Experts estimate that 80% of Americans moving to a new location do so between May and September. “A lot of our clients see staff turnover during this time of year which, fortunately, we can help with,” confirmed Brad Rogers, Director of Recruiting and Client Services Manager for LAC Group. “But because of our national footprint and the range of information skills we’re looking for, we can also often help LIS professionals needing to relocate their careers.”
If you’re one of those planning to relocate, there are steps you can take ahead of time to help ensure that career stress doesn’t add to your move stress. The following actions will help you lay the groundwork for finding a new position in your target destination well before you land in town.
Start establishing local connections
There are a number of ways to start making local connections. For example, join the state library association (for the relevant state association’s contact information, see ALA’s “State and regional chapters” page, which also includes listings for all state library associations) as well as the local chapter of your professional associations (check the associations’ websites for regional chapter information). Check out your associations’ membership lists to see whether there are individuals who may be in positions helpful to your job search, and if so, reach out to them, respectfully introduce yourself and request a brief, 20-minute informational interview about the local LIS environment. These contacts will provide the beginnings of your local network. Also, if your MLIS program has an alumni group, check the membership list for any fellow graduates from you program who are living in your target community, and with whom you might connect.
Consider attending a local event
See if you can combine a trip to your new community (apartment hunting?) with attendance at a local LIS association event–for example, an SLA chapter dinner. At the event, introduce yourself to everyone you can, let them know about your upcoming move, swap contact information and then volunteer to be on one of the chapter committees as soon as you get to town. (Nothing is guaranteed to raise your professional visibility and popularity quite like volunteering to be a committee member.) Follow up with thank-you emails to the individuals who took the time to speak with you and welcome you to the group. And consider having inexpensive business cards made up with your contact information on the front and a brief bit about your upcoming move on the back. Make sure that your LinkedIn profile URL is included with your contact information.
Make sure your LinkedIn profile is up to date
Since you’re going to be laying the job-hunt groundwork (and marketing yourself) even before you’ve moved to your new location, you’ll want to ensure that if anyone (e.g., hiring managers) checks you out online, your LinkedIn profile does an excellent job of showcasing your strengths and expertise. This might be a great time to request recommendations from key individuals in your professional life, and to ensure that your Summary and Work Experience sections include the keywords and phrases that will align with potential jobs you might pursue.
Explore potential opportunities through your online networks
Consider especially how LinkedIn can help you locate connections for your anticipated move in both your own network and those of your connections. Also consider your Facebook and Twitter feeds as sources of job leads and related information for your target location. Let everyone in your network know about your impending career relocation plans in case they have contacts with whom they can connect you. As you let people know about your plans, however, also let them know how they can best help you. What type of information are you looking for? Are there specific companies or individuals you’d like to know more about? Industries you’d like to explore? Are you in need of an introduction to a particular individual in your new location? Let your network know–they can’t help you if they don’t know what you need!
See who’s hiring—and for what
Again, LinkedIn provides a fairly easy way to identify and explore companies in your target location, see what potentially interesting jobs they may have open and then sign up to follow developments at these companies. Open up the Jobs tab, then simply search on your preferred jobs/keywords and enter your target location in the Jobs search box. Create a list of all relevant or simply interesting employers, keeping in mind that you probably want to think as broadly as possible (traditional and nontraditional) when considering potential LIS jobs. Then sign up for alerts (on LinkedIn as well as on the company/library web page) on any new developments or job openings for your organizations of interest. Also check the state library and association job lists for your target locations, and set up alerts if supported by the job lists you’re using.
Do some informational interviews
Informational interviews are one of the most powerful tools you have for learning about potential jobs, employers, career paths or even expanding/contracting local industries. They become even more valuable when you are trying to gather information from afar. These can be with people you’ve met (even if virtually) through your work establishing local connections, via your online networking efforts or directly with the hiring managers of organizations that interest you. Whether your goal is to unearth information about the local job market, major local industries or employers, specific job opportunities or other insights, informational interviews are one of the most effective ways to get “up to speed” quickly. Even better, they enable you to start building your network and professional visibility while you’re building those insights.
Consider applying for jobs before you arrive
If you find a job opening of interest, why not go ahead and apply for it? Let potential employers—and the LibGig team—know when you’ll be available, and that you’re willing to come for an interview on your own nickel (if the job is worth it). Even if you don’t get the job, you will have started your job-hunting process while also starting to build your professional visibility in your new community.
Build bridges—and career opportunities—before you arrive
Relocating your career to a new town can actually be a fun challenge, with new colleagues to meet, new opportunities to consider and new ways to build positive, high-impact visibility and contributions in an unfamiliar professional community. By starting to do so before you move, you’ll be setting yourself up for a much smoother, more enjoyable career relocation once you arrive.
To get started, create a checklist of action items based on those noted above, and begin working through them in the same way you’re probably checking off items on your “moving” checklist. Don’t try to do everything at once, but do commit to at least some career-outreach activity every day. Have five minutes? Set up a company alert. Have 30 minutes? Check out the local members in your professional association for your target community. Have an hour? Review, revise and update your LinkedIn profile to focus on opportunities in your new location. If your first step is to create your to-do list, then you can just work through the various items as you have bits of time available in your schedule.
Building your professional bridges before you arrive will make your relocation a much less stressful transition for you and could possibly result in potential job offers. Now that would be a terrific way to celebrate a new beginning!