Want Dallas! Need job!
February 23, 2010 10:17 PM   Subscribe

I'm trying to move to the Dallas, Texas area, but I need a job first - and I won't be able to interview in person. Lots more inside.

My love is in Dallas, I currently live in Delaware, and my current in employer is, and will continue to be, less than helpful in terms of me transitioning or giving me time off to fly to Dallas for interviews (and anyway, I cringe at the notion of flying halfway across the country, perhaps several times, simply for possibilities. I'm not made of money).

So, I need to try to either interview remotely or get work somewhere that has a constant need and will work with qualified candidates.

And just what are those qualifications? Well, that may be another problem. I've had a decent job (40k range) working in different operations areas of a large investment bank over the last seven years. But I don't have a college degree, and a lot of my work over the last few years is being an expert user and UAT tester of in-house software. I'm not sure this will pop on a resume. I also don't think my industry is a likely one for me to find work without at least one sit-down interview.

Which could be fine, I have no love for banking, and would settle for something in the 30k range or maybe even slightly less if I can find a cheap apartment in a neighborhood not rife with crime.

I think I am open to anything except for heavy lifting, physical security, or telemarketing/commission-based sales. My experience is all largely in that nebulous world of "operations," and some phone bank experience (opinion polls) before that. I wonder if it would be worth the money to enroll with a "headhunter," which, by virtue of the fact that you pay them, seems to me a more attractive (possibly naively) option than a traditional temp agency.

Sorry for the rambling, I just wanted to make sure I conveyed what I think are all the necessary details. Any ideas?
posted by mreleganza to Work & Money (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I wonder if it would be worth the money to enroll with a "headhunter," which, by virtue of the fact that you pay them, seems to me a more attractive (possibly naively) option than a traditional temp agency.

(1) Reputable headhunters are not retained by the job searcher but rather by the employer. Don't pay a fee to anyone for job leads.

(2) No offense, but at $30,000 or $40,000, or even $100,000 per year, no true headhunter is going to pay you any mind. Headhunters recruit for senior executives, who earn many multiples of the salary level you seem to be aiming for. You may have in mind recruiters, of which headhunters are an elite subset.

In any event, no job seeker will ever pay a reputable recruiter (headhunter or not) a fee.
posted by dfriedman at 10:55 PM on February 23, 2010

Honestly, the only solution I can think of for you is to save up enough money to live in Dallas for at 3 months while looking for work and then to take any and every job you can find until you find something more permanent.

I highly doubt a legit headhunter would take you on.

Some jobs may be willing to have a first round interview be over the phone and then only want an in person interview if you make it to the final round. They may or may not pay. At the pay range you are looking at, I'm guessing they would not pay to fly you out to an interview, but you never know.

Another option, which is a long shot, is to a get a job in Delaware with a big company that will easily allow you to transfer. I've heard that companies like Costco and Home Depot basically allow their employees to transfer to another branch with little headache, but you'll probably be taking a pay cut and you might have to work for a certain amount of time before you could transfer.
posted by whoaali at 11:30 PM on February 23, 2010

Response by poster: Alright...I had big misconceptions on headhuntery. Consider that part withdrawn.
posted by mreleganza at 12:12 AM on February 24, 2010

When I was a senior in college and interviewing for jobs that paid about $56k/year, multiple companies flew me from Oklahoma to Dallas and Ft. Worth for interviews. So it's not out of the realm of possibilities. But it's only likely to happen if you look for jobs that will continue your established career, not jobs that you just take to pay the bills. I know this is just an AskMeFi question, not a resume, but you're talking your experience down, when you need to talk it up. Half of being perceived as a professional at what you do is just playing the part. :)

Don't sell yourself short because you worked with in-house software. I used to work for a company in which one department created GUI and command-line tools in C and another department used them to develop the software that the company actually sold, and many programmers from the second department went on to programming jobs at other companies. It's more about extrapolating your testing skills to other types of software.

I went through a (successful) long-distance job search while living in the U.S. and looking in Europe. So, bonus immigration issues! Some things that worked for me:

* In your cover letter, be up-front about the fact that you live out of state and want to move. There's no sense in being cagey about it. "I'm an experienced banking operations professional, looking to move to the Dallas area." Then, of course, explain why you're a perfect fit for their advertised opening (so you don't give the impression that you want to "use" them to move to Dallas).

* Schedule one definite trip to Dallas. I picked one week that I would definitely be in the country and put that in my cover letter. "I will be in Dallas April 20-24 and I would love to meet with you in person to talk about what I can bring to xxx company." I interviewed with three companies in that week, and they were all very understanding about why I needed to interview during that week, specifically. Just be sure it's far enough in the future that they'll have time to schedule it with the appropriate manager(s).

* Find out which big companies in DFW are likely to have an opening for you. Lots of big banks and big software companies have offices in DFW. Check their web sites for openings. I found this method to be much more helpful than using sites like monster.com. When searching for big banks, don't forget regional banks. Don't forget to look at the DFW suburbs, like Richardson, Plano, Farmer's Branch, etc.

* An initial phone interview is quite likely since you're out of state, so make it really easy for them to do a phone interview. Be sure you have access to a land line in a quiet, private place. Read the advice here.

You can start searching and applying while saving up to take some time off, as whoaali suggested. There's nothing to lose by starting to apply, and if nothing works out, a brief blank spot on your resume while you move and job search in person isn't anything to be ashamed of.

You can definitely live in the Dallas area on $30k/year, although you'll live much more nicely in the suburbs than in town. I lived in four different apartments during my five years in Dallas, and my apartment-finding strategy was always to 1) find the big highway closest to my office and 2) follow the map out until I reached the edge of a suburb. There are always big apartment complexes in those areas that have one-bedrooms for $500-ish/month.
posted by transporter accident amy at 12:40 AM on February 24, 2010

It depends on the company and the job, but the prospective employer might pay for your flight, or do a phone interview.
posted by delmoi at 2:34 AM on February 24, 2010

I had no trouble finding jobs in Dallas from around 1998 (when I first moved there) till I accepted my last job around 2002 or so (which I kept until I left to move back north in 2006). I was never unemployed for more than two weeks or so, even when I was suddenly laid off from Ericsson at the beginning of 2002.

Assuming the job market hasn't totally tanked, but keeping in mind your job market might not be my job market, I am inclined to agree with whoaali and say that saving for three month's worth of time in Dallas should probably be enough to find you a job.

When I first moved there, I had a buddy that let me crash at his place for free until I had a job and enough cash to get a place of my own. Any chance you can stay with your love? Or did you mean that your love is in Dallas the same way that one's heart is in San Francisco? :)
posted by Jinkeez at 4:33 AM on February 24, 2010

Response by poster: Any chance you can stay with your love?

I meant to answer that in my OP. I can't stay with my girlfriend because her very-religious family will give her too much grief for living with a guy she is not married to.
posted by mreleganza at 7:43 AM on February 24, 2010

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