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3 Tips: Getting a Job in a New City
Most of us have all been faced with the daunting task of job-hunting which can become a dark abyss of hopelessness and self-doubt. This journey is even more challenging when a relocation is involved. With job-hunting a strategic mindset and the ability to sell yourself to potential employers are necessities. Whether you are fresh out of college or are looking for a job out of the area you will face a series of obstacles and I am going to give you some of my insights on how to overcome them.
When I first moved to Houston, Texas I had several things working completely against me. The first being that I was new to the city without any local job credits on my resume. With resumes it is difficult for employers to see you as a desirable candidate when your work credits are from another state. You need to put yourself in their shoes by imagining how employers read resumes. The average amount of time an employer spends reading a resume is around six seconds. In that short amount of time the first conclusion an employer will make is that a non-local would be too much of a hassle to hire. They don't know how fabulous you are so of course they will jump to conclusions about the cost of your relocation or if you have moved already they may doubt that legitimacy of your current address.
So how do we fix this?
One unique way is to get some local credit quickly is to build up your reputation by going to a reputable temp agency. People always seem to cringe and think temping is beneath them, but in my opinion that mindset is extremely unwise as this is quick way to get a decent job. Most people imagine temping in customer service centers, but that very far from the truth. As for myself, I was employed by a tax company as a data entry specialist and gained absolutely essential skills in Microsoft Excel, database management, finance, and created a wonderful network of people I still keep in touch with. These things all matter when you do get the interview for your dream job.
Why do I recommend it?
- Temping is a superb way to get your foot in the door, it’s a fast process, and can add a variety of enticing skills to your resume that will attract employers.
- Reputable agencies will listen to your needs and won't force you to do anything you aren't comfortable with. You always have the power to say no to any job offer they present. At the tax company I got a good wage (especially when I got overtime) plus we got free lunches.
- You can even do temp to hire where you work for a period as a temp but after a few weeks or months they may desire to hire you full-time. For example, I was offered a full-time position at my temp position after only two months however, I didn't accept, because I got a wonderful university job. The point is that this method does work if you are patient. Before accepting a temp position ask your agency if the company has a history of hiring their temps.
- My experience and skills from my temp position were a big part of the reason I got hired by a top university after only a couple months of temping. So please do not undervalue this easy way to get local credits on your resume as it shows your initiative to work hard and that you are flexible. Even if the temp position is not the job of your dreams just remember that you work will pay off once you get a call for an interview at your ideal company.
One is the Loneliest Number
The second challenge of being new to a city is the lack of a network. I barely knew anyone before I moved to Houston. I had to be honest with myself that employers are far more likely to hire someone they know to avoid risks. When you take the leap and relocate you need to build up your network of locals.
How do you build a network?
- As your meet people locally you should join sites like LinkedIn and fill out a detailed profile. Be clear and concise by stating that you are seeking work locally. This site is free and it is so easy to use so take advantage. As you apply for jobs potential employers may search for your name so help them discover your excellent profile.
- Join a new club or attend a meetup to get to know people that could become potential connections in the future.
- Follow-up! Say you meet someone that works at a company of interest and you are able to have an enjoyable conversation. Ask for a business card to see if you could meet up for a meeting to discuss the company further. If the moment doesn’t present itself, you could also look them up on LinkedIn and request to add them with a little message such as, “It was nice meeting you at the (event). I understand your time is valuable, but if you are up for me treating you to a cup of coffee I would love to discuss (something you talked about) further. I am happy to meet you at a convenient time and location of your choosing.” Make it personable and be specific. Sometimes messages don’t work so try not to take it to heart. Personally I have had a high success rate with them. However, avoid sending messages and invites to people you have never met before, because this may put some people off.
- Mutual friends are the gateway to making more connections.
The Value of a Well-Written Resume
As you get some local credits and build your network the most important thing you need to improve is your resume. Remember that employers spend six seconds or less reading these so do whatever you can to help your resume stand out especially as a new arrival to the area.
So what can you do to stand out?
- Make your resume readable, properly formatted, and concise. Remember that employers are judging your ability to summarize personal information in an organized and attractive way. Resumes should be no longer than two pages so even if you have vast amounts of experience they will not be impressed with a three to five-page resume.
- Personalize your resume for the job you are applying for. Nothing is worse than an employer getting a generic resume that tells them nothing about how you are a suitable candidate to fill the position.
- Improve the written language you have on your resume. Refer to the image on the right for some examples on how to avoid overused words and ways to replace them. The goal is to make yourself stand out from your competition.
- Highlight your skills. When I write a resume I list my skills with easy to read bullet points so when they quickly scan my resume they will know what I can do.
- Use an professional font and layout for your resume and unless you are a designer or an actor do not put your photo on there. It may be tempting to let your employer see you, but its a big faux pas in regular job applications. If they really want to see you in person they will either look you up on LinkedIn or will call you for an interview.
How did I land my dream job?
Since I returned from abroad my goal was always to work in Higher Education. I really enjoy working with students and typically the atmosphere is much friendlier than company life. I attribute landing my job to understanding my situation, marketing myself, building a network, improving my resume, and finally gaining local employment as a temp, I managed to work my way into getting interviews for my ideal jobs in higher education.
While I taught English in South Korea for two years I did not have much experience in higher education administration a part from being a student worker during my undergrad. Yet, I knew how to sell my skills and cater my experience to what they were looking for. After a few months of temping I was called in for an interview at a top university and managed to pull off a great interview resulting in a job offer. One year later and I have no regrets about my decision.
You got this!
Overall, my job-hunting in Houston could have lasted far longer had I not followed these three tips. Based on my experience I recommend you take an honest look at your current situation and be objective so you can improve your chances of landing your dream job. Getting small side jobs or temping to earn local credits doesn't mean you will be trapped there forever, but its a good way to get your foot in the door and make contacts. Once you build up your network you can wow everyone with your impeccably written resume and get that job even if you are new to the city. Happy job-hunting!