How do I find a job and move from 1000 miles away?
September 29, 2017 9:02 AM   Subscribe

I need to move from the midwest to the west. The precise location isn't really important for this question. The timeframe doesn't have any hard constraints, but I want to do this within a year. I don't know how to go about looking for a job from out of state. I'll figure out the moving logistics later.

First, the good news is that I'm single with no property or kids so I could theoretically pack up and leave today if money weren't an issue. I have done exactly this before, but I was 20 and able to pick up a retail job in a week.

The bad news is that money is an issue because I've been unemployed since March. I'm pretty depressed and that has kept me from making much progress on my job search. I also really, really do not want to live here anymore and the thought of committing to a job here fills me with existential panic. Moving west is essential to my mental health.

My last job title was "project manager" but I really don't have the requisite experience (or certifications) to realistically get another job with that title, so I've been looking at business analyst and project coordinator positions. But this isn't particularly relevant either; I will do just about anything if I can live in a place where I can walk outside and see mountains. I'm not physically suited for "pick-up" jobs (waitstaff, day laborer) but I'd take a step down in prestige and pay just to make this happen. I'm overqualified for most things; I have a master's degree, but I've never worked in that field.

I don't know how to make this happen. It's unaffordable to drive or fly back and forth for job interviews. I haven't even gotten interviews here (though again, my search has been half-hearted) so I'm not sure why they'd interview someone from out of state. I don't know anyone in this area who would know about jobs. (In case you live out there, the strongest contenders are the Boulder/Fort Collins region - but not Denver - or Bozeman and Missoula).

My best idea is to find a 6-9 month contract here and eat ramen to save up enough to live off for a couple of months. Then move without a job and take whatever I can find to pay the rent while I look for a "real" job.
posted by AFABulous to Work & Money (18 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: "I'm overqualified for most things" = "I'm overqualified for most entry level positions"
posted by AFABulous at 9:03 AM on September 29, 2017

It didn't really help with finding something before I moved, but when I did a big move at one point while I was still in accounting, I think I had an easier time getting Accountemps to find me something in my new city because I had a good history with Accountemps previously in my old city. A lot of those temp agencies are also used to dealing with people who've had disruptions in employment and are in kind of weird situations as far as education, career plans, etc. So if you do contract work through an agency that has some national presence, you may be able to carry over some goodwill when you show up in the new place.
posted by Sequence at 9:14 AM on September 29, 2017 [10 favorites]

Hopefully some people come along with some good insights more suited to your field but in the meantime you might be interested in , a site in which ski areas near places like Bozeman and others post seasonal jobs - they need people even in the summer, so you can keep an eye on it. Though housing might be tight in some places it would at least be a possible job source while you look, and get you into the state - the advantage would be places like that would have no problem with out-of-state potential employees.

FYI: At first glance the jobs might be more physical (like server) but there's some interesting, non-physical ones that pop up frequently if you keep an eye on it/create email alerts.
posted by barchan at 9:21 AM on September 29, 2017

I made a 6 state move for a job and applied to jobs across the country. I'm not sure what your field is like, but in mine they were looking just for a good candidate no matter where they were. Applying at bigger companies, universities, and some non-profits gave me options for moving packages and they paid for relocation. Otherwise, scouring LinkedIn jobs is where I found my cross country job. Indeed was also a good source. Non profit of X state job boards. Company's website. University websites. for tons of organizations job postings. I just checked and there's quite a few "project manager" titles. Good luck!
posted by buttonedup at 9:26 AM on September 29, 2017

You might be able to get a job with a large company with a branch local to you and then be able to transfer to another location. Many companies require more than a year in the initial job though, but there are exceptions. If you have the skills and temperament to do grocery store management and can find a chain that's present in both locations, they tend to be fairly friendly to transfers when an opportunity opens up.

You can attempt to do the same thing with a larger temping company - take a ~1 year assignment locally to get credibility with the company and then see if they'll refer you to the other location.

You can contact recruiters in the potential destinations and see if they'll shop your resume around for you. This will work best if you know someone else that's worked with the recruiter before and will offer a reference.

The bad news is that money is an issue because I've been unemployed since March.

Are any of your possible destinations somewhere where your cash burn rate will be the same as where you are now? If so, you might just make the jump to a healthier new environment.
posted by Candleman at 9:30 AM on September 29, 2017 [1 favorite]

Ski season in starting soon, and seasonal jobs are opening up. How are you with dirtbag van life for a bit ? Life in a ski town has it's challenges - but the jobs often offer housing and food in addition to a wage, and that can get you started.

I have a friend who literally lives in his camper van, and bops between jobs all over the state. It's not a life for me, but, he seems to really enjoy it - and it's probably the only way a non-millionaire can live in and enjoy a ski town.

As you've surmised, it will be much easier getting a job once you have a localish address. Once you're here, that gets easier. Then it just sorta comes together. If you're interested in moving to the (better!) side of the state, I can maybe offer some help. MeMail if you like.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 9:32 AM on September 29, 2017 [2 favorites]

I have done this twice. I had no issues getting interviews due to where I was located. Maybe one or two said, "Why do you want to move here?!" in a jokey way. But they were mostly looking at my qualifications and experiences, not location. Plus, it works in your favor that your timeline is flexible and you don't really have to coordinate with school calendars or getting a job for a significant other.

