Last week, I read the CareerBuilder.com article “How to Approach a Small-Town Job Search.” I give enormous credit to writer Justin Thompson for recognizing the need for advice for those individuals who are living in rural areas and may not have access to the same resources job seekers in mid to large-size cities might. Justin’s advice included harnessing your uniqueness, using your network, and potentially looking at jobs outside your town that might involve telecommuting.
I spent the weekend in my hometown, a phenomenal small town that is 90 miles from the nearest Target and unfortunately has no representation from large corporations. Finding a job in this kind of a small town can be increasingly difficult, as Mr. Thompson explored in his article last week. But as someone who grew up in a small town and has seen first hand how difficult job hunting can be for members of my family and friends who live in small towns, I’d like to add my perspective.
Here are a few more tips for conquering a small-town job search:
- No matter your age, you have to take networking beyond online media. CareerBuilder.com recommends using LinkedIn and other online networking sites. But sometimes, small towns aren’t as networked online as larger cities. Many small town businesses have employees who have spent their entire careers in that business. They wouldn’t necessarily be on LinkedIn. So you have to get out and network face-to-face, in-person, and make sure you’re talking to the people in your town who are in your field and letting them know you’re looking for a position.
- Look for missing pieces in your town….and start something new! The great thing about small towns is they’re often very focused on small businesses as opposed to franchises or chains. People in rural areas like to support businesses started by members of their communities. So look around your community and find a missing piece. Think about your experience and strengths and where they might lend a hand to someone else.
- Look for a missing piece in your industry…and pitch your services. Do you see that a business in your industry could be doing better – if only you lended your hand to it? Think about pitching your ideas and your services to a business owner. Perhaps they’ll hire you part time or on a volunteer basis to test your skills, and then consider adding you onto their staff full time.
- Think outside the box. This is advice you’ll receive on every job search. But especially in small towns, you may need to be even more creative with your skills to find a job for you. If you’re in marketing, it may be tempting just to look at companies that have a marketing department, but also think about churches, telephone companies, or the local Chamber of Commerce, who often need services like these.
- More than anything, talk, talk, talk! Small towns are famous for gossip, so use it in your favor. Tell everyone who will listen to you what you’re looking for and how you can add to a business with your skills. Talk, talk, talk! You never know who might bite!
Looking for a job in a small town can present difficulties a big-city job search won’t have, but it also presents some great perks. You are fewer connections from your desired connection, you drive by the businesses you might work in daily, and you have the ability to innovate with more support and less economic resources. Don’t get down on yourself, instead get moving, get talking, and get that job!