Landing a Job Long Distance

Two readers asked related questions…

Dear, Anita,

I’m considering relocating to a new city.  I’m worried that a hiring manager may not look at my résumé because I’m not located in the area of the job.  Do you have any tips on how I should address relocating in my cover letter, to be sure that hiring managers will look at my résumé?

Dear, Anita,

 I want to move to California or Washington from Ohio state because of cold weather. I’m still working in Ohio. Can you tell me please the starting pay rate over there?

Dear, Going the Distance,

Both of you are facing exciting new starts. I don’t want to be a wet blanket, but be sure to do extensive research before any big move.  Hiring managers may be afraid you’ll bail and run “home” with your tail between your legs at the first sign of regret in your new job /city/state.  Don’t confirm their fears by being uninformed.

Businesswoman fishing

If you are in a specialized vocation, make sure that there are job opportunities for you in the new city. For a broad overview of average state wages, you may find the Bureau of Labor Statistics website helpful, though the data is from May 2012.  Click on the state you wish to research, then narrow your search by occupational field to view median wages.  Some states may have more recent data, such as California’s Employment Development Department. You can enter a job title, and even narrow your search by county.

Once you’ve settled on one or two target areas, search for those geographic regions on the online job boards, such as CareerBuilder, Indeed, SimplyHired, and Monster.com. Be sure to Google for regional resources as well. While local newspaper “help wanted” ads may be going the way of the dinosaur, Craigslist, for instance, is popular with employers and job seekers in some areas of the country, but not in others.  Check any of your LinkedIn contacts as well as your friends and acquaintances at clubs, church, or the gym, to see if you can find a connection with anyone in the area to which you’ll be moving.  It’s always helpful to use an introduction to get your foot in the door.

As a general rule, entry-level jobs can be filled with locals, so your chances for landing a long-distance interview for those types of jobs are slim. For higher-level positions, most employers will consider a non-local if they have the specific skill set they need. For specific tips on crafting your cover letter and résumé for your out-of-town job search, check out one of my past blog posts, Job Search Out of State. In addition to mentioning your moving timetable and the fact that you are relocating on your own dime in your cover letter, offer to make yourself available for a first interview via phone or Skype.  Be prepared to foot the bill for a pricey, last-minute plane ticket if they request a second interview.

Consider applying with a temporary staffing company in your future city, such as The Select Family of Staffing Companies. You may be able to sample different local companies, get to know the area, and network until you find a permanent position.

Readers: Have you ever applied for – and landed – a job across the state or across the country? Share your success story!

Do you have a question for Anita Clew? Visit http://anitaclew.com/ask-anita/.

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I Resolve… to Increase Performance at Work

Dear, Readers,

Let me ask YOU a question for a change. We’re a few weeks into the new year. This is the time when all those good intentions about going to the gym, eating healthier, and reducing debt/spending less seem to go by the wayside. If one of your New Year’s Resolutions was to increase productivity on the job, how are you doing?

Athlete Running Through Finish LineIncreasing performance at work is a common goal for professionals and organizations. It may come in the form of raised sales quotas, heightened customer satisfaction, or expanding your company’s reach digitally or through traditional brick and mortar.  But how can you take concrete steps to make these pie-in-the-sky targets a reality? Question everything.

Get Organized. January is a great time to take a look at your operational and project systems already in place, right down to the in-boxes on your team’s desks. Keep in mind that your organizational style may differ from your employees or co-workers. A pristine desk may help you concentrate, but Barry over in accounting can miraculously find any piece of information requested in all those piles on his desk! If you spend way too much time and aggravation trying to find past correspondence in Outlook, spend an hour or two now to organize for the coming year. I like this article, 10 Tips for Organizing Your E-mail, because it doesn’t give a one-size-fits-all answer.  You decide if you’re a searcher, a filer, or a tagger, and it suggests solutions for you.

