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Long-Distance Job Searching

Long-Distance Job Searching

Alison Green | Ask A Manager

A reader writes:

I am looking for a position in another city. I am applying for positions that I am well qualified for and would easily be asked for an interview if I was local. However it seems I keep getting turned away because I am out of state. I have stated in my cover letter that of course I will pay for all relocation costs but this does not seem like it is enough. Why I am not given a chance at these positions? It is quite frustrating. Any advice?

You’ve got to keep in mind that even local job-searching is really hard right now. In fact, I’m not so sure that you can assume that these are positions you “would easily be asked” to interview for if you were local — not because I know anything about your qualifications, but because no one is having an easy time getting interviews right now, local or not.

But yes, the bar can be higher if you’re not local — although it really depends on the position. For entry-level jobs, a lot of employers will focus only on local candidates because there’s no shortage of good ones, but for higher-level positions, most companies will consider non-locals. (And the higher level you go, the more that’s assumed.) Are there some that won’t? Of course, just like you can find some companies using other bad hiring practices too, but that doesn’t mean they’re the majority.

(That said, if I were choosing between two great candidates who were equally qualified in every way and I needed a deal-breaker, I’d go with the local person over the long-distance person — because (a) they can generally start sooner and (b) if it ended up not working out, I’d feel a lot less guilty firing someone who didn’t move for the job. But it’s rare that two people are really so equally qualified.)

In any case, there are a few things non-local job-seekers can do that will help:

State in your cover letter that you are planning to move to to the area soon (and possibly explain why, if your reasons are ones you’re willing to share, as that can make employers more comfortable moving forward with an out-of-state applicant). For instance, you might say, “I am in the process of planning a relocation to California to join my partner” or whatever your reason is. State explicitly that you don’t need relocation assistance.

On your resume, list your contact info like this:

Joe Smith
Relocating in October to Seattle
(555) 555-1212

But overall, keep in mind that the job market really sucks right now. Being long-distance does make it harder, but you’ve also got to factor in that a lot of good people aren’t getting interviews right at home either.

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