Job Hunting
Trailing Spouses—Job Hunting in the Bay Area

Many San Francisco newcomers relocate to the Bay Area as part of a company transfer or a career switch with a new job already secured, but often they are accompanied by a spouse, partner or other family members who need to find a job because of the move. Even current San Francisco Bay Area workers often have children who need a job for the summer or a permanent position after graduation, so no matter your particular circumstance, San Francisco has the resources to help jobseekers of all kinds achieve their goals.

With a growing workforce of nearly 2.3 million jobs in the San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont Metropolitan Statistical Area, the region offers many career possibilities to keep active jobseekers busy. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment rose nearly 3.4 percent between January 2012 and 2013, so the economy is showing signs of a steady upswing. Employment opportunities abound for professionals, technical workers, skilled workers and students.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics also showed gains in employment in San Francisco between January 2012 and 2013 in all industries: professional and business services (7.1 percent), leisure and hospitality (5.2 percent), education and health services (3.7 percent), trade, transportation and utilities (2.4 percent) and information services (2.1 percent), financial activities (1.5 percent), manufacturing (0.3 percent) and government (0.3 percent).

Many personnel and staffing services in San Francisco offer full-time or temporary placement. Client companies pay the fee for most full-time personnel services. There are a few personnel services where the applicant pays the fee, so it is important to determine who is responsible for any fees before registering with a service.

Temporary jobs are plentiful in the Bay Area, and many types of positions are available since most industries use temporary employees. Many temporary services specialize in specific types of jobs. Engineers, attorneys, accountants and information technology professionals are especially in demand for temporary or contract positions in the region. Also, there is a high demand for temporary workers for industrial, secretarial, bookkeeping, telemarketing, clerical, receptionist, customer service and other types of positions.

Search online for companies in your neighborhood and call to find out what types of services they provide and if they have particular employment specialties. Many temporary jobs turn into full-time positions. In fact, many companies prefer to hire through the temp-to-hire process. It gives both the applicant and the company a trial period before the temporary employee converts to the company’s full-time payroll.

In this digital age, face-to-face networking seems to have fallen by the wayside, but studies indicate that more jobs are found through referrals than through online job searches. To network, jobseekers should contact everyone they know in their professional life. Jobseekers should be prepared to explain quickly about their skills and recent experience. Commonly referred to as the “15-second elevator speech,” the prepared speech can make a big difference. To learn more, visit, where you can discover ways to focus your thinking on what is most important.

Another useful online tool that has become essential to networkers and job seekers is to join LinkedIn (, an online network of more than 25 million experienced professionals from around the world, representing 150 industries. By staying “linked in” with your professional network, you’re always connected to people who may know of open positions or of a contact at a company you might be interested in approaching. It’s about being more effective in your daily search and opening doors to opportunities using the professional relationships you already have.

As a trailing spouse, you may find that your partner’s employer can offer you relocation assistance, including job-finding services. Before you move, contact your partner’s Human Resource (HR) department to see if these services are available. Often, it is most advantageous to contact the HR department in San Francisco because the local personnel may know more about the local job market.

You also need to conduct your own preliminary research. Employment experts advise jobseekers to search for work with a positive attitude and determination. Job leads can come from many sources, including talking to people, networking with business contacts, checking out personnel services, answering newspaper ads, searching the Internet and inquiring about local professional networks and hotlines in specific industries.

Following is a selection of online resources particular to California and the Bay Area.
  • Bay Area Career Center (BACC) offers credentialed career counselors and coaches; relevant workshops in areas of self-assessment, exploring options, personal packaging, job-search strategy and professional development; job-search support groups; résumé writing and networking opportunities to help you find your direction and make successful changes in your work life. Visit
  • CalJOBS is California’s Internet portal for linking employer job listings with jobseeker résumés. CalJOBS is operated by the Employment Development Department (EDD), which for more than 70 years, has connected millions of jobseekers and employers in an effort to build the economy of the California. In addition to its website, CalJOBS offers free employment services in-person including access to connectivity media, résumé and interview preparation, recruitment and postings about job fairs and other hiring events. Visit
  • Job Forum of the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce helps people help themselves in their job search. The chamber’s approach is on intelligently planning and conducting the job-finding campaign that focuses on each individual’s job search, one at a time, within the context of a group forum, that is staffed by volunteer panelists that represent a cross-section of businesses (large companies, mid-size and sole proprietorships) and nonprofit organizations and has expertise in high technology, e-commerce, marketing, consulting and human resources. Visit
  • San Francisco Business Times ( publishes an annual Book of Lists, which includes a list of top business performers in many categories and can provide a useful reference resource to companies of interest.
  • San Francisco Chamber of Commerce also provides its members with a number of signature events along with more than 200 business programs. All of the chamber’s events and programs are opportunities to meet and build relationships with other members. Visit
  • San Francisco Chronicle ( includes extensive employment classifieds as well as a business section.
  • San Francisco Public Library is a good source to try because local librarians are very helpful in assisting jobseekers to find directories that list companies in specific fields. University alumni magazines and directories often list current companies and titles of their graduates. In addition to the San Francisco Public Library, jobseekers can visit libraries at colleges and universities in the Bay Area.