Work Efficiently. Analyze your workday for inefficiencies. Return phone calls when people are more likely to be in their offices (8:30-9:30 a.m.), rather than in meetings or at lunch (10-2). Set aside blocks of time to check e-mail, deal with paperwork, or your odious task of choice. You’ll get more accomplished if you don’t interrupt yourself by feeling the need to read every e-mail the instant it dings. In fact, turn that alert off! Figure out your most productive times, and schedule your most difficult tasks according to your own circadian rhythms. You may need to let staff and co-workers know when you are not to be interrupted; a closed door is usually a pretty good hint.

Minimize Distractions. A recent survey from Ask.com found that noisy colleagues are the biggest distraction for workers, not Facebook or texting (though they are up there in the top 10)! It may be difficult to get complete peace and quiet in an open office environments. Wearing earbuds or noise cancelling headphones can help. Did you know that room temperature can also affect productivity at work? As one who is perpetually cold, I completely concur! Office environments that are either too chilly or too warm can lead to a loss in performance, so set that thermostat at a nice Goldilocks “just right” temperature.

Productivity keyMaximize Meetings. Industry Week once called meetings “the Great White Collar Crime” and estimated they waste $37 billion a year. While it would be silly to imagine a business environment without meetings, always have an agenda and always start on time (those tardy Teddies will soon get the message). No one likes to spend more time in meetings discussing the work than actually doing the job. If team members have trouble keeping it brief, suggest standing meetings to keep powwows on point!

Fine Tune Communication. Communicate yearly goals clearly to staff and colleagues through verbal as well as written instructions. If there has been a communication problem with a certain coworker, try to figure out how to better reach that person. He or she may have a different learning style (i.e., visual vs. aural), so see if you can tailor your interaction to accommodate.  Set up check-ins with all vested parties to make sure the train is still on the right track and project tasks are being completed on schedule. You don’t want to micromanage, but still want to keep tabs on projects in which you are involved.

By taking a fresh look at the status quo now, you’ll reap the benefits by meeting those end-of-year goals in December.

Readers: How do you plan to be more productive at work this year?

Have a question you would like to ask? Visit http://anitaclew.com/ask-anita/.

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I Resolve… to Get a Raise

Dear, Anita,

One of my New Year’s resolutions is to be better with money. I even made a budget, which I’ve never done before. But now I see that I really need to make more money. I’m gathering up my courage to ask my boss for a raise. What is the best way?

Dear, Going for the Gold,

Getting a raise is a common work-related resolution. Even though the pundits tell us we are out of the recession, gone are the days when an annual raise is a foregone conclusion. First, does your company conduct an annual performance reviews? You may not even have a chance of a raise until your official review rolls around. If your company does not have an annual review system, be sensitive to the timing when asking for a pay increase. If your company has had a setback or is in the midst of a struggle of some type, you may want to wait until the skies have cleared to ask for more money.

Should You Ask for a Raise? Prepare Your Case. If your annual performance review is coming up, don’t just go in to passively listen to your supervisor’s evaluation. Prepare some talking points ahead of time. List your accomplishments for the year: What challenge did you overcome? What big project did you finish successfully? How have you contributed to your company’s bottom line? What are your unique strengths?

Walk the Walk. You can’t just talk the talk; you have to walk the walk – every day, not just the two weeks prior to your raise request. (Do you really think the cop doesn’t know you are speeding when you brake suddenly after you spot him?) Be punctual … every day. Do your best work… every day. Have a great attitude… every day.  Even if your performance evaluation is months away, start laying the groundwork now.

Increase your Value. Just doing what you were hired to do by rote is often not enough to get the raise you want.  You must complete your tasks with excellence, and for a larger raise, with that little something extra. You may need to take on additional duties to warrant a raise. Or, you can increase your value to the company by suggesting cost-cutting measures or ways to boost sales and revenue. If your review isn’t for many months, there is time to learn a new skill or prepare that proposal outlining your big ideas.

