After graduating from Brown University in 2004, like most college grads, Stephanie Harris started looking for a job. But she considered more than just potential positions in her search.
"By that time, my boyfriend — now fiance — had gotten a job in Orange County, California, and I wanted to stay with him," says Harris. "I decided as long as I was looking for a job, I might as well look in Orange County and be with my fiance instead of looking for a job somewhere else…. So I was limited to looking for jobs there."
Harris’s story echoes that of many new college graduates who find themselves restricted to job searches in a certain city or area due to relationships, family obligations or other factors.
Job hunting becomes harder than usual when you have to confine your search geographically. But as Harris and others have discovered, you can find a job under such constraints with the right strategy.
Start Sooner Rather Than Later, Especially If You’re Moving
Harris looked for a job long distance for about four months, "doing interviews over the phone and squeezing them in during one trip out to California to visit my fiance." She used Monster Job Search Agents to monitor listings for publishing positions in Orange County — a strategy that resulted in a few solid nibbles but no offers.
Still, by the time she moved to Orange County in early August 2004, she already had a pretty good sense of the types of publishing companies and jobs there. So in November, when she saw a Monster job ad from Entrepreneur Media, she suspected the position and organization would be a good fit.
"The job description just happened to match perfectly with my duties at an internship the previous summer, and so I applied online," says Harris. "I got the job [marketing associate for Entrepreneur Press, the company’s book publishing division], and I’m very happy with it."
Tap Local Job Search Resources
Many communities offer some job search resources. For starters, every state has a government department devoted to labor and workforce issues. Most of these agencies offer Web sites that list local job opportunities. You can also search by location on both MonsterTRAK and using the Monster job search.
But don’t just search on the Web, stresses Liz Ryan, CEO of WorldWIT, a free online network for professional women in business and technology.
"Find all the local job search resources you can," says Ryan. For example, "purchase a copy of [your target city’s local business publication’s] annual ‘Top Local Employers’ list. This list is invaluable for learning a lot about the top employers in your city."
Network Using a Variety of Methods
Networking is vital to your success in finding a job in a limited geographic area, says Marcia Merrill, president of eCareerCorner.com and a former career counselor at Loyola College. You can begin by attending local chamber of commerce events, Merrill says, or by asking your school’s career center to help you get in touch with alums in your target city.
You can also add a bit more creativity to your networking strategy. "[A former student] went to a company’s Web site, found bios of several employees and saw that one of them lived near his hometown," says Merrill. "So he called that person, and the guy was so impressed, he brought [the student] in for an interview." Four days and three more interviews later, the student was hired.
"Networking is the best way to get a job anywhere, but even more so when your geography is limited," says Robert Zuckman, president of publishing company Zenergy Interactive.
Ryan stresses the importance of telling everyone about your job search, "from the people at your gym to the people at church," not to mention the people you might meet through organizations like WorldWIT and the local chapters of industry professional associations.
If you follow this advice, your geographic limitations will eventually give way to interview invitations and the job you really want, where you want it.