Regional Employment Listings for the Bay Area
You also can find several online resources that can narrow your search to a particular part of the Bay Area. Following are a few examples.
  • BAJobs: This works toward getting the Bay Area back to work. Visit
  • BayAreaHelpWanted: This site allows you to view jobs by category or by city in the Bay Area. Visit
  • HomeTown Careers: This offers listings specific to North Bay, the 680 area code, East Bay, San Francisco, Silicon Valley and more. Visit

San Francisco is also home to local chapters of professional associations in almost every field. Contact professional organizations in fields of interest through the web. Job hunters also may contact people who work in a specific field to inquire about professional associations in the San Francisco area. Read publications from these associations and contact their job hotlines and websites. Attend meetings and exchange business cards. Later, contact the people from the meeting and inquire about job openings. Following are a few of the local chapters:
Niche Jobs in the Bay Area
The workplace adapts as society, technology and the labor force change, and it seems the quickest in California. According to California’s EDD, niche jobs emerge in response to factors, such as an aging population, environmental concerns and the increasing need or desire for personal services. Often regional considerations also determine job needs in specific areas. Following are some of the jobs found throughout California that the EDD refers to as “niche jobs” taken from employer surveys and classified ads:
  • Background Specialists are in demand because most firms now require background checks on prospective employees and can work independently or for a background-check firm. They research criminal history, workers compensation claims and driving record and verify educational degrees and prior experience on résumés.
  • Dexa Technologists conduct whole-body, forearm, central-hip and spine bone-density tests. They are in demand as the population ages in California and diagnostic testing grows
  • Ergonomic Specialists complete “ergo” assessments at a job site to make sure workstations and chairs are positioned for the optimum comfort and safety of employees and make recommendations for improvements.
  • Estate Sales Agents direct the sale of an entire household, often after one or both of the homeowners has passed away. These agents are often antique appraisers or realtors as well and can advertise the sale, help the client price items and represent the family in negotiating prices offered for items.
  • Legal Videographers videotape depositions in California’s legal industry then burn DVDs of the procedures and synchronize recordings to transcripts for legal firms and courts.
  • Massage Therapists work to ease pain, relieve stress and improve the health and well-being of their clients. In the San Francisco Bay Area region, there are an average of 141 job openings expected each year between 2004 and 2014.
  • Relationship Managers are found increasingly in financial institutions and IT firms to develop and manage relationships with commercial clients in assigned business segments or geographic areas as well as the overall profitability and portfolio risk of clients.
  • Skin Care Specialists, also called estheticians, work in salons, health and beauty spas or medical offices and can earn about $15 per hour in base pay. About 180 job openings will occur each year in the Bay Area through 2014.
  • Traffic Analysts coordinate the movement of goods from foreign vendors through customs and to their destination. In a port city like San Francisco, this is in demand.

Not so long ago, résumés were printed on quality paper and presented in an envelope to potential employers. While it still is a jobseeker’s most important sales tool, the rules of the résumé game have changed. Yes, it’s still critical that you create a quality and accurate document that emphasizes your skills and experience and that you customize each cover letter you send. What has changed is that you’re no longer presenting a résumé that appealing to the human eye; now it needs to be computer-optimized using important keywords.
To ensure that your résumé gets noticed in a search, use as many keywords as possible. Following are some tips to get you started:
  • Use keywords that emphasize technical and professional areas of expertise (e.g., software engineer, purchasing agent, marketing manager, administrative assistant). The Ladders’ website ( has a list of top recruiter keywords. These are the most popular words recruiters have searched for in a given week, and it’s constantly changing.
  • Use applicable acronyms and industry terminology, such as TCP/IP, C ++, RAD; MRPII, Windows Server 2008; Microsoft Excel, Computer Assisted Audit Techniques, Computer Aided Audit Tools (CAATS), Computer Assisted Audit Tools and Techniques (CAATTs).
  • Use education or certification terms; familiar ones include Certified Network Administrator (CNA), bachelors of science in computer science (or other field), Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and Six Sigma Black Belt.

According to experts, after résumés are scanned into the applicant-tracking systems, they will be searched and ranked. A hiring manager determines the keywords that best identify the skills needed in a candidate for a particular position; several keywords will be mandatory while others will be desirable. Based on those keywords, the system performs a search, and résumés are ranked according to the number of keyword matches. A résumé that has more of the desired keywords ranks higher and will get reviewed sooner.

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