How can I find a new job quickly?
July 12, 2005 8:04 AM   Subscribe

I'm planning a move in late November, from Boston to San Francisco. At the moment, it's looking like I'm going to arrive there and THEN begin my job search. 1. Am I completely nuts? 2. What can I do to help my odds of landing a job quickly?

I'm 25 years old, I've lived in Boston my entire life, I just graduated from college (worked full time while taking classes) and I'm looking for a new challenge, an adventure, a change of scenery, etc. I've visited San Francisco several times and I really love it there. I have a couple of friends and a cousin living there, so I won't be a total stranger.

My full-time work for the past five years has been in the IT industry, and I'm a very capable Unix system administrator. I have a solid resume, I clean up well, and I'm an all-around nice guy. However, the three full-time jobs I've had were all the result of personal networking, where the people hiring me already knew me in some capacity, and so the interviews and other pre-hire things were mostly just a formality. I may be able to work my network in San Francisco, but it's fairly small and I don't want to count on it coming through for me. I'm not really scared of going on _real_ job interviews, but I'm looking for tips on landing them and then making the most of those face-to-face meetings.

So far this is sounding vague, but I'm not sure what else to write. I'll monitor the thread today and respond to any additional questions anyone has for me.
posted by autojack to Work & Money (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I've done this both ways, so here are my thoughts in no particular order.

When I moved from Boston to DC six years ago, I did absolutely nothing in the way of finding a job until i got to DC and realized that $600 in the bank wasn't going to be enough to pay the rent in a month. I picked up the Post, answered a couple of ads and had 2 part time jobs inside of a week (I was going to school at the time). That worked out well, but when I look back I can't believe I left it so up in the air like that.

Now I'm moving from DC to KC (in 3 weeks) and have been looking for a job in KC since August. Scouring the local paper,, and every networking thing I can find - I haven't found a job. This situation is different in that I'm moving in with the boy, so I have some wiggle room, but still.

But you're not looking for my story, you're looking for advice. I'd start looking in the local SF paper online, do Monster just to see what companies are out there (I've never had any luck with Monster for actually getting the job), find recruiters in the area and get them your resume, and work the networks you have now; you never know who might know someone in SF. Go straight to company websites once you know what's in the area.

I don't know if IT work uses temporary placement at all, but if it does, get yourself signed up with an agency so that you have some money coming in while you look. The logistics of interviewing from 3000 miles away are pretty ridiculous; realistically you won't really be able to do face to face interviews until you move there.

The other thing I've found is that until you're about one month away from being there, no one will even talk to you. People are looking to fill positions now, they aren't interested in talking to someone who won't be around for several months. So if you start looking and don't get any hits, don't get discouraged.

There, that's it. Good luck, it sounds like you won't have much trouble.
posted by jennaratrix at 8:22 AM on July 12, 2005

As jennatrix said, as long as you're willing to temp or take some other not-perfect job at the beginning, you should be fine. And many HR professionals on a number of bulletin boards I've read have said they won't hire out-of-towners, even if the applicant was planning on paying for his or her own move anyway, because there's too much of a chance that the applicant will change his or her mind at the last minute.
posted by occhiblu at 8:48 AM on July 12, 2005

1. Am I completely nuts?

Yes. Keep in mind that you're moving to one of the most saturated IT markets in the country, so every time you answer a job ad you'll be competing with two hundred other guys, many of whom will have more experience than you. 5 years isn't much systems administration work these days, I'm afraid, unless you're really, really good with enterprise Unix products (ie, you haven't just futzed about with Linux).

Be prepared to dumb your resume down to take junior admin jobs and help desk roles initially, or shitty office filing temp jobs.
posted by cmonkey at 9:00 AM on July 12, 2005

Oh, but I don't mean to sound so discouraging. Moving far away without a job waiting for you is quite fun, just make sure you have a few months of savings to get you through.
posted by cmonkey at 9:01 AM on July 12, 2005

Good sysadmins in SF are hard to find. Hard to believe, I know, but true.

I'll forward the three sysadmin job listings open at my company to you.
posted by rajbot at 9:41 AM on July 12, 2005

Oh. You are moving in November.

A lot of companies don't hire in November or December, but wait until January. I think there will be more opportunities available in January than in November.

If I was you, I would poke around cl in Sept and October, find a gig, and tell them you need a November start date. Big companies usually have no problem with a delayed start date if you ask for one. Smaller companies will be more pushy.
posted by rajbot at 10:06 AM on July 12, 2005

Craigslist is huge in the bay area, you're more likely to find a job/apartment/car/whatever on that site than anywhere else.
posted by cali at 12:28 PM on July 12, 2005

Cali, I do know that Craigslist is huge in the bay area, and I already use it quite a bit in Boston. I'm definitely planning to use that heavily for the job and housing search.

Rajbot, I'm actually planning to leave Boston at the very end of November, so if I end up taking a month to get settled and start pounding the pavement making connections and stuff, and actually get hired in January, that will be OK. I got the job offers you forwarded, thanks!

Cmonkey, I understand what you're saying completely. I confess, my Unix admin skill is very Linux-focused, though I'm comfortable in Solaris also. But I am aware that I'm going to be at somewhat of a disadvantage at least in terms of that specific aspect of my resume. I'm hoping to make up for it in other areas, like written and verbal communication skills, including proven proficiency at documentation of work and stuff like that.

Occhiblu, I'm definitely ready to accept some crappy temp work at first just to bring in some money and make contacts. I forgot to mention in my initial post that I have a friend out there who works for a temp agency. I should be able to get work of SOME kind at least through him.

Jennaratrix, a good anecdote is as useful to me as any specific advice, so thanks :-) I know I'm not the first person to be in this position, but it helps to be reminded that other people have succeeded at it also.

I guess what I'm really wondering still is, what kinds of things can I do to make myself stand out among the competition?
posted by autojack at 1:29 PM on July 12, 2005

I guess what I'm really wondering still is, what kinds of things can I do to make myself stand out among the competition?

I've noticed that "serious" certifications seem to help (by serious, of course, I don't mean an MCSE). Getting a CCNA or CISSP cert might be a good idea, although they're terribly expensive.

Do you work on any visible open source projects? That's always a good way to make your resume more impressive, especially if you've written articles or presented papers about it.
posted by cmonkey at 8:40 PM on July 12, 2005

Build out that resume. Talk about projects you've contributed to and specific things you've done in the past. Not just the impressive stuff, but the little stuff. You want to show the breadth and depth of your experience. Show that you're not the kind of sysadmin that only knows how to use the GUI tools.

Oh, and include a portfolio, or a link to a portfolio. Include code that shows off your skill and style, some documentation (perhaps some Standard Operating Procedures or system architecture diagrams), and whatever little tools you've written that have your life easier. If the interviewing manager has had a problem the tool solves, you'll get big bonus points. :)
posted by Laen at 9:06 PM on July 12, 2005

« Older Website visitor survey   |   Where to find a travel toy from the 70s? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.