Steve’s Job Search 2012: Relocation

I have a confession to make.  In May I lost my job.

Oh, sure I wanted to tell you, loyal readers.  But I had a job search, Anime North, and frankly I had no idea what to SAY.  Also I was insanely busy just getting my normal posts done.

The good news?  I found a job about three weeks after my layoff.  I did this by applying a lot of my techniques, and I’m going to be writing it up for you folks – because I learned a lot and had a few surprises . . .

So let’s dive in, because I’ve got a lot to write about!

Regional Issues

Doing an actual full-time job search in Silicon Valley, while other people I know do full or part-time job searches elsewhere in the world let me draw a lot of contrast.  Namely, places are really, really different job-search wise.

Yes, this is a “No sh*t, Shatner” moment, yes it’s “obvious” but when you experience the contrast it’s really incredibly, painfully obvious.  It’s also apparent how I didn’t get regional differences, and how anyone can miss them.

It’s easy to assume areas are relatively similar in the Geekonomy as we gravitate towards creative-type megaregions – SF Bay, Seattle, LA, Chicago, Boston, Toronto, etc.  But as much as these regions are alike, their differences are as great as, or perhaps greater than their similarities.

This allowed me to find out a few things:

  1. Job titles can vary radically, especially from coast to coast.  This was a great shock to me, but now it makes sense.  I saw first-hand how resumes could be re-interpreted based on region, and thus job titles.
  2. The usefulness of job search boards also varies highly.  Some regions will favor job boards – and certain boards – some won’t.  For instance, I think everyone in Silicon Valley uses Dice.
  3. The value of certain experiences and certifications – and how they’re communicated – also varies highly among regions.  Certain certifications are more universal, and thus more valuable, but even then you need to communicate them right.
  4. The use of regional language and understanding is important.  My ability to discuss my commute and so forth really made a difference.
  5. Your history and how people react to it varies greatly from place to place.
  6. Attitude also varies in your search.  I’ve found Seattle, Silicon Valley, and Toronto to be less formal and more friendly, with Boston surprisingly casual.  Not so much New York.

A shining example of this was seeing how people with a writing background were treated in Silicon Valley.  Here, we’re up to our armpits in tech writers, so even very senior people with a publishing background can get assumed to be “just writers” unless it’s communicated properly.  At times, it was mind-blowing.

Another example is employment history. It’s a running joke in Silicon Valley that people with short employment histories (2 years at each place) are unremarkable.  At times I’ve even heard people talk of those staying in one spot a long time with suspicion.  Meanwhile that seems to not be the cast, say, out east.

So when doing a job search, make sure the region fits you – and make sure your strategy fits your region.  If you are leaving one region for another, make a concerted effort to adapt your strategy and expectation to that region.

– Steven Savage

Steven Savage is a Geek 2.0 writer, speaker, blogger, and job coach for professional and potentially professional geeks, fans, and otaku. He can be reached at