I’m a New Yorker. I’ve got a Master’s degree from New York University and spent the first four decades of my life there. An internet relationship coupled with a desire to relocate after my divorce lead me to move to Mobile Alabama. I made sure to get my professional social work license issued in Alabama and, with 12 years of experience under my belt, believed I wouldn’t have much of a problem getting a position in the Deep South. But the folks in Dixie had other ideas. Here are some tips for Yankees who are or will be seeking employment in the Deep South offered to you by a person who made every mistake in the book.
Don’t Sell Yourself
In NY you go into an interview and let them know how great you are. You enthusiastically emphasize your vast experience, successes and let the interviewer clearly know why you are the best one for the job. In the south they see that as bragging and find it offensive. They are far more impressed with modesty. Present yourself humbly. Downplay your fabulous accomplishments. I’m not telling you to dumb down – as I have been told – I’m just telling you to tone it down a bit.
Don’t go on an interview for practice
In NY you go on any interview you can get figuring if you don’t like the job at least you’ll get a little practice interviewing. If you are offered a job and don’t take it you will most likely never have a chance to interview with that company again.
Be ready to start at the bottom
I’m sure you already know that you will not match your NY salary down south. But it is also highly unlikely that you will match the same level of responsibility. Southerners don’t take very well to strangers. Jobs go first to people they know. They will expect you to prove yourself by starting you in an entry level position. My experience is that folks in charge don’t like to hire people with more experience then they have. You will be the first to be fired if they ever feel challenged. No matter what you have heard the Civil War is not over and you are going to pay the debt for every reb that died.
Most Yankees speak quickly and have a fast pace when they move and think. Things move slower in the south. Type A personalities are not abundant here. If you get a job and complete it too quickly they will assume you haven’t done it well. Enjoy the fact that you’ve left that hustle and bustle behind. Slow down. You’ll fit in a lot better. Don’t come on too strong or be to direct. A sugar coated response is expected.
While my experience is in Alabama my friends in Florida and Georgia tell me it’s the same there. Don’t expect a warm welcome. And if you can’t get a job for a while don’t doubt yourself. It doesn’t matter if you are a guy or a gal you will find it a task to get ‘in’. Find some other Northerners and ask them how they are doing. You will see that your employment issues will be the same as everyone else. Most of the Southern states are ‘right to work’ states. That means you can be fired at any time with no explanation. The Deep South has its own way of doing things and the sooner you get clued in the better off you will be.