In counseling students and looking at the current business environment, one thing is certainly obvious – you can’t be too selective in setting the parameters for acceptable employment. No, I’m not talking about pay and benefits – I’m referring to location. The late and disgustingly funny comedian Sam Kinison once did a comedy bit about his simple recipe for solving the problem of starvation in third world countries. In his screaming rant he would yell: “Move to where the food is! You live in a (expletive) desert!” OK, well maybe it’s a low-end comedic effort toward making light of a life-threatening situation, but we can certainly apply the concept to job hunting in a dismal labor market.
When a graduate tells me she is looking for a six-figure job in L.A., naturally my advice starts with the unrealistic salary expectation, but I also quickly address the impact of the geographic restriction. Today’s jobs report confirmed that the national unemployment rate is still over 8%, but that doesn’t paint a true picture for current job seekers. Because according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the fact is that the unemployment rate for that graduate looking to move to California is a staggering 10.7%. BUT a quick look elsewhere finds a more forgiving 5.8% in Minnesota, 5.6% in Wyoming, 5.3% in Iowa, 4.4% in South Dakota and 4% in Nebraska. Keep in mind that, generally speaking, anything less than 5% is typically considered “full employment”.
So what do you think? Too cold in South Dakota? Not interested in Nebraska? Not a problem. Enjoy your unemployment! I sure hope you’re not hungry. It’s hard to move to where the food is if you don’t have a job and can’t afford to buy any.
OK, so maybe that’s a bit harsh, but you get the point. Limiting your search to too narrow a range severely restricts your opportunities. Standing in line with hundreds of other candidates with qualifications similar to or better than yours is probably not the best use of your time. But moving to where the opportunities are most prevalent really offers you some options you may not have considered. After graduating from Georgia Tech, I took every opportunity that came my way, which involved 5 cities in 11 years. But guess what? Every move was a promotion, and every location offered exciting new opportunities, both personally and professionally.
We would love to land our dream job in our dream location. Especially in today’s job market, the more flexible you are in removing geographical restrictions from your search, the better your odds of getting off to a great career start.