanced search function in LinkedIn Jobs and searching jobs by keyword, zip code, date posted and more, so that you are only seeing the most relevant and interesting jobs. You’ll also have the ability to see who you’re connected to at respective employers, giving you a great leg up to learn more about a specific company or position. You can also create saved searches and email alerts when new jobs are posted that meet your criteria.

For even more help creating a personalized job search tool, check out Lindsey Pollak’s recent post on curating your own personal job search feed, which gives you great tips on setting up personalized job search alerts from all of your favorite job search sites.

7. Expect to Fail (a little bit….)

Don’t get discouraged if you don’t find a job immediately.  There are bound to be bumps and bruises along the way, so plan for hiccups.  Stay busy.  Job search in coffee shops so that you’re not home alone feeling blue.  Get a part-time job or volunteer to get to know people and become engaged in your new community.  Whatever you’re hoping to accomplish, assume it will take longer than expected.

8. Pay it Forward

Finally, reach out and thank all of those who helped you along the way.  Close the loop and let people know how things turned out. And of course, think about how you can return the favor and pay it forward.  Who can you help with a job search or write a LinkedIn recommendation for?  How can you give back to your new (or old) community?  Keep your good fortune in mind the next time someone asks you for a job lead or think about what you can do to help a friend who’s recently been laid off.

Let us know what your job search experience has been by sharing your experiences @linkedin

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One Comment on “How to Launch a Successful Job Search in a New City”

  1. Jean Baur Says:

    Awesome article and very helpful. As a career coach and author it’s nice to see practical information that’s well written!


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