When you’re without a job, looking for a job should be your 9-5.
Due to limited opportunities, finding a job in a smaller town can be challenging but it’s not impossible. Here are our 7 steps to help you land a job more quickly in a smaller community.
1. Leverage Local Networks
Small towns often operate on word-of-mouth. Talk to friends, family, and community members about your job search to see if they know of any opportunities.
You’d be surprised how many small businesses are on the verge of hiring someone but haven’t made the final decision yet. A recommendation from someone they know and trust could be the nudge they need to go ahead and hire.
2. Visit Local Businesses
In these communities, a good word from a local can carry a lot of weight. Therefore, make it known that you’re looking for work, and ask people to keep you in mind if they hear of anything. Networking isn’t just for big cities; in a small town, it might even be more effective.
Many small businesses don’t advertise job openings online. Drop by local shops, restaurants, and offices to ask if they are hiring and leave your resume. Just like previously mentioned, many businesses consider hiring but haven’t pulled the trigger yet.
If they encounter someone who is proactively looking for a job, they often seize that opportunity to save themselves the headache of sifting through applications and reading resumes, tasks they usually don’t have the time or resources to handle.
Visiting businesses in person also gives you the chance to make a strong first impression, which can be invaluable in a small town where personality and community connections often matter as much as, if not more than, your resume. It shows you’re genuinely interested and motivated, which can set you apart from others who may simply be sending out resumes online.
3. Post On Social Media
Post a brief message on your social media accounts letting people know you’re looking for a job; you never know who in your network might have a lead. Likewise, join and post in local Facebook groups dedicated to job listings or community news.
Keep your post concise but informative, mentioning the type of work you’re looking for and any key skills you have. A simple “Hey, I’m looking for a job in [industry]. Experienced in [key skills]. Any leads would be appreciated!” should suffice.
4. Tailor Your Resume
If you’re applying to a bigger local company, an optimized, ATS-friendly resume could set you apart.
Start by avoiding any elements like images, charts, or symbols, which may not translate well in different formats or could confuse any ATS software the company might use. Stick to a simple, clean layout and standard fonts to ensure your resume is easily readable both by software and human eyes.
Sprinkle your resume with specific keywords relevant to the job you’re applying for. Find these keywords in the job description or similar postings. For instance, if you’re applying for a managerial role, words like “leadership,” “budgeting,” and “team coordination” could be beneficial.
Always save your resume as a Word document unless the job application specifically asks for a different format. Word documents are generally more compatible with various types of software and are more easily editable if needed.
Even if you’re applying to a smaller business that doesn’t use ATS, these best practices will make your resume more appealing to whoever is reading it, whether that’s the owner of a local shop or the hiring manager at a larger company.
5. Show Commitment
Employers in small towns are often wary of high turnover rates and may be reluctant to hire someone they think will leave soon. This is why showing your commitment to the community can give you an edge.
Make it clear during interviews or in your cover letter that you have strong ties to the area, whether that means you grew up there, have family nearby, or simply love the local culture and have no plans to move.
6. Attend Local Events or Meetings
Town meetings, local auctions, fairs, and other community events are not just social gatherings; they’re prime opportunities to network and discover job openings that may not be advertised elsewhere.
These settings allow you to interact with local business owners, town officials, and other community members who might be aware of job opportunities. Given that small towns often operate through word-of-mouth, making a good impression at these events can significantly increase your chances of landing a job.
If possible, prepare some brief talking points about your skills and experiences, so you’re ready to discuss them if the opportunity arises. A quick elevator pitch can be a useful tool for these situations, helping you to succinctly describe what you’re looking for and what you can offer.
7. Always Follow-Up
After submitting applications or having interviews, always follow up to show that you’re genuinely interested in the position. This simple yet important step can set you apart from other candidates who may be equally qualified but less proactive.
A well-timed email or phone call to the hiring manager or interviewer not only reinforces your interest but also keeps you fresh in their minds.
While your job hunt should be your full-time focus, it’s still important to have some money coming in on the side. Small towns offer unique opportunities for side hustles that could not only help you make ends meet but also grow into something bigger.
If you’re in one of the fast-growing towns that are great for starting businesses, your side hustle could very well evolve into a full-fledged local enterprise.