10 Tips to Getting a Job Long Distance

There used to be a time some years ago when employers would readily hire candidates from out-of-state.  Not saying that they don’t still do it, but I believe they don’t do it as much.  Now, it is still possible to relocate to another city, but you must have a strategy and let employers know your value.  In other words, why should they hire you over someone else who may be local?  They are probably thinking it will take you longer to actually be able to start the job and you may require relocation assistance and these wouldn’t be issues for a local candidate.

I have relocated twice in my career.  The first time I relocated from Missouri to Dallas and the second time was from Alabama to Dallas.  (Yes, I relocated to Dallas twice!)  Since I have been asked about this subject a lot recently, I thought I would share some of the bumps and bruises I encountered when relocating and give you tips to get around them, which should make your transition smoother.

1) START EARLY IN YOUR JOB SEARCH

You should start your job search 6 – 9 months in advance to give yourself plenty of time to plan.  Since you will be relocating there are a lot more things to consider than if you were just getting a job across town.  Starting early gives you time to save your money for the actual move.  You will also need to use your vacation/sick/comp time sparingly as you may need this time to make multiple trips to your desired location for interviews and house hunting, etc.

2) TAKE YOUR ADDRESS OFF YOUR RESUME

This is to level the playing field so employers won’t automatically discriminate against you because you are not local.  Yes, your phone number will still be there, but employers know people have cell phone numbers from all over so this doesn’t necessarily give away that you live somewhere else.

3) LOOK AT JOB WEBSITES SPECIFICALLY FOR YOUR TARGETED AREA

So, if you wanted to relocate to Dallas you would look at  ‘jobsindallas.com’ or ‘dallasnews.com’ or ‘dallasjobsite.com.’  You can also simply Google the job you are looking for in the city you are looking to move to.  For example, ‘Engineering Jobs Dallas, TX.’  You may be surprised at the results and discover more companies that hire for your position than you think.  It also might not be a bad idea to work with a head hunter/recruiter in the area.

4) PICK 10 COMPANIES YOU’D LIKE TO WORK FOR

You will have to do some research because you MUST target your job search.  If not, it may take longer for you to find a job.  Pick 10 companies you are interested in working for.  Once you have identified those companies, submit your resume whether they have a job opening or not.  60 – 80% of jobs are never advertised.  They may not have an opening now, but they may once they receive YOUR resume.  Once they see your resume, they may realize that they need someone like you at their company.  Remember, you want to relocate so you have to BE BOLD!!

5) USE LINKEDIN TO CONNECT WITH EMPLOYERS

Go to the ‘People’ tab on LinkedIn and do an advanced search.  Enter the zip code of your desired location and select the industry to find employers.   You can also look for those who  have a certain title and work for a certain company…particularly the 10 companies you identified.  Be sure to personalize your invitation request when you connect with these employers.  Flattery still works!  You can say something like ‘Hi Ms. Smith, I was very impressed with your profile and I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.’

That’s it…..nothing more…..at first.  You must have a very subtle approach.  After they have accepted your connection, wait about 2 weeks and then mention that you are trying to get some tips on the industry.  Ask if they could give you some advice and perhaps some feedback on your resume.  BINGO!!  You get your resume in front of an employer.  You will just have to feel them out after that to determine your next steps – informational interview, asking to pass your resume on to someone else, chatting with you on the phone, recommending job websites, etc.  Under no circumstances do you ever start off by saying “I WANT A JOB WITH YOUR COMPANY!”

Also, join groups on LinkedIn for your desired industry and location.  If you want a teaching job in Dallas, you would join ‘Educators Dallas-Ft Worth.’  This will connect you to more employers and also other professionals in your industry who may be able to give you some insight.   People are nicer than you think but DO NOT STALK THEM!!

6) CHANGE YOUR HEADLINE ON LINKEDIN

This is the part immediately under your name on your profile and it is a way to market yourself.  You want to definitely showcase your 3 areas of expertise so employers can find you.  You can say “Human Resources professional seeking opportunities in Recruiting, Employee Relations, or Workforce Planning.”  Now be careful…..because your current boss may be watching!  So if you think that might be the case change “seeking opportunities” to “with expertise.”  This will at least let an employer know what your experience is in.

Also in the Summary section on LinkedIn you can actually say you are looking to relocate.

7) SET UP A SKYPE ACCOUNT

Do this if you haven’t done so already.  This will come in handy for your interview and again level the playing field.  And of course, practice answering interview questions on Skype (see my blog “How to Prepare for a Phone/Skype Interview”).

