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Career growth might mean looking outside of your current location

In recent years, many people have focused on simply getting or keeping a job – and given the persistently high unemployment figures, that has been a reasonable reaction. But focusing on simply maintaining can cause problems in the long run of your career. Those who are focused on the future, whatever their line of work, know that to really be secure, the key is to develop and expand your career.

If you’re facing a tough job market in your chosen field, it might be time to consider looking elsewhere for better prospects. But even for those who are in high demand, like physicians and other medical professionals, a change of location can offer new opportunities to grow their career – and have a bit of adventure at the same time.

To make the big move, research is a requirement. Be prepared to spend some time exploring the benefits of moving to and living in other cities or states. Look into housing prices, job rates, the diversity of companies offering jobs in your field and the local economy. And because you won’t be spending all of your time in the work environment, it’s important to look into the kind of lifestyle that’s available to you in different destinations.

For Dr. Christopher Jensen, the high demand for physicians in Alaska was a draw, as was the opportunity to explore a new lifestyle in America’s last frontier. “I took a road trip to the Yukon as a medical student,” Jensen explains. “That planted the seed of the idea to move to Alaska once I finished with training.”

When it comes to moving away from where you currently live, the experience is different for everyone. If you are already a transplant, it might not be hard to move again, but if you’ve grown up in the area, you might feel strong ties to your current location. However, even if the process is challenging, consider how it could pay off – literally and figuratively – in the long term.

Dr. Raymond Wilson, who had been practicing medicine on the East Coast, decided to look elsewhere because of the unique local challenges he faced in his profession. “I was interested in moving my practice from a location considered to be a relatively physician-unfriendly environment,” Wilson says. “I was hoping to find a new location with both a more reasonable environment for professional practice and a great location for lifestyle in my leisure time. Alaska fit both of those very well. The professional environment is much improved.”

When you’re seriously considering a move to bolster your career, it’s a good idea to establish a contact in your new destination. On a personal level, you can ask your friends if they know anyone in the area that you might want to meet.

And on a professional level, consider using a service that can connect you with local jobs. For instance, Alaska Physician Jobs is staffed by local Alaskans who help connect physicians moving to Alaska with jobs and other professional resources. And since they’re familiar with the area, they can also help by giving advice on adapting to it. “The physician recruiting team absolutely facilitated the process,” Wilson says. “They also employ outside consultants to help identify community needs, and I was fortunate to meet with the consultants during a visit.”

Jensen concurs, saying that having a resource on local lifestyle helped him adapt. “I moved here from the East Village in Manhattan,” Jensen says. “It was a huge culture shock. Although I expected that this would be the case, it was still more significant than I had anticipated. Everything is more difficult to do up here because you are effectively and literally off the map as far as the rest of the U.S. is concerned.”

It’s well known that adaptability is a desirable attribute that companies look for in their employees – making a move to further your career immediately singles you out as someone who’s willing to take on a challenge and make improvements. A change of location can open up the possibility of professional – and personal – growth, which can lead to better job security, improved earnings and even a better work-life balance.

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