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By now you've read every bit of advice that explains how to make yourself more attractive to employers. You know to clean up your online profiles, update your résumé, practice your interview answers, and network. But what if you're looking for a job in a different time zone?
Long-distance job hunts bring with them a special set of requirements that can seem daunting at first, but aren't all that much worse than a regular job search. With a little planning, you can conduct a long-distance job search that will land you a job in any city you want.
Hunting for a job in a single city is difficult. Hunting for one in all 50 states is virtually impossible. Rather than approach your job search as a nationwide Easter egg hunt, decide what cities you want to focus on. Although you might be open to any location that will offer you a job, you should make a list of five or 10 cities where you can see yourself working. For example if you hate to drive and love cold winters, then you should probably cross Los Angeles off of your list.
Know the job market
When you're looking at potential locations for your job search, do some research on the local economy. Not all cities offer the same opportunities. Although you know that local unemployment rates differ from city to city, remember that industry vitality is just as diverse. One city might have a low unemployment rate, but your industry isn't necessarily enjoying the same boom. Look at data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and peruse newspapers for localized information.
Use your network
The glory of social media is that networks aren't confined by geography anymore. Look at your Facebook friends and you probably know people in dozens of states, if not countries. Use your contacts from all of your social media profiles to publicize your job search and ask for any information that could guide you toward the right opportunity. When it comes to job hunting, you can't ever have too many people looking for jobs on your behalf.
Brush up on your phone skills
Phone interviews typically come before any in-person interview, but the likelihood of them increases greatly when you're searching long distance. In most cases, employers won't expect you to fly out for a first-round interview, so a phone interview is most common, and you shouldn't take it lightly. Practice speaking at a calm pace, be certain your phone signal is strong and do a few dry runs with a friend.
Perhaps most importantly, job seekers are often afraid to appear impolite when interviewers call and say, "Sure, I can talk right now." If you are caught off guard or if you are in the middle of feeding your children and doing laundry, you can be honest. Even if you ask for 15 minutes to go to a quieter room, you want to create the best setting for your interview.
Decide if you'll travel for an interview
Sometimes you'll get to a second or third round of interviews when the employer wants to meet you in person. Sometimes the company pays for travel, but other times they don't. Set a few ground rules for yourself in order to determine what opportunities you consider worth your time and money. Also, if asked to travel, find out as much information as possible about so that you can make the arrangements that work best for you. See what dates are available (so you can book the most affordable flight) and how long the process takes (so you know if you can fly home that day and save hotel fare). You want to know as much as possible beforehand so you can make the most informed decision possible.
Relocating for a job is a big move that can pay off for your career, but it can also require sacrifices. Leaving behind your friends, paying for the move, and spending the time on the move itself all require a lot of energy. You want to be certain the city you're moving to is worth it, so if you haven't visited in a while or ever, find a way to visit before you move. Not only will you find out if the culture is right for you, but you will also get a better idea of the layout. You could realize that you should extend your job search to nearby suburbs or towns, which can open up a new set of possibilities.
Know your own relocation plan
The most important part of your long-distance job search is having a flexible game plan. Without a job offer, you might not have a definitive move date, but you should have an idea of what is possible in case you get an offer. Employers know you're not a local candidate, so they will want to know how soon you can start and when you plan to be in the city.
If you get an offer and then say you need time to put your house on the market, find a good school for your children, and decide where you want to live, you'll probably lose out on the opportunity. Most employers understand the complexity of a long-distance job search, but they don't have six months to wait for you, either. A flexible plan allows you and the employer to negotiate a mutually agreeable start date while also showing that you're serious about relocating.Anthony Balderrama is a writer and blogger for CareerBuilder.com and its job blog, The Work Buzz. He researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues.
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