pointofdeparture
pointofdeparture UltimaDork
6/6/21 11:34 a.m.

Lately I’ve been ruminating on the idea of career progression and how to move a career and life across the country without just YOLO’ing it (moving with a bank account full of money and no job, and just "figuring it out"). Lots of thought about differing approaches: going where you want to go even if the opportunity isn’t the best, versus taking a better opportunity someplace you‘re not thrilled about in service of the long-term goal. I’m sure some of you have been here, so please chime in if you have any advice.

We’re getting more serious about the possibility of leaving the Midwest, and are looking at the northwest (particularly Seattle area) as a destination. I’ve made almost 40 job applications since April, but aside from a few phone calls, nothing has really come of it so far. I know that referrals make the world go round these days, and I’m probably a lot less competitive in the northwest than I am in Wisconsin, so I’m facing a few levels of challenge there. I’m continuing the application grind, but so far I’m not terribly optimistic. (I am currently a technical writer for a large software company, FWIW.) I‘m also pursuing remote roles, but obviously they are hugely competitive these days because of their flexibility.

I can’t go remote in my current role and I don’t perceive it as an opportunity for further growth, so staying is pretty much a non-starter. Starting to wonder if I should postpone the northwest dreams (for now) and just pursue the best job opportunity I can, regardless of where it is, and accept it as a sacrifice in support of the long-term goal for a few years. Like, I’m not thrilled by the idea of living in Silicon Valley or Texas or something, but a couple of years at the right company could (maybe?) set the stage for actually making that move to the northwest with significantly more ease...or something.

Has anyone faced this dilemma? I’m not getting any younger and feel like I’m spinning my wheels in Wisconsin, so I really want to make my next career move count. I just don't want to end up making a move I'll regret and feel like I'm spinning my wheels all over again.

mazdeuce - Seth
mazdeuce - Seth Mod Squad
6/6/21 12:05 p.m.

Left Michigan for Texas 22 years ago. We've built a life that wouldn't have been possible in Michigan with our career choices. Do not regret. 

TheRX7Project
TheRX7Project HalfDork
6/6/21 12:37 p.m.

Does the "career growth" offer greater options down the road, in say 5 years or so, which would afford you a better opportunity to move than now?

I've made major moves twice, (once to KY from WI and then back to WI a couple years later). Both times I had a job lined up before moving, although they were not good jobs nor permanent, but something so I could keep some income and had a place to jump from when I moved.

tester (Forum Supporter)
tester (Forum Supporter) Reader
6/6/21 12:57 p.m.

I have few personal career rules that have served me well over the years.  Never leave a job without the next one lined up.  When you feel like the company or your position is at a dead end, start looking for the next place to land.  Make damn sure you are not jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire.  A location doesn't bring happiness, people and relationships do. 
 

*Bonus from personal experience; If a top level executive ever calls a meeting to tell everyone in the department, location, shop that everything is ok; the E36 M3 is about to hit the fan. Run like hell. 

CLH
CLH Reader
6/6/21 1:15 p.m.

My $0.02 - if you're still early in career, and have little in terms of commitments to manage (kids, aging parents, etc.), then the YOLO move to where you WANT to be can be very fulfilling. BUT...make damn sure you know what you're getting into. The PNW is not cheap. EVERYTHING here is more expensive. Houses, gas, property taxes, rents, food, yada, yada.

If you're mid-career or later and have a family to take care of, I'm in the "don't jump until you have the next gig in hand" camp. And you still need to do the diligence about the destination. I've seen more than my share of younger tech folks move to the Seattle area from cheaper parts of the country and end up in absolute shock because they didn't do any research at all about the area. I'm nearing the point where I can "retire" from my current job and company, and we're very strongly considering relocation to someplace cheaper for our next chapter. We just don't know where that will be yet :shrug:

pointofdeparture
pointofdeparture UltimaDork
6/6/21 1:35 p.m.

Thanks all, sounds like the advice so far is mostly consistent with my mindset.

I'm 31, long-term partner but no kids. We're both from the Midwest and largely over it after spending our lives so far in the area. Own a house in WI that has doubled in value since purchase and possibly even more with how insane the market is right now. So basically, the timing could not be better as far as moving with a nice nest egg.

The northwest is really where we want to be but short of landing a job with a FAANG-level company with a relocation package it seems like a bit of a pipe dream. I would definitely not move out with no job whatsoever, but how far down the ladder I'd be willing to go to "get a foot in the door" is a constant internal debate.

Obviously moving somewhere that is actively disliked is a stupid move, but it seems like letting go of the dream for a few years and making a transitional relocation to an area with bigger career growth potential but less astronomical cost of living may be wise.

