Hired! Job searching from coast to coast

Moving across the country is a giant leap, but for Walker Strangis, it was a great career move.

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By Jessica Dickler, CNNMoney.com staff writer

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Walker Strangis moved across the country to stay in his niche industry.

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- In the worst job market in 25 years, job seekers are doing whatever it takes to find work, even if that means moving across the country.

When Walker Strangis, 32, was laid off from his position as a sales coordinator in the wine department at Christie's Auction House in Los Angeles, there were few - if any - other options in the niche market he was so passionate about.

Even though Strangis loved his job, "the writing was on the wall," he said of the struggling business.

"We had some really bad sales, just abysmal numbers," Strangis said, and he wasn't surprised when Christie's decided to shutter the wine department at its Los Angeles location at the end of December and put him on notice.

"I was very worried I might have to switch gears, which I was not comfortable with," Strangis said. Before looking to another industry, he started making calls. Strangis networked through Christie's New York office and even flew to Seattle to connect with other wine auctioneers.

Strangis also talked to a work acquaintance who runs a wine storage space in Los Angeles. "He's pretty well connected so I thought he might know something," he said.

And he was right. The acquaintance had strong relationships with other wine auction houses, including Zachys, a small, family-run business based in New York.

"That's how that introduction was made," Strangis explained of his new employer. Strangis flew to New York to meet with the auction director at Zachys, but unfortunately there were no openings at that time.

Then, about two months after he arrived home in L.A., he heard back from the auction director. "Out of the blue he called asking if I would be willing to relocate," Strangis said. "I couldn't say no."

While the decision to move thousands of miles away wasn't easy, Strangis decided to put his career first.

"This was the only opportunity in the wine auction business that presented itself."

Strangis negotiated a slight pay increase to compensate for the higher cost of living and drastically downsized his possessions, including his car, to fit his new New York City lifestyle. He moved east earlier this week and starts his new position, as a client services coordinator, on Monday.

"It's all happened so fast," he said. "It hasn't quite felt like reality until this morning when I got off the subway," Strangis said of his first time on the New York transit system.

A transcontinental commute

Our career experts agree that Strangis' flexibility worked in his favor.

"There's hope out there for job seekers if they're willing to be flexible" said Barbara Safani, president of Career Solvers in New York.

Job seekers need to look at where they are willing to compromise, she said, whether that's moving, staying in the same industry but doing something different, or changing industries entirely.

For others willing to relocate in order to survive in a specific industry, "it could require the upheaval of their life," said Kathy Robinson, the founder of TurningPoint, a career consulting firm in greater Boston.

And to find those openings that are few and far between, Robinson recommends networking with those in related industries, particularly vendors and suppliers. "Those are often the people that have the best contacts."

Read updates on Walker Strangis and the people previously profiled in Hired! Join the Hired! group on Facebook.

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