It’s been a while since I updated this thing, I know. Fortunately all you hungry little prospective cogs out there keep the page views up and running. You know that’s a great way to keep me motivated, you sly boots. I’ve been neglectful, again I know. There’ve been other writing projects and an actual paying client (GASP) who seems to think my time is actually worth a few ducets; as opposed to you freeloading lot. Oh who am I kidding? I love you guys and (I hope) gals. Even if you just breeze through my little corner of the blogosphere, leaving behind nothing but the lingering memory of an increased counter tic. In the immortal words if Mr Glen Campbell, “It’s knowin’ that your door is always open and your path is free to walk that makes me tend to leave my sleeping bag rolled up and stashed behind your couch.”
Or something like that. Anyway … you’re probably wondering what’s wrong with your job hunt now that you’ve done the things I suggested. Specifically you’ve done your homework on the company you want to woo. You’ve tunneled down deep into their departmental culture and identified the general archetype by which they tend to judge each other. You’ve taken an honest appraisal of yourself and realized either those people are just like you or that you want to be them. Finally you’ve started ringing up old classmates and distant relatives just to say “hi” and chat about their wonderful careers. At this stage you’ve probably started getting a few half-hearted letters from the corporate human resources department, which is better than before by a long mile.
Unfortunately few if any of these contacts ever amount to anything. So what are you doing wrong?
Chances are good if this is happening to you that you are not physically located within the primary geographic area of your target. Yes, it’s just that simple. The sad truth of modern job hunting is due to increased political, economic, and educational pressures often external to most companies, budgets for relocation have been slashed or outright terminated. It didn’t used to be this way for talented knowledge workers. A short decade ago, many companies were willing to offer relocation funds, language training, private schools, and company owned or subsidized housing in order to attract talented people with specialized skill sets. These days are over. The promise of telecommuting is also not bearing out as more and more companies adopt agile development processes relying on tightly integrated teams sitting in close proximity. In other words, most companies will require you to be physically present during the business day and are not willing to move you and your family in order to get it. This means the candidate who will need to relocate in order to start work will always be ranked lower than the local candidate who already understands the cost of living differences and commute times.
But don’t get me wrong and think there’s only one reason to relocate. Location also brings other benefits; benefits that are actually more useful to the potential job hunter. Being located in the same region as the department you wish to join means you will probably get to meet people already working for said department when you start attending special interest group meetings and seminars. Large companies slough off special interest groups, startup companies, societies, and other ancillary groups like humans slough off dead skin cells. Large companies attract talented people who usually want to socialize with other talented people interested in the same things. Since chances are good their home life is not filled with discussions of packet security or encryption algorithms, they will usually start or find some sort of group where they can find such company. If you join said group as well, you’ve now found another possible source for entry since said person will already know of your interests and talent. But most of all, they’ll know you’re “just like them” and would be a good fit.
Finally being conveniently located gives you a chronological advantage over other candidates. Oftentimes if you are doing your job correctly, you will have a good relationship built up with at least one corporate recruiter. These are the best relationships to covet as they see all the jobs in which you are interested. Many times in my career, I have found out about a position before it was published simply because I knew the recruiter who was notified it might be posted soon. If you are conveniently located, the recruiter knows they can call you up and set up an interview the next day with no cost to the company. You can then drop everything, take the meeting, and probably get the job if you really are a good fit. No one wants to extend the interviewing process longer than it has to unless there are perks such as free food or drinks. If the hiring manager can find a great candidate even before the job is posted, they will count themselves lucky and hire you if they’ve done this before.
So to wrap up today’s lesson in corporate schlepping … you need to be where the action is. Most companies are not importing foreign talent at the same rates, which usually means they aren’t at all. Candidates who will need to relocate their families, may not understand the local cost of living, and may not understand the local culture will not be as attractive as other candidates requiring latitude for those reasons. But on the positive side, being local to your dream job means you can network with actual employees at special interest groups or other industry social events. It also means your relationship with the corporate recruiter will be meaningful as they will be motivated to get you into their offices on short notice.
Of course, there are several alternatives to actually moving yourself. But that’s for next time ….