Finding a job as the trailing partner in a job-related move can be a real challenge. Just ask Shane Miller, who has been searching for a retail manager job ever since he and his wife Kristin moved from Indianapolis to Colorado Springs so Kristin could accept a new public relations position.
"The smaller market has been a problem," says Miller. "To make matters worse, a large portion of the Colorado Springs job market is composed of defense contractors and other companies whose sole purpose is to support the five military installations in the area."
Many of these employers require a security clearance, military experience or both, and some ask for advanced knowledge of missile or satellite systems -- "neither of which can be picked up over the weekend at the local tech school," Miller quips.
A Range of Emotions
You can almost hear the frustration in Miller's words -- not surprising, according to Andrea Kay, author of Greener Pastures: How to Find a Job in Another Place. Frustration and its emotional companion fear are common among trailing partners. And sometimes those emotions can even boil over into bitterness.
"One couple I know spent weeks discussing whether to move for his career," says Kay, a career consultant in Cincinnati. "She was dead set against it, asking me, ‘Why should my career be considered second to his?'"
Jessica McKenzie's experience has been vastly different. While she acknowledges she was nervous about moving from Dallas to Salt Lake City for her girlfriend's new job, she was also excited about the adventure.
"We both knew this wouldn't be a permanent move to Salt Lake, but we really did want to try a new town," says McKenzie, who ultimately found what she calls "the perfect job for me" as a book publicist with Gibbs Smith. "It was the perfect opportunity to just take a leap and live somewhere new and experience a new part of the country."
If you're a soon-to-be or current trailing partner, heed these five tips for a successful job search:
Research the Local Job Market ASAP
"We moved so quickly -- one month between the decision to move and my girlfriend's start date -- that I didn't spend as much time as I should have checking out the job market in Salt Lake," says McKenzie. "So I would counsel people to start exploring the market they're entering as soon as they know they're moving."
Ask for Help from Your Partner's Company
Sometimes your partner's company will offer career consultation -- but only if you ask. "A smart company realizes this type of assistance increases peace of mind," McKenzie says.
Tap Your Existing Network
"Ask people from your past who might know people in your new city to introduce you to who they know there," says Kay. "This helps you penetrate your new business community and build new alliances."
Join a Professional Organization
Many professional organizations have local chapters everywhere. By attending meetings in your new city, you'll get to know people in your field and uncover job opportunities.
Consider Volunteer or Part-Time Work
At a minimum, volunteering will help you meet people in your new city, says Kay, especially if you work on "visible projects" in the nonprofit, social services or arts sectors. Similarly, a part-time job or temporary job could turn into a full-time position.
Being the trailing partner in a job-related move is bound to be stressful. But it can also be a great opportunity for you to "start fresh [and] to possibly explore a new career or a more satisfying role, or just be with a new group of people, clients and customers that might lead to something even better," Kay says.
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