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Job Hunting in New York City

The NYC Job Market
• More than eight million people live in greater metropolitan New York City,
and . . .
• . . . More commute from Long Island, Westchester County, northeastern New Jersey, and southwestern Connecticut.
• Nearly 3.5 million people are employed in New York City (October 2004).
• As of October 2004, 229,800 New York City residents are unemployed and actively looking for work. Add in the number of people who are dissatisfied with their jobs and waiting for the right moment to start looking, and you have a large population of job seekers to compete with.
• Nearly every career and every industry in the United States is represented in the New York job market.
• Employers are hiring once again after 3 very lean years following September 11, 2001. But they’re pickier than ever; they seek exact matches to their job specifications and specific industry knowledge.
• New York City job growth has lagged behind that of the rest of the nation since March 2001.
• Hiring is strongest in health care and for entry-level accounting and technology positions.
• Look for a strong future in sales, health care, and education, with fewer future opportunities in the sciences, architecture, engineering, and legal professions.

Doing Your Homework
• Like anywhere, the best jobs are found through personal referrals.
• Be proactive about what you want and where you want to work; don’t be shy about making it known.
• Look for information on company websites, general classified advertising (either online or in print), industry or association publications and websites, and the career offices of colleges and universities.
• Create a target list of potential employers to keep your job search organized.
• Understand that submitting a resume and cover letter is not enough. Personal contact is key.

According to NYC Job Seekers
A job search in New York City is the same as a job search anywhere—simply multiply by ten.
“At a minimum, it’s good to apply online, but there are so many people that do that, I think it’s important to take additional steps to make sure you get called in for an interview.”
“The biggest obstacle for me in job search is overcoming impatience. I have to remind myself that finding the right position takes a marathon, not a sprint. Concentrating on day-to-day accomplishments helps.”

Landing Your Dream Job
• Patience and persistence are key. Plan to search for 1 to 2 months for every $10,000 in salary.
• A resume alone won’t get you a job; nor will an interview. A successful job search requires attention to each step of the effort: developing contacts, conducting research, presenting a strong resume, interviewing, and following up effectively.
• Market yourself the way you would a product or service. Ask yourself, “What’s in it for the buyer?”
• Declare yourself. Don’t leave an interview without conveying your interest in the job.
• Assess potential employers in the same way they assess you.
• Connect the dots in your interviews and in your cover letters. Don’t just tell a reader or interviewer what you did; tell them how it applies to their company and their job.
• Know your value in the marketplace.
• Don’t get caught short: Keep your resume up to date—even when you’re not looking for work.

The City

• Overview
New York, New York. The Big Apple. If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere. There’s truth to these clichéd phrases. Some of the world’s largest companies are based in New York City, and it’s considered the top rung in the worlds of finance, fashion, publishing, and the arts. Whether your particular ladder is climbing toward becoming the next Donald Trump, Donna Karan, Helen Gurley Brown, or Twyla Tharp, high-profile careers are forged in New York City.
Many people find the prospect of doing business in New York both exciting and intimidating. It’s the commerce center for the western world, where multibillion-dollar deals are made, where the top newscasters report from, where Madison Avenue, Wall Street, and the New York Stock Exchange are located, and where the United Nations Security Council meets. Times Square with its flashing video screens is a monument to corporate branding. Even the modest chess club you might walk by in Greenwich Village is famous—it’s where World Chess Champion Bobby Fischer cut his teeth. What you do here counts, whether you spend your day playing chess in the park or making a market for the next Google stock.
But New York is a working town, where slackers need not apply. To be successful in business there, you can’t sit back and wait for opportunity to knock on your door. Someone else will have intercepted it on the way over. Successful New York City job seekers exploit every opportunity and aren’t shy about asking for contacts and referrals. If this sounds ruthlessly self-serving, you might want to reconsider the idea of living and working here. On the other hand, if you want to land a job in one of the world’s most dynamic business environments, then throw a harness on that fabulous New York energy and get ready for the ride of your life.

A New York State of Mind
Not only do New Yorkers work hard, they play hard. Home to a vibrant arts scene, the New York Yankees and Mets, film festivals, concerts, restaurants, clubs, courses, lectures, museums, galleries, Central Park, and shopping . . . well, let’s just say there’s always something to do. Which is good because you’ll either live in quarters the size of a suburbanite’s laundry room or with as many roommates as a college student. Whether you’re tired of looking at the four walls of your studio or the faces of your roommates, you’ll want to get out. The restaurants and shops stay open late most nights to accommodate a long workday.