Know Your Worth. While discussing salaries with co-workers is generally frowned upon, you will want to do some research about the going pay rate for your position. Check out online resources, such as Indeed.com’s Salary Search or Payscale.com. Instead of asking your boss for a specific dollar amount, suggest a range. And don’t be surprised if you don’t get an answer on the spot. Your supervisor may need to crunch some numbers or get approval from higher management. Do try to get a sense of the timeframe for a final resolution before leaving your meeting.

Alternatives to Raises. If your raise request is initially met with a “no,” think outside the box when it comes to salary negotiation. Could you work at home one day a week, and save childcare costs? Even at the same pay rate, that amounts to increased dollars in your wallet. Would your company be willing to offer you a one-time bonus for a special project? Are they willing to pay for your continuing education, which will benefit you in your current position as well as in jobs to come?

The best way to get a raise is to make yourself invaluable, and make your boss look good to their clients or supervisors. My past blog, Achieving the Annual Raise, gives further tips for increasing your earning power.

Readers: What has been your most successful strategy to get the pay raise you asked for?

Have a question you would like to ask? Visit http://anitaclew.com/ask-anita/.

Want to receive these tips by email? Simply subscribe for once-a-week advice for career success!

I Resolve… to Get a New Job

Dear, Anita,

After being in a job that I’m not happy with, after much soul searching, I decided to quit and get a job I love!  It’s been a few months and I didn’t get many interviews during the holidays. Do you have any advice now that everyone is back to business? I’d love to start the new year out in a new job.

Dear, Shooting for the Stars,

I certainly don’t recommend quitting one job before getting another, but what’s done is done. Let’s start with a fresh approach.

Your CareerExplore Your Options.  What about your last job(s) made you unhappy? What tasks did you enjoy the most? To figure out what your dream job looks like, take advantage of some useful self-evaluation tools on  O*net OnLine, an occupation resource website sponsored by the US Department of Labor/ Employment and Training Administration.  Under Advanced Search, you can explore occupations based on your interests, skills, work values, and more. “Know thyself,” as the ancient Greek philosophers recommended. You don’t want to end up in another job where you’ll be unhappy again.

Résumé Review. Take a good look at your résumé. If it hasn’t been working so far, it may need a tune-up – minor or major. Review my post Reasons for No Résumé Response, have a colleague give you feedback, or bite the bullet and hire a professional résumé writing service like CareerPerfect to communicate your skills and experience in the best possible light.

Networking – Social and Traditional. If you’re an introvert, push yourself to do one networking task a week. Go to the chamber of commerce mixer or call an old colleague to ask if they know of any job openings. Haven’t completed your LinkedIn Profile? Checked the privacy settings on your Facebook page? Now is the time to make sure your social media presence is employer-friendly, with no embarrassing photos and off-color language. Google yourself; you may be surprised at the odd things that pop up. (Make sure your Amazon Wish List doesn’t contain anything weird!)

Learn a new job skill. If your newly discovered career goal requires upgraded skills, sign up for a class. If the training you need isn’t available at your local community college or job center, there are a myriad of options on the Internet.  While watching random software tip videos on YouTube can increase your knowledge, choosing a course that provides a certificate of completion you can tout on your résumé is preferable.

Create an action plan. You may have a long-term goal of becoming CEO of a company, but it probably won’t happen next week.  While long-range plans are important, it is equally important to break objectives into yearly, monthly, weekly, and daily goals. This segment from Kababayan Today gives some goal-setting tips for getting a job:

Readers: What is your work-related New Year’s Resolution? Do you plan to jump ship in 2014 and seek a new position? Take our poll above. 

Have a question you would like to ask? Visit http://anitaclew.com/ask-anita/.

Want to receive these tips by email? Simply subscribe for once-a-week advice for career success!

Disclaimer

Anita Clew's blog posts are intended for general guidance and should never be taken as legal advice. In all instances where harassment, inequity, or unfair treatment is believed to be present, please consult your HR Department or legal representation.
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