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How to approach a small-town job search

Justin Thompson, CareerBuilder Writer

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A lot of career advice targets workers in moderately sized cities who have more access to job opportunities. Rural communities have a limited number of companies and a population competing for fewer jobs. How can a worker from a smaller town make an impression on a company without being a pest?

Job seekers should adapt their job-search strategy depending on the local workforce climate. From there, it comes down to adjusting how you apply for jobs. In some instances, you can take a more out-of-the-box approach to job searching when in a smaller town.

Be unique
"In rural communities, it's sometimes easier to just go directly to the company and apply face to face," says staffing manager Joshua Johnston. "It can create a lasting impression and can help hiring managers attach that impression to the résumé." If that's not an option, you can still stand out, Johnston says. Anything that grabs a hiring manager's attention or makes a lasting impression may get you ahead of the competition.

"One candidate called a pizza delivery service and had them deliver not only a fresh, hot pizza, but a laminated copy of the résumé around 11:15 a.m.," Johnston says. "Ultimately, they really wanted to work for that specific company and wanted to think outside of the box." As unusual as this example is, the tactic is helpful for those who find themselves repeatedly applying to the same company for multiple positions.

Use your networks
Johnston suggests that you reach out to friends, relatives, teachers, former co-workers, acquaintances and even your doctor or dentist to ask if they are aware of any local job vacancies. Telling everyone you know or meet that you're looking for a job can help you with job leads.

In addition, use social networking websites such as LinkedIn to connect with hiring managers at local companies. However, don't use a generic introduction. Personalize your invitation, be creative and be specific about why you're reaching out -- whether it's to make a connection or follow up after submitting an application.

Find your focus
Résumés that aren't tailored to the specific position and lack language from the job requirements usually won't get a second look. Know how to position your résumé to show proof of your experience, instead of including a laundry list of daily duties.

When there are fewer job opportunities in your community, narrow your focus and stop applying for every opening at every company. Be honest about your education, work experience and any supplemental experiences, such as volunteering, and choose the career path in which you'll have the most success.

Look beyond your ZIP code
You can also broaden your job search to include companies across the U.S. that hire telecommuters or allow employees to work offsite. Finding a company not based in your area doesn't necessarily mean that you have to move, so if you do the research, you may be able to find companies that are willing to hire an out-of-town worker.

Justin Thompson is a writer and blogger for and its job blog, The Work Buzz. He researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues.

Last Updated: 31/05/2012 - 5:30 PM

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