Another overused job search phrase: “I’m willing to relocate”
Posted by Molly Wendell // in Job SearchNetworking
Maybe you’re one of them. One of those people who say “I’m in the job search and I’m willing to relocate.” And maybe you’re one of those same people who continue to network in the city you’re already in. No offense, but your strategy sucks! The job you’re looking for in Philadelphia is not here in Los Angeles. It’s in Philadelphia. Are you looking to network with German companies in the Solar industry? Then go to Germany and meet them!
Sometimes the old “I’m willing to relocate” line doesn’t come out until you’ve been in the search for a while. You see, the longer you’re in the search, the larger the geographic target a search seems to encompass. Often, I see people newly out of work…who come into a job search meeting and say “I want to work within a ten-mile radius of my house in Chicago.” In some cities you can actually do that. In others, not so much. But here’s the thing. After about a month of not finding anything within that ten-mile radius (and not looking all that hard in my opinion), the geographic scope begins to widen. “I want to work within a 30-minute commute – which could be anything downtown or near the airport.” Another month goes by, and then “I’ve decided to open up the scope to the greater Chicago area, including the North and West suburbs.” Another month. “Anywhere in the Midwest – within a one-hour plane flight from O’Hare.” Another month goes by. “I’m open to anything east of the Mississippi.” Pretty soon, you’re down to “English-speaking countries or a place where I can find a translator.”
If you’re really interested and open to relocation, quit saying those magical words…I’m willing to relocate. And start doing something that actually is magic. Disappear. I mean disappear to the cities in which you’re interested in relocating.
When I think about my own job search years ago, I was willing to relocate. I remember flying to Philly for a job interview. While there, I was told that two positions existed. One in Philly and the other in Arizona – three traffic lights from my house. Had I not been willing to relocate, I would’ve never learned of the position that was right in my own backyard. That was about being open to the possibility of relocation. But I wasn’t really decisive on my target cities.
Where I really erred was that I was too open on “where.” The reality is that people are out of work in every city. Why would I think I’m well-positioned or even somewhat positioned to get an interview – let alone land a job – halfway across the country – when I don’t even know what’s going on halfway across the country? I was lucky to get the first meeting.
I had another opportunity in Chicago. It was through a recruiter. I knew the company. If I was smart, I would’ve made my way out there, started networking, and meeting with all kinds of people in the industry. Then, if that job hadn’t come through (which it didn’t, by the way), I might have networked my way into some other opportunities. But instead, I tried to phone in my presence. And that’s just not very smart. No wonder they didn’t hire me!
I’m reading Team of Rivals right now…about Abraham Lincoln. He was relatively unknown and ended up winning the Republican nomination (hopefully that’s not new news to you!). One of his competitors, Samuel Chase, didn’t want to travel. Instead, he spent most of his campaign in the comfort of his own living room. Instead of visiting his potential constituents, he decided to write letters to as many people as he could (which, in today’s times, would be equivalent to shooting off a bunch of emails instead of having actual in-person conversations). Whereas Lincoln spent all of his time traveling around, meeting people – basically networking! When it came time to “hire” the candidate. Guess which one got selected. So, who are you more like? Chase or Lincoln?
If I were to do it over again, I’d learn from all of this. I’d do “willing to relocate” very differently. Here’s what I recommend to those who are really willing to relocate:
- Target 2-3 cities where you really want to live.
- Subscribe to the local Business Journal and read every issue cover to cover.
- Identify networking events in those cities. Pick a week where there are 3-4 events that you’re interested in attending. Be sure to include Job Search networking events like Executives Network (www.executivesnetwork.com).
- Find people in your network that know people in those cities. Get one-on-one networking meetings with them. I’d bet those people know people. They all have co-workers (current and previous), neighbors, friends and acquaintances. Tap into their network.
- Book a flight…and to stay with a friend (save some $$).
- Fly out to target city, attend the networking and job search events – and hope to find out a couple more while you’re there. Also, figure out what events are coming up that will require an additional trip. Do your one-on-one meetings, and hope to get a few more while you’re there.
- Hang out at Starbucks while you’re in between meetings. See if you might meet some other people. Maybe even take a class while you’re there. Get there early. You’ll meet some locals and might make a new friend (who probably knows a couple people!). See if any of the hotels have a national conference in town…hang out at their lobby bar during the evenings to meet people from the conference.
- Repeat this process each month until you end up there.
Are you really serious about being open to relocation? Then you need to get really serious about relocating. Quit talking about it and start doing something. Get out there. Find out what’s happening. Quit using mental telepathy (or email) and start having actual, in-person conversations with people in those cities. You’ll know you’re doing it right when no one realizes you’re from out of town. And if you do end up moving there, you’ll already have some friends. How’s that for a bonus?