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Advice / Job Search / Finding a Job

5 Secrets for Finding a Job in a New City

I live in Portland, Oregon. We’re one of those towns filled with transplants because everyone wants to live in Portland (or so it seems).

I did, in the worst way.

I’m a Detroit girl by heritage, who fell in love with Portland about 15 years ago and finally made my westward pilgrimage a few years back.

I was lucky. Jobwise, I simply unplugged my office in the Midwest, toted everything across the country, and plugged the operation back in once I hit the coast.

But how about those of us who want or need to make a geographic leap, but need to find a new job as part of that transition? It’s not always super easy. In fact, it can be a downright pain in the rear if you’re not thoughtful and, at times, a bit crafty, in how you go about the hunt.

On that note, here are five ways to hunt for a job in a new location, when you’re not yet there.

1. Consider Setting Your LinkedIn Profile Location to Your Desired Geography, Not Your Current

If the move is pending, and you’re able to search sans secrecy, you may want to act as if you’re already in the new city. This way, if a recruiter or hiring manager conducts a zip code-based search for someone with your qualifications on LinkedIn, you have a shot at turning up in the search results. Again, don’t do this if you need to conduct the search secretly, or if you are really only moving to that town if some great job comes along. But if you can search openly as you prepare for the move, definitely change the location.

2. Join LinkedIn Groups Specific to Your Desired Geography

LinkedIn Groups have made it insanely easy to connect with professionals living in your geography of interest and working in the same industry sector as you. Most major metropolitan areas have groups that will be both geographically and industry focused (e.g., Portland Accounting and Finance Professionals, or San Francisco Fashion Industry Professionals). Once you’re in these groups, pay attention (and contribute) to the discussions going on, search for people working at companies that interest you, and, for heaven’s sake, introduce yourself to those you’d like to know.

An important side note: If your current employer or colleagues don’t know you’re looking to move, you may wish to hide the logos of these groups from your profile. You can do this in your settings.

3. Pick Out 3-5 Companies You’d Really Like to Work for, and Set a Plan to Get Noticed

Big moves are the perfect times for big courage. Don’t just sit back and wait for the job to pop up on Go after the companies you’d most like to work for. Build a proactive, strategic plan that will help get you on the radar of your dream company. Endear yourself to a couple of people on the inside (LinkedIn—also perfect for this). Let them know you’re coming and what you can bring to that organization. Honest to Pete, throw caution to the wind and find what you want out there.

4. Make the Move Clear in Your Cover Letter

Employers sometimes get nervous when someone from out of town applies for their open position, because they don’t know if you’ll expect relocation dollars. They also worry that you may just be wallpapering the earth with a variation of this same cover letter. To assuage these fears, you want to make it very clear right out of the gates that you’re moving to that specific location, and that you have a solid reason for wanting and planning this move.

Try a lead that spells it out quickly, before you get into the heart of your letter, like this:

Dear Joel,

As my family prepares for our cross-country relocation to Boston…

Simple. Clear.

5. Sleuth Out a Recruiter in the New Geography, Especially One Who Specializes in Your Field

Recruiters are always looking for fresh meat. Yes, you’re the meat, but in the best of ways. If you’ve got mad skills (which, of course you do) in a particular sector, search for a recruiter working in your industry, in your town of interest. At worst, that person will probably be able to give you a “lay of the land” for how the job market looks in that geography. At best, you’re the match they’ve been hoping would come along.

And being a perfect match for something great is never a bad way to kick off life in your dream location.

Photo of perosn at airport courtesy of Shutterstock.