Maybe you have your heart set on working in New York City after graduation, but you're currently finishing your degree in Minnesota. Or perhaps all your dream jobs happen to be based in Seattle.
Whether moving has been on your mind for ages or you're just starting to think about where to relocate after college, here are five tips for how to get a job in another state or city.
1. Identify where you want to move after college, and why
Whether it's living in a particular city or an industry sector that's geographically-focused that's driving you, your first step is deciding where you'd like to live and work. Identifying where to move after college will help you stay focused as you build your network in that place.
"If you've got a network in place, it will make the search a lot easier," says Cory Werkheiser, assistant director of career and professional development for the School of Business at the College of Charleston.
As you network, potential colleagues and employers might ask you, "Why do you want to relocate to this area?"— you should have a thoughtful response to the question.
Here are a few reasons recent graduates relocate after college:
- Presence of a support network, like friends and family
- Better prospects for jobs in your industry
- Personal preference
Keep in mind: It might seem like everyone you know is based in one location but tapping into your extended network might reveal that you have more connections than you realize in a new location.
2. Study up on the specifics of your future home
"Research is key," says Paul Timmins, director of career services for the College of Liberal Arts at the University of Minnesota. "Learn as much as possible about the place that you're considering relocating to and the organizations you want to work for."
You'll also want to keep in mind, before you get your heart set on a specific location, that some locations are more expensive than others – and choosing them may put a real strain on you financially as you get started in your career. Cities like San Jose, CA, Santa Cruz, CA, San Francisco, CA, Honolulu, HI and New York city can cost over 25 percent more than the national average.
That's not always easy to do remotely, Timmons admits. "Sometimes people just choose to move to the place that they want to live in, even before they find a job. That can be challenging by itself, but at least it puts the person in a position to do face-to-face meetings and more easily go on job interviews in person."
Moving back to the place where you grew up is often the first choice or even a safe fallback, but it might not be the best option if it's an area with high rent or limited job prospects in your field.
"It's really about finding the prospects in that area and doing research on what the job market is like, what the economy is like, and what the cost of living is," says Werkheiser. "If they can't find satisfactory answers to those questions, then they need to consider if that's really the best move for them."
3. Carefully consider finances
Moving for a job after college can be expensive. Entry-level jobs with paid relocation are rare. And unless you are in a highly sought-after industry, employers don't typically cover expenses to travel to interviews.
Start putting money aside now for these job-search expenses:
- Self-funded trips to interview for jobs. Plan to pay for hotel/AirBnB stays, food and transportation costs.
- Apartment costs and moving-related expenses. You might need to rent a van or container to get your possessions from Point A to Point B or you may decide to put your things in storage for a while.
- Miscellaneous moving expenses. This list can include fees to update your driver's license and vehicle registration, buying furniture for your new place and having enough money to cover downtime between the day you arrive and the day your first paycheck rolls in.
Try to do as much interviewing and networking virtually as possible. If you must travel for an interview, look for opportunities to meet with more than one employer while on the trip.
"I've had six remote job searches in my career, and four of those were out of state. It requires a lot of planning to maximize your time and money when traveling for interviews," says Werkheiser. "I've scheduled more than one interview at a time, and also used my visit to the area for the interview to cold call other potential employers."
Thinking about all of these elements early will make getting a job in another state easier.
"Many jobs searches take up to six months," says Timmons. "Plan ahead, but while it's always better to start early, it's also never too late."
4. Tap into your extended network
Your college career center is a great place to learn more about the place you're moving to and your job prospects there.
"Just about every career center has some sort of job posting database, oftentimes with access to national jobs," says Timmons.
You should also check out alumni associations and their graduate databases. Make connections with alumni in the area you want to move to, as well as those in industries related to your field. Attend local chapter events for your alumni association while visiting your new city; you can meet new contacts in an informal setting where you already have something in common.
"Connecting with alumni is a powerful tool," Timmons says. "You don't have to ask them for a job. In fact, I would recommend not asking for a job right up front, but instead ask them for advice."
Online networking tools, especially LinkedIn, are another way to grow your network when relocating after college.
"LinkedIn is such a powerful tool for identifying people working in certain organizations or working in the industry in the location you are interested in," says Timmons. "In many cases, people are very willing to field questions from someone who simply says, 'I'm a recent college graduate, I'm interested in exploring positions in your company or in your city. Would you be willing to answer a few questions?'"
Chapters of professional associations in your desired location are also a great resource. Attending one of their networking events can give you the chance to learn more about the community and the industry. Use LinkedIn to find out more about these local organizations.
Updating your LinkedIn profile and reconnecting with people you know in your future hometown will go a long way to show that you're already part of the local community. Perhaps you'll discover that someone in your network already works at the company you're applying to or knows someone who is employed there. This type of insight is invaluable during a long-distance job search.
5. Prepare your application materials
Applicants applying remotely have the added challenge of conveying that they are serious about both the move and the position. You can also see your move as an opportunity to demonstrate how focused you are on your goals – and that you're willing to put your time and money behind your decision.
Be sure to make sure your message to hiring managers is clear with a polished resume and a well-written cover letter. They are your first concrete steps to applying for a job in your new city. Use our Resume Builder and Cover Letter Builder to create an application package that will stand out, no matter where you're based or where you're headed.