Moving to find work

House and vehicles in garage

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.

It’s not the employer’s problem that you live out of state. The company is likely to have plenty of excellent 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 may already have doubts about not hiring a local person. Be prepared to be on the work site quickly if you get the job. The logistics of moving is your problem. No one wants to babysit, and it’s not up to the employer to make life convenient for you.

Does that sound harsh? Many people—sometimes hundreds—with solid experience, degrees, and superb skills line up for every job. 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, decide whether having a paycheck, benefits, and a tight budget is 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 take a job and simply tell everyone 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 the interviewer asks 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 various 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 shoestring and maintain absolute control of the budget. Locate resources before the interview and be prepared to move immediately.

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 cover the moving van–much less incidentals–for a family. Relocation no longer automatically means a full package deal. Remember, it might take time to sell a home too. Who makes those payments? Is it negotiable?

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 managers–without straining the relationship? Is the job in an area you want to live in? Or, is your goal to find a job in your present hometown again 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? You’ll be in the same position–in reverse. Does your spouse have to work? Is he/she willing to move? These are a few key questions.

If you present yourself with confidence, you’ll reduce the employer’s misgivings. Doing your research and having answers for his concerns further assures him/her of your ability to handle the changes. If you’ve successfully relocated previously, be sure to point out those successes.

The fellow with three offers out-of-state took one of those and ended up making more money than before the layoffs, even when there wasn’t a job to be found locally. It’s all a matter of what a person will 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. Don’t count on softening the employer on that, and don’t interview for anything you don’t really want.