Are you limiting your options by geography?

suit-2No one enjoys a daily commute to a job. If you’re in your car, you’re probably sitting in traffic, wasting time that could be otherwise spent on something productive. If you take public transportation, you are at the mercy of their timetables, the delays, and schedule changes, as well as having to share your space with hundreds of other people. So it’s not surprising that when people decide to make a career change, the location of the job is an important factor. Sometimes, this is a misguided notion.

Leading employers want a hiring pool that is bulging with top talent. That’s hard for them to achieve. And savvy employers acknowledge that certain geographies tend to attract educated and skilled workers, it’s unlikely that the most qualified and sought-after candidates are all in their backyards. Restricting recruiting to local communities can have adverse outcomes; so can limiting your job search similarly.

Consider the pharmaceutical industry. In the United States, this highly competitive industry tends to be concentrated in suburban New Jersey. All of the major players in the industry have a presence in the Garden State. So when a client recently contacted me about wanting to make a career change, his first instinct was to make geography his line in the sand. He was an operations executive with one of the world’s leading pharma companies, and he was based in New Jersey. He owned a home in New Jersey, he was involved in his local community, and his children were in school. He was adamant that he was not going to relocate. The problem was that his “dream job” was with another pharma company that was based in the Chicago area.

LeaderHe came to me a bit despondent that this job was out of state, and that the job posting did not say anything about working remotely. I told him to ignore the job posting. We crafted an accomplishment-oriented resume and a highly targeted cover letter. My client used his network to identify a contact within the target company. Through that contact, he secured an initial phone interview. Later, they flew him out for an in-person interview. Ultimately, he was offered the job, on the condition that he spend at least 25% of his time in the Chicago-area office.

And this is not an unusual occurrence. Remote work is a low-cost solution to the problem of a lack of talent. It can increase the talent pool by hundreds of percentage points! When you’re thinking of making a career change, think about the types of roles you’d like to pursue, and the companies that you want to target. From there, you can identify opportunities that may mesh with your goals. Employers know that recruiting and retaining talent is imperative to their success. Many of them are not willing to be limited by their local talent pool. Why would you similarly restrict yourself to your local employer pool?

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