I'm ready to start applying for jobs.  Do I need to stop and do this now? 
Knowing where you want to live will help you complete most of the job search tasks you'll encounter over the next few weeks. 

Having identified your desired geographical location, you can target prospective employers and select key words for creating search agents on job posting sites. 

How will my decision as to where I want to live impact my job search?
The more open you are to living in a new place, or an "out of the way" place or a less popular place, the more quickly you should find a job because, in casting a wider net, you will have more opportunities. Additionally, employers will see you as “easier to work with” and more agile.

What if I don't have the flexibility to move?
Many people have important reasons to stay put.  If this is your situation and prospective employer choices are not abundant, get creative (think virtual, home office, or telecommuting).  You may also have to increase your desired percentage of travel or daily commuting time. 

What if I’m open to moving, but can’t afford re-location? 
Even in a down economy, many employers will pay for re-location.  Some will do so even if you are moving across the country.  Others limit this benefit, or the amount they will pay for the benefit, to new employees at certain levels. 

Even if the employer does not pay for the move, you may be able to negotiate a cash amount on hiring to help defray your moving costs or living expenses until you can afford to move your family to the new location.   Some employers will also pay for “exploratory visits” to help you select a new living location even if they don’t pay for the re-location itself.

If you feel there is any possibility that a new employer will pay some or all of your moving expenses, it might be wise to hold off moving until you get a job offer in the new location and know the situation.  Few employers will be interested in reimbursing you for a move you have already made. 

What if the job posting says “local applicants only”?  Can I still apply even if I don’t live locally?
Yes.  Unless the employer feels you need to know the area to meet the minimum job requirements, the prospective employer is actually saying, “We won’t pay for you to travel to the interview or for your re-location.”  If you are willing to pay for your travel to the interview and your re-location should you be hired, you should apply.   If the employer really wants to hire you, he or she may reimburse you for interview travel expenses as part of the offer. 

Think about:
Are there ways you can meet your (and your family’s) personal needs and objectives AND build more flexibility into your ideal work situation?  For instance, if you have a child who is a high school senior, could your family join you in a new location after graduation?

If you plan to make a move and want to make sure that you know all of your options when deciding on a new living location, here's a trick you can use:

Remember that compass you learned to use in grade school?  Find it, or tie a string to a pencil, copy a map of your desired location, draw a circle that represents a reasonable commuting distance. 

You'll probably learn that most locations have, within a reasonable distance, a living situation, urban or suburban, large city or small town, that works for you.  And you're ready to start selecting prospective employers to target.  You can also use this technique to explore wider options if you have decided to stay in your current location.

If you are undecided, you may want to create a chart using criteria that are important to you - good schools, local university, major employers in your industry, etc.- to compare possible living locations. 

What I hope you got from this post: 
Knowing your ideal location is part of developing your ideal work situation.  It's one of those tasks that may be a pain now, but you'll be happy you did when you are making a decision about a job offer.

Take action: 
Identify your ideal situation, but stay flexible. 

Sharing is thoughtful.  Someone you care about may need a new job.  You can help him or her
find a new job faster. 

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