The word on the street is that Austin is a tough job market. With 50,000 students buzzing around The University of Texas at Austin (UT) campus and desperately wanting to stay in this weird city, it can be a tough to land a job.
Personally, I relocated here about four years ago and it took a lot of networking and knowing who’s who to break into the job market. This was not the first time my family and I attempted to relocate to Austin. Our first attempt was in 2005. I did the traditional approach: apply to postings online and create the best resumes and cover letters. Back then (this was almost 10 years ago) I even mailed copies of my information to people! I was focusing on education, primarily UT, so if you are looking at other markets your experience may differ.
No matter what the market though, it’s a “who you know” market. But then again, so much of any job search is this way these days. I recently heard that Austin has the most college educated people working in service positions. That is primarily because students at UT graduate and want to stay. So, they have great degrees but gladly take a job serving in a restaurant over leaving the city. That makes it a tough job market indeed! However, not all hope is lost. Here are a few ways to break into the Austin job market.
In general, Austin is quickly becoming the new high-tech hot spot, and also has healthcare (new Dell medical school), entertainment, education, government, and an entrepreneurial vibe.
Social networks. Use them extensively. LinkedIn is such a great resource and they now have so many options to gather information. Use the ‘find alumni’ tool that is under Connections at the top. It will populate where you graduated from school and you can search by location. Connect, re-connect, and reach out. I would encourage you to put a personalized message when connecting so people have a general idea of who you are. I’d say reach out to a lot of people as well. For every 10-15, you may get 2-5 people respond and that’s okay!
Also, join groups that bridge your area of interest with Austin groups. This is an easy way to gain access to a bigger network. Utilize the ‘get introduced’ function as well. If you want to connect with a 2nd connection, you can ask your first connection to make an introduction. I find that people, generally, like to help! Don’t be pushy and show your honesty, people want to help.
Join a professional organization in your current city that also has representation in Austin. Chances are that you may meet someone where you are, that has a connection to someone here in Austin. Attend meetings, reach out to presidents and leadership teams of professional organizations in Austin. That is a great way to build your network. Be prepared for the next step; which is have you resume updated and ready to share. Once you make a connection, if they ask for your materials, you’ll want that step to go quickly.
In your networking, try to distinguish the hiring managers and the connections. People want to help, but recognize that a connection who doesn’t have hiring capability will not be able to give you a job. Ask the question of, “who are the hiring managers that are able to make those decisions?” You’ll want to personalize your cover letter and resume as much as possible. Be careful here though. The strength of your connection will be best if it’s authentic. Having a ‘get’ agenda can turn people off. Gather information, but limit your ‘neediness’. Reach out to your friends to ease your frustration rather than coming across too strong with a new connection.
Job search everywhere
Don’t give up! It took us awhile to get here. All I can say, Austin is worth it. Here are my favorite sites to get started:
- Forbes – Best Cities
- UT Job Board
- Austin – Public Info
- Austin Chamber
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