Relocating for a job

Some tips:

1. Research the city you want to move to beforehand. Make sure there are enough employers in your industry or field of interest to offer some job opportunities in your chosen profession. It’s hard enough to relocate to a new job in your same field, but to try to relocate and also change careers is that much more difficult. Also be sure to investigate the cost of living. For instance, Washington State has no income tax, so a paycheck there brings significantly more take-home pay than one in New York City, where you must pay both state and city income tax on top of high sales taxes. Cost of real estate, transportation, education etc. as well as quality of schools for your kids are also essential to consider. Try a cost of living calculator like Best Places and sites like Find Your Spot.

Also, be sure you’re relocating for the right reasons. Are you moving to something, or away from something? What values are important to you in a new place to live: being close to family or friends; a community you want to be part of; climate; commute; education; recreation; better career opportunities, etc. Prioritize what’s most important to you so you can make better decisions.

2. Be sure to visit at least once during your search process, in order to conduct informational interviews. This was an essential component of my own relocation. Ideally, you should arrange at least 5-10 informational interviews with people in your chosen field, especially peers or recruiters in the industry, for your visit. To get a list of potential networking connections in the new city, check and other networking sites, start following people in the area on Twitter (consider looking for Twitter lists of people in the geographic area), and join professional associations in your industry. I emailed about 10 career counselors in higher education settings in advance of a Dec. 2007 trip to Seattle, using the directory of members for the professional association of career counselors as well as Linkedin. I met with 5 people during that trip. One of these people was the person who eventually left her job at the Evans School, who referred (and recommended) me for the position I was then hired for.

3. For other networking leads, don’t forget to look into your college alumni directory or association to see if any alumni live in the area; and ask your college career center if they offer a reciprocal service with any colleges in the area you’re moving to. (The alumni from the school where I work are very generous and have even offered housing for students who are coming to a new city for job search). Also consider cold calling employers in your field to see if they would meet with you for a low-key informational meeting during your visit. Try to arrange your visit around a large job fair or networking event in your field. A professional conference in your field is another excellent opportunity to meet people in the profession–many of whom will be from the local area.  For a list of professional associations in public service, you can sign up for my newsletter–and I’ll send you over 400 links to such organizations.  If you’re really lucky, you can even arrange job interviews for your first visit to the new city.

4. Follow up with each of your networking connections. Send thank-you notes to each one, and stay in touch when you return to your home city.

5. Keep track of expenses. When you schedule a job interview, it’s acceptable to ask an employer if they will pay for travel for your interview. If you get an offer, you can also then bring up whether they will consider helping defray the cost of relocation. If you do have to pay out of pocket for these expenses, keep all of your receipts–relocation for a new job is tax-deductible. Do consider your costs of moving as part of your whole decision about a new job. A cross-country move usually costs between $5-10,000 and can be risky and time-consuming. Check sites like to make sure you pick a reputable mover.

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