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6 Ways to Hack an Out-of-Town Job Search

6 Ways to Hack an Out-of-Town Job Search

Many job seekers approach me looking to relocate for both personal and geographical reasons. I always hear the same frustration from all generations – most submit several applications and receive little-to-no responses. I have helped thousands of people successfully relocate their careers with these insider tips on how to effectively communicate with out-of-town employers. By gaining a better understanding of how the employer views candidates who want to relocate, your information will make it into the hands of a living, breathing recruiter versus the dreaded no-thank-you pile.

1. Plan your escape

If you’re not a local, many employers automatically assume you’re either A) a flight risk or B) someone who applies to every job out there without a real strategy. The more you can do in advance to alleviate their fears, the more success you’ll have. If the reason you’re moving is because you traveled there once and enjoyed the nightlife, that’s just not going to cut it.

Remember, a new hire costs an organization A LOT of money, which means you’ll need to prove that you have a real career plan in order to be taken seriously. You will also need facts to back up that plan. Be prepared to state your professional goals in your resume. Try something like, “Social Media Specialist looking to relocate to Austin Texas in order to hone education and skills within an innovative organization.” This statement immediately makes your intentions known to a hiring manager and, therefore, they’ll be more likely to consider you.

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2. Take a trip

Assess your financial situation, unused vacation days and personal time off. Ideally, if you could book a live interview with your dream organization in your dream location, you can use that travel time to schedule interviews with other organizations in order to take full advantage of your stay.

Yes, you may need to use up some of your precious vacation time to scope out the employment scene, take long weekends to attend interviews, or even consider dipping into your savings to move before you have the job. But it’ll be worth it when you secure the gig you’ve always wanted.

3. Research your options

Before you make the risk of moving to another area, be sure that you’ve done your research to ensure that there are plenty of available opportunities in your field. Sometimes people make the grave mistake of moving only to find that there are no job prospects available for advertising in the middle of Iowa.

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Do a keyword search on indeed and monitor the job counts. Higher numbers mean better job opportunities. Lower numbers mean you should consider picking somewhere else. Once you’ve confirmed that the move is a “go,” connect with the companies you’re interested in and get in touch with local recruiting firms that can act as a resource to you during your search. Job fairs can also we be a great way to bypass the resume black hole and make a strong face-to-face impression.

4. Confirm your commitment

In our office, we’re fond of the saying, “fake it until you make it.” If you can manage to slap a local address onto your resume (and a couch when necessary), whether it’s a relative’s or a friend’s, you demonstrate that you’re sincere about making the move. Because employers are fearful of making the wrong hiring decision, which often costs them tens of thousands of dollars in lost revenue, they’ve adopted a “guilty until proven innocent” mindset when it comes to long-distance candidates.

This point bears repeating: consistently reminding them that you’re relocating, whether it’s for this job or for another, across all mediums, the more at ease you put hiring managers. If you don’t have a local address you can steal, be sure that your resume (objective), cover letter, email signature and LinkedIn profile clearly states your dedication to relocate to another region. Don’t just assume that because it’s in one place, employers will see it – be sure your message is consistent everywhere. 

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5. Become tech savvy

If you’re not local, you’re immediately put at a disadvantage, which means, you need to use every resource available to you in order to stay competitive. No matter how you feel about social media or video chatting, it’s time to get over your fear and get with the changing times.

Many employers will opt for a video conference as a means of conducting a first round interview. Sign up for Skype – it’s a great communication tool that’s user-friendly on both PCs and Macs, and did I mention it’s free? Heck, you could even arrange a video interview on your smartphone, which requires a whole new set of skills.

The bottom line is you have to be prepared for all different types of interviewing scenarios. And as an out-of-town candidate, you can’t afford to not be on LinkedIn. Employers will be scrutinizing you more heavily than the locals, which means you need to have a strong online brand that showcases all your latest accomplishments.

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I’m not just referring to an updated, robust profile; you also need to remain active by building your network and following trends in your field. Make sure you’re also using twitter (twesume) and Facebook to engage with a company you’re interested in. And don’t forget to look for any alumni in the area – that can be a major door opener.

6. Consider taking the plunge

The reason relocation can be so tough is because many employers prefer to hire locally rather than chance their investment on an out-of-towner. And their concerns are valid – most employers, at one time or another, have taken on new hires who decide they feel homesick, don’t like the area, or are unsatisfied with the position. Like in relationships, in the employment world, sometimes it’s not you – it’s the guy who broke her heart that came before you.