Antihero (Forum Supporter)
Antihero (Forum Supporter) UberDork
6/6/21 1:36 p.m.

I agree on the PNW being expensive, the inland Northwest is getting there too.

 

 

captdownshift (Forum Supporter)
captdownshift (Forum Supporter) UltimaDork
6/6/21 2:19 p.m.

Would it be possible to get a remote position in the meantime then move, take that position with you while you look for a more traditional and permanent position (if you'd prefer a traditional position). 

pointofdeparture
pointofdeparture UltimaDork
6/6/21 3:18 p.m.

In reply to captdownshift (Forum Supporter) :

That is pretty much the dream and I am definitely pursuing it, but I'm not holding my breath. Remote roles are extremely competitive for the flexibility right now.

Pete Gossett (Forum Supporter)
Pete Gossett (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
6/6/21 4:00 p.m.

In reply to pointofdeparture :

Have you spent much time in TX? I had no interest in moving to the MS coast, but after SWMBO brought me down here on vacation a couple times I was ready to move. 

I had the perception that most of NM was a wasteland, but after spending a couple weeks out there this year it's another place I would have considered moving. 

wake74
wake74 Reader
6/6/21 4:14 p.m.

I've probably moved more than 99.9% of the (non-military) people in the USA.  I think I've done 8-9 corporate relos, only switched companies once, and then came back to the first one 5 years later.  Mostly on the East Coast.  I get it, not the same circumstance as these were funded corporate relo's, verses the more DIY type, but some things still apply.  I wasn't moving with any job risk.

- It's much easier to do with no kids, or the kids are young.  Even elementary school.  They can make besties with a new kid to eat glue with, they will be fine.  My son gets an opinion but not a vote in these types of decisions.  Starting at Jr. High, we made the decision to stick in one location.  Friends become more significant as kids get into middle school and high.  I know people that think my kid will be damaged forever because he didn't graduate high school with the same kids in the same tiny town he started kindergartern with (like I did).  BS, some of the most well rounded kids I know have gone through the relocation experience.

- As I've told my family many times, a house is just sticks and bricks.  If this one burns down, or we have to move, we'll just buy another one.  Our "home" is wherever our family sleeps.  Keeps the stress lower when you separate "home" from the building you sleep in.

- A new location won't typical fix existing issues (not saying this applies to you).  I hear people say, I've moved twice and can't make friends.  Or "everyone" here is this, or "everyone" here is that.  People aren't that much different across the US (or frankly all over the world).  No matter where we have lived, I've made friends, found people I thought were complete asshats, etc.  In terms of the East Coast, I've lived in the most educated county, and the least educated county in the eastern US.  Found lots of people to be friends with in both locations.

- I would say you are in the prime portion of your career for upward mobility.  I advise that 30s are your prime career move phase, the time to take a risk.  The 40s, early 50s your prime money making years, and then hopefully by your late 50s / early 60s you are starting to think about mentoring, wrapping your career up, etc.  

- Certain areas of the country are booming from a job market perspective.  It's a sellers market in many areas.  I'd rather move to a booming area than wallow in a stagnate one.  Just more options.  This is particularly true with no kids, or nothing significantly tying you to where you are now.

Hopefully at least some of this rambling was relevant :-)

 

procainestart
procainestart Dork
6/6/21 4:37 p.m.

In addition to the high cost of living in Seattle, remember that you also get dark, gray, wet weather for a good chunk of the year, which is, for some, like a belt sander on your soul. Also, the real estate market remains insane, and the traffic is E36 M3ty. (Metered on-ramps at 10 a.m. on Saturday? All the time. Stop-and-go on I-90 60+ miles east of town? Every Sunday afternoon/evening in summer as everyone comes home from playing in the mountains. Hop in the car for an easy 3-hr drive down to Portland on a Friday afternoon? Only on Christmas day.)

It's a beautiful place, and there are obviously a lot of tech jobs, but I think it's worth it to consider the stuff noted above before expending a ton of energy trying to get there. 

AngryCorvair (Forum Supporter)
AngryCorvair (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
6/6/21 6:58 p.m.

Work to live, my friend. Look at areas you like, figure out how much it will cost to live the way you'd like to live in that area, then figure out if you can pull that off. 

pheller
pheller UltimaDork
6/6/21 11:49 p.m.

Cities are highly competitive, and often have lots of high powered applicants. With remote work in tech jobs becoming more common, many companies expect long distance applicants to ask for those allowances (or moving bonuses) - but prefer to hire a local candidate.
 

