How to Relocate for Your Life Sciences Career
Sooner or later in your life sciences career, you’re likely to face the possibility of relocating. No matter the reason, relocation can be stressful. Here are the keys to a smooth long distance job search. Follow these simple guidelines to avoid many of the stresses of job hunting from a distance.
Research your targeted new city to make sure it suits you. If you’re considering more than one locale, researching to compare the possibilities increases your odds of feeling comfortable in your new place. Devise an overall strategy for relocating, including timing, a relocation budget and planning for any scouting trips in advance of your move.
Determine your job opportunities in your new location. You can search by location here on Biospace. Visit career services websites of colleges in the area you plan to relocate to. While these are sometimes open only to the schools’ students and alumni, many schools have reciprocal agreements between college career centers; your own college likely has an agreement with colleges in your new locale that will allow you to use the resources of those colleges’ career centers.
Make a list of employers to target in your new city and identify key people to contact. A list of about 20 employers is a good initial goal to shoot for. Conduct additional research into these target companies. Most companies have a career section on their corporate websites; check out each organizations’ mission statement and get a feel for the culture. Check out “classified-ad” type job postings that appear on the site of your new city's newspaper, as well as Facebook classified groups. Also peruse the news portion of online local publications, particularly the business section, to learn about employment trends and especially new businesses opening in or relocating to the city.
Don’t forget that networking is the best way to get a job, so brainstorm ways you might be able to network in your new city using professional associations, friends, colleagues and alumni associations. Tap into your significant other’s network if you’re relocating to be with a spouse or partner. If you're moving because your significant other has been transferred, check into whether his or her company offers consulting or monetary resources for your job search.
Plan to “cold call” any employers at which you don’t have a potential contact. Cold-calling consists of writing to (and then calling) hiring managers at these organizations to ask about job opportunities and schedule interviews. Include headhunters/recruiters/executive search firms among those organizations you contact in your new city.
Make sure your core cover letter is in good shape and briefly explains your relocation to employers (“core,” meaning you have a basic cover letter but always customize it for each opportunity and employer). In your letter, you can offer employers the possibility of conducting a phone interview with you in advance of an in-person meeting. Some language to consider about your relocation:
- “I plan to relocate to Chicago upon finding the right job “fit” and am convinced that a firm such as yours represents a fit that is productive for both of us.”
- “I will contact you soon to arrange a phone interview and ultimately a meeting during an upcoming trip to Chicago. Should you have any questions before that time, you may reach me at XXX-XXX-XXXX.”
- If applying to smaller company: “I already plan to relocate to California, so relocation is not a problem, nor do I require relocation expenses.” Smaller employers will see your offer to forego relocation funds as a selling point, while at larger companies, moving expenses don't enter the picture until a job offer is in the making.
Plan at least one trip to the new city before your actual relocation, ideally with interviews set up to attend during your trip. But don't scrap a trip to your new city if you don’t succeed in lining up job interviews beforehand; instead schedule informational interviews. Find out more about how to set up and conduct informational interviews [link to KH article]. Investigate the possibility of any career fairs, relevant professional conferences, or trade shows planned for your new area and perhaps plan your trip based on the date of the scheduled event(s).
Getting an Offer
If you get an offer, ask for relocation help as part of the negotiation of your compensation package, but don't count on getting your relocation expenses paid. Remember, however, that relocation expenses for work may be tax deductible.