Job search from afar

Q. I am American and my husband is Tunisian. I have been living outside the US for 20 years and we are moving back to the States now that my husband has his green card. We currently live in Rome. We are both looking for work and would love to secure a week’s worth of interviews sometime in April when we plan to do an exploratory visit. I understand about tailoring our resumes depending on our talent and the job description. But when I left America e-mail didn’t exist. How can we best approach our job searches, other than I am originally from California but we have decided to settle in Boston.


A. Welcome back (soon) to US. As you probably know, the current employment picture is a bit grim in the US, although Boston is better than some other major metropolitan cities. The most recent unemployment data for Massachusetts has our unemployment rate hovering around 6.9 percent in early 2009.

A job search from such a long distance is a challenge but not impossible. Right now some industries are more robust than others. A few recommendations to get you started:
– Yes, dust off that resume and update it. Ask a few trusted friends to review it for clarity, grammar, and readability. And I agree with you – be open to having a few different versions of your resume ready to send to prospective employers. One may target healthcare while the other may target education, for example.
– Spend time researching companies and/or recruitment firms before landing in Boston in April. Even if you are unable to arrange a full week of interviews, use that time to network with former colleagues, alumni associations and networking groups. Getting in front of contacts is valuable. Set a goal for yourself – an aggressive but doable goal like having at least three in-person meetings per day.
– Uses social networking groups like LinkedIn to spread the word about your return to the US.
– Review job boards, blogs, company websites and other online resources prior to your visit. Think about how to best use those precious days that you will spend in the US.
– Don’t turn down any in-person meetings unless you have a compelling reason. That meeting could lead to a referral for a consulting role, a tip on a company that is hiring, or an introduction that could ultimately lead to a job offer.
– Have your two-minute elevator speech ready. In two minutes (or under), you should be able to succinctly articulate your professional experience and your desired next role. Brush up on your interview skills, especially those very predicable questions.
Honestly, it is unlikely that you will be able to book “a week’s worth of interviews” for that week in April, however I admire your energy and enthusiasm. Even the most aggressive job hunters living in Boston would find that difficult to do. But prove me wrong! Be planful, pragmatic, and assertive. Good luck.

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