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Why Where You Live Matters in Your Job Search



9/19/2011 4:01:39 PM

By John Sumser, Glassdoor.com

You’ve no doubt heard the endless noise about the value you can get from your social media network in the job hunt. You’ve probably also wondered why it seems to work so well on TV and in the blogs but not for you. It feels like the celebrated technique works out there, but not in here.

The great information deluge of the 21st Century often makes us feel dumb. (I feel overwhelmed by the data flow. I assume that you do, too.) We live in a time where fact and market hype are not always easy to tell apart.

The idea that your friends are a network and therefore a powerful weapon in your job search comes from Malcolm Gladwell’s popularization of Social Network Theory. No doubt, you are familiar with the idea that everyone is separated by 6 phone calls. This Six Degrees of Freedom idea is the foundation of the famous Kevin Bacon Trivia game.

I have no doubt that you could get Bill Gates on the phone in six calls if you had good reason and a compelling idea. The same is probably true for any public figure you could identify. A good idea, a compelling reason and some determination puts you in the right frame of mind to make that connection.

And, to execute on that, you’d want to work through your friends. Getting in touch with someone you can identify as a target is feasible in six calls.

The problem with most job hunts is that you have no idea who you are trying to connect with. Unlike famous people, hiring managers are not usually surrounded by a throng of people who might be connected to someone whose connections you might be connected to. They’re often busy working and have a close circle of friends.

That you can’t find work through your friends is neither their fault nor yours.

If you are like most people, you live in the region you grew up in. Your friends are a collection of relationships with deep historical roots. As you’ve aged, the geography has broadened.

But not by all that much.

Your job prospects have much more to do with the local economic climate than they do with your network. For those of us who aren’t on the Billionaire’s list, where we live has a profound impact on the opportunities available to us. Our future is every bit as bright as the future of our region.

Sometimes, that’s not so good.

The world has become a patchwork of economies in different states of maturity with different issues in the local labor supply. If you feel like your opportunities are limited and/or you have been out of work for a substantial period, you are going to have to consider moving.

The decline of industries is a natural thing. Global competition from economies with younger people is predictable. Finding good work is a personal responsibility. When the opportunities seem slim, it’s time to consider your options closely.

Check out the latest Career Insider eNewsletter - September 22, 2011.

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