“Should I move to NYC without a job?”

2 Sep

I’ve been getting e-mail about this topic, which seems to strike fear in the hearts of New New Yorkers more than apartment hunting and subway navigation combined. Here are the biggest questions I get on this topic, and my take on things:

Is it true that I won’t get hired until I live there?

Not necessarily. Go full speed ahead, just like you would in any job search, and your odds are automatically better than if you go into it not expecting to pull it off. However, it is true that many companies are hesitant to hire someone who doesn’t yet live here. Think of it this way: These guys have easy access to HUNDREDS of people who are already here, who can show up for an interview the same day.

Should I use a fake address on my resume?

No, no and no. Long story short: I was advised to do this, and then I realized, HEY, that’s lying. Because what if they say, “Great, come by tomorrow for an interview!” Then you’re screwed.

Should I make a preliminary trip out there?

Yes. I came about six months before I moved to go on informational interviews and lunches. I started asking everyone I knew who they knew, and that lead more places than I would’ve thought, especially when you talk with people in your field. People like to help people — meet as many people as you can before you show up here.

What can I do to prepare for New York from where I live now?

Pursue every lead/connection you have while you’re still employed; there are probably a few people your current employer could put you in touch with. Bosses love to make calls to hiring managers that start with, “Boy, have I got a great lady for you! I wish I could keep her, but she’s moving to NYC, and you should hire her for [position XYZ].” This is how most non-entry-level hiring happens.

How can I end things on good terms with my existing employer?

First of all, if you have a good boss, they’ll be sad to lose you, but happy for you. If moving day comes and you’re not yet employed in NYC, there’s no harm in asking your current company if, while you’re in limbo, you can continue freelancing or consulting for them on a per-project basis or whatnot. All they can say is no — and if they say yes, you’ve got some extra time to be choosy (not to mention money coming in).

How much should I save before I arrive?

This depends on the level of others’ involvement in your finances, but what you absolutely don’t want is to be cornered into taking a job you don’t want when nothing else has come along and you’re worried you won’t make rent. So my answer is SAVE AS MUCH AS YOU CAN. If you need money, you’ll have it — and if you don’t need it, hey, you’ll still have it.

….What’d I miss?


14 Responses to ““Should I move to NYC without a job?””

  1. CJ 09/19 at 8:19 pm #

    This is great advice but I think you are missing out on one massive segment of people who move to NY and that is foreigners who want to move there (and of course who are there in their hundreds of thousands!)

  2. Richard 11/29 at 3:38 pm #

    Is it still realistic to move without a job? I’m looking to move after I graduate college. Even if I’m willing to temp at first, or be a waiter or whatever , and I have a few grand saved, is getting a job in NYC in a recession possible?

    BTW your two books have been a big help as well as very encouraging.

    • New New Yorkers 11/30 at 4:22 pm #

      Richard: Of course it’s possible! And it sounds like you’re doing everything right — getting your education, saving your money, and temporing your expectations for what your first job or two will be. Bottom line is, you can make it in New York on MUCH less than they say, and still be just as happy. Even if you take a temp job and want to earn much more eventually, it’ll do enough to get you going. And, once you are actually IN New York, you’ll be amazed how many people you’ll meet, how fast your network will grow, and what opportunities will come your way. Good luck!

  3. Richard 12/15 at 1:40 am #

    Have any advice about working for temp or staffing agencies?

  4. Toronto to New York City 04/08 at 8:29 pm #

    If you’re right out of university, it’s kind of hard to find a job. What i did was get a cool cool internship and planning on getting a “shitty job” on the side. Although I am Canadian, I assume that if you’re american, it’s less hard. I just wrote a post about how to get a work visa/an internship in NYC for right-out-of-university folks. So tedious but hopefully worth it!

  5. Lana 07/17 at 8:03 pm #

    But what about if you’re from Europe? I’m from Slovenia and I will be applaying for the NYU(drama, theatre, film, directing and so on) next year, and after that I hope I’ll get a job somewhere on/near Broadway. How hard is to get a job if you’re not an American citizan? Can I get a working Visa or something? Any answer and advice will be helpful.

    • Cj 07/18 at 2:18 pm #

      Lana I started a website (e3visa.info) about 3 years ago and actually wrote a book as well for a foreigners perspective on US Immigration and all the different types of work visas and the challenges of moving to the US and finding work.
      Good Luck.

      • Lana 07/18 at 4:39 pm #

        hey thanks, I’ll check it out !

  6. smidbeach (@smidbeach) 03/09 at 6:07 pm #

    A summer sublet buys you time. Don’t count on finding a permanent job in NYC in two months, but you can interview, make contacts, and get the lay of the land.

  7. Genesis 05/31 at 11:06 am #

    I’m moving to Brooklyn in August and I’ve been accepted to LIU. I plan to live on campus for the first year so I can get to know the city and save money for an apartment. I’ll have to take out loans for school and by the time I graduate I’ll owe $70,000 in loans, just for a bachelor’s degree (ouch). If I pay $900 in rent my monthly expenses (food, utilities, etc) will be $1,500 per month. Eventually I’ll be paying $1,000 per month in student loans and probably 1,000 in taxes. I’ll need a $50,000 salary for all of this. Sounds like a plan, but how the heck am I gonna make that kind of money? Do you know any ideas for me to make side money? (btw I have $2,000 saved)


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