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How to find a job in a distant city

Dear Evil HR Lady,

I've been in HR for about 13 years now (since college). I currently have a stable, decent paying job, but I have decided to move back to the city I grew up in, about 800 miles away.

My move is scheduled for Spring 2012. I should be able to support myself for about 3 months in order to look for work. Any tips on this? I feel like it would be impossible to find work from so far away, but I'm also scared to make the move and risk not finding a job.

I am assuming you have a good reason for moving, and not just that you're bored with your current town. If you are just itching to move, I'd suggest waiting to move until after you've found a job, but I'm highly risk averse, so take that for what it's worth.

First of all, companies don't want to pay relocation costs and they don't want to pay to fly you in to interview. Sure, there are jobs that will provide relocation and will fly you down, but you need to be highly specialized and in high demand for that type of treatment these days. (In the past you could find someone to do that fairly easily, but not right now.) So you need to make it abundantly clear that you are paying for all that.

Did I just hurt your wallet? Eight hundred miles is too far to drive for a half day interview, and while some companies may pay for the trip, you'll expand your opportunities if you are willing to pay yourself.

You have a big advantage in that this is the town you grew up in. Make this clear so that they don't think you're following a spouse (or worse, a boyfriend/girlfriend). Why is that important? Because so many people cannot leave home, ever. They think they can, pack up and move, and then find themselves miserable. (And act to make themselves miserable -- I had one neighbor who moved from across the country and moaned and complained about how terrible Pennsylvania was and how mean everyone was and only "home" would work. As the rest of us started comparing notes we discovered that she'd turned down multiple invitations to dinner as well as play dates for her children. She was determined to be unhappy and, drum roll please, she was. She did end up moving back home -- to the same street her parents lived on. (Hope she's happy now.) Anyway, anybody who has dealt with relocation has run into someone like that.

Additionally, moving back to your hometown means you already know people. This means you have a built-in network. So what if you haven't kept up with these people? That's what Facebook is for. Let everyone know you are coming and are looking for a job. And you know who can be good resources? Your high school friends' parents. (Assuming you weren't a jerk in high school.) It's likely that many of them still live around there and even more likely that they have some influence in the local companies.

If you have an address already in your new location, put it on your resume with an effective date on it. Get your new cell phone for that area with a local area code. You may think this is silly, in the day of cheap long distance, but it will make people more willing to call you.

It will be harder to find a job at a distance, but it's certainly possible. Put your best foot forward, make it clear that you are coming and are excited about it, and that you'll pay for your own move. And consider not setting your moving date in stone. You don't want to get a job offer contingent on being ready to start Feb. 1 and you can't go, because you aren't ready to go until spring.

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