Take your job search outside your apartment. Especially if you’re accustomed to working in an office environment surrounded by co-workers and the accompanying culture of lunch and coffee dates, you might find it isolating to conduct a search from within the confines of a tiny New York studio apartment. One insider says, “I’m such an extrovert, I thought I was going to go buggy after the first 2 days at home.
And I have an L-shaped studio with an amazing view!” Her solution? “I always have appointments lined up so that I’m out at least once a day, even if it’s only for a walk.” Others do their Internet research and e-mail work in Starbucks with WiFi, or the library, and save their phone work for home.

Don’t Box Yourself In
You’ve probably heard that things move quickly in New York. Watch out on that first day: While you’re craning your neck up at the sparkling spire of the Chrysler Building, your fellow pedestrians are likely to mow you down. Everyone is in a hurry, and nowhere is this more apparent than in the pace set by people on foot. Wait for a walk light? Only if you can’t beat the car that is barreling toward you. The light with the yellow hand that signals “wait” is interpreted by New Yorkers to mean “look.” If there is no oncoming traffic, the sidewalk crowd doesn’t even break stride, flowing around the guy who follows the rules (a sure sign you’re from out of town) like water around river rocks.

New York City’s legendary high energy hits you like one of its notoriously muggy summer days: It’s palpable. If you’ve come from a place that runs at a slower pace, you might quickly feel you’re falling behind, and that you must work ever harder and longer just to keep up. Pacing yourself is the key. Take a deep breath (but not in the odiferous subway), and tackle first things first. Before you know it, you’ll be pushing ahead of the crowd to step into the crosswalk and your friends back home will remark how quickly you seem to have adopted a New York attitude.

The City and Its Environs
The island of Manhattan that many people think of as New York City is actually the smallest of five boroughs comprising a 314-square-mile area that also includes Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, and the Bronx. More than eight million people live in greater metropolitan New York City, and more commute into Manhattan from Long Island, Westchester County, northeastern New Jersey, and southwestern Connecticut. If you want to feel the full effect of New York’s morning rush, stand in Grand Central Station’s main terminal any weekday around 9 a.m. to watch a fabulous convergence of blue serge and pinstripes arriving from the wealthy suburbs.

Bounded by the East River, the Hudson River on the west, and joined by the Harlem River at the north, Manhattan is 14 miles long and 2 miles wide. The diversity of its neighborhoods is legendary. Wall Street is located downtown at the southern tip; the garment district, Penn Station, Grand Central Station, and Times Square lay across midtown; and in uptown, Harlem is undergoing revitalization.
The city has visibly cleaned up its act since the days of out-of-control panhandling and reports of muggings and burglaries. Indeed, Times Square has been transformed from drug-ridden to family-friendly, and New York is now rated one of the safest big cities in the United States. That doesn’t mean you can leave your wits behind, however. The vast majority of New Yorkers are friendly and will go out of their way to help you if you need it, but there are always a few, well, bad apples.

The Working Rich
New Yorkers are the wealthiest people in the nation. According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the per capita personal income for New York City in 2002 was $84,591—markedly higher than the U.S. per capita personal income of $30,906. But as a Working Joe, don’t expect to get rich on your salary. You’ll need it to cope with the high cost of living—New York ranks among the most expensive cities in the world. There are deals to be found if you know where to look (designer knock-off handbags and sunglasses on the street for $5, watches for $20; pay 50 cents for coffee at the corner cart, or $4 at Starbucks—your choice), but while you can make due with last season’s handbag, there’s no getting around the biggest expense: housing. In Manhattan, you’ll be lucky to find a studio apartment for less than $1,100 or a one-bedroom for $1,500. Prices aren’t really lower in Brooklyn, Queens, or Hoboken, New Jersey, but you get more space for the money. Other necessities like food, phone service, and electricity are also more expensive than in other cities. Even flea market fare goes for twice that of other locales.

The Bottom Line
In New York City, like anywhere, a job search requires patience and persistence. Understand that it can take 1 to 2 months for every $10,000 you want to make in annual salary to find the right job. If you’re over 55, it can take an average of 4 weeks longer.

