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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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Last Updated on April 17, 2019

10 Essential Soft Skills That Will Help Advance Your Career

10 Essential Soft Skills That Will Help Advance Your Career

What’s the secret of professional success? Some of it lies in the mastery of your discipline and all the technical skills you have to carry out your job; but a much bigger part lies in the soft skills list you possess.

Soft skills are your people or relationship skills—how well you get along with others and your ability to communicate and collaborate—as well as the personal characteristics you bring to the job, such as optimism, a can-do attitude and the motivation to work hard. These skills are not always easy to point out, but their absence can cause serious problems and negatively affect the whole work atmosphere.

They say that hard skills will help you get the job, but soft skills will help you get along—and get ahead. With that in mind, here’s the top-10 essential soft skills list to help you advance your career.

1. Communication Skills

Communication skills are hands-down the most sought-after soft skill that bosses want, and this one ability covers a lot of ground.

To communicate well, you have to listen carefully, interpret the context of the conversation, express yourself clearly, persuade others of your point of view, check your body language and use an engaging presentation style that won’t intimidate or bore your audience. That’s a big ask!

Your personality traits can influence the way you communicate with others. For instance, some people get straight to the point and center their arguments around facts and logic; others are cooperative and sensitive to how others feel. Both these approaches are equally valuable but there can be misunderstandings if you don’t understand where the other person is coming from.

Taking a comprehensive personality test can help you understand why you communicate the way you do and where your blind spots are. It can also help you understand other communication styles is so you can tailor your communication to the person you’re dealing with.

After all, connecting with your conversation partner is the hallmark of good communication.

2. Flexibility

Change is an essential part of any business. Companies need employees who are flexible enough to work with new initiatives, open to new ideas, and generally are able to tough it out when things don’t go as planned.

Research has found a link between job performance and flexibility over the long term because there will be times when you have to step outside your routine and rise to fresh challenges that didn’t exist before.

Being flexible doesn’t mean you have to hop into a new task or job role like an expert. Rather, it’s about showing you’re willing to accept new responsibility and learn different things.

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Bosses look for people who are prepared to step outside their comfort zones and are open to alternative solutions when their first idea doesn’t work.

3. Being a Team Player

Working on a team can be challenging but learning to do it well can definitely help you get ahead in your career. Employers look for people who can negotiate, cooperate and manage conflicts with other people to achieve a common goal. That includes the ability to build lasting relationships with customers and clients.

What makes a good team player? Essentially, it’s someone who knows the goal and knows her role. Employers look for evidence that you know your strengths, your responsibilities and how you can best contribute to the team, then put those skills into action by sharing ideas and communicating in a respectful manner. That’s the definition of being a good team player.

This is another area where taking a personality test can help you get ahead. When teams work together, each member brings a unique set of skills and qualities to the group. Research has shown that different combinations of personalities affect how teams collaborate and how productive they are.

Knowing who you are, and how you work on a team, can drive new insights and open the door to better teamwork.

4. Positive Mental Attitude

There are plenty of things you can’t change at work, like the people you work with or the fact that the printer is broken again. The one thing you can change is how much you let these things bother you.

Bosses like people who are calm, rational and upbeat—those who diffuse tensions in the workplace, not get all grouchy and go around slamming doors.

Studies show that people who maintain a sunny disposition have better relationships at work, are happier in their jobs and make better decisions than those who whine and complain. Some suggest that a positive mental attitude can also make you live longer—which means it’s beneficial for every area of your life![1]

It’s not always easy to keep a “glass half full” mentality when work is stressful and the deadlines are piling up. But there are some things you can do to help maintain a positive attitude. Laughing at your unfortunate circumstances keeps the work environment positive, and taking “sanity” breaks can help you keep your cool in high-pressure situations.

Managers look for positive mental attitude in a team member that is ready for a promotion, so it really does pay to keep your cool in challenging situations.

5. A Strong Work Ethic

People with a strong work ethic are committed to the role, persevere when things get tough and are inspired by challenge. These people are ambassadors for the organization, and will always be seen as top talent and ideal candidates.

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If you can exhibit this skill, then expect to be seen as a great candidate, eligible for new opportunities and positions throughout your career.

Since a strong work ethic can mean different things to different people, it helps to show specific examples of your exceptional work ethic during a performance appraisal or interview. For instance, you might talk about:

  • A time when you persisted in the face of challenges and did not shy away from hard work.
  • How you volunteered to help with projects even though these tasks did not form part of your job description.
  • The networking, workplace learning and skills betterment you’ve undertaken, which shows ambition and drive (people with a strong work ethic have those qualities in spades).
  • How you own your mistakes and never, ever point the finger of blame at others.

