I relocated from a big city to a small town and I’m having trouble finding work. I think I’m being discriminated against by employers because the community believes new residents from the city are increasing housing prices and taking their jobs away. I already have a local address and phone number, but my job history is all from the city. My work can’t be done remotely. What should I do?
The first answer
Nadini Dukhu, Senior HR Consultant, MaxPeople (maxpeoplehr.com), Toronto
I can understand your frustration. However, there are several ways for you to build your personal and professional brand within the community to help you land a job. Small towns want to know that you are committed to their success and that they are not being used as a stepping stone to a different opportunity.
The first and most important action is to network. Start attending town events, volunteering, engaging the local chamber of commerce and setting up informational interviews. These efforts help you to tell your story and ensure the information is received the way you intend it to be. For example, what factors led you to move there? It gives the community a face to your name and experience and enables you to learn how things work there.
The second is to embrace your sense of entrepreneurship. Do you see a gap where your skills and experience may be differentiated from what is currently available in the market? If so, consider starting your own business and promoting your offerings that set you apart from the competition.
Lastly, consider revamping your resume, applying to positions in nearby towns or partnering with local recruitment offices. If your resume contains locations of your previous jobs, remove them. Also while you work to establish yourself, you should be flexible where necessary, including your commute. Often, local recruitment offices already have connections you are looking to make. Leverage them to your advantage.
The second answer
Bruce Sandy, principal, Pathfinder Coaching, Nanoose Bay, B.C.
You believe that you are being discriminated against for being a new community member. Is this fact or is this a rationalization for why you have not landed a position in your new community? Test this out by asking for specific feedback from the companies where you have applied. Ask the owner, manager and/or HR officials to give you concrete feedback on your cover letter, resume and any interviews you have had about why you were not selected for the positions. Take note of their feedback and make the logical suggested changes to your cover letter, resume and your interview style and performance.
Be open and curious and not defensive or reactive when you ask the question. Do not lead with: “Am I being discriminated against because I have only recently moved here?” This will likely lead to a defensive or guarded response from the hiring agency official. After you have connected with them and received some specific feedback on your cover letter, resume and interview performance, then you can simply ask: “Does living locally for a period of time play any part in your hiring process?”
Network. Join the local chamber of commerce and any appropriate business networking groups. Offer to make presentations or volunteer with these groups so that local business owners get to know you. Let others know what your skill sets are, what you can do for businesses and that you are open to new opportunities. Offer to do contract work as a way of getting your foot in the door locally.
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