job hunting in small towns

Finding a job in your own backyard

November 17, 2011: 10:26 AM ET

Tired of a long daily commute? Consider these strategies for launching a job hunt close to home.

By Anne Fisher, contributor

FORTUNE -- Dear Annie: For the past several years, I've been commuting almost two hours each way, from my home in a small-ish town to my office in a major city. When I took this job, I didn't realize it would take so long to get to work -- and it wouldn't, if the traffic weren't so horrendous. I like my job, but the hours I spend on the road every day are taking a toll (headaches, backache, insomnia). Moving closer to the city isn't an option, since I bought my house at the peak of the real estate boom and now owe more on it than it's worth in this market.

I'd like to start looking for a job near where I live, but two problems: First, this might sound crazy, but I really don't know anyone in the area, since I spend nearly all my waking hours in the car or at the office (or the gym) in the city. And second, there are no big employers nearby, so no obvious places to start searching. Any suggestions? — Road Weary

Dear R.W.: You don't say where you live, but for your sake, I hope it isn't in L.A. A study released earlier this week by researchers at Texas A&M University says that six of the seven most congested roads in the U.S. are in or around Los Angeles.

The absolute worst, the report notes, is "a 3-mile stretch of northbound Highway 110 near Dodger Stadium," where commuters spend an annual total of over 1.4 million hours stuck in traffic, burning up 2.1 million gallons of gas. More

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