Moving to find work

I answered a question on LinkedIn about nationwide job searches and moving to find work. That subject comes up regularly. Therefore, I’m posting the answer here with some minor edits.

In a really tight job market, you have to recognize that it’s not the employer’s problem you live out-of-state. The company is likely to have plenty of good candidates. That said, it’s incumbent on the applicant to be available, flexible, and willing to make it work if he/she applies to jobs beyond the local area.

You need to do all of that without whining to the employer, who often has doubts about not hiring a local person anyway. Be prepared to be on the work site quickly, if you get the job. The logistics of moving is your problem. You aren’t being hired to be babysat, and it’s not up to the employer to make life convenient for you.

Does that sound harsh? Many people with solid experience, degrees, and good skills are lined up for jobs. Some of the best opportunities may not be local. One person I know got three offers out-of-state, but nothing local came through.

If you are unemployed, you have to decide whether having a paycheck, benefits, and a tight budget are better than being uninsured, on unemployment, or out of unemployment. Start thinking about the possibility of other locations as soon as you need to look for work. You’ll be in a better position to make it work if you don’t wait until your resources are exhausted.

Family matters are a personal issue. Some people can, and will, take a job and simply state that it’s a necessity. Others can’t deal with family pressure when there’s dissension. Know where you stand before you try to make a move this big. If you are asked how the family feels about the move, you probably can’t lie that well.

Always check the cost of living (COL) before looking for jobs in a new area. Can you really take a job at the same salary and move to an area with a 28% higher COL? Price cheap living options in a new job location. Do you have a camper? Check for small RV parks with cheap monthly rates, and look at studio apartments with utilities paid. Then, reduce your current budget to bare bones. Know where you stand. Also, be sure you are a person who can live on a shoe-string and maintain absolute control of the budget. Locate resources before the interview and be prepared to move quickly and make informed decisions.

Also, if a job offers relocation, be sure to ask what that means. A relocation of $7,500 may cover relocation for a single person with a small apartment, but it may not even cover the moving van–much less the incidentals–for a family with a large home. Relocation no longer automatically means a full package deal. Remember, it might take a long time to sell a home too.

There are questions you need to answer before you make a commitment. Are you willing to live apart from the family for a year or more? Will the salary allow you to pay for travel home? Can you rent your home and manage the maintenance from a distance? Do you have friends or family who can act as property manager–without straining the relationship? Is the job in an area you want to live? Or, is your goal to be employed in your present hometown when the economy improves? Do you understand that once you take a job out of town it may be harder to get one in town again–especially in the near future? You’ll be in the same position–again, in reverse. Does your spouse have to work? Is he/she willing and able to relocate? These are just some of the key questions.

If you present yourself with confidence, the employer’s misgivings will be greatly reduced. The fact that you’ve done your research and have answers for his concerns further assures him/her of your ability to handle the changes. If you’ve been through successful relocation previously, be sure to point out those successes too.

The fellow with three offers out-of-state took one of those and ended up making more money than he did before he was laid off, even when there wasn’t a job to be found locally. It’s all a matter of what a person is willing to sacrifice to make it work. Any nationwide/international search requires planning, organization, and sacrifice. There will be unexpected changes and challenges.

You may need to pay for the interview travel costs yourself too. Don’t count on softening the employer on that. Don’t interview for anything you don’t really want either.

How to format a resume

School graduation now happens all year long, and I get more questions than ever about resumes. I also get more complaints that it costs too much to get one done for new graduates.

Graduation puts new emphasis on the quality of students’ resumes. On the other hand, it also means more competition for the jobs that are available. A whole herd of people with similar skills hit the market all at the same time. That creates intense competition for some jobs.

Adults can’t afford to have a substandard resume either. Remember, your resume is the first impression a potential employer sees. If you wouldn’t go to an interview wearing your oldest sneakers, don’t go with a worn-out resume.

There are many ways to format resumes. However, most recruiters and employers prefer a basic, well-organized, simple document that is easy to read. Older adaptations, designed to minimize time out of the workforce or job gaps and frequent changes, don’t work well in the new electronic systems. Your goal is to get selected by that system and get to talk to someone who can hire you.  Don’t get overly creative.

Many people use templates on MSWord. That doesn’t mean you don’t need my services or that I can’t find ways to make it better. Do you know a simple thing like putting your name and address in the header can confuse the machines and get your resume discarded? It does mean you can get a presentable looking resume without help. I respect the fact some people don’t have any other option.

Is your resume out of date?

Resume styles change, just like technology and educational requirements. In a job market where hundreds of people apply for every opportunity, you want to look your very best. Here are five tips to help your resume get to the top of the stack.

Most people have an email address, which should be included with the address and phone number. That said, the email address needs to be professional and use your name. Try not to get msmith4985. Try other combinations of your name and initials. Definitely do not use crazymary@whatever.com.

Many people are also on LinkedIn and have professional profiles and recommendations on other sites too. This type of website address may be included if you are a professional. There are several reason to not include it too, but you can be quite sure most employers check social media and find it anyway.  It may be wise to fine-tune your social media sites before embarking on a job search.

On the other hand, if you have a Facebook or MySpace personal website, don’t put it on your resume. If it’s got some really “interesting” information, you can try to clean it up. Just be aware that many things don’t go away and can be found in online searches. Over sixty-percent of employers check social media sites when hiring and admit to being influenced by what they find. You may not like it, but that’s what happens. You decide what’s more important, total freedom on social media or a paycheck.

Every resume should be tailored for a specific position. The changes may be minor, but the resume must fit the job. Don’t let canned job titles and incorrect terminology for the industry get your resume discarded.

Sell yourself with a professional summary, not an objective. Today, companies want to know what you can do for them. They have no interest in hearing what you want.

Make achievements stand out. Use bullet points, active verbs, and results to describe your experience. Be specific about achievements, such as “improved sales of widgets 25% in 2009.”  Every job has something that can be quantified. Think about what was on your last review. How is your job performance rated? A secretary might say “improved production 20% by reorganizing the file system.”

Keep your resume easy to read. Don’t try to cram twenty years of experience into a single page resume. You can’t do it. On the other hand, don’t stretch a year of experience out beyond reason. Old guidelines say keep it to one page. That won’t always work for long careers and technical/professional resumes, but that’s not a license to write a book. An easy-to-read, well-organized resume is the top priority now. Avoid lengthy paragraphs of text that take a lot of time to read. Recruiters and managers are unlikely to spend the time. You have about 90 seconds to get their attention. Scary, isn’t it?