Can't Find a Job? Find the Guts to Relocate

Don Tennant
Slide Show

15 Tech Job Markets on the Rise

See the 15 hottest job markets, according to Dice.com.

In a post last week, "Ten Reasons Why IT Is a Great Career Choice in 2010," I wrote about having compiled that list after interviewing Scot Melland, CEO of IT career services provider Dice Holdings, who is phenomenally bullish on the IT job market. I closed that post with this statement: "The opportunity is there if [tech workers] would just use their hands for something other than throwing them up in exasperation and pointing accusatory fingers."


IT jobs will continue to go unfilled because so many tech workers fail to accept the validity of that statement. Let me give you an example of what I mean.


Last week I also posted my interview with Melland, titled "Stay in IT, Dice CEO Advises." A reader who commented in response to the interview lamented his plight as an unemployed IT worker:

As a data analyst, I consulted with a mid-sized insurance company for three years. They were planning on hiring me, as their plans for upgrading their systems called for Enterprise Data Model, [in] which I specialize. They ended up cancelling all their upgrades, and I have been out of work for a year. Nothing in this area available, because all the companies have followed suit. The two previous contracts I worked on were outsourced to an IT company in India. I have found that most of my friends are having the same problem.

What's fascinating about that comment is the sentence, "Nothing in this area available, because all the companies have followed suit." It's fascinating because it completely ignores what Melland stressed in response to my very first question:

If you look across the industry, employment in technology has increased; there are shortages in various skill sets in various parts of the country. In fact, one of the biggest pieces of advice that we give tech pros who are looking for employment is to be flexible on location. There are, literally, thousands of positions available, and they may not be in your neighborhood. But they're certainly in somebody else's neighborhood. So if you're able to be flexible on geography, you can find some wonderful opportunities out there.

Melland isn't the only one stressing that point. In my post, "Top Job-Seeking Tip: Be Willing to Relocate (Including Overseas)," I noted that Betsy Richards, a career advisor at Kaplan University, puts a willingness to relocate at the very top of her list of tips for finding a job.


Yet for some reason that I'm unable to grasp, the idea of relocating in order to get a job falls on completely deaf ears in way too many cases of IT unemployment. It's a non-starter. It's as if the advice was to sacrifice your first-born child.


Certainly, for some people, relocation is indeed a non-starter. There are people whose circumstances make it genuinely impossible to move to a new place. But that's the exception. For the vast majority of us, if we're completely honest with ourselves, dismissing the idea of relocation as an impossibility is nothing more than a cover for our timidity or our unwillingness to sacrifice. You can't uproot the kids? Nonsense. When my family moved from a comfortable home and lifestyle in suburban Washington, D.C., to a tiny apartment and challenging living conditions in faraway Macau in the late 80s, our two school-aged kids flourished in the environment and went on to build very successful careers (one in IT and one in health care).


Let's stop making excuses, waiting for jobs to drop in our laps, and pointing fingers of blame when they don't. A lot of us complain when people from other countries are willing to leave everything they've ever known to find opportunity in this country. Perhaps rather than chiding them, we should learn from their example. If we don't have the guts to move to another country, we should at least have the mettle to move to another state.

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Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Aug 3, 2010 6:23 PM Expat in HK Expat in HK  says:

I was laid off in the summer 0f 2009.

I relocated to Hong Kong in March'2010 for a new job opportunity.

Do whatever it takes....

Aug 3, 2010 6:48 PM BS BS  says:

Don ! I am confused at you so bad. Last post you indicated IT is a great career in 2010 with low unemployment rate and now you telling us to locate overseas if one can't find a job and hell I am totally confusing with everything you told. It seems your are contradicting yourself from last post and this post, I don't think I am able keep up with your BS anymore. If it is low unemployment here why do you suggest people to look for job overseas if they can't find a job. Furthermore, why the heck do I have to go to overseas if the unemployment rate in IT is low here?

Aug 4, 2010 11:48 AM Dolores Dolores  says: in response to Don Tennant

Not as easy as it sounds. Many Americans are underwater on mortgages and can't sell. If they try a short sale or a walk-away, they run the very real risk of a deficiency judgement with subsequent garnishment. Also, bad credit is one of the things they check for in jobs with responsibility nowadays. None of this is a factor for many itinerant foreign contract workers. One city is much like another if you're packed with your team in an extended stay motel.

Aug 4, 2010 6:07 PM Don Tennant Don Tennant  says: in response to Dolores

It doesn't sound easy at all. Anyone who thinks it's easy has never done it. And I think we need to be careful about blithely lumping non-U.S. workers in this country into the category of itinerant workers packed into extended-stay motels (which is hardly an easy life, in any case).

