When to Start Looking for a Job if You're Relocating

People moving fragile boxes during a move

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When you're planning to relocate, how far in advance should you start a job search? What's the best way to ​job hunt long distance?

How Long it Could Take to Find a Job

The amount of lead time you will need to secure a new job in a new location will depend on a number of factors. The following are some of the variables which can make a difference in the length of time it takes to find work:

  • The demand for your skills and experience.
  • The supply of jobs at your level and in your occupation in the new area
  • General economic conditions impacting the labor market
  • Your salary level

Various studies have shown that it often takes about an average of one month for every $10,000 to $20,000 in desired annual income to find a new job when controlling for marketability and job market conditions.

Plan accordingly, give yourself plenty of time, and keep in mind that it could take longer than average in areas where the economy is still down or the demand is low for candidates with your qualifications.

Check Out the Job Market

Take the time to check out the job market before you start your job search. Scanning job sites like Indeed.com (which aggregates listings from company websites and job boards) can give you a sense of the number of suitable jobs in your new location.

Consulting fellow alumni, if you're a college graduate, LinkedIn contacts, and members of professional groups in the new location can help you to assess the specific market conditions for your profession.

When to Tell Your Current Employer

Another consideration will be when to inform your current employer about your impending move. One factor to consider is how your employer will react when they learn about your plans.

If you think your employer will understand and not lay you off prematurely, it can be advisable to share your plans well in advance. Conducting an open search with the knowledge of your current supervisors and colleagues will enable you to enlist their support, which can lead to finding a job faster.

Employers tend to be more understanding if your reason for moving on is something other than dissatisfaction with your job or supervisor. Keep it positive when you tell your boss. Reasons like relocating to care for an elderly parent, to go to graduate school, or for a partner's new job are typical reasons for a move.

Mentioning Relocation in Your Cover Letters

It's important to be careful as to how you mention your move in your cover letter. If you are in a career field and moving to a city where there are many local qualified applicants, you may be screened out if you submit an application with an out of the area address. In fact, some job postings even state that only local candidates should apply.

Be Flexible

Even though it is best to lay the groundwork for your transition by increasing your networking and professional activity well in advance of your anticipated move, you may encounter opportunities before you have planned to move. If a great job comes along, be as creative and flexible as possible given your life situation. For example, could you move earlier than anticipated and commute home on the weekends? Would telecommuting part of the time until you relocate be an option? What other options might work?

Relocation Resources

There are many online resources which will help you plan a move. Salary and cost of living calculators will help you figure out how much you will need to earn in your new location to match what you're earning now. Paycheck calculators will help you determine your take-home pay.

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