My current position is slotted to end in about a year. My profession is IT (specifically network engineering), and I'm employed in the UK but looking to head back to the States - hopefully California because of the large technology market.

Taking into account my geographical distance from my end-goal:

  • When is the most appropriate time to reach out to other potential employers?
    A year? 6-9 months? 0-6 months?

  • When should I begin dialogue with this employer?

I don’t want to apply too early and get shot down because that's too far in the future. I also don't want to apply too late and risk not getting a job.

Any guidance/experiences would be greatly appreciated.

  • 3
    Better to be too early than too late. Apr 27, 2014 at 15:52
  • Are you a US citizen or green card holder? Or do you need US visa sponsorship?
    – O. Jones
    Apr 28, 2014 at 1:24
  • 3
    I don't understand the downvotes here. Timing a job search that involves an international move seems like a reasonable question to me. Apr 28, 2014 at 2:21
  • @OllieJones US Citizen; the location is totally different thought. I'm originally from the east coast, but considering the west coast.
    – Ryan Foley
    Apr 28, 2014 at 7:11
  • 1
    @JeffO I'm trying to keep this slightly open-ended for the masses to benefit from. I'm actually US military stationed overseas and scheduled to end my enlistment in early 2015.
    – Ryan Foley
    Apr 28, 2014 at 16:37

3 Answers 3


Put yourself in the shoes of a potential hiring manager. If you're a total stranger to them, and you come inquiring after an easy-to-fill position that you can't take until 2015 sometime, you may be perceived as wasting their time. Worse, you may be seen as trying to get them to pay for international relocation, which is expensive. That's the downside of getting started early on your job hunt.

If you have distinguished skills and experience and you happen to know which companies in your field really need you, it's an entirely different matter.

The same is true if you have friends / former colleagues at some of your target companies.

In other words, at this stage it's too early, I believe, for an overt job search. Instead, you'd be wise to develop your relationships.

How can you do that? There are all kinds of ways.

  • You probably have some idea what companies you hope to work for.
  • LinkedIn works for many people.
  • Another thing you can do is use Meetup.com to locate affinity groups in your specialty in your target geography. That's especially helpful if you're planning an exploratory trip: you can go to meetups and have in-person conversations about who's doing what.
  • Craigslist has lots of job postings. You can scan it to figure out what kinds of jobs people advertise for.
  • You can try writing to or telephoning acquaintances and asking them about their work and companies. People love to be asked about themselves, and will introduce you to other people.
  • You might ask acquaintances for an introduction to a respected agent (headhunter). There are some really good headhunters willing to work with a situation like yours when you get closer to moving, but you will have to do a bit of work to find them.
  • This web system, specifically https://serverfault.com/ is designed to help tech domain experts identify one another. It's worth a try to look for people who make good contributions (answers, mostly) and try to get in touch with them.

In all cases, talk straight. Tell people you're thinking of relocating six months out, and you're trying to figure out what's going on in your specialty.


Job searches can take a long time, and companies can move very slowly. If you're confident that your skills are in demand and a job search should be fairly quick, it would be valid to wait until you're about 3 months from moving to start applying. For many people, this would be much too late.

Your better bet is to start looking very soon (6-9+ months ahead) and applying. If a company moves quickly, and they call for an interview, let them know up front your time schedule. That way, if they need someone sooner, they don't have to spend time on you, and you don't burn bridges with them for future opportunities. In other words, a job opportunity that you have to pass on is better than no opportunities at all.

If they're still interested and interview you, then they are aware of your schedule up front, and will work with your timing.

The more likely scenario is that once you have a company interested, it may still take weeks or sometimes even months to get through the interview and job offer process. The sooner you get that started, the more likely you'll have a job when you return.


When to apply: after you have arrived locally or a few weeks before.

See my answer here: https://workplace.stackexchange.com/questions/22861/would-moving-to-one-of-the-main-cities-with-user-experience-job-opportunities-he/22863#22863

My personal experience (and the experience of similar friends who are trying to make a long distance job move) is that most places won't even pick up your resume unless you are local.

That makes it difficult for you, so I'd suggest planning to make the move, and saving up for about a month without income. The day my contract in SC ended, I packed my car. The following day I started the two-day drive to CO. Upon arrival in CO, I started interviewing and was able to start a new contract job within the month I had planned for. I thankfully had in-laws to stay with until I had established myself.

Some things to consider:

  • Do you have friends/family in this city that you can stay with rent-free or low-rent until you have a job?

  • Do you have a SO that you plan to move with?

  • If you have decided on a city already, you could get a Google Voice number with the local area code that can be put on resumes. You can line up interviews for the week of your arrival to minimize your unpaid time off.

  • 1
    In this case, the OP needs to emphasis in the cover letter that he can legally work in the US and will be relocating at his own expense. Other than the timing issue, what's the problem?
    – user8365
    Apr 28, 2014 at 16:22
  • I emphasized that in my resume in the objective, and on the cover letter. 1 interview in 3 months of looking while in SC, 5 in the first 2 weeks of being in CO. Unless the asker's a top 1% developer, there are just too many local candidates for most employers to deal with a remote candidate. Apr 28, 2014 at 16:24
  • Also, applied to the same place with two resumes, one local number and one SC number, and only received a callback from the local number one. Close friend has similar experience. Apr 28, 2014 at 16:26

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