The best jobs are found through personal referrals: “We hire people we know,” one small NYC business owner told us. You may not personally know the right hiring managers in New York, but someone does. And if you ask enough people, you’ll eventually get the leads you need. This is not the time to be shy and selfeffacing. New Yorkers are known for their in-your-face brashness. If you’re new here, take their example to heart. Be proactive about what you want, where you want to work, and don’t be shy about making it known.

Geographic Considerations
While a good many of those who work in the city commute in via Amtrak or other commuter railroads, others live in Inwood, Washington Heights, Brooklyn, Queens, Hoboken, and Jersey City and take the subway into Manhattan. A commute of 45 minutes including a transfer is not unusual. If you live in Manhattan, perhaps the most prized commute is to be able to avoid the subway altogether and walk to work. A 15-minute walk is great, and even a 30-minute walk is considered manageable. Since all the necessities of life are conveniently situated within an average of six blocks of your apartment, walking to work means you can drop off the dry-cleaning and pick up coffee, a bagel, and the Times in the morning, and then work out at the gym and pick up wine and flowers on your way home. The restaurant around the corner considers you a regular, and if you don’t feel like going out, you can get your meal delivered to your door by the bicycle delivery guys that many restaurants employ. If you’re new to Manhattan, get out and walk. It’s the best way to find your way around. Your first purchase should be a street map and a Metro card. For $2 you can take the subway or buses. (The Metro system has free subway and bus maps.) A monthly Metro pass is $70. Save your cab fare for the day you have an interview scheduled in the middle of a downpour. (Even then, plan for extra time— traffic will be at a standstill.)

The city is laid out in a basic grid: The Avenues run north and south, and the Streets run east and west. It will take you longer to walk a “long block” between the avenues than it will to walk a “short block” north or south. From 59th Street up, Central Park divides Upper Manhattan into the East and West Sides. Understand that because it’s difficult to travel from one side to the other, it’s not unusual for New Yorkers to live their entire lives—home, work, shopping, dining—on either one side or the other without much crossover. If you can, structure your commute so that you have only one transfer, either to another subway line or to a bus. Chances are you’ll also have to walk at least a few blocks on either end. Also, since it’s easier to move north and south on public transportation than it is to travel cross-town, try to arrange for your apartment and place of employment to be located on the same side of the city.
Structure your commute so that you have only one transfer, either to another subway line or to a bus. Chances are you’ll also have to walk at least a few blocks on either end. Also, since it’s easier to move north and south on public transportation than it is to travel crosstown, try to arrange for your apartment and place of employment to be located on the same side of the city.
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These are excepts from Wetfeet Job Hunting in New York City (2004). If you like what you read, please consider buying the guide
 
The Working Rich
New Yorkers are the wealthiest people in the nation. According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the per capita personal income for New York City in 2002 was $84,591—markedly higher than the U.S. per capita personal income of $30,906. But as a Working Joe, don't expect to get rich on your salary. You'll need it to cope with the high cost of living—New York ranks among the most expensive cities in the world. There are deals to be found if you know where to look (designer knock-off handbags and sunglasses on the street for $5, watches for $20; pay 50 cents for coffee at the corner cart, or $4 at Starbucks—your choice), but while you can make due with last season's handbag, there's no getting around the biggest expense: housing. In Manhattan, you'll be lucky to find a studio apartment for less than $1,100 or a one-bedroom for $1,500. Prices aren't really lower in Brooklyn, Queens, or Hoboken, New Jersey, but you get more space for the money. Other necessities like food, phone service, and electricity are also more expensive than in other cities. Even flea market fare goes for twice that of other locales.

The Bottom Line
In New York City, like anywhere, a job search requires patience and persistence. Understand that it can take 1 to 2 months for every $10,000 you want to make in annual salary to find the right job. If you're over 55, it can take an average of 4 weeks longer.

NYC is expensive for sure but take the per capita income figure with a pinch of salt: income and wealth disparities are also much greater than in Nowheresville, USA, with billionaires co-existing in the same city with the desperately poor (just walk along Broadway from Greenwich Village to Midtown Manhattan to see some of them, many of them hustling counterfeit rolexes and designer handbags. It's a city of extremes. Don't just look a the first moment of income (the mean): look at higher moments as well (variance, etc.)
 
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