Probably one of the biggest lies I tell myself and others as a journalist looking for work is that “I’ll go wherever the jobs are.” I tell someone this and all of a sudden I sound like a hungry up-and-coming new writer who is prepared to forge out into the job market and make something of himself no matter where he ends up. Pretty good, right? Plus it beats the more complex truth which is “I’ll go wherever the jobs are in a city I like.” This is where sites like step in with their lists of the top cities with the “best job growth.”  I’m not sure how helpful these articles are…

Their most recent compilation comes from 2007, but it is a good overall look at job growth trends. I have to be honest, I don’t really want to move to Raleigh, North Carolina. Phoenix also looks less appealing now that they are trying to crack down on illegal immigrants. I’m pretty sure I don’t look like I’ve taken up residence illegally, but I don’t want to embarrass an Arizona police officer just trying to do his job.  In fact, out of the top ten cities, Honolulu is the most appealing. But is that for job growth or, well, because it’s Hawaii?

Moreover, Forbes neglects to mention what industries in these cities are hiring. The newspaper industry doesn’t appear to be hiring in any city, I can tell you that from personal experience. So what’s the next step? Throw a dart at a map and hope for the best?

As someone who is chest-deep in the application and hiring process it all seems like an arbitrary thing to me. I’ve decided to focus on a city and move there. I’m looking at the Dallas-Fort Worth area (#49 and #47 respectively). I’ve explained, before, how well it’s going. Be that as it may, I’m not discouraged. I’m going to make it to Dallas and when I get there, I’ll be happy because it will be a minor accomplishment along my career path.

In the end, these lists are just that, numbers and information compiled to give people a sense of direction. There is no promise of a job waiting in these cities, you still have to make that happen. I try to keep that in mind when I look at these articles, otherwise, I’d be off to Phoenix, AZ.

Go where you’ll be happiest. The rest will work itself out.