So, you’ve made the decision to relocate to another city to pursue your career, but you haven’t quite decided yet where to go. You may have several ideas, but you still need to narrow those choices down. In order to make the best decision for you and your career, you’re going to need to do a lot of research, and, more importantly, keep track of that research. By making a chart or a spreadsheet that collects not only the information you’ve gathered, but also tracks your communications with various companies, you’ll be able to make an informed decision about what the next best step for you to take would be.
In order to fill that chart with information, there are two main variables to consider: Which city should you focus on, and which companies in those cities would be the best place to pursue your career.
Most people I meet have a diversified set of interests when it comes to their careers, so it’s not uncommon for job-seekers to consider multiple locations simultaneously. You should probably give preference to cities where you have a support system in place; look for locations where you have friends or family that you can stay with for a short exploratory visit, or perhaps even until you get yourself situated in your new city. If they can’t put you up, then they can at least show you how to make your way around town.
Your professional connections are important too. These are the people that can direct you to companies of interest and introduce you to people who are already working in your field.. Understandably such a support system will not always be in place for everyone and you may find yourself having to start from scratch, but don’t let the lack of an existing network discourage you. No matter what the case, everyone must invest time and energy in building personal and professional contacts. Although this may seem like a daunting task at first, your Career Development Advisor can give you some advice and direction on the best ways to go about establishing these contacts.
Now that you have collected your target cities, it is time to identify companies of interest within those cities. For this task, industry directories and phone listings, e.g. the Yellow Pages – yes, the Yellow Pages – are immensely useful. This step requires sincere and candid consideration on your part. Add only those companies that you fully intend to contact by phone, and connect with in-person. Email campaigns alone do not count, as they are only one part of an all-inclusive job search campaign. Of course, you should also use the Career Development department as a resource, as we can help you identify companies in your field in many different cities and provide assistance with searching various industry databases.
As you grow your list, include all the contact information that you can dig up; addresses, emails, phone numbers, websites, names of key persons, are all valuable. Once this step is complete the resulting data should give you a clear representation of which target cities hold more companies of interest. You may lean towards quantity, or you may feel that the quality of companies in a given area is what’s most important to you. In either case, this step helps you verify that the industry you are pursuing does truly have a presence within a specific location. As Sam Kinison once said: “Move where the food is.”
Put your data to good use
With all of this information collected in one place, you now have an extremely powerful job-search tool. Keep track of whom you have contacted, how that contact was made, what was discussed, and when you plan to make contact again. Understand that it often takes time to successfully connect with employers, but establishing contact prior to relocation can be a smart move, since you can learn a lot by having even the most brief of conversations with a potential employer. Stay on top of your outreach chart; you should have many plates spinning at once and it pays to know exactly where you are in the process.
To be competitive, you must already be living in your target city
Although it is certainly possible – and preferable – to secure a job before you move to a new city, the reality of today’s highly competitive job market means that living far away while job-searching can be a major disadvantage. It is not uncommon for employers to receive hundreds of promising applications for each job opening.
Employers want to find someone as quickly as possible, and, obviously, if speed is of the essence, a local candidate may win out due to convenience. Even if a non-local candidate can be on-site in a week’s time, one week is a long wait when you are hurting for help.
More experienced workers may have a better chance at being hired from afar. Employers will, at times, look outside of their immediate vicinity to find candidates with specialized skills and/or experience, and allow for an extended hiring practice to find exactly the right hire. Still, today’s job-seekers are seeing more competition now than perhaps ever before, and the bottom line is that when an employer calls, you want to be able to say, “I’ll be there right away!” as opposed to, “I can be there next week.”
Stash your cash, and then make your move
How do you make a successful move to a city where you don’t have a job? Devise an exit strategy. Take six to 12 months to build up a relocation fund that will cover your move as well as the first few months of expenses in the new city. This may seem like a long time to have to wait, but in the grand scheme of things it is no time at all. And besides, nothing of value comes easily or quickly. Devising a solid strategy and seeing it through to the end is well worth the extra time it if it means dramatically increasing your chances of success.
Upon Your Arrival
Once relocated, you may want to find a part-time (or even full-time) “day job” so that you won’t need to withdraw quite as much money from your savings. In your off-the-clock hours, though, you’ll need to hit the pavement hard. Your job search in your career field will be your “real job,” at least until you find the kind of career-focused work that you feel passionate about. Getting out into the field and knocking on doors can be incredibly rewarding, as you’re not only experiencing real-time feedback about your efforts, you’re also meeting new people and learning about your new home. In the entertainment industry especially, it’s the face-to-face connections you make that hold the most potential for some seriously fruitful leads. And when your moment comes you will already in place.
Career Development is here to guide you in your efforts to identify, research and pursue the industry. Find us on FSO, log in to the Alumni Network, or call 1.800.757.5105 to schedule with your advisor.