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How to Do a Long Distance Job Search

You want to move to another state, or even another country -- but not until you find a job there.  Luckily, with the growing availability of information and an increasingly global marketplace, faraway employers are within reach.

That's not to say it's any easier to actually land the job. With the economy in a downturn and companies get tighter with spending, relocating is often an expense they want to avoid.

The way around that? Establish your credentials upfront without bringing attention to where you're currently living.

"The antidote, from the applicant stand point, is to have a resume with no city name for location to start with and then to say that relocation is not a problem," says Dilip Saraf, career coach and author of "The 7 Keys to a Dream Job." "Once you establish your value in the first interview and subsequent rounds, you can always broach this subject. Once again, how differentiated you are in your value proposition as you navigate through the recruitment process is what this is about."

Where to Look:
To find that long-distance dream job, you can start by browsing specialized sites like Indeed.com, a one-stop search engine that shows nationwide job listings from thousands of sites. "That lets you quickly assess how big the market is in a location," says Saraf. "If the jobs are scarce, then you need to think of other strategies."

The next step is to contact people for advice or leads. If you belong to a professional association, for example, look for members in your desired destination and tell them you want to relocate to the area. "People generally will help you, all you need to do is ask," says Saraf. 

Linkedin, the social networking site for professionals, can be a valuable resource. "It definitely helps to network," says Saraf. "But I always tell my clients to develop these connections while they have a job and are doing well. Don't dig a well when you're thirsty."

Although actually traveling to your desired destination is a logical step, avoid traveling before sizing up the market or choosing the companies you'd like to work for. "Going there prematurely can be a waste of time and resources," says Saraf.  Look at companies that are well recognized, such as Fortune 100 companies, AARP-ranked firms, etc.

Once you find the target employer, conduct a thorough investigation. Look at recent and archived news clips, find out what business cycle the company's in, and who the competitors are. Figure out what qualities you can bring to the table.

For example, if you find that a company has been consistently late coming out with new products or gets low consumer reviews, write a letter to a senior level executive saying how you could help reverse that. Attach a resume tailored to their needs. "Send your correspondence via Fedex so it stands out from the crowd," says Saraf. "Even if the company is not hiring they will generally at least talk to you."

Broaching Relocation:
If you land an interview, don't mention relocation allowances early on. "I tell my clients not to disclose their city at the top of the resume. If you make [relocation] an issue early on, it's a turn off," says Saraf. In the last five years, he adds, companies have been less forthcoming about relocation packages. If they can avoid that expensive, they will.

That doesn't mean you should not discuss the subject. If you're perceived as valuable to the company, they'll be wiling to negotiate. A client of Saraf's found a job in Orange County, California that required a move from San Francisco. Early on, the company made it clear there would be no relocation allowance, but the candidate was able to negotiate the higher end of the salary.

Even though you should not dismiss an offer because of tightfisted relocation policies (unless you're moving across the globe), be careful when assessing the cost of a move --  and the cost of living at the new destination.

Paola Singer is a freelance writer in New York City. She has written for The Wall Street Journal, Newsday and Hemispheres magazine.

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