The Long-Distance Job Hunt

Searching for a new job is complicated; searching for a new job long-distance adds a whole new layer of complexity. Last week's IT Career Advisor discussed three steps for choosing a new hometown foryour next IT career move. Concurrent with your research on your targetmarkets you should start evaluating the long-term IT opportunities inthat market. And as you narrow down your list of potential towns, youshould start your job hunt in earnest.

Kill Two Birds With One Stone

In addition to researching a new town's economy, demographics and quality-of-life factors, start reading the local papers. With the online editions, you can keep tabs on the local news, for insight into the town's character, and scan the Sunday classifieds, for a look at thelocal job market. The classifieds will help you determine the overall vitality of market and will be a viable resource as you start looking for your new position.

Work the IT Job Search Sites

Searching for a job online can often be as time-consuming and exhausting as the old-fashioned pounding the pavement. But, for a long-distance jobsearch, the IT-specific job search sites can be a powerful, timesaving ally.

While nearly all of these sites allow you to narrow your search by location, a number are actually organized by geographic markets. Among these are ComputerJobs.com, Techies.com and ComputerWork.com. Dice.comis another IT-specific site that offers localized browsing. (See theResources section at the end of this newsletter for more details onthese sites.)Keep in mind that one drawback to using the IT job search sites is that many of the positions are posted by recruiters and staffing agencies,not by the actual employers themselves. Unfortunately, that means thatsome of the jobs listed are redundant, since two or three different agencies may be trying to fill the same position. So, screen ads carefully before responding to avoid being submitted as a candidate tothe same employer by more than one recruiter.

Also, think twice about responding to an ad from a recruiter that only allows an online response. Recruiters who don't list their contact information may only be trying to amass a database of resumes.

Align Yourself With a Reputable Local RecruiterThe best way to find a recruiter is through word-of-mouth. Try to leverage your network of personal contacts to garner personal recommendations. If you can't secure a personal referral, you can always rely on the Web.

While a one-on-one relationship with one or two choice recruiters can help streamline your long-distance job search, it's important toremember that a recruiter is not necessarily like an agent. That is, notes Dave Opton, founder and president of career management firm ExecuNet (http://www.execunet.com), Norwalk, Conn., the recruiter's aimis not to represent you, but to find the employer the best possible candidate for the position: "Their job is to screen you out, not toscreen you in," Opton explains.

That said, it's useful to understand how recruiters are paid. Some work on retainer: The employer pays an upfront fee (the industry standard is33% of the first-year's compensation for the position to be filled) tothe recruiting agency, which in turn is dedicated to filling thatposition with the best possible candidate. Other recruiters work on acontingency basis: The employer pays the recruiting agency only if therecruiter places a candidate in the open position (the going rate is 20%to 25% of the first year's salary).

With this in mind, you can reasonably expect that a recruiter working ona contingency basis may be more proactive about helping to screen youinto a position. "They may get more personal with you because they wantto win that placement," Opton says. "On the other hand, some contingencyfirms may be just sending your resume to [and employer] they don't evenhave a relationship with. So, it's fair to interview the recruiter -especially contingency firms - about which employers they work withregularly."

Have a Back-Up Plan

If you've already scheduled your move, the date is fast approaching, and you still haven't found permanent employment, consider working as a contractor for an IT services firm. You can find contract opportunities through all of the major IT job search sites.

Ideally, you'll line up a permanent position prior to your move, and perhaps even get the employer to reimburse all or part of your relocation expenses. However, don't expect the cushy relocation packages offered at the height of the IT skills crunch. In a survey of ITprofessionals in the US conducted last August by Techies.com, a full 43% of IT pros who relocated for their last position said their newemployer did not pay any of their relocation expenses, and 8% said the employer reneged on a prior agreement to reimburse their expenses.

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