If you’re a recent graduate or young professional who recently entered the workforce, your job search may and should include some of the biggest cities throughout the country. Luckily, even during the pandemic, there are PR opportunities from coast to coast and many are starting out virtually, which gives you time to test the waters of the new job and plan for your eventual move.

Having moved several times during my career, I’m a strong advocate for gaining experience in markets outside your comfort zone. In most cases, individuals who make geographical moves fall in love with their new locations. After growing up and initially working in Indiana, I moved twice to the East Coast before ending up in Chicago. Not much thought or planning went into those moves, but I now encourage young job seekers to do their homework before uprooting and heading towards greener pastures. So, here are some tips for job hunting in a new city:

Scout Destinations with the Most Opportunity 

As someone who is just beginning his or her career in PR, it’s important to understand the prospective job market. You can try and make a move to the big cities where there are more jobs available, or you can shoot for a smaller market where there may be less competition. It’s also important to factor in your salary versus the cost of living. All of these decisions are ultimately left to personal preference.

Once you familiarize yourself with the best states for public relations specialists, you can then begin to make a shortlist of cities within the region to begin your search. In addition to using job hunting sites to find listings in these particular cities, try to learn about the biggest firms in the area, even if they don’t have current openings. As well as finding a job to get your foot in the door, it’s important to gain an understanding of the top competitors in the market, which is achievable through this type of research. 

Optimize Your LinkedIn Profile 

Anyone who is job hunting should make sure that their LinkedIn profile is updated and optimized for their industry. However, it’s also possible to optimize your profile to fit the location in which you’re looking for work. For starters, you can make connections with other industry professionals in the area. There are countless groups on the platform that are specific to PR and have individual chapters for various cities, like the New York Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America.

You should also seek out connections even if they aren’t working in PR. Whether it’s through a mutual connection or a fellow alumnus, networking with others in these prospective cities can help you learn more about what it’s like living there. You don’t necessarily need industry specific insights to gain an understanding of where you may move. Check with your university’s career center for alumni living in your target city.

Visit the City Before Making a Decision 

It may be the case that you’re looking for work in a completely new or unfamiliar area. While it can be exciting to move somewhere outside of your experience, it’s still important to do your due diligence. You’ll want to be sure that living in this new city will be an enjoyable experience. To help you narrow down your search, begin by exploring the area online in order to get a sense of the local attractions, quality of life, and potential living situations.

One way to gather information about a new city is to visit the website for local tourism boards or chambers of commerce. This will help you discover things like tourist attractions, events, nightlife, dining, culture, and local transportation. Another way to gather information is by exploring neighborhoods throughout the city. This way, you can gain an understanding of where you may like to live and what your commute could look like. Finally, before making a final decision on any job offer, you should visit the area in person at least once. It’s the only way to get a real feel for the city, which may be especially valuable if you are being torn in multiple directions. Even if the job starts out virtually, you’ll want to become familiar with the city where you eventually may be working. It’s possible today to safely visit most cities, plus hotel prices are dirt cheap.

The job hunting process can be full of uncertainty, even more so when you’re trying to find work in a new city. However, by doing plenty of research and leaving your options open, it’s possible to find the right fit and start a new, exciting chapter in your career.