How to Job Hunt in a New City Before You Live There

job hunt

Are you interested in working in a new city, but wondering how to get some proverbial irons in the fire before moving there? There is plenty you can do to set yourself up for career success in the city (or state or country) of your dreams.

Here are a few tips to get started:

1. Include the move on your resume

Make a note of your upcoming move on your resume by adding, “Relocating to [CITY] in [MONTH, YEAR]” in parentheses below your current address.

2. Start networking yesterday

It’s never too early to start networking! Take time to search for upcoming Idealist Day events, LinkedIn for local connections, and local professional associations for networking and social events. While you may not be ready to attend an in-person event, chances are, you’ll stumble across at least a few digital events (think webinars, Hangouts, remote volunteer opportunities, etc.) that could open the door to a connection in your new city.

3. Craft your elevator pitch (or in this case, your moving truck pitch)

If you have job searched before, you’ll know that every interaction can open a door to an opportunity (whether it was intentional or not). To make sure that you’re always ready to make your case as a soon-to-relocate superstar, you’ll want to have a quick and professional response ready for whenever anyone asks, “So, why are you moving?” Rather than telling everyone and their mother all the dirty details of exactly how you decided it was time to move, try something like this:

I have always wanted to live in a coastal city because of my interest in environmental issues, especially those that relate to water and climate. I decided on [CITY] after researching the types of organizations that call [CITY] their home and finding that quite a few of them really spoke to me and my interest in [ISSUE AREA].”

4. Consider taking your current job along for the ride

It has been a while since we originally published some advice on this very topic, and since then, times have changed! While five or 10 years ago, it may have been out of the question to do your work remotely, more and more organizations and adopting flexible work policies. If you love what you do (but don’t love your neighbors, your rent, the occasional polar vortex, etc.) consider talking to your employer about whether they would be open to a remote-work arrangement. You never know until you try!

Pro Tip: Before starting this conversation, you’ll really want to take the temperature of your organization. If, for any reason, this is a request that may be met with an unpleasant ultimatum, be sure that you’re ready to face those consequences.

5. Show your new connections that the distance ain’t no thing

So, you are making long-distance connections like crazy, offered the specifics of your move on your resume, and even landed a few first-round interviews. Now it’s time to prove that you are so on top of this long-distance process (as well as your upcoming move).

Show your network and potential employers that even from far away, you can be super responsive to their needs by responding to emails post-haste and always answering your phone (within reason). You can even anticipate any pain points that a future employer may consider by suggesting solutions before they come up. Here’s what I mean:

  • Pain point: You and your future city of residence aren’t in the same time zone. What to tell a potential employer: “Just an FYI, I’ll always adjust my schedule to accommodate our time zone differences and your schedule. It’s important to me that our exchanges are convenient for you.”
  • Pain point: A potential employer may not be tech-savvy and perhaps will prefer to communicate via phone as opposed to Skype or Google Hangout. What to tell a potential employer: “I am available to connect via Skype, Google Hangout, phone, or email. Whatever medium is most comfortable for you works for me. I’d also love to meet in person whenever it’s convenient for you and am happy to make the trip.”
  • Paint point: If you’re looking for employment in a new country, a potential employer may not know the specific legalities associated with bringing you onto the team. What to tell a potential employer: “According to [MY RESEARCH/THE EMBASSY/MY CAREER COACH], it looks like I’ll need to get an employment visa to work in [COUNTRY NAME]. I’d be happy to share some of the resources I came across that could guide you through the process if you were to bring me on as an employee.”


Landed a job before you had a local address? Share your success story with the Idealist Careers community.

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As a seasoned communications professional with 15 years of nonprofit experience and 6 years of experience creating engaging content and copy, I love the idea that a thoughtfully crafted piece of content can spark social change. Here at Idealist Careers, I'm eager to offer job seekers, game changers, and do-gooders actionable tips, career resources, and "social-impact lifestyle" advice.
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