Why can't I find a job in LA?
March 15, 2006 3:35 AM   Subscribe

Why can't I find a job in LA?

I have three years of project management experience in New York and Europe. I graduated Summa Cum Laude from one of the top universities in the country and speak three languages.

My wife and I currently live in Europe and want to move to LA or southern California this summer (don't ask - very compelling reasons for this). Unfortunately, all my connections are in New York or here in Europe.

I've been answering an endless stream of job posting on Monster.com, Indeed, Digitial Media Jobs - no one is even responding to me. I contact headhunters and they don't even get back to me. I've prepared a good resume with professional assistance.

What am I doing wrong? I have a stellar track record at my previous employers and bosses eager to vouch for me. I have people trying to help me out but none of the leads are going anywhere.

Originally I was focusing on ecommerce/telecommunications, but now I'm open to any kind of professional employment that pays a salary similar to what I'm currently receiving (which is decent, but perfectly standard).

Is it really that hard to find a job?
posted by BigBrownBear to Work & Money (18 answers total)
It sounds like you are casting your net too wide to me. And there is a 'who the fuck is this guy' factor here too since you are not in anyone's extended network. Most times when people get resumes in for jobs like these they are at least vaguely familiar with some of the names they see.

I would strongly suggest exploiting any personal connections you have, including MeFites, rather than cold-applying to jobs on monster.com.

This is also a case where joining linkedin.com could be a big benefit. I am always surprised at how many people are members of this. I have a ton of west coast digital media types (eg lots of nvidia people) in my extended network, as do a lot of mefites I would imagine. If you join up, ask to be added to my contacts and reference this post.
posted by unSane at 5:03 AM on March 15, 2006

I have had similar problems trying to move from NYC to the DC area, and also from DC to LA. I think the fact that you are in Europe is what's hurting you, and the fact that the job market, while decent right now for people looking for a job, isn't so bad for employers that they need to accomodate the assumed headaches of hiring somebody non-local. I'm guessing that the posts on monster get a pretty big response, and that your being non-local automatically sends your resume to the bottom of the pile. I've had the same problems, and I'm only on the east coast.

I'd say that your best bet is to do what networking you can, although you said that you don't have any LA connections. The other alternative, which is a bit risky, would be to move there and then look for a job. You might end up something you're not particularly compelled to do for very long, but it will at least get you established. I have also heard of people using friends' local addresses on their resumes, too, to look local.
posted by drobot at 5:38 AM on March 15, 2006

Heh...as the cliche goes, you have to *be* in L.A. to get a job in L.A. Seriously though, the Los Angeles job market is so saturated with creative and managerial type talent that employers have very little motivation to risk recruiting from afar unless they are looking for very specialized skills. As unSane said, milk any personal connections you have, but if being L.A. is that important, you might have to hit the ground jobless and hustle from there like almost everyone else (including myself) did.
posted by mrmojoflying at 5:38 AM on March 15, 2006

I'll second mrmojoflying - it's the fact that you're in Europe and you're looking for a job in LA. It's a higher hurdle than a lot of companies are willing to deal with.

If you're able, get a VOIP line with a local LA number. Find someplace in LA that you can use as a mailing address, such as a post office box or a Mailboxes etc. Don't mention the fact in your resume that you're currently in Europe.

Are you looking for visa sponsorship? If so, that's an even higher hurdle.
posted by bshort at 6:13 AM on March 15, 2006

Ditto what everybody else has said so far. You have to be in Los Angeles. And I really do mean the L.A. metropolitan area proper, not just California....

Before moving permanently to L.A. two years ago, I was originally from the Bay Area, and even that hurt me when looking for L.A. jobs. You can bet that the second I decided to ditch Northern California, I switched my cell phone from a (510) to a (310).

Hell, that was a 400-mile distance, but L.A. people even look down upon the (909) or (714) too, and they're only thirty to fifty miles distant!

Besides, being in town means you're immediately available for job interviews, lunch meetings, etc.
posted by stst399 at 6:19 AM on March 15, 2006

Employers never respond to remote applicants unless they know you personally. The strikes against you:

1) Maybe you're going to ask them to help you get a visa
2) Maybe you're not actually allowed to work in the U.S.
3) It'll be hard to have a face-to-face interview
4) You'll ask for your relocation to be paid for
5) You won't be able to start when they want you to
6) Maybe you'll decide not to move after all

This is more than enough to toss your resume in the trash, unless you've got some intensely desirable skills.
posted by jellicle at 6:29 AM on March 15, 2006

- Find an international company that might be allow you to interview for an LA job in their European offices.