Bottom line, your chances of getting hired are much stronger if you become a local. Also, keep in mind that if you take on the burden of your relocation costs, in many cases, it becomes grounds for salary negotiation when you do get your big break. When you get that interview stick to the plan. Be prepared to align your skills and experiences to the pains and problems of that specific employer.

Featured photo credit: craig Cloutier via imcreator.com

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Published on September 16, 2020

12 Practical Interview Skills to Help You Land Your Dream Job

12 Practical Interview Skills to Help You Land Your Dream Job

Today, with many companies going remote—at least until there’s a COVID-19 vaccine—technical proficiency is a vital skill for every interviewee to master. You may be asked to interview for a job on Zoom or Microsoft Teams. The way you handle yourself in the online interview (your interview skills) will say much about your ability to work from home efficiently.

Does your workspace look clean or cluttered? Is the area free from noise? Is your home office well lit?

Once hired, you may be asked to organize meetings on Zoom and other platforms. Along with mastering the technology, you will have to learn to follow certain protocols.

Now is the time to get up to speed on your technical skills. Learn which interview skills are needed for the particular job for which you are applying and practice them.

Online learning sites, such as LinkedIn Learning and Udemy, offer courses for free or a nominal membership fee. If you are a DIY type, make use of training videos offered through your particular digital tools.

Additionally, demonstrating that you have these 12 interview skills will help you land your dream job.

1. Organization

When you work in a brick-and-mortar office, some of the organizing is left to others. Your direct supervisor may host a Monday morning quarterback meeting where each worker reports on the progress on their tasks.

When you work from home, much of the organizing will be left up to you. To a much greater extent than before, you will need to develop a schedule and stick to it. Some tasks may be faster to complete from your home office where you don’t have other workers competing for your attention.

Conversely, you may find that some tasks that would have gone quickly in an office seem to take forever from your home computer. Your phone may ring a lot, which can distract you, or you may have kids and a spouse who inadvertently disrupt your schedule.

To do: Set a schedule and stick to it.

To discuss during your interview: Be specific. Point to the interview skill you utilized to create a schedule for a complex work project and followed it.

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2. Flexibility

You set a schedule for the completion of your tasks, but your prospective boss gets their work done between the hours of 2:00 and 8:00 a.m. Your West Coast partners are three hours behind your East Coast partners, and one of your partners lives in England while another lives in Australia.

Feedback and collaboration (see point 3) may need to happen asynchronously. Be the flexible candidate—the person who is willing to occasionally disrupt their schedule for the greater good of the team.

For extra credit: don’t just look up time zones, look up whether they observe Daylight Savings Time.

To do: Be flexible about meeting times.

To discuss during your interview: Highlight a time when you worked on a team where members lived in different time zones. Discuss your processes.

3. Collaboration

As recently as six months ago, before the pandemic raged around the world, collaboration wasn’t quite as essential as it is today. In a remote office setting, collaboration doesn’t just mean working well with others—but actually sharing documents and editing them online on time.

Several cloud-based tools, such as Google Drive, Basecamp, and Trello, enable the type of collaborative teamwork that most companies want today.

To do: Download the correct software and practice using it.

To discuss during your interview: Discuss how you worked remotely with a group. Share how you overcame certain challenges.

4. Poise

Murphy’s Law states, “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.”

When things do go awry, keeping your wits about you will demonstrate your consummate professionalism under fire. This will show your future bosses that you will be able to work well under the pressures of remote work.

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What could go wrong, you ask? You might be muted without realizing it—your Internet connection may not be robust, your headphones may blip out, your cellphone may ring, Zoom could have an outage. The list goes on and on.

To do: Make sure you have the most up-to-date versions of Skype and Zoom uploaded.

To discuss during your interview: Consider highlighting a time when a project did not go as planned. Demonstrate the interview skills that allowed you to rise to the challenge.

5. Communication

Your ability to handle online communication is one of the top critical skills you will need to thrive in today’s remote workplace. Download Slack if you haven’t already. Get used to toggling to a different form of online communication if one of your tools fails.

When it comes to the preferred format for your online interview, demonstrate proficiency by offering several different options. Give your phone number, Google Chat Hangouts name, and Skype ID.

