Three weeks after I had graduated from college with two degrees and no job, my girlfriend, brother, and I hopped in my car and set off “East.”
The concept of East—of vast Montana sunsets and dark and silent South Dakota nights, of the warm shores of Lake Erie’s cape, and of stone walls laid like cracks on dry soil lurking throughout New England’s forests—of three-thousand miles east from Portland, Oregon to Hartford, Connecticut had appeared as all positives, as an adventure into the unknown, as my Bilbo Baggins moment.
But, after we had dropped my brother off at the airport in Boston, and while standing there at the drop-off gate, the car handle cold on my fingers, I knew then that “East” now glowered as all negatives. I did not have job. I did not have an income. I did not have friends or a network that I could contact.
If you’ve got those three worries on your mind, then the most beneficial thing that you can do for yourself is to believe that all three are temporary even if you don’t know for how long.
Three months have passed for me in Connecticut. I found a job within the first month and secured an income as a result. And I have friends.
Here is what I did, and what you can do, to get a job when you’ve gone AWOL on your hometown.
1. Call (not email) local businesses that are in your field of interest. Ask questions about those interests that will help you get to know the area. If the call goes well, ask if the company does informational interviews or shadowing.
Does the concept of cold calling a business make you uncomfortable? If you’re like me, then heck yes. Do it anyway. Within two calls, you’ll be desensitized to the discomfort of the task. You’ll have far more power to reach out to businesses, you’ll grow in confidence, you’ll improve your interview skills, and you may just add to your network if the call goes well. Say goodbye to bashful job hunting.
Informational interviews and shadowing get you in the door and face to face with the people who you may work with. In an informational interview, you ask them questions about the company. This is your chance to find out if you want to work for the company. With shadowing, you get to follow somebody around as they do their job.
2. Search on Facebook, Meetup, YouTube, and other social networks for groups that do things in your field of interest. Reach out to those groups.
I am an editor and videographer. I made a group of friends and got work for my portfolio simply by searching for groups local to my area and reaching out to them. Let them know that you’re new to the area, that you share their interests, and that you’d like to be a part of what they do. People will want to share what they’re passionate about, so tap into that.
3. Get a trial of LinkedIn Premium and kindly message recruiters at local companies that are in your field of interest.
Keep it short and simple. There are plenty of guides on Google for writing messages to recruiters. At the least, by reaching out, and if they respond, you will gain some knowledge about the company and area.
4. Contact local charities and non-profit companies to see if they would like to use you for work.
Charities and non-profit companies generally have deep, deep networks. Either by volunteering or giving them your skills for a project, you are, as a result, building your resume and network. Plus, you’re contributing to the community.
5. Participate in community events.
Speaking of community, there are always events going on in the area. See if you can get involved. Contact the organizers of farmer’s markets. Go to socials and ask business owners about their work. Invest yourself in the people around you and in turn they will invest in you.
The keys to all five of the ways to get a job above are to stay active and sincere. Always have something cooking in your job search. Those far and few sparks of goodness that give you a jolt of confidence to continue the hunt–when a recruiter calls you back, when a business owner gives you his or her business card, or when you are invited to an event by a group on Facebook–will not occur if you let yourself slow down. Stay active.
As well, stay sincere. Anyone can spot that resume in your bag, in your mind, on your face from a mile off unless you leave it at the gate. In other words, reach out to people who actually interest you, who you engage with in a way that is more than head bobbing and wondering when to pop the resume/business card question. If not, then you are wasting time for everyone.