Choose a New City, Find a New Job
By Sophie Tarnowska
Monster Contributing Writer
You’ve packed your boxes, thrown away the old mattress that looks as though it survived generations of incontinent seniors, and recovered from the let’s-finish-all-the-alcohol-in-the-house going away party you threw for yourself. You’re moving to a new city. And you didn’t take your father’s advice about finding a new job before quitting the current one. Oops.
So you’re unemployed, close to friendless and a little worried that if you don’t get a paycheque soon, you may end up sharing your cat’s Fancy Feast Liver Surprise for dinner. Don’t panic.
Why should you trust me? I’ve moved from one city to another, and from one continent to the next for the past 12 years, always without a job waiting for me, let alone friends. From Montreal to Ottawa, Ottawa to Toronto, Canada to the Caribbean, the Caribbean to Ireland, and back again.
Some of the jobs were fantastic, others were so boring that I wanted to staple myself to the wall, but my point is that if there were an award given for Landing on My Feet, I’d expect to win it (ditto perhaps for the Obnoxiousness award), based on the wisdom below.
This is how you go about finding a job in a new city:
- Talk. Before you leave town, let people know where you’re going. Find out if they know anybody there, because even if they have no job leads, or you have no idea what kind of job you want, the key is to make connections, to have a name you can call on. You never know where it may lead or to whom your dentist might be related. I made a great friend this way in Dublin, and got a job through another friend I met through that first friend. And why not use your Facebook status to ask your 721 “friends” if they know anyone you can connect with?
- Out with the old, and in with the new (you). Throw away your shyness along with that lava lamp. If you’re self-conscious about putting yourself out there – don’t be. This is a new city and an opportunity to be known for something else.
- Do the “Duh” stuff. It’s obvious because it works. Check out the newspapers, Chamber of commerce website, job sites in the city you’re going to. If there are specific jobs you like, ask around your hometown for leads, before you go, but also after you leave. And apply, apply, apply. I know that the best jobs are not always advertised, but you’re getting your CV out there, so follow up on it and connect with people. Go to the Chamber of Commerce mixers and network your brains out.
And if that sounds daunting, consider this: when she was in her fifties, my mother moved to Vermont to start a new life (and sell insurance). She knew no one, so she went to the Chamber of Commerce business fair and decided to enter the pasta-eating contest despite the fact that carbohydrates are her personal kryptonite. Imagine a size 2 woman wearing a business suit, eating her way to victory with her hands tied behind her back, and then triumphantly handing out her business card to all onlookers. No news on whether her pasta-eating abilities increased her insurance sales.
Yes, I realize I’ve now seriously undermined my credibility.
Back to you.
- Hang out – you’ll probably spend many hours trolling the Internet for jobs, writing cover letters and refining your CV, so get out of the house and do it in a place that attracts the kind of people you like. Chat them up, find out what they do and who they do it for. I know this sounds like stalking, but approach it like a journalist would: people like to talk about themselves, and you’re interested in listening to them. It’s the grownup equivalent of making friends in the sandbox. Just don’t make any bunny boiling jokes.
- Temp it. Nothing is permanent in this life, so if you’re worried about getting a job, get thee to a temp agency. I temped for a while in Toronto and was offered every job I worked in (no, not at McDonald’s thank you very much. At a reputable financial institution). It’s a salary, it’s experience, and it shows you’re determined to succeed, no matter how humble your beginnings.
At the very least, you’re trying. And eventually, you’ll succeed. Pasta-eating or not.