I start work on tuesday after 15 months of unsuccessfully looking for a job in the Dallas / Fort Worth area. I am moving tomorrow to Jackson, state capital of Mississippi. Within two weeks of job hunting in Jackson I had an interview, and was virtually offered the job the afternoon of the interview.
"What?", you ask. "Are you smoking crack Maclir? Why could you not get a got in an metropolitan area of over 5 million people, with a big concentration of IT and Telecom companies, yet you go to some pokey little hick state with less than 250,000 people in the capital area."
Let me give more details.
First rule: Give yourself the maximum advantage. In the D/FW area, experts say over 60,000 IT and Telecom jobs have disappeared since January 2001. Many of those displaced IT people are still in the area looking for jobs. Your resume is one in a thousand - literally. Even with all of my experience, and for the jobs I was applying for, many years of directly relevant experience, the chance of anyone reading my resume was remote. Mississippi, as well as being a small state (population wise) has suffered from a "brain drain" for many years. There are not very many IT managers with 20+ years of experience wanting to move and work there.
Second Rule: Go with what you know best. My job is with a state government agency, and much of my work experience is with government agencies. At the interview, the IT director asked - in a friendly manner - "Why should you get the job?" My response was "I have performed this exact role before, in similar organisations, and I know how to do it right." This is not the time to seek a major change in career direction.
Third Rule: Network. No, not the stuff made of cables carrying TCP/IP packets. This means build and exploit your personal contacts type of networking. In major areas there are likely several networking organisation. Experts say 90% of jobs are found through networking, and this can bypass the HR area to the hiring person. Remember, though - HR serves a valid purpose. If I was looking for a position, I would not have the time nor inclination to go through 1,000+ resumes, looking for the best candidate. I would prefer to read 10 or 15 resumes, all of which met the basic requirements for the position, and select the best from that. Sure, I may not even see the prefect candidate for the job - but I will see several "good enough" candidates.
Fourth Rule: Job Boards. I am not sure of the benefit of internet sites like monster.com - these guarantee an organisation being flooded wiht thousands of resumes. Look at directemployers.com. For government jobs, check out the main state government site, and hunt around for job information. Don't rule out your local county / city goverment either.
Fifth Rule: Be flexible and be open to relocation (at your expense these days). If there are no jobs where you are, be prepared to look elsewhere. Do you have family in another city or State? Visit Uncle Bob and Auntie Ruth and see what is going on in their part of the country. What about some of your college mates from other cities? If your personal situation rules out moving, then you may be SOL.
This is what I have found - remember, your experience may differ (I have the additional disadvantage of being a "furringer" in the US at a time when many people are saying "we should not be employing these people when Americans are out of work", despite being a permanent resident. Look at how many organisations are requiring US citizenship these days). Of course, experiences in other parts of the country, and people with different skill sets may be more in demand - but in looking for a job, your aim is to give yourself every advantage over all the other job seekers.