It seems like every month we hear another dismal jobs report, as our economy moves toward a recovery, but at a very slow pace. Politics aside, it will take quite a while for the U.S. economy to return to pre-recession growth, and that is never good news for soon-to-be college graduates.
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. A late and disgustingly funny comedian, Sam Kenison, 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, dark humor 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. A recent jobs report confirmed that the national unemployment rate is still over 6%, but that doesn’t paint a true picture for current job seekers. Because the fact is that the unemployment rate for that graduate looking to move to California is currently at 8.3%, with many California cities at more than 10%. BUT a quick look elsewhere finds a more forgiving 2.6% in North Dakota, and 3.6% in Nebraska and South Dakota. 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.
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.