8) WRITE TARGETED COVER LETTERS

Your cover letter is your time to make a personal connection with the reader.  This is where you can mention that you will be relocating in the near future.  If you are willing to pay for your own relocation, then say that as well.  You can mention that you will be in the area soon and you would love the opportunity to interview (see the next tip).  Most importantly, let them know that you are available for a traditional, phone, or Skype interview.

9) PLAN A TRIP TO DESIRED LOCATION

This is probably the most strategic thing you should do if you want to relocate.  Plan a trip during the work week so you can do interviews – informational and traditional – whether you have any real job prospects or not.  You have to show employers that you are serious about moving and have to make interviewing you convenient for them.  Remember, you are at a slight disadvantage than local candidates by being out of town.  So you have to take the extra step.   When you connect with these employers (Tip #5), try to set up an informational interview FACE TO FACE.  The whole point really is to turn the informational interviews into real interviews, so you should treat them as such and be prepared.

(I did this and it works! I had sort of been getting the run around by an employer I really wanted to work for.  I’d had numerous phone conversations with this employer and he seemed to like me but was hesitant to make me an official job offer.  So, I planned a 3 day trip to Dallas and left him a message letting him know when I would be in town and I would love to stop by just to chat with him in person.  Once I made it to Dallas, I called him again and he told me to meet him for lunch.  I did and the next day he officially made me a job offer!   I would like to believe my assertiveness had something to do with it.)

10) DO RESEARCH ON SALARY / COST OF LIVING

Now, I didn’t do everything perfect on my first relocation to Dallas.  This is where I messed up because I didn’t quite realize the difference in the cost of living.  So consequently, I didn’t factor that into my salary negotiation.  I now know how important it is so make sure you have done the appropriate research to know the difference.  You can use www.payscale.com/cost-of-living-calculator to figure out the difference between your current city and your desired city.

So there you have it….ways you can position yourself to get a job long distance.  As I mentioned before, it’s not impossible but you do have to be strategic and have a definite plan of action.  These tips worked for me and I’m sure they will work for you as well.

Happy Relocating!!

12 Tips to Promoting Yourself (and Not Waiting for Your Supervisor to Do It)

One thing I have learned in my career is that no one else really can promote you – you have to “promote yourself.”  Sure the physical promotion may come through your supervisor recommending you and filling out the paperwork to approve it, but you have the power to ignite that process.  By thinking about where you want to be in 5…10…or 15 years, you can start working towards your goals NOW.  There are many different paths to success but here are some tips to help you along the way.

1.  DO YOUR CURRENT JOB WELL

I think this goes without saying so I won’t go into too much detail.  Of course, you must be performing satisfactorily in your current role if you would like to be promoted within your company.  Having a positive attitude might be a great add-on as well!!

2.  GET A MENTOR

80% of people who get promoted have someone higher up on the “food chain” who speaks favorably of them.  That being said, identify someone who you feel you can learn from and has been where you are trying to go.  This may be your immediate supervisor or someone 2 or 3 levels up from you.  You can actually have several mentors and it can be as formal or informal as you make it.  Maybe you have a set time to meet each month and you have questions written down or maybe you just chat whenever you can over lunch or on the phone.  Whomever you choose should be someone who you can trust to keep your conversations confidential.

3.  COME TO WORK EARLY / STAY LATE

In general you should be a few minutes early when you arrive to work.  I would say if you are supposed to be at work at 8:00, you should arrive at least by 7:45.  And as soon as the day ends at 5:00, you shouldn’t always be the first one out the door. Most managers work longer hours than their employees and if you want to be promoted, you should go ahead and adopt this practice. Coming early and staying late also shows flexibility and dependability, which is viewed very favorably in the workplace.

4.  DRESS “UP”

If you would like to be promoted, you must look the part and this means dressing a little bit more professional than what is required.  Take note of how management in your office dresses and follow suit (no pun intended).  If you notice that male managers wear a shirt and tie and the female managers wear heels, then you want to do the same.  Your supervisor has to already “see” you in the role you desire and this is somewhat determined by how you dress and carry yourself.

5. TAKE ON ADDITIONAL TASKS

You will be viewed as a team player if you occasionally take on more tasks than you are assigned.  Take the initiative to see if any of your team members need help.  Your manager will notice this.  Now, make sure when you take on these additional tasks your own workload doesn’t fall by the wayside. (See tip #1)

6.  ASSIST YOUR SUPERVISOR

Assisting your supervisor is key.  He will more than likely be the person doing the promoting and/or be your main cheerleader, so he must see your value and potential.  Do whatever you can to make his workload lighter….WITHOUT being the “teacher’s pet.”  You just simply make yourself available to assist when needed.

