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Advice / Job Search / Finding a Job

This Is the Best Way to Go About an Out-of-Town Job Search

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You’re moving to a new city! You might be experiencing mixed emotions—a ball of excitement, anxiety, and uncertainty wouldn’t be an inaccurate description.

Couple the stress of a move with that of a job search in an unfamiliar place where you may not know anyone, and your anxiety level has skyrocketed before you’ve even begun.

Take it from someone who’s relocated four times in the past 10 years, quickly landing great opportunities with each move: I promise you that you, too, can do this. It’ll take effort and energy, but persevere and it’ll pay off.

That means instead of sending perfectly tailored resumes and cover letters into the digital abyss, try this practical and effective approach.

1. Create a List of Companies

The first step is all about research. Familiarize yourself with the industry landscape in your new area. Your goal is to create a list of 20-30 potential employers in the city.

Begin with identifying companies in your field that you’re familiar with.

  • Utilize LinkedIn’s keyword search function. For example, if you’re looking for a nonprofit job in Nashville, TN, use keywords “nonprofit in Nashville.” If any employer piques your interest, add it to your list. Don’t spend too much time researching the company at this point. You don’t want you to get bogged down and lose momentum.
  • Find out where alumni are working: Check your alma mater’s career center for information about local employers that recruit in your new city.
  • Do a quick online job search. No need to research postings yet—at this stage, you’re just building out your list of organizations.

2. Find Your Connections

Now that that’s all set, add a new column for potential contacts. LinkedIn will be your best friend during this step. On a company’s page, you’ll be able to view first, second, or third degree contacts you may have at the organization.

A second-degree connection is the furthest distance I recommend establishing, however. Going beyond that won’t likely result in a meaningful connection. Unsure of what to say? These 10 templates tell you exactly what to write in this outreach message.

Expert tip: You’ll be able to add a lot more contacts to your list by seeking out alumni in the area. Making this connection makes people feel nostalgic, and they’re almost always willing to help. (This article walks you through how to do this.)

In addition, you should also consider reaching out to people who work at your dream companies, as well as professionals in the same LinkedIn groups as you.

3. Network Like It’s Your Job

Now that you have your list, it’s time to network like there’s no tomorrow. Given that 80% of jobs are found through connection, this is truly where the bulk of your time should be spent.

Keep in mind though: The last vibe you want to give off is that of the desperate job seeker.

The great news is that you’re in a unique and advantageous networking position. You’re new to town, looking to build your network, and learn more about the local industry—you literally have the best reason around to connect.

Below’s a great example of an email reaching out to a fellow alum that could easily be tweaked to a non-alumni contact.

Dear Alexandra,

I received your contact information from the University of Virginia alumni network. Go Hoos! I see that you are in public relations. I’ve been working in PR for the past several years currently at Bose Corporation in Boston. I am relocating to the DC area soon. I would be grateful for the opportunity to ask you a few questions about your path in PR.

I realize that you likely have a very busy schedule. I am hoping that you might have 15 minutes to chat. I’d be happy to bring coffee to your office or meet somewhere convenient for you. Please let me know if you have availability after July 20th.

Thank you very much in advance.

Sarah Johnston

Getting face time with any contact is ideal, but given these are busy professionals, take what you can get. And, of course, if you’re more of an introvert, you might prefer to keep the exchange on email. Either way, try to obtain one new contact each time you meet. A simple: “Is there anyone else you’d suggest I connect with” works.

4. Follow-up

In addition, always remember to send thank you emails to anyone who goes out of their way to help you. Then, stay in touch with your contacts and update them on your progress, it’s an easy way to stay on their radar.

Like I said in the beginning, this isn’t going to be a walk in the park. Job searching (no matter what your situation) is hard work. But I really did mean it when I said that you have an awesome reason to reach out to strangers right now. You’ll not only get closer to landing a great position, but you’ll also get a chance to ask all the other important questions: Where’s the best place to get cheap eats? What’s the most fun activity you’d recommend for newbies? And anything else you’re interested in learning from local experts.