That’s because, despite record high unemployment and an unequal distribution of jobs across the fifty states, fewer unemployed Americans are hitting the road in search of work since World War II.
Worse: only 7.3% of job seekers relocated for work in the fourth quarter of 2009, according to Challenger, Gray & Christmas.
Relocating isn’t as mysterious or difficult as it used to be, thanks in part to the Internet.
Perhaps employers just aren’t hiring across state lines, but some people have it tough—saddled with debt, or a home that they can’t sell. Who’s got the cash for a big move into the unknown? Not only that, but, “They are likely to stay where they have an established support network,” said John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas.
As it turns out, relocating isn’t as mysterious or difficult as it used to be, thanks in part to the Internet, and in part to the natural mobility of the American population. Translation: Through Facebook, you’ve reconnected with friends and colleagues near and far, and your geographical distance doesn’t seem all that strange. These connections, with the Internet’s help, can let you relocate anywhere without losing a dime. Here’s how to do it:
1. Visit virtually
Before you leave your hometown, ask everyone you meet: “Who do you know in [my new city]?” Get names, numbers, email addresses—and start introducing yourself before you get there. Reconnect with old friends and colleagues living there, too. Set times to meet for coffee so you can learn more about what they like about their city, or about the dynamic of your shared profession there.
2. Schedule appointments in advance
In addition to meetings with friends and new contacts, research activities and events in your new town and put them on your calendar before you get there. This way, you’ll arrive with plenty of things to do, personal and professional.
3. Identify key members of the industry you want to work in
Find these figures through media stories about the businesses there. Who’s showing strong quarterly results or rolling out new products? Who in particular is being quoted? Other indicators may include Twitter, which you can check to see who has the largest number of followers. These contacts are important because they will signify where the jobs are (in many cases) and the focal point for key networks.
4. Identify key industry events and groups and join them
These events will help you gather information on who’s hiring and who’s not, but more importantly, you can get the most out of these events by networking with other folks there and letting them know what you’re looking to do for work. Regular group meetings will add structure to your schedule.
5. Meet people
This isn’t the time to be shy – you have a job to get and friends to make. So don’t just go to these events, make sure you are also making connections. If you’re not a natural butterfly, set some easy goals for yourself, like introducing yourself to five new people at each event (and exchanging information so that you can stay connected).
6. Find – or create – an ex-pat group
Others may have gone before you, leaving your hometown and settling in your new spot. Use your network at home to seek them out, and learn from their experiences. Some cities have a natural ex-pat community, such as New Yorkers, for whom there’s a group called Is There Life After NYC. It was started by two ex-New Yorkers looking for like-minded folks.
7. Use your Internet hubs
You may not want every person you meet to become your Facebook friend, but perhaps you could follow one another on Twitter, or connect through your LinkedIn accounts. Establishing a relationship online will help to make them more regularly aware of your presence, and become integrated into their lives (and vice versa).
8. If you’re single, don’t live alone
One of the most efficient ways to meet a ton of people in a new town is to piggyback on someone else’s network of friends. Of course, you should probably like them, but if you like your roommate, and they like you, the same may be true of their friends.
9. If you’re not, let your kids do the work!
Lots of easy ways to connect with others while standing on the sidelines at soccer practice, or even just at the playground. Moms may also be able to find mommy groups to tap into.
10. Read the daily paper
One of the biggest ways to integrate into a new community is to just know what’s going on. The local rag may be just that, but it’s what everyone else is reading, you should be reading it, too.
11. Run your old life virtually
If you’re stuck with a home you can’t unload, you could consider renting it out, and use various software or even iPhone apps to monitor your home from afar. And don’t forget that Facebook or other social networking sites can help you stay up to date on the latest weather observations from friends back home.
Are there more secrets to an easy relocation? Probably. We’re all ears…
And if you still think it’s too much of a haul, you can always make your hometown feel new again.