7.  IMPLEMENT NEW IDEAS / PROGRAMS

Regardless of what industry you are in, the ultimate goal of every company is to save money while making more money.  If you can initiate an idea that does either one of these, I would say you are well on your way to being promoted.  Companies normally identify some annual goals and perhaps a slogan for that year, center your idea/program around this.

8.  EXPRESS YOUR INTEREST TO BE PROMOTED

A lot of times people are never considered for promotions because no one knew they wanted to be promoted.  Also, your manager can’t groom or prepare you if he doesn’t know what area you are interested in.  Now, of course you shouldn’t walk into your manager’s office on day 1 and say you want to be promoted, but after a reasonable amount of time you do want to express your desire to move up.   Be sure to have an idea of what role you would like, so you can find out how to get promoted for that particular job.  Make sure you keep the lines of communication open and have frequent meetings with your supervisor.  Most employee reviews happen once a year, however, you should ask to meet once a month to discuss your strengths and opportunities for improvement.  This eliminates surprises during your annual review.   Ultimately, you must be patient and persistent because most promotions do not happen overnight.

9.  BE A DEPARTMENTAL LIAISON

When other teams/departments have an issue, you want them to think of you as the ‘go to guy.’   Learning a skill that no one else in your office knows how to do or being the best at something almost ensures this.  This way other people outside of your immediate department also recognize your value, which could give you more options as far as what areas you could be promoted to.

10.  GET MORE EDUCATION / TRAINING / SKILLS

Look into the job you want and see what education and skills are required, then do what is necessary to fill in any gaps you may have.  Get a certification, take an online training course, get better at public speaking, start a blog, join professional organizations and attend professional development workshops related to your industry, etc.  Oh yeah….as you’re doing all this, update your resume!

11.  GET LETTERS OF RECOMMENDATION

Getting letters of recommendation from those who you’ve done business with could prove extremely beneficial for you….especially if they are your clients.  After you have successfully completed a project or closed a deal, don’t be bashful about asking for a letter of recommendation.  Remember, you have a goal you are trying to reach – promotion. Three letters of recommendation should suffice.  And it doesn’t always have to be a formal letter.  If a  client emailed you praising your work, keep that email and use it as a recommendation.

12. KEEP A PORTFOLIO WITH YOUR ACCOMPLISHMENTS

This is actually something you could do for your entire career.  You should include things in your portfolio such as recommendation letters, certificates, awards, special projects, education, training, etc.  When it is time for your annual review, you are ready to show your value to the team. Use as much hard data as possible – numbers, dollars, and percentages.  Some companies may have a shared drive where they track all projects, but I highly recommend that you keep track of all your projects yourself.

BONUS TIP:  Not all promotions are vertical.  You may make a lateral move and it still be a promotion for you and get you well on your way to your ultimate goal.  Also, don’t get caught up in job titles.  Regardless of what the job title is, it is about the work you performed and what you accomplished.

The Interview is not Over until You Follow Up

Oftentimes I am asked by job seekers what they should do immediately after an interview.  They are not sure why the follow up is so important, when and how to follow up,  and the age old question….”Should I send an e-mail, mail a thank you card or leave it with the receptionist on the way out the door?” 

Let’s tackle the first area….why the follow up is so important.  Say for instance, you are having an intimate gathering at your house and you post a notice on Facebook and 100 people respond saying they want to attend.  You know you can only accommodate a few people so you choose very carefully.  You finally narrow it down to the 3 guests you will extend a personal invitation to.  Those 3 people accept and come to the intimate gathering at different times.  You speak with each of them in great detail for an hour, give them a tour of your home and feel like you have gotten to know each of them a little better.   Over the next day or 2 you begin to wonder if your guests enjoyed themselves and had a good time in your home.  You check your mailbox and to your surprise you have received a nice thank you card from 1 of the guests saying they had a great time and were really appreciative of your invite.  You didn’t hear anything from the other 2 so you are now really wondering if they had a good time or if you should have even invited them in the first place.

