Looking for a job, long distance

Minor Baker and his wife Sarah earned their teaching degrees in the Twin Cities but left when the job prospects right out of college didn’t seem great.

Now as seasoned educators they hope to return. But they’re finding that a job search from 1,200 miles away is a challenge in any economy and doubly so in a recession.

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We’ve written a lot about the struggles of Minnesotans laid off and looking for work in this economy.

But we hadn’t thought about the unique challenges of looking for a job long distance until Baker, a source in MPR’s Public Insight Network, offered us a view.

With young kids now and family ties in Minnesota, the pair are searching for school jobs but finding a much different market than they left.

“We moved to Texas because we knew that we could get teaching jobs without spending years subbing, and we also figured it was very unlikely we would face the prospect of having our jobs cut because of budget concerns,” says Baker.

“We were both able to find jobs that first year. In our eight years in Austin, we both got our master’s and eventually started working as school administrators.”

The biggest difference between our move to Austin, and now our search to return, is that when we considered moving to Austin, we could see there were LOTS of jobs (still the case) and we always figured as long as we were relentless we would get interviews and eventually jobs.

In MN, there just hasn’t appeared to be an abundance of jobs for a number of years. In fact, we more often read about continued cuts to education spending, and we hear from our friends that stuck around about getting their job cut or fear of job cuts.

I couldn’t find any particularly good advice on long distance searches. Northwestern University’s career services office has a pretty good checklist. The Wall Street Journal this summer wrote up a Q&A from a search coach.

But it seems to boil down to: Network hard and don’t get discouraged.

“It is very tough to do a full court press on district HR offices to get interviews,” Baker says. “and if you do get an interview how often are people going to hire a leader of a school without ever seeing that person? Never.

“So do you then pay to fly up for interviews? Bag charges alone are killer. Can you coordinate multiple interviews over a trip? Extremely difficult.”

The good news is that they are searching from a position of strength. They’re employed in jobs where they’re happy and at this point can wait for better times.

Baker says they’re confident that they get the chance to move back to Minnesota. “But it may have to wait another year or two. Hopefully, Minnesota is reaching the bottom…”

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Have you ever tried to look for work long distance? Post something below or contact me directly.

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