Your 20s are arguably the best time to explore and live in a new city for a few months, or even years, to help grow and progress your career. Landing that job, however, can sometimes be harder than expected, especially when you aren’t able to be there in person. Here are six tips to help you find, and land, that out-of-state job.
1. Make lists and prioritize
One of the good things about looking to move is that your need for change is usually location-based rather than being unhappy in your current role. The challenging part about being unhappy about a job is that it can be easy to become desperate for change and take anything you can get. This same desperation can come up when looking to relocate since it can get very defeating and takes commitment if you want to find something you really love.
One of the simplest first steps is to use your current job as a guide. Make a list: what are all of the things you love about your current job? What are the things that you don’t? Then, as you begin to research companies and search for roles, use that list to measure which positions are best for you. It can be easy to fall into rampantly applying to as many jobs as possible, but prioritizing the jobs that are the best fit and spending more time on those applications and cover letters will give you an infinitely better chance than rapid fire resume sending.
Moving to a new place is often such an immense change on its own that it’s important to make sure you find a work environment that gives you a bit of stability. While you might be looking for a specific, new challenge at your current job, think about whether it would still be right in a new job at a new company in a new city. Make sure you’re setting yourself up to succeed and feel happy and comfortable. Looking for a job is hard work — why put yourself through it again in six months?
2. Network, network, network
Networking is always an important part of any job search, but is especially important when applying for a job cross-country. When you find a role that you’re excited about, search your LinkedIn to see if you know anyone that works there. Ask your mutual friend for an introduction via email if it’s appropriate. It’s also a great time to lean on previous managers or coworkers that are in your industry if you plan on staying in the same field. So many of your peers will have come from other companies and have connections in different states, but they’ll also have experienced changing jobs within your field and most importantly might have really helpful advice that is specifically applicable to your industry.
As in any networking situation, be respectful and appropriate of what you ask from different relationships you might have, and follow up. Did you grab coffee with an old manager? Send her a thank you note afterwards and let her know when you land something! If someone is investing their time in you, they should be updated on how things go.
You’d also be surprised with how connected everyone is. It’s easy to think about previous coworkers or connections in the industry you already know, but personal friendships and family members often have great connections as well. So many of my introductions came from chatting over drinks or dinner with friends and mentioning that I was looking for a job or found a role at a specific company that I felt excited about. Often those six degrees of separation are only two or three.
3. Have a safe place
Have a safe place to have phone or Skype interviews that you know you can use when conversations pop up. Perhaps it’s an office, a private meeting booth, or a coffee shop near your office that isn’t bustling with your coworkers.
For interviews scheduled ahead of time, get a sense of your prime time within the time difference. The state I was applying to was three hours ahead, so after work calls wouldn’t work. Calls early in the morning before heading to the office worked great schedule-wise, but I didn’t feel my interview-best first thing in the morning (I’m not a real human until coffee #2). What worked best for me was lunch time interviews in my current schedule. They were also an appropriate time for the companies I was interviewing with. Think about what times make you feel most confident and work best in your schedule so that you have time suggestions ready when asked for them.
4. Be interview ready at a moment’s notice
Have a top in your office or at your desk for Skype calls. I work in the rather casual industry of advertising, so it was incredibly helpful to have a nice top that I felt confident in ready at my office in case an unexpected Skype call came up for that afternoon. It might also be helpful to have a hairbrush in your drawer and a few key makeup products in your bag. Think ahead for anything that might help give you that added confidence boost when an interview might pop up.
It might also be helpful to create a mini pre-interview routine for yourself. When interviewing in person, I’d usually grab a coffee nearby ahead of time to get myself in the mental state to interview. When you’re in the middle of a workday at your current job, it might be a bit more difficult to pull yourself into the mindset of an interview. Have a small, personal routine that works best for you. I would grab a fresh mug of coffee from the kitchen and light my favorite desk candle. I have a friend that holds a “power pose” to increase confidence and reduce stress – imagine standing with your arms held over your head for a minute. Find what works for you and incorporate it into your interview routine.
5. Be extra observant
Although it might feel like a disadvantage to be having so few in-person conversations, there are ways that you can get real temperature gauges of a company’s environment through phone, Skype and even email conversations.
How does the recruiter communicate with you in emails? What are the first questions they ask you? Do the costs to move you seem more of a priority to how well you’d fit in with the team? There were a few companies that made me feel like they were bargaining me down to my lowest possible cost as an employee before we even had an introductory conversation, which helped me determine that these company environments might not be the best fit for me.
When interviewing in person, it’s easier to get a sense of the work environment. If you’re primarily having phone and Skype interviews, make sure you have a question or two that might help you get a sense of the workplace and the aspects that matter most to you. It can be easy to focus on your own presence and how you’re coming off to your interviewer, but try to pay attention to their body language and tone. How do they talk about the role? About the company or work process? It might take a bit more effort than interviewing in person might, but you can still determine many of your work-life questions through a video conference conversation.
6. Be patient
The most important thing with any kind of job search is to remain patient. There might be times where you get so close to having a job you’d love and they find a comparable candidate that already lives there. Be patient, be persistent and continue to reference your list and tap into your networks. Know that there will be some days that are harder than others. Just as you have a pre-interview routine, make sure you also add in some extra self-care when you’re in the middle of looking for a job. It can be such a high stress time period especially when juggling your current job so it’s extra important to carve out time for your favorite yoga class, taking a bubble bath, or whatever your favorite de-stressing activity is. No one wants to hire a stressed out candidate!