It is the same way with the job interview.  The employer posts a job and 100+ people submit their resume.  The employer narrows it down to the top 3 candidates to bring to his office (his “home”).  During the interview he spends time going into detail about the company and job opening and perhaps gives candidates a tour of the facilities.  Afterwards, he is trying to decide who would be the best fit for his already established team.  He comes in the next morning and finds an e-mail from you thanking him for taking the time to interview you. You also attach other information to help him understand your background and experience a little better.  He heard nothing from the other 2 candidates.  Who do you think will stand out in his mind when he goes to make the hiring decision? Exactly! That’s why it is so important…..plus it’s just  nice to be nice.  Employers say that they appreciate thank you letters and it can make the difference as to whether they hire a candidate or not.  If there are 2 candidates that are neck and neck and the hiring manager needs to make a decision between the 2, he is more likely to lean towards the one that sent a thank you.

The second area…..when and how to follow up.  You should definitely follow up with an employer right away.  You want to do it while they still remember you and you have an opportunity to make a final impression on them.   Now, whether you e-mail or use snail mail or give a thank card to the receptionist on your way out the door, I don’t think it really matters.   All of these are acceptable methods and serve the same purpose.  The ultimate objective is to thank them BEFORE they make their hiring decision.  Obviously, giving a thank you card to the receptionist or sending an e-mail later that evening when you get home guarantees an immediate effect.  But having them receive a card in the mail from you is also a nice touch because we all like to receive something in the mail.  If you do decide to go with a thank you card, make sure it is professional and standard (nothing pink with flowers and polka dots).  It should be bare on the inside or have minimal words.  (Tip:  If you don’t have good penmanship, get someone else to write inside the card for you!)

Here is an example of a thank you sent as an e-mail:

Dear Mr./Ms. (last name):

It was a pleasure meeting you today.  Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to visit (company name) and interview for the _________________ position.  I was especially interested to learn that your company (mention something specific discussed in the interview).

I have included my LinkedIn profile/portfolio/website/blog* so you can get a more in-depth look at my skills and background.  I am excited about the possibility of becoming a member of your team.  If you need any further information, you may contact me at (214) 555-5555.  I look forward to hearing from you soon.  Thanks again!

Sincerely,

Jane Doe

* Pick just one to include in the thank you letter.

 

Don’t Let the Job Description Scare You – It’s Just a Suggestion

How many times have you seen a job description and thought “there’s no way I’ll get that job?”  Did you think “I don’t have the skills or education?”  You were probably saying to yourself “I won’t get an interview or get hired.”  I know the feeling. I have been there many times myself.

When employers post jobs and the qualifications of their ideal candidate, it is just a suggestion.  They are telling you what they would like to have in an “ideal” candidate.  For every job that I have ever gotten, I probably only had about 50% of the requirements.  A lot of times you are your own worst enemy and talk yourself out of a perfectly obtainable job.  The worst thing that could happen is you apply for it and don’t get it. Well that’s the way it is right now….you don’t have the job.  So you have absolutely NOTHING to lose.  You only have something to gain.

Now of course, if the job is requiring 5 – 7 years experience and you only have 1 -2 then maybe you shouldn’t apply but if you have at least 4 years, I would definitely apply.  You are in close proximity to what they are looking for and if you can convince them that you have a good foundation, can be trained and they like you then you have a good chance of getting the job.

Don’t let the job description intimidate you.  Go ahead and apply….it’s just a suggestion.

Several years ago I applied for a job in which I only had about 45 – 50% of what they were looking for.  Of course, I was nervous about the interview and what they might ask me but I made a special point to ask lots of questions and take lots of notes.  Many of the questions they asked me in the interview were about my experience.  I honestly told them that my knowledge was limited but I assured them I could learn it very quickly. I didn’t feel like the interview went very well but I did the best I could and got through it.  Eventually I got the job and needless to say, I was very shocked!!  During my first week I asked my supervisor what made them hire me. She said,  “Well, you really didn’t have all of the qualifications that we were looking for, but you asked good questions in your interview.  So we thought that if we hired you, you would continue to ask good questions  and learn to do your job very well.”  Wow!  So they were willing to overlook my lack of qualifications because I showed interest in the job.

At another job, I was a manager for a number of years and used to look for certain qualities and experience in my “ideal” candidates.  When I didn’t find 100% what I was looking for, I went to the next best thing and that was the person who was the MOST qualified.  I offered the job to the person who had a good foundation to come in a learn what I needed them to know.  No one I interviewed during those 4 years ever had  EVERYTHING I was looking for.

So again, don’t be intimidated by the job description and your ‘lack’ of qualifications.  Go ahead and apply for the job….the requirements are just a suggestion.