Moving to a new city, country or place without a job lined up can seem like a truly daunting prospect. And believe me when I say it will be mentally and physically challenging, but also unbelievably rewarding and refreshing if you take the right steps. With the right preparation and focus, you can increase your chances of making a successful move.

My own story begins with me meeting my wife in London, and us deciding to move back to her home country of the USA. After visa applications and interviews were successfully navigated, we were ready to depart. So on a very cold December 2013 evening, we landed in Minneapolis to be greeted by US immigration staff, who gave me the necessary visa stamp and permission to start our new life across the Atlantic.

This new start gave both me and my wife a chance to start over, a chance to hit the reset button, with a clean slate. Something neither of us had ever done before, but the challenge of packing in our jobs in London, moving to the USA and finding jobs and starting a new life excited us. At that time it had been seven years since I had graduated and had any prolonged period of being unemployed. So the challenge was exciting and daunting at the same time. Would we land jobs we wanted? Would we be saying goodbye to our futures? Would my skills translate to a new country? So many doubts and questions rattled around in my head.

In total, I spent six months being unemployed. It feels like a rare opportunity to leave a life behind and get to start again. Yet there I was, thousands of miles away from my home country. And yet, the feeling of being free and starting again is definitely a liberating one. Something I would encourage anyone to try if they asked me. I learned a lot about myself in those months. Including that I am pretty open-minded about how I could earn an income. I considered and interviewed for jobs that I would never have even considered back in the UK. It turns out that hitting the reset button in life gives you the freedom to think outside the box about yourself and what you want to do.

Looking back and reflecting on my move, when we landed in the USA we had a plan, except as time went on, I started to lose focus. So I think it is important, to be honest with yourself and set clear goals and objectives for your move. Are you moving to a new place to continue your current career? Are you moving to truly hit the refresh button, think outside the box and discover yourself? If I am being honest, for me, our move kind of wrapped in all these elements. Which is why I lost focus and had to take a step back after a couple of months and refocus.

Despite me making the most of the freedom to think about different careers and jobs, I ultimately focused my search in a way that gave me a great chance of being successful. So for anyone considering or dreaming about making a fresh start, here are my tips to help you navigate the journey and increase your chances of success:

  1. Clear Goal – be clear about the goal of the move. Are you looking to find yourself, and potentially explore different careers and ways to earn an income? Are you looking to just move, and want to focus on finding a job in the profession you currently have? Whatever your goals are, be as clear and honest with you and whoever is going with you.
  2. Prepare – even before you make a move like the one I did to another country, you should spend some time thinking beforehand about where you are moving to, the local economy (i.e. who the large employers are), draw up a list of employers you want to work for (and follow them on LinkedIn) and change the location of your LinkedIn to where you are going (that way you send a clear message to recruiters if they check your profile out).
  3. Network – when you arrive in the new place, make sure to really expand your professional network. This is vital, to help you get your name and brand out into the local market. Ideally, you would join local groups related to the profession you are pursuing. Thereby helping you to make connections that could help with your job search and potentially even help you find a job.
  4. Side Gig – having the freedom and some time, gives a great opportunity to keep your professional skills fresh and even build upon the ones you already have, or even develop brand new ones. For me, I did a couple of things: 1) I volunteered my marketing skills to a local group, and helped them run their website; and 2) I set up a small business, helping local small business owners and entrepreneurs with their websites and digital branding. Not only will this keep you sharp, but also gives you something to talk about and a focus beyond just job searching.

Moving and job searching can be tough, but ultimately the freedom that it gives you to think and explore is absolutely worth it. However, by preparing, networking and developing a side gig, you will give yourself a great chance of success.

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