In the 1800s, job-seekers were exhorted to ‘Go West, Young Man.’
In these recessionary times, it’s become ‘Go Anywhere, Young Man.’
As the unemployment rate climbs and it takes longer to find a job, more people are being forced to consider relocation to a new town for better job opportunities.
In fact, if you’ve been job-hunting for a while, you’ve likely expanded your search to cities far enough away that you’d have to make a move.
However, this long-distance job search can only go so far – travel expenses for interviews can add up, and you miss out on crucial face-to-face networking opportunities.
Plus, employers don’t want to pay relocation costs, so they’re less willing to talk to someone from out of town. Also, an out-to-town hire can take a while to start work, and there’s always the possibility the candidate will get cold feet and back out.
That said, moving to a new city without a job can be downright terrifying: you don’t have a regular income stream, and you won’t have as many friends or family nearby.
Still, a job’s a job.
If you want to move to a new town to help your job search, here are some ways to maximize your chances for success, while leaving some wiggle room in case it doesn’t work out — it’s not about taking a risk, it’s taking a calculated risk.
1. A cushion
Budget at least 8 months’ worth of expenses, including deposits for an apartment and rent.
The need for savings is obvious, but don’t forget the confidence factor: Getting a job is a lot about confidence, and having a nice financial cushion will help you come across as more confident (and less desperate) to a prospective employer.
It will also let you job-hunt without having to pick up a part-time job – you can throw yourself 100% into looking for a job in your field.
2. Using that couch?
If you have any friends or relatives in the town you’re looking to move to, ask if you can crash at their place for awhile. You might be surprised about how willing people are to help, particularly in this economy.
Not only will this allow you to save money, it will also give you more time to look for your own place eventually – don’t rely on the kindness of friends and family for too long.
One of the first things you should do when you get to a new place is open a bank account. You don’t want to fritter away your precious savings on ATM fees, and it’s much easier dealing with a local bank should you have issues with your account. You also might be able to find deals for people opening a new account.
And if you’re looking for rental housing, having a local bank will put a landlord more at ease.
4. Plant light roots
You’re more likely to rent than buy at your new place, so make sure you understand any ramifications from breaking a lease, just in case things don’t work out.
Also, consider keeping a storage space in your old town. This will lessen your need for a big apartment, while also helping you save on your moving costs.
This is also a good time to do an inventory of the possessions in your life, and whether you really need them – will you ever wear that high school letterman jacket again?
5. Plan B
Think about money-making opportunities if you don’t find a job right away. Consider part-time work in retail or any other field that you have experience in. If you frequent any retail shops regularly, get friendly with the staff in case you ever need to ask about work.
However, don’t plan out TOO far in advance. Life has many twists and turns that you can’t anticipate, so be careful of over-planning.
Now that you’re on the ground, go go go – meet as many people as you can, join networking groups, industry groups, and attend any social media meet-ups you can find for the area.
When you meet people, be clear about why you moved, and what kind of job you’re looking for.
Remember: Finding a job is now your job, and networking is the best way to do that.
7. Get to Know the Town
Your time there shouldn’t be all work. Get involved socially – play recreational sports, find some hobbyist groups, join a church or synagogue.
Hopefully you’ve chosen a town that you’ve always wanted to live in. Get out and enjoy it – feeling more optimistic about your new home will make you more optimistic and confident in your job-search.
8. Start a Blog
Start writing about your adventures in your new town, and writing about issues in your field. You can impress potential employers with your attitude, your knowledge of the field, and your gumption at starting a whole new life in a brand new city.
And remember to keep it local. Blogging about local events and Tweeting with the locals will introduce you to people who can help you with the job search.
9. Talk to Those Who’ve Been in Your Shoes
You’re not the first person who’s made this kind of leap. Look for other people who’ve made similar moves, and talk to them about their experience.
Just knowing that someone else did this before – and succeeded at it – will make you feel better.
10. Taxing time
Don’t forget that some job-hunting expenses are deductible, as are moving costs in certain situations. Find out what you might be eligible for come tax-time, and make sure you save receipts for documentation.
If you’ve had some taxable income in the year, getting a fat rebate will be a welcome influx of cash.