They say there’s no place like home, but if you find that your career opportunities are limited where you live, it may be time to start looking for work out of state.
There are tradeoffs whenever you move to a new state. You’ll be giving up close connections with friends and business contacts. On the positive side, moving can lead to unexpected opportunities.
“Don’t be afraid to start over,” said Michelle London, a former Chicago resident who works as an innkeeper in Brenham, TX, “It’s an adventure, but it has been very rewarding.”
London left Chicago 5 1/2 years ago after losing a job as an event planner. She found a new job in the hospitality industry by searching for positions online. At age 50 she took a leap of faith, leaving Chicago to accept a job in the Southwest.
Looking to follow in her footsteps? Here are seven tips for finding a job in another state:
1. Look Beyond Online
It’s tempting to search for work exclusively online. Job search websites will send your resume to companies looking for workers with your background. Some websites will provide applications for jobs that match your credentials. While it sounds easy, relatively few jobs actually are filled in this manner, said K.C. Anderson, a career coach in Portland, OR. She advises her clients to contact potential employers directly.
2. Be Prepared to Pay For Your Own Move
It’s a mistake to expect out-of-state employers to pay your relocation costs, said Seattle-based recruiter Paul Freed. Companies tend to hire locally. You’ll have a better chance at finding a job if prospective employers don’t realize you’re not actually living in their community.
“If a company isn’t paying for relocation and they see an out of town address, you will not be considered,” he said.
He recommends that you find a local address you can use on your resume. You may be able to use a friend’s address or rent a post office box in the community you’re interested in.
3. Network With Out-of-state Contacts
Many people find out-of-state jobs through professional networking, which can lead to referrals. Employers are more likely to consider your application if you are referred to them by someone they know.
Business networking websites like LinkedIn allow you to identify and reach out to potential employers and other people in your profession.
“Connect with folks in the place you want to relocate to and ask for intros to well-connected people in the city,” said Jordan Wan, the CEO of the CloserIQ sales recruiting platform.
4. Develop a Strategy
After you contact potential employers, be sure to follow up with them. Brittany King, a recruiter based in Houston, recommends the following strategy for contacting prospective employers out of state:
- First identify 30 to 40 target companies you’d like to work for in the state you plan to move to.
- Send the companies brief introductory letters. Outline who you are and the kinds of jobs you’re interested in. To make sure you’re noticed, she recommends using the U.S. Postal Service to send your letters.
- Follow up by mailing the companies your resume.
- Make phone calls to ask when you can discuss job opportunities in detail.
5. Start Saving
It won’t do you any good to find an out-of-state job if you don’t have enough cash to finance your move.
You may need to pay for a rental truck or a professional moving company to get your possessions to a new city. Unless you plan to crash with friends, you’ll also need to money for housing.
Valerie Streif, who mentors job candidates in San Francisco, says setting money aside ahead of time will reduce the stress of moving. Starting over in a new town “is not a cheap endeavor,” she said.
6. It’s Okay to Say ‘No’
It may be hard to envision yourself turning down an offer of employment, but it happens, said Crystal Marsh, a career coach with offices in New York and Los Angeles. You may be asked to fill a job that doesn’t truly interest you.
“You have to be willing to say ‘no’ if it’s not the right thing for you,” she said. “If you see red flags, if you meet people who are unhappy there, those are good reasons to say ‘no’ to a job.”
7. Don’t Move Before You Get a Job
Finding an out-of-state job requires patience. Anderson said moving out-of-state before you actually land a job can be risky.
“You are likely to be looking at three to six months of unemployment,” she said.
If you’re not prepared to be unemployed, keep working at your present job until you find a new one.