Bonnie Siegler | Dear Bonnie

Adrift in Alabama

Dear Bonnie,

I’m stuck in an unfortunate situation. And by situation I mean location. When I graduated a few years back, I struggled to find a job and ended up with an instructional design job (which is not what I want to do) in my hometown in Alabama.

There aren’t many opportunities in the area for design work. After two years at my job and working on personal projects to supplement my portfolio, I’m ready to move on. The only problem is I ran into a geographical block the first time I searched for jobs. Is there any right way to get a job somewhere you don’t currently live? Or is it commonplace to quit and move to a new city and start the job search with a new address? I’ve heard plenty of stories about designers who moved to New York with $20 and their portfolio and knocked on doors until they got a job. Is that typical or is it possible to find something through job postings online? Where do you draw the line between bold risk taking and complete lunacy?

Thank you for any insights you have and for offering so much wonderful advice to green designers,

Adrift in Alabama

Dear A.A.,

I applaud your decision to move on. There are many ways to find a job where you don’t live and people do it all the time. From an employer’s perspective, it can feel like a good deal of pressure to hire someone who has to move to a new city in order to work for you. What if it doesn’t work out? Personally, I would feel responsible for the person and that is a position I try not to put myself in.

To avoid that scenario, I would make it clear to the prospective employer that you are planning on moving to their city, no matter what, but would like to secure a job before getting there. You can even offer a three month trial period (which is a good idea for both parties, even if you were local) so the company knows you aren’t putting all of your eggs in their basket.

In terms of interviewing, it’s incredibly easy. Just get on Skype or a Google hangout or even FaceTime. It’s not the same as being in the same room, but I have conducted many interviews where I am looking through their computer on one part of my screen, while watching the interviewee describe their work in another window. 

This is your moment. Really think about what you would like to do and where you would love to work. And go for it. Your drive and initiative will say a lot about you even before they look at your work.

Good luck! And please let me know where you land.

Posted in: Business

Comments [1]

I've had this similar experience with different outcomes. I was offered a design job in Georgia while living in North Carolina. Basically because the company wasn't able to find any other qualified designers in the area and I was willing to move for my first design gig. I've since left GA and lived in D.C. and now Boston where I've found it easier to get jobs and interviews when you're living in the area, especially if they're looking to hire ASAP. A lot of it just depends on finding the right fit more than anything and a company will give you a chance if they think you're worth it. And more importantly persistence pays off.
Joe Elwell

Jobs | July 18