Relocation for a new job

You’ve decided it’s time for a fresh start in a new location.

Making a geographic move to enhance your career should not be a hassle—
If you do some planning before you move.

Here are some steps to consider when mounting a long-distance job search:

  • Learn as much as you can about the city you wish to relocate, making sure you’ll be able to afford the cost of living.
  • Devise an overall strategy for relocating.
    • Decide approximately when you’ll make the move.
    • Develop a relocation budget, and don’t forget security deposits, rent, mortgage payments—possibly in both new and old locations—and incidentals, such as postage and long-distance phone costs.
    • Be prepared to discuss some of the details of your relocation (such as timing and your reason for moving) in your cover letters and interviews.
  • Determine job opportunities in your new location.
    • Find out which major employers are located in your new city, go to a library and get a phone book, and contact the Chamber of Commerce and request a membership directory.
    • Also consider the possibility that employers in your current location, including your own employer, could have offices in your target city.
    • Another great resource for getting a feel for the employment scene in a new locale is through the career-planning Web sites of local colleges.
  • Make a list of employers to target in your new city and identify key people to contact.
    • A list of about 20 employers is a good goal to shoot for.
    • Plan to “cold-call” any employers at which you don't have a potential contact.
    • Cold-calling consists of writing (and then calling) hiring managers at these organizations and ask about job openings and possibilities.
    • A more in-depth look at cold-calling is discussed in Cold Calling: A Time-Tested Method of Job-Hunting.
  • Include headhunters/recruiters/executive-search firms and staffing agencies among those organizations you contact in your new city.
  • Although only about five percent of job-seekers find their jobs through employment ads, want ads are still a viable part of the job search, especially when you’re relocating.
  • Also read the non-classified portion of your new city’s newspaper, particularly the business section, to learn about employment trends and especially new businesses opening in or relocating to the city. Most newspapers are now online.

Network! Network! Network!

Remember, though, that networking is the best way to get a job, so brainstorm ways you might be able to network in your new city.

People often relocate to be with a spouse, boyfriend, or girlfriend—tap into your significant other’s network, as well.

You should plan to make at least one trip to the new city before your actual relocation.

When you contact prospective employers in your destination city by letter or e-mail, explain that you are relocating and tell them when. If you are relocating for personal reasons, it’s fine to say so. People move all the time, so changing geographic locations should not be an issue.

Whether writing cover letters that respond to ads or cold-contact cover letters to employers in your new city, offer the employers the possibility of conducting a phone interview with you in advance of an in-person meeting.

Relocation Expenses

Is it ever appropriate to request a prospective employer to pay for your airline ticket to an out-of-state interview?

The best employers—and certainly those seeking higher-level executives—will buy your airline ticket, arrange for your transportation from the airport to your hotel, and pay for your hotel stay.

Smaller firms, employers in certain industries, and companies hiring lower-level employees often do not pay for travel.

If you have any questions about who is paying, be sure to ask. It’s better to know beforehand; employers shouldn't be offended by the question.

You can ask for relocation help as part of the negotiation of your compensation package, but don't count on getting your relocation expenses paid. Do remember, however, that relocation expenses for work are tax-deductible.

Consider Temping

If the planned date for your move is looming and you still don’t have a job lined up, consider temping in your new city.

Avoid, if you possibly can, accepting a lower-level position just to have a job. You probably won’t be happy, and you may be digging your career grave.

If, after researching your new city or after an unproductive job hunt there, you should decide you want to stay put. Be sure you haven’t burned any bridges in your current city or place of employment!

A long-distance job search can be stressful, but remember that getting a fresh new start can be an exciting and rewarding adventure.


Major content of this article has been tailored after and derived from Katharine Hansen, Ph.D. (editor of QuintZine, and Randall S. Hansen, Ph.D. (founder of Quintessential Careers).