RealNames calls it quits, blames Microsoft

If you're considering a move to find a new IT job or just to improveyour long-range career prospects, you're not alone. While relocationshave declined overall since September 11, according to a study byChallenger, Gray & Christmas, moving to garner a new position isstill a popular choice among IT professionals.

More than half - 56% - of the 3,401 IT job seekers polled by IT jobsearch site Techies.com last August said they probably or definitelywould relocate for their next position (see "Techies More Willing toRelocate,"http://home.techies.com/Common/Content/2001/08/06mc_relosurvey.html).

But choosing a new hometown and launching a long-distance job search canbe a daunting prospect. If you think relocating might be the answer toyour IT career advancement, use the following step-by-step guide forselecting a new city and researching your prospects.

As you begin your research and job quest, you should have a good handleon what's driving you, as that will inform your strategy. The reasonsfor making a move can range from financial considerations (you'reunemployed or under-employed in a town with few IT opportunities) tolifestyle preferences (you want to live in the mountains, near the beachor in a family-friendly metro area) to long-term career goals (you'reaiming to become a CIO at a Fortune 500 company or you want to work inthe entertainment industry).

Since you will ultimately want to focus your relocation efforts on aspecific area, you need to understand your own internal motivation, andprioritize your reasons. For example, the top three factors thatrespondents to the Techies.com survey said would motivate them to movewere the work itself, the salary and the potential for advancement. Withcompeting offers in different cities, where each of those three factorswere equal, IT pros said their decision would come down to thecost-of-living and the availability of affordable housing.

Once you have determined and prioritized what you want to achieve fromyour move, start researching the cities and regions that offer the bestopportunities for reaching your goals. Use your research to make a listof three to five target areas for a move.

If your first priority is to find a new position, and find it quick,focus your research on economic information and draw up a list of "BestCities" in terms of projected jobs growth, areas with a concentration ofleading IT users, and diversity. If it's a lifestyle decision, you'llframe your list of target cities by the corresponding quality-of-lifefactors. If specific career goals are motivating you, choose your targetcities based on your employers of choice or the industry you want towork in.

Once you've made a preliminary list of target cities, your researchbegins in earnest as you seek to narrow down your choices and focus inon the best targets. Don't skimp on your research, advises Scott Kosta,a senior programmer analyst who recently relocated from Utah to NewEngland. In addition to assessing the viability of the local IT jobmarket, he says, "You have to do a lot of research into the area todetermine what salary is comparable to your [current] area, so when younegotiate salary you get what you want. You also need to research thelocal economy and cost of living, such as housing, taxes and food."

That research is not only important to making a sound decision aboutyour future, Kosta notes, but also will be key to your success inpersuading interviewers that you want to make the move.

"You must have a very good explanation of why you want to relocate tothat area," he says. "You have to convince the prospective employer thatyou will not be unhappy with the area and leave."

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