Aug 4, 2010 7:32 PM Don Tennant Don Tennant  says: in response to BS

I personally think that relocating overseas is a great career move, but that's not what I advocated in this post. I advocated relocating to wherever the jobs are, which is what the people who follow IT employment trends are advocating. As Melland said, there are a lot of jobs out there, but that doesn't necessarily mean that they're in your neighborhood. I used the example of people relocating from their home countries to this country to point out that a lot of people not only leave their hometowns to find opportunity, but they leave their countries. That should demonstrate that moving from one location within the U.S. to another isn't the farfetched notion that a lot of people seem to think it is.

Aug 5, 2010 12:22 PM Dolores Dolores  says: in response to Don Tennant

They certainly have it easier when it comes to job-hunting than Americans do. If you don't believe me, hang out on Immigration Voice and see for yourself.

Aug 9, 2010 6:36 PM Arnel Arnel  says: in response to Debbie

Interesting post. It's a tricky job market. I've been getting a lot of request to submit my resume to companies outside of where I live, which is TX, but none of them has transpired to an actually phone interview. I've had several phone interviews locally. And, I have to add, it's the age of phone interviews - all my interviews, but one, have been over the phone. (On a side note, it's a whole lot more difficult doing phone interviews and I think it's a very bad habit that companies are becoming accustomed to doing. I think companies are more quick to not hire you if you don't do so well answering their questions over the phone than when they actually meet you face to face.)

Back to the subject of moving, I agree with some of the post, if you've got family with kids in middle or high school it's not so easy to just up and leave to another state. Likewise, if you're already tapped out because of unemployment and the hiring company isn't offering relocation expenses then you're kinda stuck. However, if you're single, there shouldn't be any excuses to moving to another city or state for a job opportunity. I did that a couple of times when I was still single and in my twenties. Now, I have three kids, one in middle school and two about to start school - it's not easy but we're open to relocating. We've got nothing to loose we're already facing foreclosure on our home and employers are getting pickier on who they hire. What's even more frustrating, is when a hiring manager is asking you during your interview, about experiences that really don't depend on whether or not you can do the job, but they use that to screen who they hire; just because they can be selective.

Aug 9, 2010 7:30 PM Debbie Debbie  says:

Here Here Don, I am living proof that you have to go where the jobs are.  I just landed a 3 month IT consulting gig in Portland, Oregon, leaving on Sat morning. Yes, short term but better than not having a paycheck coming in. Expenses are out of my pocket, but will receive per diem. The recruiting company is buying my 1st RT airline ticket, then every 3 weeks or so I will fly home for a few days & then back up. I found a nice furnished room to rent for $475 a month. Will take public transportation everywhere! Will even look for more permanent jobs while I am up there.  Check out my blog post about this subject, thank you!


Aug 10, 2010 4:52 PM Expat in HK Expat in HK  says: in response to Don Tennant

As a side note: I relocated with my wife and 5 year old daughter who is about to start 1st grade in HK.

My original post stressed doing whatever it takes to pay the bills and put food on the table.

My example may be extreme but it's a tough market out there.

Aug 10, 2010 5:12 PM Gregg Gregg  says:

One area of my MBA concentrations was international business.  A basic piece of knowledge in working in another country is that foreign workers are subject to both US and the host country's income tax laws.  The US income tax is only for the first 18 months (it may be shorter now) and in Europe, for example, the tax rates are very high.  Everything in the EU gets a value-added (sales) tax rate of 17%, included in the price.  In Paris, I paid 30 euros (50+ USD) for a security cable for my laptop.  The dollar versus local currency exchange rate puts Americans at a disadvantage buying food and lodging. 

Before you get serious about taking an overseas assignment, do your homework.  Find out if you can afford to keep up with your existing debt AND eat with a roof overhead.  And don't forget the cost of moving personal belongings over and back.

Aug 12, 2010 11:50 AM Leditrix Leditrix  says:

Good counsel, Don. And you certainly walked the walk. Sure, it's easier if folks aren't saddled with an upside-down mortgage (the primary reason they shouldn't have used their houses as ATMs in the first place). But once they're underwater, they've still got to feed their kids. So take Don's advice, readers: Move to where the jobs are. Millenia of humans before you have done it. So can you.

Sep 17, 2011 10:51 AM dentist in san antonio dentist in san antonio  says:

I am also a bachelor of computer science and engineering. IT sector is one of the best sector for finding a job. There are huge company on IT sector and this sector is increasing day by day. I want to develop my own career in this sector. There are many people in this world who are making their business in the online and making their profit.


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