- Find a local international headhunter like Korn Ferry International.

- Are you (or your wife) working for an international company with offices in LA? Do you ever speak with clients in LA?

- You don't say where you are in Europe, but perhaps the country has a consulate in LA? If so, check the consulate/embassy site to see if they are hiring. Often they'll allow you to interview overseas. However, you'll be applying as a local so they won't help you get a visa.
posted by necessitas at 6:37 AM on March 15, 2006

Response by poster: I'm an American. There are no visa issues. Thanks for the advice. I've tried LinkedIn, but I thought it was kind of lame. Maybe it's evolved a bit since last time.

I would certainly appreciate any more good headhunters or search references. I can look to see what I can do to make myself look more local. I'm always amazed that Americans are unable to make an international call. I guess Los Angelans can't even make a long distance one.
posted by BigBrownBear at 7:14 AM on March 15, 2006

Response by poster: By the way, I live in Spain. I got the job here through connections at my previous company.
posted by BigBrownBear at 7:15 AM on March 15, 2006

Response by poster: Oh, and one more thing. I don't care to be in LA. Just the southern california area. My background is law/business/banking, etc. Big evil, corporate international stuff.
posted by BigBrownBear at 7:16 AM on March 15, 2006

Response by poster: Sorry for the negative attitude...I think I'm just frustrated after three months without a bite.
posted by BigBrownBear at 7:26 AM on March 15, 2006

What everyone said. You're probably going to have to move first if you do not have contacts in the area already. I would also guess that "looking" more local won't cut it. As noted, people who move here from within the state and use their non-local cel phone number are looked upon with suspicion. You ought to get in contact with the SoCal branches of your alumni association. From your original post, it didn't sound like you were looking for law/business/banking jobs. If getting the job is a pre-req for the move, you should not bother trying to get any jobs that are related to media in any way, and focus on standard corporate stuff.

Job search is very frustrating! Focus on routes through personal contacts - I know very few people who get jobs they want through the classifieds, online or otherwise.
posted by mzurer at 9:29 AM on March 15, 2006

I meant to say "if you haven't already" up there! Also, and with the same disclaimer: With a solid track record in your field, you may be able to profile companies in the area that you are particularly suited for, and directly approach their HR departments, or sleuth out the people who run divisions that would benefit from your expertise. My experience also leads me to think that the third parties who end up making emplyment happen are not the placement agencies, but the headhunters. So if you may need to figure out if you have any second-degree connections to people on that side of the business.

And good luck!
posted by mzurer at 9:40 AM on March 15, 2006

BigBrownBear, I'm kind of in the same situation, looking to move from NY to SF. I've been searching and applying for a while now and the only responses I've received have been form "thanks for the resume" letters. Not a single followup, not one. I think the main factor has to be that people see the NY address and that's it. When I moved to NY the first time it was because the company I found was into hiring cheap labour from overseas because H-1's were easy to get and anyone who could write a line of HTML in crayon was getting in on the action.

I'm still looking, but I think that if I really want SF I'm going to have to suck it up, move, search for jobs and be prepared to take a hit on the first one. When I look around for jobs in NY I'm not having this difficulty. People don't want to deal with people they don't know or can't meet easily, and that means you need contacts or presence.
posted by ny_scotsman at 9:58 AM on March 15, 2006

What this guy said, and what this guy said. You're casting too wide a net, Monster.com isn't going to get it done for you, and you need to develop local contacts first.
posted by frogan at 10:19 AM on March 15, 2006

LA is an uber-transient city - people pour in and pour out at an astonishing rate - and living here you're very aware of that. Just like you fall into a particular mindset living in any metropolis, in LA you learn to not be surprised if half the people you know or work with have disappeared within 6 months. So, knowing that people living here may well not last, people that haven't even made it here are way down the scale. It's just the way it is - if you're successful and make it to LA, you'll soon know what I mean.
posted by The_Partridge_Family at 10:31 AM on March 15, 2006

Response by poster: Partridge Family - that sounds familiar. I lived in NYC for 8 years. Worst case scenario, I can go work for my old employer who has an office in LA. I didn't really want to do that, but all you guys are reinforcing my worst suspicions that I really have to be there to find anything.
posted by BigBrownBear at 1:23 AM on March 16, 2006

Actually, using an employer transfer and then looking for a new job is an expedient and time honored way of relocating - it's how most L.A. media industry types relocate to NY.
posted by mrmojoflying at 4:31 AM on March 16, 2006

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