Blogger Kate Sitarz landed a new job within days of moving to her new city. Her secret? Planning, freelancing, networking—and even more planning.
A couple of years ago, pursuing love and adventure, I moved from Boston to Seattle.
Without a job lined up.
Thanks to some serious prep work, however, I was able to land a job within a few days in my new hometown.
Whatever your reason for moving—a better climate, a particular industry, or even to just try someplace new—it’s hard to make the leap if you don’t have a job in the new location lined up. It’s doubly hard if it requires leaving your current job.
But despite the risks, moving without a job lined up doesn’t have to be scary. With some planning, you can set yourself up for success (and may even land a job before you pack your first moving box).
BEFORE YOU MOVE
Do Your Research
It’s worth researching the major players in your new region to make sure there are jobs in your field. If there aren’t, it’s worth finding an alternative location. For Seattle, that meant looking at job postings from Amazon, Nordstrom, and Starbucks, but also looking into companies—like Boeing, Microsoft, and REI—in surrounding towns
Once you decide to move, find local recruiters. A quick search of recruiters + your field + location will likely provide you with a starting point. These folks have large networks, and their connections and sales skills can get you a foot in the door at companies that may otherwise have passed over your resume.
Recruiters often find contract or freelance work that can then turn into a full-time role. This not only allows a company to see if you’re a good fit, but also lets you determine if you like the work—and the work environment.
Build up Freelance Work
If you can freelance before and during your move, it’s worth it for the extra cash alone. It’s also a good safety net. When I realized my ad agency might lose a giant client, I started extra hustling to find more freelance clients. I practically worked two full-time jobs for several months, but when the agency did lose the client—and my entire team was laid off—I had a backup.
Freelancing also helps ramp up your savings, which becomes critical after moving without work. This may sound obvious—you need money for food and accommodations—but there’s more: When I moved to Seattle, my prospective landlord wanted to know my employer and monthly salary. They understood I had left my job, but having freelance income help settle their fears that I wouldn’t be able to pay the bills.
Ask about Telecommuting
When I gave my employer a month’s notice before I moved, I made it clear I’d be happy to continue working, either on a full-time or project basis, while they looked for someone in-house. My boss’s reaction was one of relief, as if she hadn’t considered this solution. It was a win-win for both of us, but it only worked because I pitched the idea.
When having this conversation with your boss, go in with a plan: Frame the conversation around the pros of continuing to work with you (e.g., you already know the work and personalities), even from afar. Point out the technologies available (chat, video, phone) that make working remote easy for everyone. Note the hours you’re willing to work. (I’ve found it helpful to adjust my schedule to meet my clients’ needs—even if that means joining a meeting at 10 PM.) If you’re lucky, you may find your employer is fine with you working remotely indefinitely. Either way, it doesn’t hurt to try.
Apply Before You Move
Knowing how long hiring processes often take, I started applying to jobs as soon as I decided to move—two months before my move date. But with a far-away address, many employers didn’t take me seriously. My solution: I updated my resume, using a friend’s address in Seattle.
I wasn’t just toying with the idea of a move. I had an actual arrival date and was committed to moving, without expectation of relocation reimbursement. I was prepared, if necessary, to fly to Seattle for an interview before my permanent arrival. (Fortunately, it didn’t come to that, as paying for a last-minute airline ticket hurts, particularly when you know you’re about to leave your job.)
Update Your Social Media Profiles
I had changed my location on my social media profiles before I moved. This included updating my LinkedIn location to greater Seattle, changing Facebook, and revising my information on my college’s alumni page. I also joined relevant Facebook groups (like my college’s alumni chapter in Seattle). This made it easier for potential employers to find me, and allowed me to find relevant referrals and connections in my field.
Connecting with friends in the area (or friends-of-friends) is also helpful to meet new people and build a social circle that may provide job leads you hadn’t discovered or considered.
AFTER YOU MOVE
Meet Recruiters in Person
There’s nothing like a face-to-face conversation. Talking to recruiters in person helped me score a job in Seattle within days of my arrival. But it tied back to the groundwork I’d laid before I moved. Putting in months of work connecting with school alumni, friends of friends, and more recruiters than I can count allowed me to have appointments already scheduled when I arrived. Constant movement and tasks ensured I didn’t fall into a procrastination trap or worse—give up.
Sure, you’ve applied to dozens of jobs before you moved. But the process doesn’t end until you score work! I found it helpful to continue acting like I had a job, bringing my laptop to my various appointments and finding a coffee shop afterwards to continue researching local companies, scanning job listings, and reworking cover letters.
Meet New People
Until they make Tinder for friendships, it’s hard to meet people (never mind people you actually get along with). Coworking spaces provide a structured work environment that allows for both concentration and collaboration. Who knows—you may even meet people looking for someone with your skillset.
Keep at It
Keep an open mind: It may take awhile to land a job. I was ready to take a job at the local coffee shop while I continued to look for work in my field during off hours. I was also prepared not to take my dream job. (Surprise: It wasn’t.) The experience I got from the entire process, however, was invaluable. It made subsequent moves to Arizona and Germany much easier, if only because I better understood the motivation, hustle, and time commitment needed to land work.
Kate Sitarz is a freelance writer living in Germany. Her work has been featured on Yahoo Travel!, The Huffington Post, and USAToday, among other outlets.
Any third-party resources or websites referenced above are not under Society of Grownups control. Society of Grownups cannot guarantee and are not responsible for the accuracy of the resources, websites, or any products or services available through such resources or websites.
While Society of Grownups hopes the information is useful, it’s only intended to provide general education. It’s not legal, tax, or investment advice, and may not apply or be useful to your specific financial situation. All investing has risk, including the possible loss of assets. If you need recommendations geared to your personal financial situation, schedule time with a financial planner.