How Do I Get a Job in a City on the Other Side of the Country?

Last week I went into talk to a class of mostly seniors at a small liberal arts college near where I live.  As always I asked what was on their minds and a student raised his hand to ask “How do you get a job in Denver when you live in New England?”  I asked the room,“ how many of you are thinking of moving over 3 hours away from school and/or home?” and over two-thirds of the class raised their hands.

This is a bit of a trend; students are doing a lot of thinking about where they want to live when they graduate and many more of them are thinking of hitting the road.  What they are looking for varies a lot, with some thinking about cost of living, others wanting a different climate or to try a new city.  What’s certain is that many of them are on the move.

Here are some realities.  In general employers are not willing to fly entry-level candidates in for interviews or pay for relocation costs, they would prefer to use local talent.  Of course there are exceptions. If you are a chemical engineer from a top school with specialized internships on your resumes you might get more attention.  In general though, candidates from further away seem like a risky and too-expensive proposition to organizational leaders.

So this complicates things.  In most cases,and for most degrees, we recommend that if you want to get a professional job in Denver you should move to Denver. We are NOT recommending that you “just pick up and move’ – there is a lot of upfront work/planning that goes into a successful relocation ahead of having a specific job.  For the record, when done with a bit of planning we are big fans of being willing to give someplace new a try.  It isn’t a life sentence – but hopefully you go to some place that will work for you as you step into the professional world – whatever that looks like for you.  Here are some things to work on BEFORE you head across the country.  Be confident that:

  • You know enough about the area that hopefully you are right you are going to enjoy living there.  You have visited and/or you know people there.
  • You have a reasonably focused understanding of what you are looking for career-wise and you have done enough research to know that there are jobs in that field for new graduates in your desired geographic location.  Hopefully you have been able to do informational interviews with some people in that field in that location so you have some contacts or at least direction to companies that would be of interest.
  • You have your resume and cover letter template ready to go and your LinkedIn page is well done.  Your summary on LinkedIn can now read “Heading to Denver on the first of June – ready to make a difference in a hospitality company, or Heading to Denver on the first of June – financial services opportunities here I come. Etc. etc.
  • You have enough money to support yourself for three months.  It can certainly take that long.  And yes you can always wait tables, bartend, or work retail while you are looking but that will in fact distract you from the ultimate goal.

There is a very talented young man in my small town who is soon heading to San Francisco.  He is interested in working in sustainable foods and has done a ton of research on the market for these companies in SF, the types of jobs he could be qualified for and has worked his network so that he could talk to dozens of people in the industry in informational interviews.  The stars aligned when a college friend told him he was moving there and needed a roommate – Jake quickly signed up.  He has a place to live, a growing network, and knows a lot about the career landscape. After months of planning, he is prepared.

We’d love to talk to you about your career plans after graduation, contact us for a free initial consultation. 

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