Location Dependent on Opportunity, or Opportunity Dependent on Location?

Location Dependent on Opportunity, or Opportunity Dependent on Location?
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It’s a question every job seeker faces, even in this strong economy that added more than 2 million jobs in 2019. Location can have a major impact on your quality of life, and many job seekers are pulled to a particular location because of family, education, health care, social needs, or a combination of all of these factors.


However, narrowing your job search to a particular geographic area will have consequences, and the consequences will be more severe if the economy slows or slips into recession.


MOAA member Lee Cohen, Managing Partner at LucasGroup and a widely respected contingent recruiter, has placed more than 3,000 transitioning military officers during his corporate career. He recently provided some statistics to give his clients a sense of their odds of securing a corporate job and the impact of location on those odds.


Targeting just one location:

  • Small town (Examples: Athens, Ga.; Hyde Park, N.Y.; Coupeville, Wash.): 5%
  • Medium city (Charlotte, N.C.; Madison, Wisc.; Tucson, Ariz.): 40%
  • Large city (Philadelphia, Dallas, San Francisco): 70%
  • ‘Big three’ city (Los Angeles, New York, Chicago): 90%

Targeting just one region:

  • New England: 70%
  • Mid-Atlantic: 90%
  • Southeast: 70%
  • Upper Midwest: 95%
  • South Central: 80%
  • Rockies: 20%
  • Southwest: 40%
  • California: 90%
  • Northwest: 50%
  • Europe: 5%
  • Asia: 1%

Cohen also cautioned his readers these estimates are based on targeting a single city or region. Targeting multiple cities or regions will increase those odds.


This is not to discourage you from targeting a specific region or a specific town, but recognize it may take more time and effort to find the right fit.


[RELATED: MOAA’s Transition and Career Page]


As you prepare to depart military service, it’s important to consider your priorities. Among the possibilities are: work/life balance, cultural fit, family needs, money, and location. In my experience, you can optimize for one or two of these factors, but it’s unrealistic to expect to find a match for all of these parameters – even in this strong economy.


The best strategy is to thoughtfully consider the range of possibilities open to you based on your skills, experience, passion, and education – and open the aperture to consider a range of locations. This will accelerate your job search and maximize the likelihood you will find a fit where you will do your best work and reap the greatest long-term rewards. And remember, success in any career comes down to doing your job well and loving what you do.  


For more ideas on how MOAA can help accelerate your career transition, visit MOAA’s transition and career events page and read more about the support we offer to the military community.

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About the Author

Capt. Jim Carman, USN (Ret)
Capt. Jim Carman, USN (Ret)

Capt. Jim Carman, USN (Ret), is a Certified Association Executive. He served as a Navy pilot for nearly 25 years.