In many cases, the story goes: search for opportunities, land a job, move to location for said position. But there are plenty of times the situation is reversed. Sometimes we move to a place first—whether it’s for family or a spouse, or because it’s simply where we feel we should be—and then need to find a job that suits our career goals.
I’m here to tell you it is possible to have the career you want when the location comes first. Sure, it can be a bit trickier depending on where you land and what kind of work you’re aiming for, but thanks to the internet, nearly anything is possible these days.
After starting over in a new place a few times myself, I’ve found a few basic career tips especially applicable to jump start your search when relocating isn’t an option.
1. Search for the right keywords in the right places
LinkedIn and all-encompassing job search websites are a great place to start, but with so many jobs posted, are you narrowing your keywords enough to cut through the noise? For example, if you search for “marketing” in Raleigh, NC, on Indeed, 3,224 jobs populate.
How do you narrow down from there? Research different types of positions before you go scouting them in your area to determine the specific role you’re searching for before you actually search. This will also help align the responsibilities you’re looking for without having to sift through hundreds of posts that don’t match up with your expectations. “Social Media Community Manager” and “Executive Assistant” are much more clear than “Marketing” and “Administration” keywords and are sure to cut down your search time because you’ll get straight to the point. Don’t forget to filter by location and experience to narrow your search even more.
It’s also worth seeking out specific job boards from organizations that align with your interests or field. For example, The Everygirl and Create & Cultivate post a variety of positions in the digital and creative fields, among others, throughout the year and are great resources to keep an eye on for specific location opportunities and remote positions. Check to see if your favorite industry- or interest-specific outlets offer something similar.
2. Search for flexible opportunities
Thanks to Wi-Fi, the list of reasons for being tied to an office is continually getting shorter. If you’re not finding a job in your current city that meets your needs, you may be able to find something you could do from a computer across the state—or across the world.
Remote work is easier to find in some industries than others, but there are also specific job boards to scour for work-from-anywhere opportunities. We Work Remotely and Working Nomads are two of many, and there are others that are more specific, focusing on food (Good Food Jobs) or non-profit (Idealist) remote work.
Similarly, there are plenty of opportunities to keep an eye out for – remote or local – that involve at least some amount of traveling, which can weigh heavily on the pros list if the location you’re in was not high on your wish list to begin with.
3. Use your network
Whether you know someone in the area you’re in or you’re completely new to it, reach out to people in your network near and far that could provide helpful insights or new connections. Everyone knows someone, and learning more about people while building relationships is beneficial not only for your immediate job search but for your long-term career.
Coffee dates, FaceTime calls, and email threads can lead to very interesting conversations you didn’t know were possible — but you’ll only get the really useful information by asking good questions you’ve thought about ahead of time. For example, what path did you take to get where you currently are in your career? Where do you see the most opportunity in this field? Do you know anyone doing X, Y, and Z that I could connect with to learn about their experience?
Don’t expect your network to be an open book off the bat, and don’t assume you can’t have meaningful conversations from across city or state lines, if that’s what it takes.
4. Create the position you want
This doesn’t necessarily mean go out on your own right away. Not everyone wants to be a business owner—and that’s okay! It’s still possible to create a space for yourself in an established company. Reach out to your ideal workplaces in the area and begin a conversation about what you bring to the table. Do the research and share your past experience and skills you’ve honed and how that could directly benefit their team and business.
Another option for building the position you want is to join an established company in the department that suits your career, then grow the position organically to fit the needs of the team and meet the goals you have for your own career growth. Taking initiative and being a problem-solver are two characteristics that won’t go unnoticed, but also give you the flexibility to create opportunities for yourself and others while naturally building credibility, leadership, and making your career experience much more valuable.
If there’s anything I’ve learned throughout my career so far (and life in general, I guess), it’s that things rarely turn out as I’d intended them to – or at least the path to getting to my desired goal rarely looks like Plan A. When it comes to figuring out how to make your career work for you from a specific place on a map, your timeline may look a little longer, you may have to spend a little more effort digging and your path to success will probably look more like a twisted squiggle than a straight line. But forming new connections and utilizing the tools you have available will surely get you there if you’ve got enough nerve to dig in and go for what you want.