1. What's your specialty?
Some cities center on specific industries. Silicon Valley, as we know, focuses on technology and startups. Boston and New York have a high number of social media and marketing positions. Des Moines, Iowa is home to many agriculture and biotech companies. If you plan to pursue a career in a specific field, find out which city draws more companies in that industry. Often, one large company will attract others in the same field, creating an industry corridor, so to speak, in a geographic area.
2. How many jobs are there?
While the national unemployment rate hovers around 8 percent, there is some variance by city. Places with low unemployment rates include:
3. Which industries are hiring?
If your skills can be put to good use in many ways, consider moving to an area with a lot of high growth industries. Information technology, healthcare, computers, and science are expanding heavily, and cities that draw companies in those fields will likely have more open positions available in the next few years.
4. How much do you want to make?
When looking at jobs you're interested in, you'll see a pretty big spread in salaries, depending on the geographic area. According to Salary.com, an IT Project Manager would make an average of $76,000 in San Francisco, but only $61,000 in Appleton, Wis.
Weigh cost of living against average salaries for a given city. Making more in New York City doesn't necessarily leave you with a surplus of money; the high cost of living doesn't always compensate with your monthly salary, and it means you'll put a higher percentage of your pay toward that tiny apartment in Manhattan.
5. The Work/Life Balance Factor
Choosing a city to move to isn't based solely on your job. You want a city that has weather you enjoy and amenities you can take advantage of in your off hours. Are you looking for urban living with a vibrant mix of restaurants, clubs, and museums? Or do you prefer the quiet life in the country? Is it important to live near where you work, or near other attractions? Factor all of these questions into your decision to relocate.
Making the Move
If you prefer to wait to move until after you've been hired, then search for jobs in your top-three cities that include relocation as part of the hiring package. If your move doesn't depend on receiving relocation money, let potential employers know that you plan to move to the area soon, so they don't assume you're asking for relocation expenses.
You may find it beneficial to spend a week in the city of your choice to participate in job interviews and get to know the city. Try to schedule several interviews in the same week to maximize your trip.
Moving to a new city is an exciting change. Make the most of your decision by choosing a city that balances what you're looking for in your career path as well as your personal life.
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.