Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Looking for a job in a new city? Network, network, network! And also? Network!

After living in San Antonio for nearly a decade, I made the decision to move back to my hometown of Corpus Christi in February of this year. It was a hard decision to make personally (I love my friends and having access to more than one Target) and professionally (I loved my work, my colleagues, and an active PRSA chapter). Besides those very important reasons, I also wasn’t looking forward to the job hunt in a city where I didn’t have many professional contacts.

Most of the things about looking for a job in another city are very similar to looking for a job in the place you live in now. The things like looking at the city’s Chamber of Commerce, looking at the city’s economic development corporations, etc, those are the same. So, for the purposes of this post, I’ll talk about the most important part of looking for a job in a new city: making friends and influencing people.

I had exactly two professional contacts in Corpus Christi when I decided to make the move. Even though I grew up here, and had childhood friends, I had one friend in our area of work and one contact I had made 10 years before when I graduated college. So, I did a lot of calling friends and colleagues from around the state (and even one in California) to find leads on jobs; and I reconnected with people I only spoke to every few years to see if they knew of openings.

Until my current position, I’d never gotten a job in our field that didn’t have some connection with PRSA. Whether it was a PRSA friend making an introduction, or interviewing at a PRSA luncheon, or linking up with a PRSA colleague who told a friend of a friend about me, my PRSA connections have been invaluable. I think the PRSA folk in San Antonio are especially awesome. I’ve never seen a group of people more willing – and able – to help someone find a job or make a career change.

Network outside public relations. Especially in small communities, you’ve got to be flexible, so go to groups that aren’t strictly public relations. Visit with human resources groups, advertising groups, philanthropy professionals, etc. You cannot afford to have a close mind when you are moving to a new place. Time to put your creative skills to use!

Informational interviews, ask for them! I’ve had a couple of jobs now where there wasn’t really a position open, but one was created for me after talking with the person who became my boss. I went on informational interviews wanting to get to know the industry or area and ended up getting hired because a position was created for me. If nothing else, you’ll get some good networking from it and get your name out there.

Oh, and sometimes the most important part of looking for a job in a new city is plastering said city with your resume. If everyone in the city recognizes your name, you’re bound to find a position. Remember too, that the number one guarantee for finding a job is to quit looking for one. Give up. As soon as you do, you’ll get 18 offers and one of those will be perfect.

Happy hunting!


Christie Goodman, APR said...

Great post Sherry, and welcome to our blog team!

I can add a tip that helped me and my husband in our two cross-country job searches. In each case, one of us took a financial plunge and visited the new city for a week. We had set up interviews ahead of time, most of which were "informational" interviews. But for each of us, those are what turned into good jobs.

I agree about the networking too. I've never gotten a job that was advertised.


Anonymous said...

I need a job, I'm 17, I speak english and spanish and I know about computers but i don't have much time becaue I study so I can work just in the afternons. in weeks and weekends too. I'm good at speaking and writing especially in bussines topics.