If you’re one of the millions of Americans looking for a job right now, you know how difficult it is to stay level-headed with so many hurdles to jump and factors to consider. Whether you just graduated and are looking for your first job after college or you’ve been in the field for several years and are ready for a change, finding the right fit can eat away at your free time and leave you mentally exhausted. Practical questions such as, “Am I qualified for this position?” and “Can I afford my apartment on this salary?” collide with personal concerns like, “Will I feel satisfied at this job?” and “Will it help me reach my career goals?”
One way to alleviate some of this anxiety is to address early on the overarching question that encompasses many of these concerns: should you apply for-and ultimately accept-a job based primarily on the position itself or on its location? If it’s always been your dream to move to California, but you’ve been offered a job on the east coast that will really advance your career, should you take the job and sacrifice location? Conversely, would you accept a less relevant or lower-paying job to live in your favorite city or near friends and family? While there’s no simple answer to this dilemma, you may find that certain aspects of the job, the location, and your personal goals can help you make the best decision for you.
The position may be more important if…
- You find your dream job, or even a lower-level version of it. It may be worth moving far away or to a less-than-ideal location if you’re lucky enough to score the job you’ve always wanted. Even landing a position that’s several steps below your desired career level could warrant a location change if it’s on the direct path to where you want to end up.
- It’s at an influential company in your field. If it’s your dream to become a bigwig in a Fortune 500 company, it may be worth leaving the comfort of your hometown for any job at Wells Fargo, even one that may initially seem unrelated to your field. Many companies try to fill job openings from within before looking to outside jobseekers, so when your preferred position finally opens up, you’ll have a better chance of getting it if you’re already on the payroll.
- You want a fresh start. Maybe you just graduated college and want to get out of your hometown, or you’re ready for a career change no matter where it takes you. If you’re itching for a new start but don’t have a particular location in mind, search for jobs all over the country (or even beyond) to find a career that you’re passionate about. If you’re going to uproot your entire life, the adjustment will be easier if you’re excited about the job waiting for you when you get there.
The location may be more important if…
- The position is only loosely related to your ideal career. Attaining your goal career may not be practical right away-maybe you need more industry experience or another degree before you can even start applying to those higher-level positions. If you’re just looking for a job to help you save for grad school or pad your resume, you’ll be happier living in the location of your choice. Plus, you can start networking with professionals in your field who live in the area so you’ll have connections that may help you get the job you want once you’re ready.
- Your industry has a strong presence in a certain location. While it’s likely you’ll find a job in your chosen field in a variety of locations, it may be in your best interest to move to an area that’s a major hub for your industry. Sure, there are publishing companies all over the country, but if you’re serious about making it big in the publishing industry, you may want to strongly consider making the move to New York. By doing so, you’re opening yourself up to more networking contacts and future career opportunities.
- You have strong personal ties to a location. You know yourself better than anyone – only you can know if the idea of moving to a foreign location terrifies you or excites you. Some people relish the idea of learning a new city and meeting all new people, while others cringe at the idea of leaving friends and family behind. If you’re in the latter category, staying close to your loved ones may be the most important factor in your job search.
Consider your options, L(L)ers, and the rest will fall into place.
Kristen Walker is a freelance writer specializing in career and relationship advice for smart women with big aspirations. Follow her on Twitter.