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5 Tips for Job Hunting in a New City

Job hunting is one of the most challenging aspects of moving to a new city. Especially when you know very few people in your new home city. This was my situation when I first moved to Boston last August.

My friends and family are always bewildered by my ability to jump into a new place. From years of experience, I can tell you it’s never easy, but it is a fantastic challenge that you can overcome.

Contingency Funds

Before you pack up your life and move to a new city, you will want to make sure that you have enough funds to support yourself for several months while you pursue job leads. It’s great if you have a temporary living situation with family or friends set up, but this isn’t available for most.

I have to stress that you need to have enough money saved up to sustain yourself through relocation costs. Job hunting can take months depending on the city. It’s true that it’s easier to get a job if you have a local mailing address on your resume since most employers will favor those applicants. This is in an effort to avoid compensating relocation costs. If you are lucky enough to get a job offer before moving then be sure to negotiate that in!

Minimize Your Expenses

For the time being, make some easy swaps to save some cash. Skip the Starbucks and make your own, shop at thrift stores, and avoid UberEats. There are many easy ways to save that are fairly common sense, but often we think of what’s easy over what’s healthy for our bank account.

Don’t have any place to stay while you look for an apartment in your new city? Do what I did and find a long-term housesit through Trusted Housesitters. In exchange for watching someone’s home or animals, you can stay in their place for free. This is a common option for digital nomads that work and travel. I chose to do this over the summer in order to figure out which area I wanted to be in when I moved to Boston.

Temp Agencies

So you are new to a city? No one knows you or your skills. Why should they hire you instead of a local candidate with credentials they actually recognize? These are factors you must consider when you are brand new to the area.

It boggles my mind how some people look down on temp jobs. Temp agencies are a valuable tool to get your foot in the door and build up your resume with recognizable companies. I know several temps at Harvard that got direct hire positions by building relationships with the staff while they were temps.

More importantly, temp agencies don’t just hire for temporary work, but direct hire positions as well! I got my start working in temp agencies and have no regrets. However, you need to remember to have a voice and tell them what you are looking for. I do recommend heavily researching the temp agency before you apply. Make sure they listen to their clients, have a high success rate, and pay their clients well.

Apply Directly

Say you are feeling brave like I was when I moved to Boston. While I had gotten a temp job at a local university, I didn’t feel like it was the right fit for me long-term. I knew my heart was set on Harvard and nothing was going to stop me from reaching my goal. I took a leap of faith and started applying to a bunch of jobs directly from Harvard’s job site.

Note that I bolded the word ‘directly.’ Skip Monster, LinkedIn, etc. Apply to the company or institution of your choice within their own system. Cater your application and your resume specifically for each position. Don’t do a one size fits all resume/CV for each application. You want to stand out from the crowd and show that you actually want the job. Not just any job!

The Waiting Game

We’ve likely all been there. You submit hundreds of applications only to never hear back from the majority of them. I know it’s hard but don’t take it personally. Often it is purely a matter of networking, numbers, or sheer luck. Trust that the right opportunity will find you when the time is right.

When I submitted my applications at Harvard, I felt like time was moving so slowly. Two months went by and no word. I began to panic and had a meltdown to my mom on the phone (lol). I was having so much doubt and anxiety over it all. The very next day I got calls from several departments and scheduled seven interviews! Two weeks later I had several job offers and I picked my current role at Harvard.

Often when we think all is lost, we should actually be pushing forward. Don’t fall into the trap of letting a bad interview or a no callback scenario make you doubt your worth or capabilities. Just keep going!

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