How to Do a Local Job Search

A job seeker looks at listings at a career center in Oakland, Calif.
A job seeker looks at listings at a career center in Oakland, Calif.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Finding a job can be an exhausting process of resume writing, application submissions, interviews and phone calls -- not to mention all the stress, anticipation and potential rejection. If you're focused on a finding a job close to your home, there are some particular pros and cons to consider. You don't have fly to another city for an interview or worry about relocating if you get the job, but you're considerably narrowing the field of potential jobs.

You can reduce some of the stress of a local job search by starting with the right tools and a clear plan. The right job isn't going to come looking for you, so you have to be proactive. Start by updating your resume. Don't just print out a dozen copies of a resume and cover letter -- once your job search starts, you'll need to tweak your resume to suit every listing you pursue. A customized cover letter is important, too. A generic cover letter is easy to spot and will send your job application straight to the rejection pile. If you know (or can find out) the name of the person who will be reviewing your application, consider personalizing the cover letter. Just make sure to avoid resume pitfalls: Keep it to one page -- two at the most if you have a lot of relevant experience; don't use fancy fonts, colors or paper; tell your potential employer why you'd be good for them, not why the job would fit you.


Once you've got an updated resume, it's time to look for job openings in your field. The abundance of search options can make it hard to know where to start. The key is to use all the tools at your disposal -- you never know where you'll find a job opening perfectly suited to your skill set. We're going to open up the job finder's toolkit and show you how to conduct a job search focused on your hometown.

Local Job Search Tools

There are many online tools designed to find local jobs. There are dozens of job search sites; most of them allow you to narrow your search based on city or ZIP code. In some cases, you may have to go to an advanced search to access these geographic search options. Examples include and

There are several online classified ad sites, such as Craigslist, that have localized sites that include job postings. Your local newspaper may also put classified ads on its Web site.


Don't overlook the newspaper itself. Even if your newspaper puts classifieds online, there may be some classified ads that only appear in the print edition. Also take a look at smaller weekly newspapers -- you may get one delivered to your house for free every weekend. These newspapers derive their profits entirely from advertising, so many of them have more robust classified sections than the local daily newspaper.

Local job fairs offer another excellent place to meet potential employers. The businesses in attendance will usually be locally based or looking for local workers. They allow you to make a face-to-face impression, and sometimes companies even conduct interviews right at the job fair, condensing much of the job hunting process into a single day.

If you're looking for a job within a specific field, professional associations and unions often offer assistance in finding jobs or post openings in their newsletters. Trade publications have classified sections with job openings as well, but these may not be locally focused.

Most importantly, let your friends and family know you're looking for a job. An inside tip on an unpublished job opening or a good reference can give you a huge advantage in a competitive job market.

Next, we'll look at some helpful tips to make your job search go more smoothly.


Local Job Search Tips

Believe it or not, your local newspaper is a great place to start a hometown job search.
Believe it or not, your local newspaper is a great place to start a hometown job search.
Jamie Grill/Getty Images

The most important tip for local job searches is simple: Don't get discouraged. Finding a job is a difficult and frustrating task at the best of times, and when the economy is on a downturn it gets even harder. You might fill out dozens of applications, go to countless interviews and make hundreds of phone calls in hopes of landing a job, and after a while it can feel like you're banging your head against a wall. Don't give up. Eventually, you'll apply for the right job and have the right set of skills to get hired.

Still, when it starts to feel like "head against the wall" time, there's no reason to plow ahead with the same methods that haven't been working. Broaden your search. Expand the geographic area you're willing to work in. It could mean a longer daily commute or actual relocation, but that might be worth it for a good job. Consider related fields -- even they aren't exactly the ones for which you've trained or earned experience. You may have to reduce your salary expectations or work your way up from a lower position within a company. It isn't always fair if you feel you've paid your dues in your chosen career already, but it beats the proverbial bread line.


Don't hesitate to look for help wherever you can find it. State employment agencies are there to connect people with employers who want to hire them.

If your job searches aren't turning up any openings, try cold calling companies you want to work for. Make a list of the local businesses where you'd like to work. Start with their Web sites -- many companies post job openings in a special section, often called "Careers." Failing that, call their main telephone line and explain briefly who you are and that you're looking for a job. It's a not a surefire way to find an opening, but it only has to work once.

Finally, work those local connections. You already told everyone you know that you're in the job market, but ask a select few if you can use them as local references. Your college professor or boss from five years ago might give you a glowing reference, but putting a few local people on your resume might give you an edge. Even if the employer doesn't recognize the names, it might make you seem like someone with stability, roots and commitment to your community -- all positive attributes in the eyes of business owners and hiring managers.

For more information, take a look at the next page.


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  • "Top Ten Online Search Tips." (Aug.16, 2010)
  • United States Department of Labor. "Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-2011 Edition." (Aug. 17, 2010)