Traveling to interviews turned out not to be a thing. I had phone interviews, and as things progressed, they were more than willing to do Skype interviews. I'm glad to have done the Skype interviews. You can read body language and get a better sense of personalities. If you end up not being able to travel for interviews or they won't pay, please ask for that.
posted by BlueBear at 9:40 AM on September 29, 2017 [1 favorite]

I applied for jobs in WI while living in NM, and listed a WI address first on my resume to indicate I was serious about positions in the area. If you’re able to get a P.O. box or other mailing address closer to where you are applying, this may get you past the initial resume scan, and you can address your need for a phone or Skype interview as a logistical issue and not a show-stopper.
posted by worstname at 9:42 AM on September 29, 2017

There is really no reason to even list your address on a resume in 2017. Who the hell is going to mail you something? Get the interview, then explain you are moving west.

Another option - look for location independent jobs and then you can move whenever and wherever you want. gets promoted a lot around here as a source for those type of jobs.
posted by COD at 9:56 AM on September 29, 2017 [1 favorite]

My office (I work for state government in New Mexico) hires people just from phone interviews. We don't pay for moving expenses. In the last few years we've hired people that have moved from Utah, Washington, Oklahoma... so, there are places that hire just from phone interviews. State government jobs in Colorado require state residency, unfortunately.
posted by BooneTheCowboyToy at 9:57 AM on September 29, 2017 [2 favorites]

Just a vote to think about considering Pogo_Fuzzybutt's suggestion of the Western Slope of CO if you're more interested in smaller towns - there's numerous cool towns and cool areas you might like there if you're fond of Bozeman/Missoula type places! (IMHO Durango is particularly awesome but there's also places like Telluride, Grand Junction, Glenwood Springs, etc.)
posted by barchan at 10:02 AM on September 29, 2017 [1 favorite]

If you feel up to it, I think the thing in your last paragraph is not the worst idea.

I've interviewed for jobs way out of state. Some places will do a Skype interview but I think honestly mostly they'd rather not bother with it. Also it's hard to make a good impression that way, it seems to me. But you can ask--some places will do it.
posted by Smearcase at 10:06 AM on September 29, 2017

I'd focus on jobs at Universities and State/Local government. These jobs will be discoverable online, and they will not be opposed to phone/Skype interviews. They almost certainly won't pay relocation, but they will be stable and have decent benefits.

If you are applying for entry-level stuff, I'd leave the Master's off your resume. I never landed entry-level interviews until I did that.
posted by Rock Steady at 10:35 AM on September 29, 2017

Take my advice with a grain of salt, because I still don't have an offer in hand (although I'm expecting one later today or Monday!) two months after moving to a new state, but...

Three things that I found helpful:

-Get a local address and a Google Voice number in your target area code. It'll make you look like a local candidate. You'll at least get past the initial glance.

-Indicate in both your cover letter and the Summary section of your resume that you're telocating to the area, and when.

-Contact staffing agencies in your industry for informational interviews. Like you, I'm probably overqualified for most entry-level positions. I didn't expect to find long-term full-time employment through a staffing agency, but talking to a few of them helped me get an idea of how many and what kind of jobs are out there. They'll also give you suggestions on how to make yourself more attractive as a candidate for more senior jobs. If it turns out you find something through the agency, that's a bonus.

In terms of interviewing, it seems like most places are ok with phone/Skype interviewing these days. Don't worry about that part too much.

The biggest problem is that you won't have much of a network. I'm increasingly convinced that knowing someone on the inside is pretty much the only way to get a job these days, and so unless you know some people out west akready, it'll be tough sledding for you. I'm not sure how to go about doing this, but if you could somehow find a way to build a network, that would be advantageous.
posted by kevinbelt at 10:41 AM on September 29, 2017

I have a friend who does this constantly. In the 17 years I've known him, he's lived in Indiana, Oregon, Washington, NYC, and Louisiana. Some of those places he's moved back to more than once. He just goes where he wants and then looks for work. Sometimes things get really tight and sometimes he finds work right away. Once he ended up stopping in Reno or LV and gambling for enough money to have a hotel room for a few nights because he had pneumonia and another time he had enough money saved up so that he could rent a UHaul and a trailer for his car. He just takes whatever resources he has, identifies his desired location., and leaves with whatever he can afford to bring with him. Sometimes he has furniture and sometimes he ends up using broken CRTs hauled out of the trash as chairs until he can afford things made out of wood and fabric. When he gets there he works at banks or pizza joints or universities. Whatever he can get. Somehow he has managed to avoid starving and even got a college degree while doing all of this.

You can do this. The real question is, how comfortable do you have to be while you're doing it? That, more than anything else, is what will define your timeline and process.
posted by xyzzy at 12:23 PM on September 29, 2017

Response by poster: I would happily live in a van down by the river and eat ramen noodles over a camp stove, but I have three cats. Rehoming them is kind of a last resort.
posted by AFABulous at 12:45 PM on September 29, 2017

I've also moved from the Midwest to (further) West and for BA/PM/project team type roles I also recommend higher ed. For better or worse, I've found that there is somewhat more flexibility (in terms of qualifications and in terms of the actual work itself) for those titles at universities and colleges -- and my current institution is constantly advertising these as both permanent and contract roles. I wouldn't discount your experience or credentials just yet.

For permanent roles, I had the most success with nonprofits who were willing to interview me at a distance, though, but mileages vary as always.
posted by sm1tten at 3:17 PM on September 29, 2017

The best way to hook up with recruiters you don’t know is to be easily discoverable online. What does your Linked In page look like? Does it say you’re relocating and list the places you’d consider? Does it say what kind of work you’re looking for? If a Boulder recruiter for PM or BA jobs searches “Boulder project manager” you need your name to come up in that search. And the rest of your profile should tell a story about your past experience, what problems you’ve solved.

Worry about interviewing (easily done via Skype) after you make sure you’re discoverable as a candidate.
posted by ImproviseOrDie at 1:28 AM on December 9, 2017

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