My company (a small natural gas utility) is desperate for good people. It seems we either get country boys who never want to use a computer, or well, tech guys who want dev level pay for IT infrastructure. One group are applicants happy for a good rural salary without construction industry BS, the other are overqualified comparing salaries against Phoenix or SoCal. We've had a few people take jobs then end up bailing before even starting because the either got more money someplace else, or they figured out the salary/CoL breakdown wasnt in their favor.

 

If you want to get in the door someplace else youve gotta offer skills at a cheaper rate working for an employer nobody else is applying at. Think about what types of jobs and lifestyle attract you to the Northwest, and then apply for jobs that seem to go against those things. City known for outdoors? Yea dont apply at outdoor retailers. City known for electric vehicles? Yea dont apply to work there, either. Apply for the jobs people like you wouldnt apply for because nobody wants to move to Seattle to work at a junkyard...but maybe that junkyard is the leading parts reseller of electric vehicles?

 

Avoid the lifestyle jobs like yoga instructor or real estate agent - they are flexible (pun!) and easily entered therefore saturated. If you can easily identify "that sounds like a sweet job," then chances are everyone else can too. What jobs sounds like it would suck? In the Northwest, it might be better than elsewhere. 
 

Finally, on sink or swim moves - it's not too bad if your super outgoing. In my town of mostly college students, prior experience and a well established resume went far in getting interviews for my wife. She had no problems. Ive done the same in other cities. Employers want people who want to work, but often the high paying jobs are going to internal hires. Dont be afraid to work your way up.

 

Dont take pets, they cost a lot and deny you cheaper rental option. Rent your home. Move your stuff into storage. Find cheap housing in new city. Everything goes well, sell your old place and buy new place. Everything doesnt - move back home after a year. Worst case scenario you're out $20k in rent and lost earning, but I garuntee you and your partner will find some work and so at the very least you'll be out lost earning of your old jobs, but it will be an experience of lifetime.

Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter)
Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter) PowerDork
6/7/21 1:58 a.m.

I have a few old/loose connections with friends who are in the tech/software industry near Seattle.  I tossed a line in the water, I'll let you know if I get any bites ;)

FWIW:  We did the "live there to get here" move to get back to where we are now and it really REALLY worked out for us.  I would definitely keep the option of moving to Texas (or silicone valley) open.  Just make sure it helps your long term goals and that you arent "jumping for the sake of jumping".

STM317
STM317 UberDork
6/7/21 6:20 a.m.
AngryCorvair (Forum Supporter) said:

Work to live, my friend. Look at areas you like, figure out how much it will cost to live the way you'd like to live in that area, then figure out if you can pull that off. 

This is it in a nutshell. I'd also try to really hammer down what appeals to you about the new location and then see if you could have that same thing in a cheaper location or not.

Are you looking to continue down a path of technical writing, or would you be interested in transitioning to a different career in tech?  I feel like the technical writing skillset would lend itself well to a transition into a business analyst type role, and from there potentially into product management. 

As you've probably noticed, health IT is super hot right now. One of the best ways in is to get some expertise with a major electronic medical records system. Just so happens the biggest one is made not terribly far from you outside of Madison, and they've got an open technical services role that might work well with your skillset: Find Jobs - Epic Careers

Epic TS's provide technical support to client hospitals - but not in the "turn it off and turn it back on again" sense. They don't talk directly to end users, but rather to the hospital IT department to help customize Epic to the way that particular hospital works in terms of clinical processes, integrating other vendor systems, etc. Epic is super proprietary so they're not looking for prior experience in their own product, they'll train you.  The trick there is, once you've gotten that training and built some expertise, you'll be able to get hired on at basically any of their client hospitals, which will let you live where you want. 

The_Jed
The_Jed PowerDork
4/13/22 7:53 a.m.

   I've taken the leap a few times. I've failed more than once and succeeded a couple of times and I'm considering giving it one more go to relocate and work for a particular company that we're very fond of and live closer to GRM HQ. Looking back I don't regret any of the times I tried to take deliberate control of my life, even the ones where I failed in spectacular fashion.

Fueled by Caffeine
Fueled by Caffeine MegaDork
4/13/22 12:01 p.m.

Lived in Seattle for three years. Awesome access to nature.  Idiotic water prices.  
 

anyways. My wife couldn't last more than three years there.  She couldn't make friends and she was miserable.   We tried through the school or with other stay at home moms. It didn't work.  My wife was depressed constantly.  That plus my  crazy hours and travel working a high paying tech job didn't make it worth while. 
 

much happier here in minnespolis.  I'd rather live near mountains, but you don't always get what you want. 
 

I've moved 5 times with companies.  I'd say you never know if you want to live some place long term until you live there and the converse is also true.  

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