Relocating: Getting Settled Professionally and Personally

By Elizabeth McKinley, Special to Gannett

How to job hunt from a distance

New apartment -- check. New job -- check. Packing -- check. Moving to a new city -- check. Now what?

You're not just starting a new job when you relocate. You're beginning a new life. In any new job, it takes a few months to prove your abilities to new colleagues. But with added pressure of a move and settling in, it can be more than stressful.

Relocating your job and life can seem overwhelming. But it doesn't have to be. Follow these tips to help your transition go smoothly.

Establish yourself in the office

1. Say thank you. Once you start your new job, thank the people who helped you get it, says Richard Bayer, COO of the Five O'Clock Club. Don't forget to extend kudos to those who helped you figure out the relocation package, find a realtor, and make your move to the new area smoother.

2. Introduce yourself to colleagues. Go to lunch with new people during the week, says Marvin Abbott, a career consultant with DBM. By meeting new people, you're showing that you're active and interested in the organization.

Go to parties of colleagues, says Elisa Crouch, a reporter who's moved three times in the last 5 years. Get to know your colleagues on a social level. You'll be in a position to better judge whom to turn to when you have a problem in the office.

Be careful about making friends at work too fast, Bayer warns. It could adversely affect co-workers' opinion. People in the company may judge you based on who you hang out with in the office. For example, don't confide in someone on his or her way out of the office or become best buds with the social pariah of the office -- you don't want to be labeled as a loser and not taken seriously on the job.

3. Hit the ground running. Concentrate on your work and doing it well. Don't panic if you can't figure out the fax machine or the e-mail system at first, Crouch says. It takes time to learn the office ropes. "After a while, you'll feel more confident in your job and won't feel so lost," she says.

4. Don't do anything major. Take time to learn the system before you implement any drastic changes, Bayer says. For example, concentrate on boosting sales rather than changing the sales pitch. Work within the system for the first couple months.

5. Be visible. Take advantage of resources in your company. Participate in events in the company. "The more you get involved, the better," Abbott says.

Attend in-house seminars where you can show your face and meet more people. Join professional organizations and stay plugged into your industry. Keep in touch with your contacts.

"Don't get too depressed or down and wonder if you've made a mistake," Crouch says. "You have to move out of your comfort zone."

Take it personally

1. Become part of the community. Get involved with your neighborhood and new city. Participate in your community for a sense of purpose and belonging. Join the PTA, go to church or volunteer for organizations you believe in. Not only will you meet new people, but you'll also give your profile at work a boost, Abbott says.

2. Enroll in courses at a local college or university. Take classes to improve your skills or find a relaxing outlet. It's another opportunity to meet new people and form a larger network.

3. Remember old friends. Just because you're in a new city doesn't mean you should forget your home base. Invite your friends to visit your new city, Abbott says. You can familiarize yourself with the city while playing tour guide.

4. Visit the city's attractions. Pick one or two sites each week, and visit them. It could be as going to the botanical garden or the new store across town. Learning about the city's offerings can help you feel a part of the community. You'll also learn how to get around in the city, Crouch says.

5. Be open to new experiences. Don't be apprehensive about change. "Think of your move as an experience in life to make connections and a trail blazing opportunity for professional development," Abbott says.

*** Material contained herein is made available for the purpose of peer review and discussion and does not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of the Navy or the Department of Defense. ***

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