Pursuing Out-of-Town Jobs?

Out of State Job SearchRecently, someone asked a question on Quora.com that I answered.  The question was: “Does applying for out-of-state jobs put you at a disadvantage?”

In a tough job market, many people seek to improve their chances of landing a new job by pursuing opportunities out-of-town, out-of-state, or out of the country. While it certainly opens up a great number of new potential opportunities to do so, there is no question that there are obstacles to overcome as well. Here is my answer to the question on Quora…

Companies, and recruiters (like myself) will often shy away from an out-of-state candidate because statistically, it’s MUCH less likely for the deal to get done.

There are obviously MANY more factors that can complicate pursuing an out-of-state candidate than a local one. Examples are: logistics in arranging interviews; potential relocation costs for the hiring company; spouse or family members that aren’t willing to make the move in the last minute; sticker shock for the candidate when actually pricing relocation costs; cost of living differences; and currently a common problem… upside down mortgages.

Especially in today’s job market, where good candidates tend to be more readily available for most jobs, it makes even less sense to pursue someone that would have to relocate.

If you have a unique, and highly sought after skillset, then these issues become less of an impediment for many companies. In IT for example, if a company is beginning an SAP implementation and needs strong project management functional and technical skills for a particular module… they will most likely gladly relocate someone for that role. Those skill sets tend to be difficult to find even in this market.

If, however, as a candidate you’ve dealt with all the potential objections in advance… and in particular if you are willing to pay your own interview and relocation costs. You should make that clear to the recruiter or hiring manager. You will always be better making that case in a live conversation than by email or online. Most of the time, if a recruiter sees an out-of-state address, they will make a quick decision to disqualify that person before reading further explanations. Make a phone call and make a succinct, professional case as to why you should be considered, and your odds improve greatly.

Some people suggest not including an address on your resume and get a local phone number in the city you are pursuing. I don’t endorse that idea. It creates an impression you are trying to deceive once the truth is discovered. Also, your employment history is likely to give it away anyway.

The challenge can be overcome… however, just as in seeking a job in your own city in today’s competitive job market, you will be far more successful by actually calling and talking to people rather than just sending in a resume and waiting for a reply.


Harry Urschel has over 20 years experience as a technology recruiter in Minnesota. He currently operates as e-Executives, writes a blog for Job Seekers called The Wise Job Search, and can be found on Twitter as @eExecutives.

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