If your local job market lacks opportunities or you're simply ready for a change of scenery, relocating might be your best bet. It's a process though, and one that's even harder than a typical job search.
[See The Best Jobs of 2012.]
Here are a few tips that will help make a job search outside your zip code easier:
1. Pick a city. This may seem like a chore, but targeting a few cities will allow you to focus your search. You can then concentrate on getting to know the employers in that region and surrounding suburbs. In cases of relocation, employers want to know you're committed to living in the region.
2. Make yourself available. Flying out for job interviews can disrupt your schedule and cost a pretty penny if the company isn't paying for it. If you're serious about making a move, then set aside the funds for this part of your job hunt. In most situations, a phone or video interview is a good start to the interview process and if all goes well, you can schedule some time for an in-person meeting. You can also use the trip as an opportunity to set up other interviews.
3. Take a job-hunt vacation. If you have prospects in another city, it might be worthwhile to visit for a few weeks to connect with contacts and start interviewing. Employers are more willing to meet with you when you're already in town. If you have the time and resources to do so, a job-hunting trip will streamline your search.
4. Determine a start date. Most employers want you to report to a new role within a few weeks of acceptance. That timing can be challenging if you have to make a big move. Work out possible scenarios with your family upfront. You'll need some time to find a new place to live, to sell or rent your old home, to find a school for your kids, and to otherwise settle into your new city. You might need to travel to the new city alone just to set up your family's arrival.
5. Negotiate a relocation package. If you didn't already say you were moving of your own accord, it may be possible to negotiate relocation assistance from your new employer. See what options are available. If your position is middle management to executive, the company might provide relocation assistance for moving and travel expenses, as well as a network of vendors who can assist in the move and new home search. With smaller companies or employers who don't have official relocation packages, it might be possible to negotiate a one-time signing bonus to help with the extra expense.
6. Factor in cost of living to salary negotiation. If you're moving to a city where the cost of living is high, do your homework on the comparable salary. Depending on the difference, you may need to adjust up or down. Keep in mind that a higher cost of living doesn't always equate to a higher salary, or pay that will allow you to maintain you current living standards. For instance, if you live in Texas where the market rate for your position is $55,000, and the same type of position pays $65,000 in New York City, the $10,000 difference won't compensate for the higher cost of living.
7. Decide whether relocation is necessary. If you feel you've exhausted your job-hunt options locally, remember that many positions can be done virtually, without the need to move. Look on different cities' job boards to find employment that allows telecommuting. This can cut down on your new employer's hiring costs and save yourself the hassle.
Lindsay Olson is a founding partner and public relations recruiter with Paradigm Staffing and Hoojobs.com, a niche job board for public relations, communications, and social media jobs. She blogs at LindsayOlson.com, where she discusses recruiting and job search issues.