Entry-Level Jobs 101

The Importance of Location in Your Entry-Level Job Search

In general, recent grads that are looking for their first job fall into 3 major categories when it comes to location preferences:

  1. You’re willing to go anywhere. The world is your oyster after all.
  2. You’re open to several locations but not willing to work just anywhere.
  3. You have strict location requirements. Gotta stay close to home, your boo, or whatever it is.

You location preferences are one of the primary determining factors in your search for your first job after college. You may really want that amazing non-profit gig in NYC, but if you really need to stick close to home it’s not going to do you much good to spend time wishing it was local.

Willing to Go Anywhere

If you’re willing to go anywhere, you’ve got plenty of options. In fact, the primary difficulty is in narrowing your location options to those that interest you. Even though you’re open to re-locating, that doesn’t mean that you should be willing to move absolutely anywhere.

The location of your job has a dramatic impact on how enjoyable and satisfying your job is. Particularly your first job. If you really can’t stand winter but move to Chicago to take the job there anyways, you might find yourself resenting the job all winter long. It’s important to prioritize your search efforts to focus on the locations that are most likely to bring you joy first. If you can’t find the right types of positions there, then broaden your search.

When considering the viability of a location you don’t know about, it’s important to do proper and thorough research. Here are some critical factors to consider when learning about a location for the first time:

  1. The weather. How do you deal with winter? Heat?
  2. Red state vs blue state. Knowing the political leaning of your location will help you fit in ideologically.
  3. The average age of the population. You’re young and likely want to make young friends. Don’t move to Palm Springs (sorry Palm Springs).
  4. Travel to and from the location. You’re likely going to have friends and family elsewhere if you re-locate. How easy and expensive is it to get to and from them?
  5. The local activities. What do the local folks do outside of work? Hike? Eat? Dance? Theater?
  6. The commute. You’re likely going to be making the same trip every day. What will it look like?

Open to Some New Locations

If you fall under this umbrella, congrats, you’re well on your way to an easier job search process. You don’t have too many options nor do you have too few. The trick is going to be quickly figuring out whether or not the location requirements you have align with your job interests. For example, if you really want to get into theater as a performer and eventually make it to Broadway, you’re probably not going to find the best opportunities in a small rural community.

Once you know the several locations you’re targeting, head over to some major job search sites like WayUp
to run a search for jobs in a particular location. Then sign up for job alerts by email for that location. You should start getting notified by email when new jobs pop up in your desired location. This way you don’t have to spend time constantly running the same job searches on multiple sites.

It’s also imperative to weigh the relative attractiveness of the locations you’re considering. For example, say that you know that you want to be on the west coast in a city. You’re attracted to Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle. It’s important to research each city and prioritize them. The stricter you can be about your preferences in every dimension of your job search, the smoother your search will be.

Strict Location Requirements

Recent grads with strict job location requirements often either have it fairly easy or really tough. If you’re looking for a theater job and you have to be in NYC, then there’s already great alignment between your interests and your required location. However, if you’re looking for a theater job and you don’t want to go far from your home in Fargo, you likely have a major uphill battle.

When looking for entry-level employment in a single location there are several specific tools that can help you right off the bat. First, head over to major job search sites like WayUp to search for jobs and create job alerts by email for that location. This way, you see every job that pops up in that location. Ideally, you set your filters for entry-level jobs only so you don’t have to comb through endless part-time and senior-level roles. Second, leverage the career resources available in that location. If you’re looking in the same city as where you attended college, head on over to the career center.

Career centers often partner with local businesses looking for great entry-level talent.
Otherwise, check out the city’s official website. There will often be lots of helpful advice on gaining employment in that particular location.

Location is critical when searching for entry-level jobs. Make sure you don’t underestimate just how impactful the right location can be on achieving success in your first job after college. We’ve got other great tips to
help you get started on your entry-level job search and land an entry-level job without any experience.

Next, get more career tips for internships and entry-level jobs such as What is an Entry-Level Job? and find answers to common interview questions such as Tell me about yourself.