To do: Familiarize yourself with video conference and online chat tools, such as Slack, Fleep, or Workplace by Facebook.

To discuss during your interview: Be prepared to share the online communication tools you’re using and examples of how you use each one.

6. Good Computer Hygiene

Setting up a backup system for your computer files is one of today’s crucial requirements for working in the digital age. Storing documents that can be shared by team members is also an efficient way to work together on presentations, articles, and reports—although studies show nearly one-third of employees avoid them because of the time it takes to find documents.

Be prepared in your interview to indicate your experience utilizing this technology, describing how you organize and store files using cloud-based collaboration tools. How do you keep track of links and tabs? Do you use Dropbox? Google Docs? Confluence? Others?

To do: Take inventory of the cloud-based document sharing and storage systems you know and use.

To discuss during your interview: Describe the document sharing tools and backup systems you utilize—both for personal protection and professional file sharing.

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7. Proper Meeting Etiquette

Today, presenting yourself virtually has its pros and cons. While you only have to show a professional persona from the waist up (make sure to straighten up your office space behind you), you must boost your energy to show that you’re engaged in the discussion.

Make your voice as upbeat as possible. Have your talking points at the ready and be careful not to ramble on, as long virtual meetings easily become tiresome. Use the mute and chat features to avoid interruptions.

To do: Once you know the meeting platform, make sure you have it mastered before your interview.

To discuss during your interview: Offer to share your screen to show an example of a work project— while at the same time demonstrating your prowess with video conferencing tools.

8. Respecting Feedback

In the age of working remotely, there may not be as many systems in place to obtain feedback (such as yearly performance reviews). Workers may need to ask for feedback, while managers may need to give more feedback than usual as the team adjusts to working off-site. Respecting feedback is on top of the interview skills list that you should learn.

Taking a proactive approach with giving and receiving feedback and incorporating it into your work style is a desirable quality that your employers will note.

To do: Reflect on the positive feedback you’ve received from past employers to bolster your confidence.

To discuss during your interview: Share a time when you received feedback that made you grow in the job. If you’re a manager, share a time when you gave feedback to an employee who needed to better their job performance.

9. Project Management

Staying on task with projects has evolved far past a to-do list, with electronic tools that can track time, manage team workloads, and even do the client billing. While your prospective employer may have its preferred project management program, your experience with any of the various options—whether it’s Basecamp, Teamwork, Smartsheet, or another—will be applicable.

To do: Know which project management software is likely to be used by the industry in which you’re interviewing, and familiarize yourself with its features.

To discuss during your interview: Highlight a project management feature that is particularly useful in helping you excel in your work, and explain how you utilize it.

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10. Staying up to Speed

Employers expect their remote workers to be technically proficient so that technology runs smoothly and doesn’t create work disruptions. Bosses count on remote workers to know enough about their systems to manage them without relying on the help of overworked IT staff.

To do: Make sure you have a fast internet connection and have a back-up plan, such as a second computer or other tethered devices.

To discuss during your interview: Note that you are diligent about keeping your computer and software up to date.

11. Attention to Cybersecurity Issues

“Virus” is a loaded term these days. Spreading a computer virus in your company, however, will not only bring productivity to a halt, but it will also make you a pariah. While working from public places using free Wi-Fi (with uneven security provisions) has waned, in pre-pandemic times, coffee shops accounted for 62 percent of Wi-Fi security breaches.

To do: Keep antivirus software updated and don’t download software without verifying its authenticity.

To discuss during your interview: Emphasize your awareness of cybersecurity risks and your care in taking necessary safety measures.

12. Teamwork

Work relationships now mostly happen in virtual settings, yet employers value team-oriented workers.

Being a part of a team gives you a sense of connection and shared purpose. A well-honed team understands how mutual reliance makes the sum of its parts greater than when individuals act on their own, improving the end product.

To do: Take stock of your attributes as a team player and where you can cultivate skills that will enable you to work more collaboratively.

To discuss during your interview: Inquire about the company’s culture and how it encourages a sense of community despite working remotely.

Final Thoughts

Preparing for remote positions available in today’s job market will mean honing your interview skills to highlight your technical abilities as well as your adaptability. By adhering to these To-Do’s and perfecting your online interview skills and charisma, you will rise above the competition and win over any prospective employer.

More Tips to Improve Your Interview Skills

Featured photo credit: Christina @ wocintechchat.com via unsplash.com

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