The Do’s and Don’ts of Navigating an Out-of-State Job Search

March 27, 2019 Resume Services

As a job candidate, you may have a surplus of reasons for seeking out-of-state employment. Perhaps you’re supporting your partner in their career growth, or you want to be close to your family and friends, perhaps job prospects for your industry are nonexistent where you live, or hey, maybe you’d really prefer to live anywhere else (we’re not judging; been there, done that). While these and many other reasons prompt candidates to seek employment in other states, that doesn’t mean a recruiter will find your reasons compelling enough to choose you over all local candidates. Searching for employment out-of-state and relocations are an uphill battle, so it’s important to be aware of the challenges you face. We’ve compiled a list of the top mistakes people make, as well as some good ideas to boost your odds.

Things to avoid:

Don’t omit your address and employer locations. If you have serious concerns about the privacy/safety of listing a full address, we would recommend, at a minimum, including a city and state in the contact section. Including a home address and employment locations is a very standard part of resume writing, so the second all this disappears from the page, a recruiter is going to know you’re up to something. It’s a deceptive move, and a recruiter will see right through it.

Don’t list your friend’s local address. We see this advice thrown around a lot, and sure, you might get a couple of callbacks, but at some point, you’re going to have to disclose your plans.  This approach is very “bait and switch” and may make a recruiter less likely to work with you on scheduling, especially if you need to push things out to coordinate with your current employer and figure out travel details.

“Willing to Relocate” statements on a resume are not as useful as you may think. They are vague, and more importantly, the resume isn’t an explanatory document. “Willing to” relocate is not the same thing as saying you’re in the process of packing your bags, loading the truck, and moving whether or not they hire you. IF, you do opt to list something to this effect, be more decisive and include an arrival date – this adds a sense of urgency to your job search.

Now that we’ve looked at some of the top mistakes out of state applicants make let’s discuss some strategies to maximize the likelihood you receive a callback.

Include a Cover Letter. Composing a cover letter that briefly but adequately addresses your reasons for moving to the area is of critical importance.  The more compelling your reason, the more secure a recruiter will feel in investing time and, potentially, financial assistance for travel to and from interviews and relocation. One of the major reservations recruiters have toward out-of-state candidates is that they’ll spend the time and resources to interview and hire a candidate, only for the candidate to uproot their life and later discover the city was not a good fit.

As far as what makes a reason compelling, this is subjective, but for the sake of example moving to a new city to be with a spouse or family would be stronger than, say, moving because you visited Austin, Texas once and loved it (what’s not to love?! But you get the point). You’d probably love the Bahamas if you visited there, too, but that’s not a good enough reason to move there. Recruiters will be skeptical of “vacation-mode” applicants, as they should be. It should be clear that you’ve really thought through the decision to relocate and have valid reasons for doing so. Additionally, you should be clear about your timeline and relocation expectations. Mention how soon you are looking to make a move and whether you require relocation assistance.

Follow-up. Make the time to show recruiters that you are serious about your job search and relocation plans. We recommend a follow-up strategy regardless of whether you’re applying locally or out-of-state, but especially if you’re applying out-of-state. Try connecting with the recruiter on LinkedIn or finding an email address and reach out to introduce yourself and establish a personal connection.

Other things to consider:

How specialized/in demand are your skills? Generally speaking, candidates with specialized skills or several years of experience in an in-demand field will have an easier time getting callbacks period. If you are applying to entry-level or junior roles, it’s less likely your skillset will overshadow the local applicant pool.

Relocation Assistance. Make sure you go into your job search with a clear idea of how much it’s going to cost to move and do some research on the cost of living and housing to ensure you’ve factored all the odds and ends when negotiating your salary and any relocation packages. It’s important to keep in mind that relocation assistance is usually only offered for mid to senior level positions, and it is rare that a company will pay to move a candidate for an entry-level role. The exception here is for soon-to-be college graduates. Some larger companies tend to recruit students from partner schools to fill positions across the country (attend your university’s job fairs and company information sessions to learn more about your options).

If a company does extend a relocation package, make sure you understand how the package works. Some companies will cut you a check, some pay for items as you go, and others require that you front the costs and reimburse approved expenses after you’re officially on the company payroll.

Internal Relocation. If you work at a larger company with multiple offices, it would be worth exploring internal promotions and transfer opportunities. It can make the entire process a bit smoother.

One final piece of advice: make sure your resume and cover letter documents are up to date, accurately describe your career and goals, and triple check for grammar/spelling (not sure how you stack up? Submit your resume for a free critique today!). Regardless of what you do, out-of-state applications and relocations DO require more effort and your response rate WILL suffer, but by being prepared and starting your job search with the right expectations, you can help curb the feeling of defeat. Good luck and happy hunting!