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The Job Search from Afar

Published on March 30, 2018, at 11:00 a.m.
by Elizabeth Driver.

It’s that time of the year. College students across the country are busy applying for internships and full-time positions. The job search is an exciting and rewarding experience. But for those applying in a new city, this can be a frustrating and tedious process.

In August my fiancé accepted a post-graduation job offer from a company in Cincinnati, Ohio. As soon as I heard the news, I immediately began searching and applying for any and every Cincinnati-area communications job I could find online — me, a full-time student living in Alabama with no connections in the city.

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After months and months spent checking GlassDoor, submitting my résumé and taking company applicant assessment tests to only hear crickets, I finally decided that something had to change in my approach. I spent the last six weeks redirecting my job search, and here are a few lessons I learned.

It’s all about connections
Many professors say that “it’s all about who you know” when it comes to getting a job. This statement is not just a ploy to trick students into attending networking events. Through my job search, I learned that professional connections are a major gateway to job opportunities.

Finding open positions that fit your interests through an online job search is challenging on its own. A study conducted by Statistic Brain found that more than 68 percent of available jobs are never posted online. For those moving to a new city, these job opportunities are narrowed down even further to a specific area.

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Networking opens up doors to learn about the organizations and industries in your desired city. According to a Forbes article, one of the best ways to build your network from afar is to “get on LinkedIn to find professionals in your field in the area and introduce yourself.”

Don’t be afraid to reach out to practitioners to ask about their position and experience within a company. Every professional has been through the job hunt at some point, so most are willing to help out. You never know … they may have an open position.

Cover letters are NOT overrated
In the current digital age, cover letters are optional on many online job applications. Employers can seemingly find enough information about a candidate by simply checking their LinkedIn page or other social media platforms. This factor prompts many college students to question whether writing a cover letter is worth their time.

Before modifying my job search, I almost always skipped out on including a cover letter. I learned that a résumé alone is not enough to tell your whole story to a hiring manager. Cover letters are a great way to separate yourself in large online applicant pools.

Lauren Nelson, a communications executive at Aesthetic Contingency, explained in a LinkedIn post that taking the time to write a “custom cover letter” may be the “difference between being dismissed and landing an interview.” According to Nelson, only 40 percent of the applications she receives include a cover letter, of which only 10 percent of applicants adequately explain why they are a good fit for the position.

Public relations professionals can use cover letters as an outlet to showcase their writing abilities to an employer. Those who are applying in a new city can also use cover letters to explain their moving plans. Take advantage of this frequently missed opportunity - submit a cover letter.

Take weekend trips

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One of the best ways to introduce yourself to the professional climate of your new city is to experience it in person. Yes, traveling can be expensive and inconvenient for some college students. Don’t get caught up on the costs when it comes to your career.

Plan some weekend trips and schedule informational interviews with your professional contacts in the city. Forbes suggests attending networking events in the area and including a travel date on your cover letter to let potential employers know when you will be in the area.

Applying for jobs in an unfamiliar city can be a daunting process. But you don’t have to wait to get started. Working hard on your job search now can make the transition to your new city a little easier.

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