Improving Your Chances for Success on a Long-Distance Search

By Ellis Chase

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I often hear from people who want to relocate - some want to stay in the same field, others are looking for a career change -but can’t figure out how to expedite a long distance job search.

Their questions are usually along the lines of:

How can I keep my current job and still search somewhere else?

Is an out-of-area address an immediate rejection?  

How do I network in a place where I don’t yet know anyone?

Conducting a job search long distance isn’t easy. But often clients go about it in some low probability ways - sending out resumes before they're requested, asking for leads before laying the ground work. When they don't get immediate results, their frustration can create a problem all by itself. They lose perspective. They want this whole thing to end fast, and end NOW. But like any job search, it's still going to be a process, when you do it right. And it’s a lot of work.  

The following four points can help improve your odds at landing a job in a new location.  

1. The Out-of-State Address

First, let's get rid of that address problem. It’s true that adding the possible relocation expense might be a problem for a prospective employer - although you will try to negotiate that when you get an offer.  

Many of the people I've worked with have, as a matter of course, dropped addresses from resumes. It seems to be a trend among younger members of the job force. An email address seems to be enough. A telephone number with an out-of-state area code doesn't seem to be a problem anymore; people take their cell numbers with them everywhere they move. So... no home address necessary.

2. Understand Networking

Second, you need to fully understand what networking is. It is not just asking everyone you know if they know of openings or jobs. That's a sure-fire way of scaring them off, because people feel guilty when they have to say, "No, not at this moment." And that means you've burned through a contact, making it difficult to stay in touch. 

Networking is all about maintaining relationships over a period of time, a form of indirect marketing – not cornering your valuable connections and pressuring them into a yes/no answer (usually no).

The point is to build business relationships, maintain them by staying in touch, so that when your contacts hear of appropriate situations, you’re on their mind. That's how the vast majority of people find jobs, either by circumstance or by design.  

3. Set Up Phone Meetings

Since you can't be constantly travelling to your intended destination, you set up phone meetings instead of in-person meetings. They may be a little less effective than personally meeting others, but if you cultivate the relationships through following up regularly, you can make that relationship work. 

In addition, if you find some of your targeted people are amenable, you might say to several that you will be in the area during the week of ____________, and hope that you could meet them in person. Believe it or not, this works better, most of the time, than asking someone in your home area for a more open-ended time slot.  

4. Use LinkedIn

For building networks in an area where you don't know many in your profession -- try LinkedIn groups. Assuming your profile is up-to-date and promotes your skill set well, look under "Interests" on the top of the home page. There is a subset called "Groups". Then, look for affinity groups. Punch in your field and see what comes up. Maybe a professional group you’ve already joined. Maybe 10 others that are related. Maybe one in your intended geographical area. Join. Get involved in the online conversations. If someone sounds interesting and knowledgeable, try to link in (with a personal invitation, not the LinkedIn template). If he/she responds, then perhaps you write a skillful introductory (brief) email requesting a short conversation because you're researching the market in their area and want to learn more about it.  

It always comes back to: Technique, Discipline and Consistency

This is just a beginning. Clearly, there's much more you can do. I can think of a recently published book (mine!) you might read which will thoroughly take you through the process - In Search of the Fun-Forever Job: Career Strategies That Work, on Amazon. 

Looking for work long distance is eminently doable, even with the tough market conditions. Great search technique, coupled with discipline and consistency, will usually trump the difficult market.

Or pick up a copy of Networking: How to Make the Connections You Need to get the short course on how to make the contacts that lead to the job you want. 

Image courtesy of phanlop88 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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