5 Factors to Consider Before Relocating

By Selena Dehne,

In an ideal job market, you would find the job of your dreams right under your nose. You'd have a hefty paycheck, great benefits, flexibility and you'd wake up every day loving the work you do.
The reality is you'll probably spend several weeks -- even months -- scouring the Internet and chasing job leads just to find a few openings worth pursuing. Even after all of your efforts, the jobs you find may fall short of meeting all of the criteria to be the right opportunity for you.

People in such situations may never come across their dream job because they've limited themselves in the job market. They've narrowed their search to local job openings and have no idea that their dream job is actually in another city or state. 

Many people, however, would be willing to pursue those opportunities if they were aware of them. According to a study from CareerBuilder.com and Apartments.com, conducted by Harris Interactive, 59 percent of employees say they'd be willing to relocate to another city for a new job and 44 percent say they'd be willing to relocate to another state, province or region for a new job. 

"Depending on your career goals and where you live now, your best chance of finding work and achieving a rewarding career may be in another city or town," says Michael Farr and Laurence Shatkin, co-authors of "Today's Hot Job Targets." 

They warn, however, that relocating for a job isn't the best option for everyone. In their book, they encourage people to consider the following five factors before making the decision to relocate. 

Continued growth
There are no guarantees in today's ever-changing job market. An occupation may experience booming growth one year and then come to a stand-still or decline a few years later. For example, jobs in the finance, insurance and human service clusters are now expected to grow significantly faster than previously expected, according to the Occupational Outlook Handbook 2008-2009, which is published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, job projections are less optimistic than they were two years ago for occupations in the manufacturing, retail and wholesale sales, and service clusters. 

To help determine whether relocating is worth the effort, Farr and Shatkin suggest researching a particular occupation and its field or industry first. They say, "Before moving to another area, investigate whether local economic trends are expected to remain favorable. You may be able to find projections of job openings at the Web site of the state department of labor or office of employment security."

Opportunities in your field
Many occupations flourish in some locations, but are rarely offered in others. For example, job seekers interested in the public relations field would have much more luck landing a job in densely populated areas like New York City than in areas populated by only a few thousand people. 

Farr and Shatkin recommend visiting www.acinet.org to compare job opportunities in various cities. This resource shows people the state-specific economic trends for each occupation, followed by links that let them compare wages in different regions of the state; compare wages across states; or compare employment trends across states. 

Having an intricate network of contacts is one of the biggest advantages people can have in their job search and careers. These contacts are excellent sources of job search advice, job leads and referrals. In most cases, a person's network is usually made up of contacts living in the same area. Although a change in location doesn't mean the contacts are no longer useful, it does mean the person relocating will need to work hard to develop new contacts that can support them in their new location. 

Farr and Shatkin suggest, "Investigate whether your targeted area offers opportunities for you to network quickly. Perhaps there are local branches of social, religious or hobby-centered organizations to which you now belong or where you would fit in readily."  

Your résumé
Farr and Shatkin also warn that a person's résumé may not be as impressive in one location as in another. "Employers in many regions may not be as familiar with your previous employers or the school or college you attended." 

They recommend that job seekers contact the job placement office of their school or college to find out whether or not other people have found employment in their target area. This strategy isn't as necessary for job seekers from schools with a national reputation or seeking jobs where on-the-job training is all that's required. 

Culture shock
Before moving to a new location, people should be aware that there's a good chance the culture will be different than where they currently live and work. It's important for people to visit their target area before actually moving there to see if they feel comfortable there. 

Farr and Shatkin remind job seekers that, "Given these concerns, the ideal strategy for relocating is to get hired for a job in the new location before you move -- but this can be very difficult to do. A compromise strategy would be to set up temporary, bare-bones living quarters in the new location, find employment there and then settle into your new location." 

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