*Adam note: Thank you Kimber Lew for writing this article when I was sick and busy with so many other weird projects. The topic of changing jobs is super important and I tell my story in a podcast episode, but everyone has a different story. This is Kimber’s story*
Sometimes, the horse comes before the cart. Other times, the cart falls out of the sky in front of you, and then you say, “Oh, hmm. That’s a nice cart. I guess I’ll go somewhere in it… Oh crap, I need to find a horse!”
This is what happened to me last May. I was presented with an amazing opportunity for me to uproot myself to Southern California (the cart). As exciting as it sounds, I didn’t have a job lined up for me down there. I won’t pretend like I wasn’t feeling the weight of the many questions that then flooded my mind: “What does this mean for my job? Am I going to have to job hunt? Should I stick with the same career track? What if I can’t find a job? OH GOSH NOT MOVING!”
If you’re like me – having to move to some place new but don’t know what you’re going to do there once you’re there, and generally feeling utterly upended – here’s my two cents based on my personal experience. Hopefully it helps make for smoother sailing.
Know Your Timeline
It’s essential to know how much time you have
1) before you physically move and 2) before you need to have a job locked down.
If you have many months before you need to move, you can be a bit more selective with your job choices. If you only have a few weeks, you may need to consider widening the job field you’re applying to and/or taking a temporary position and continuing to search for a permanent job.
Additionally, some/most rental companies won’t allow you to apply for an apartment/house/etc. unless you can prove that you are employed and will make a certain amount per year. (This may be flexible, so you could potentially skirt this by using the right verbiage if you’re courting multiple job offers at the time you’re apartment hunting.) Also, it’s very important to know the flexibility of your move date. Would you be able to move sooner if a job wanted you to start in 3 weeks instead of 6 weeks? Are you able to postpone your relocation if you couldn’t find the right job in time for your original target date?
Logistics, Logistics, Logistics
I found this out first-hand: it’s VERY important to consider where you will be living and how far you’re willing to commute (both distance-wise and timewise). All 30-mile commutes are NOT created equal. You may think 30 miles is an okay distance to be from your job (based on your current commuting experience), but once you factor in the severity of traffic on the day and time you’ll be headed to work, it may morph into a monstrous headache of a trip you’ll have to take twice a day. (This is especially important for any job near Los Angeles or San Francisco, for example.) Know what the commute traffic flow is like during different times of the day. Likewise, if you’re carless or want to reduce your carbon footprint, take into consideration the public transportation options available to you, or see if you’d be able to carpool with your housemate(s) / loved one(s).
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USE. YOUR. NETWORK.
I cannot stress this enough. It pays to have a strong, supportive professional network. Speak to all of your industry colleagues (and make sure to ask for discretion if your current job doesn’t know you’re planning on leaving); they may know what job positions are open or who to talk to in the recruiting world to help you with the job search. This isn’t just your previous co-workers: ingredient salespeople, for example, travel to many companies and therefore have lots of connections and may know who’s looking to hire.
It also helps to have a list of references from the industry that can vouch for your talent and charm and impeccable humor (okay, maybe the last one’s a stretch…), and these will often be fellow food industry members. Also remember to reach out to recruiters… they are paid to help you find a job! Ask your connections for the scoop on companies at which you’re looking to get hired. Have your friends from your alma mater help you search for openings (shoutout to my UC Davis Food Tech buddies!) Many candidates get an interview or a job offer because they know someone who put in a good word for them in some capacity.
Have a Back-up Plan
I’m all for being optimistic, but in the case of moving somewhere independent of a job offer, you need to have an alternate plan set up in case you can’t find the right job in time before the move. Would you consider going into a different job sector than your ideal/current job? A different industry? Would you consider working part-time or temporarily while you search for a more permanent option? Can you freelance to supplement your income or to spend your time wisely? Or would you be okay surviving without income for a period of time in order to hold out for a more ideal job (and are you comfortable with that risk)? If you can’t find a job down there, would you be willing to stay where you are now and not move at all? These are all questions you should ask yourself and for which you should have an answer.
Timing is Everything
This is probably the most frustrating part. Sometimes jobs want you to start sooner than you anticipated, as mentioned in the first section. Other jobs may only be considering local candidates and may stop the interviewing process (or refuse to even look at your resume) unless you are located within a certain distance of the job location. Especially if you’re not moving for a few months, this may make job hunting frustrating because it may mean you have to reapply or wait to apply for positions until closer to your move day and/or when you have a permanent address in your new location.
This actually happened to me: I applied to work at my current workplace when I first started looking at job openings in June; they told me they were looking for a local candidate (even though I stated that I was moving to SoCal independently of employment). Fast forward a couple months, and I contacted the HR manager again about the position and provided my new permanent address. Within the next week or so, I got my job offer, and I moved to Los Angeles near the end of September. As a chronic planner, it gave me anxiety to push more serious job searching until a month or so before I was planning to move, but there weren’t many places that were willing to wait months for me to get there. Moral of the story: be flexible with your timing if you can, and trust that the right opportunity will pop up when it should. Oh, and FOLLOW UP with HR departments about openings if you’re really interested!
Professional things aside, going through this whole process is very energetically draining and difficult emotionally. Make sure you seek out and find support before, during, and after the relocation. Especially if you haven’t done it before, it kind of knocks you off of your feet.
Moving down to SoCal was easily one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, and I was a lowkey wreck through the transition. What helped a lot was having understanding, caring friends and family to lighten the load and help me see the light at the end of the tunnel when I was bogged down with all of the stuff I had to deal with for the move.
Additionally, consider seeking professional help in the form of therapy. While it still has some (undue) stigma associated with it, uprooting oneself is a very traumatic event, even if you’re excited for it and looking forward to the change. It’s important to keep yourself in a balanced state, and assistance from a therapist can really ease the burden on yourself.
Remember to keep in contact with your support system back home — Skype, phone calls, tagging each other in memes: all of it is helpful to maintain that connection to your loved ones. Send letters and care packages to each other, for example. If you’re feeling particularly lonely, try seeking out activities that you enjoy or joining Meetup groups for people with shared interests.
Finally, remember to take some time for self-care (see my previous article for suggestions!) and get enough sleep, eat well, and get some exercise or physical activity to boost your happy levels.
The transition is definitely a hard one, but remember to be kind and patient with yourself. It is OKAY to not feel okay. It takes months to adjust; sometimes longer. But soon you’ll realize that having the cart first and then finding a good horse to pull it isn’t so bad after all. (And if you need any advice or someone to listen to you, I’m always here!)