For help with building a strong work ethic, check out these tips: How to Build a Reliable Work Ethic

6. Public Speaking

Who’s terrified of public speaking? Pretty much everyone, since public speaking is America’s number one fear, ahead of death at number five and loneliness at number seven.

Yet, according to Warren Buffett, mastering this one skill you could increase your personal value by 50 percent.[2] That’s huge!

If you’re not natural at public speaking, you’re in good company. Buffett had to work hard to overcome his stage fright and once dropped out of a public-speaking course before it started—because he was afraid of public speaking! He eventually realized that he needed to build up his confidence by just doing it; over and over in front of small groups.

For a more structured approach, Toastmasters International teaches public speaking and leadership skills through a variety of pathways. Membership of this non-profit looks good on your resume but the real payoff will come when you can put your newfound skills to use on the job or in the interview room.

Or, you can check out this advice: The Ultimate Public Speaking Tips to Hook and Impress Any Audience

7. Integrity

From a manager’s point of view, the two integrity skills that will set you apart are:

  • Always doing what you say you will do
  • Owning an error instead of minimizing or hiding it

…even when no one is around to check up on you.

There are lots of people who have climbed the ladder without scruples, but they are not the people who others trust, respect and support when promotion time comes around.

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Behaving with integrity is a safe and consistent way to enhance your reputation and achieve your professional goals.

8. Managing Your Time

Phone calls, texts, Slack pings, meetings, huddles, side projects, multitasking—we are busier today than any generation before us. There’s no denying the workplace is an incredibly distracting place to be.

A lot of us have traded effectiveness for busyness which we wear as a badge of honor, both as a proxy for productivity and to show our value to the company. But what bosses want, what they really, really want, is someone who actually gets stuff done on time.

Time management is not merely the art of being on time, but of managing your time so you focus on the projects that really matter and add value to the business. This means prioritizing well, sticking to schedules, delegating, and not getting distracted by tasks that are easier to perform or less important. It means planning ahead and learning when it’s appropriate to say no.

Time management can be a tough skill to maintain, but not a difficult one to pick up. Monitor your actions for a few days—how long do your tasks take to finish? What’s interrupting you? What causes you to lose focus? Once you have the answers to these questions, you can set a schedule for yourself to make sure you’re spending your time wisely and this valuable asset is never wasted.

These 20 Quick Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity are also great to try.

9. Assertiveness

In any workplace, you typically will find people with the following conflict styles:

  • Passive: Those who go out of their way to avoid conflict.
  • Passive-aggressive: Those who express their negative feelings through actions rather than words.
  • Aggressive: Those who respond to conflict in a hostile and rude manner. These people get their opinion heard but they won’t make any friends in the process.
  • Assertive: People who stick up for their rights while still respecting the rights of others.

Managers look for assertiveness above all other styles because it allows decisions to be made without conflict or alienating people.

How do you use this information for yourself?

It starts with understanding your personality so you can anticipate how you will react when conflict arises and address your own shortcomings. Then, you can start influencing the team for top results, and securing your own career advancement in the process.

Learn how to be assertive and gain respect:

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How to Be Assertive and Stand up for Yourself the Smart Way

10. Creative Thinking

LinkedIn recently analyzed over 50,000 skills that employers search for when looking for candidates to find out what skills are currently in demand.[3] Taking the number-one slot on the 2019 soft skills list was creativity: the ability to solve problems and think outside the box.

Creativity is about bringing fresh, and sometimes unorthodox, ideas to the table. This helps companies to innovate, and companies that do not innovate will not survive very long.

How do you showcase your creative thinking skills? The golden rule is to participate.

Be brave and share your ideas during group brainstorming sessions. Volunteer to run a society, networking event or recruitment drive. Ask “what if” questions: “What if we add this information to the client welcome pack?” “What if we eliminate step 3 from the process?”

These activities demonstrate that you’re prepared to go beyond “business as usual” towards creative problem solving—an ability that will serve you every day, all throughout your career.

You can learn to unleash your creativity power:

What Is Creativity? We All Have It, and Need It

Final Thoughts

The good news? Every item on this soft skills list can be learned. Although you may feel lacking in certain areas, taking an inventory of your strengths and weaknesses will allow you to focus in on the areas that you’ll benefit from developing.

So take an inventory of your personality, skills, and talents. This will give you a baseline for your communication style, attitude to change, conscientiousness and more. You can then identify your weak areas and develop strategies for improving your team-building, assertiveness and conflict skills.

The better news? The effort is worth it. Developing your soft skills opens the door to a new job or a promotion, and helps you succeed once you get there.

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Featured photo credit: Rachael Gorjestani via unsplash.com

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