Ever feel like all of the good career advice you read is catered toward people who live in major metros, like NYC or San Francisco? You’re not alone — career-centered FOMO can be super real. While it’s true that creative, tech-savvy cities offer a ton of life-changing job opps with big salaries to boot, there’s something to be said for suburbs or small towns, where your skills can really set you apart. To get some top tips for millennials who are dedicated to doing great things outside of the city, we talked with two smart women who’ve been there and done just that. Scroll on for seven tips that’ll help you advance your career, no matter where you are.
1. Focus on something that’s a specialty in your area. Slow moving or not, we bet there’s some cool stuff going on wherever you live, whether it’s a happening industry or an in-demand set of skills. A rural resident and the force behind Hey Jessica, Jessica Stansberry explains, “You don’t always need to move to find work. If you love where you live, focus on what’s happening locally when choosing what to study or where to get training.”
2. Shatter the stereotype. It’s unfortunate, but millennials can have a bad office rep, especially in places that aren’t as progressive. But that doesn’t mean you can’t prove ‘em wrong! Stansberry suggests, “No matter what (or where!) your current job or gig is, dedicate yourself to being on time, doing great work, and showing enthusiasm for team or company goals.” Stansberry also advises showing how grateful you are for your work in a genuine and humble way, rather than being a real-life example of the “entitled” millennial stereotype. “Be truly ecstatic about the opportunity to work for the company. Never get caught up in thinking that they should be so lucky to have you,” she says.
3. Use your millennial skills to your advantage. Tech-savvy skill sets can take you far, especially in rural areas where competition might be a little less fierce. On the job, you can use your computer skills to improve or speed up biz processes or take the team’s creative work to a new, digital level. When you’re job searching, take a few of Stansberry’s top tips and enlist your know-how to build a snappy looking site, upload a video profile, or design a resume that’ll stand out in a pile.
4. Forge (and follow) your own path. In today’s digital world, you totally have the power to do *anything.* Stansberry agrees wholeheartedly, remarking, “We have all of the right tools to begin a successful online (or offline) business and create our own career path — from wherever we live.” She goes on to share, “Based on my own experience as a millennial in a rural area, entrepreneurship paves the path for higher salaries and more opportunities than a lot of rural jobs can provide. It might not be right for everybody, but it CAN be a solid path to follow if you’re not finding the right role or career path in a small town you love.”
5. Use your online presence to make up for your lack of in-person presence. “You need to be Google-able, because whether you’re in a small town or a big city, resumes aren’t enough anymore,” Kaysie Garcia, a freelance writer and content strategist tells us. “A personal website is essential, especially if it allows someone to show off previous projects or elaborate on capabilities beyond a one-pager. I’ve gotten completely cold opportunities through my own site!”
You can also keep up with the same news and trends as people who do live in cities, Garcia reminds us. “Follow industry publications and related newsletters. Your field is bigger than what’s happening in your small town.” Well said.
6. Consider remote opps. Garcia sings the praises of remote work for a couple of super solid reasons. “Remote work, even if on a contract basis, gives the person an opportunity to actually put their skills to use in a relevant environment — even if Slack calls and video chats are part of the mix,” she explains. “Nowadays, being able to say you’ve worked remotely (and successfully) is an added benefit you can’t necessarily learn in a classroom.” Even more, Garcia says that short-term or fully remote opportunities might allow you to network in major metro areas, so you have a few references to call on if you choose to move there. A total win-win!
7. Always be authentic. “Don’t go too crazy with startup speak and quirky vibes while applying for a job in a rural location,” Garcia warns. “When I imagine sending the resume I use for startups and virtual opps out in the town I grew up in, all I can think of is ‘undo, undo!’” What to do instead? Maintain a totally genuine tone that suits the town, company, and job so you don’t completely miss the mark. “In a lot of non-metro areas, culture is a once-a-month kind of thing — not a huge factor in hiring and fit,” she says. With many urban companies being pretty obsessed with culture, this is a major difference you should adjust your resume and interview prep for.
Work in a small town? Tell us about how you landed your job or what’s tough about building a career outside the city @BritandCo.
(Photos via Getty)