Changing jobs to follow your spouse? 10 tips to ease your way

Changing jobs because of a spouse move doesn't have to be the end of the world.

I got into career services because I followed my husband on a move for his career. I looked for work but couldn’t find anything. I realized that I could help others who were considering a change, and did an unpaid internship to get the training I needed to become a career and educational counselor. Trust me, you can make this work!

Sybil Pressprich suggests being open to opportunities and conversations in your new home.
Sybil Pressprich suggests being open to opportunities and conversations in your new home.

Here are 10 tips to help when your partner’s job change means it’s time to pack your bags:

  1. Know thyself: Many of us define ourselves by our work. This may be an issue when you leave your job behind. To ease the transition, take time to think about your identity based on your foundational values. Define yourself by your core beliefs, not what you’ve done at work.
  2. Continue to shine at your job: Become invaluable to your current workplace. They may let you telecommute, as well as provide a great reference.
  3. Start with who you know: Friends and coworkers in your former location might know people in your new hometown—so start asking!
  4. Learn something new: If you have time, develop skills that can be done from any location, such as writing, graphic or web design, working as a virtual assistant, or online teaching.
  5. Accept your emotions: Leaving familiar surroundings may cause feelings of grief, fear, isolation (especially once your partner is settled into their new job), or even resentment. Give yourself permission to feel these things, and to talk about them with friends, family, and perhaps a professional.
  6. Reach out to your partner’s new employer: According to Kris Roessler, talent acquisition strategy and operations manager at American Family Insurance, companies with new hires are often willing to help. Your partner should inquire if their new colleagues or human resources team can share your resume within their network or suggest ways to search for a job in that area.
  7. Let people know you are looking: As you get the family settled, arrange housing, and take care of other details, you’ll meet many new people. Let them know that you are looking for work. Seek out neighborhood associations, service clubs, local meet-ups, and events at libraries. And don’t forget your university’s alumni network; they can often help you find mentors and uncover opportunities.
  8. Find your allies: If you’d like to continue in your current career, join the local chapter of a professional organization and get involved. Or ask for introductions via LinkedIn.com.
  9. Stay productive, not just busy: Find activities that are related to your career and professional growth. Volunteer your professional services for a nonprofit, take classes, write a blog, or consider freelancing or consulting. You’ll connect to your new community, make contacts, and demonstrate your skills in a new market.
  10. Be open to another path: This may also be a good time to consider a career change or to explore a new area. Consider part-time work or volunteer on a topic or in a role that is completely different for you. Trying something new may be a little uncomfortable, but could open up exciting opportunities.

Sybil Pressprich is a career and educational counselor for the Division of Continuing Studies at UW-Madison. Pressprich helps adults with career transitions and continuing education through individual sessions and workshops. Contact her at sybil.pressprich@wisc.edu.

This article originally appeared in the Wisconsin State Journal.