how to find a job long-distance

Think the job market is hard now? Try searching for a job in another state. Job seekers who are looking long-distance will tell you that the search is exponentially harder when you’re not a local candidate.

Many employers won’t even bother to talk to nonlocal job applicants. That might seem unfair, but their reasons make sense from their perspective. First and foremost, if they have plenty of well-qualified local candidates, they don’t have any particular need or incentive to take on the hassles of long-distance candidates. And there are hassles – unlike local candidates, long-distance job seekers can’t generally come in for an interview tomorrow, often expect travel expenses to be paid by the company, typically can’t start as soon as local candidates can and sometimes require relocation assistance. What’s more, long-distance candidates sometimes change their mind about moving at the end of the hiring process (or even after they’ve already accepted the job) – or worse, have trouble adjusting to the new area once on the job and leave to move back home just a few months into their employment.

So it’s not surprising that many employers simply choose not to deal with long-distance candidates. But then where does that leave you, if you’re trying to find a job somewhere else?

Finding a job long-distance isn’t impossible, but it will usually be harder. Here are five ways to improve your chances.

1. Gird yourself for a longer search. Unless you have a strongly in-demand skill set, or you’re very lucky, a long-distance search is going to take longer. Prepare yourself for that in advance, so that you don’t become frustrated and demoralized.

2. Explain yourself upfront. Offer some context in your cover letter to explain why you’re seeking a job in this particular area, so that employers have some context for your application. For instance, you might explain that you’re in the process of moving to their area to join your partner, who took a job there, or that you’re from the area and excited to move back where your family is. Offering some type of explanation will help employers see you less as a long-distance candidate and more as a candidate who’s in the process of becoming local. Speaking of which…

3. The more that you can make your move sound like a done deal, the better. Employers are skittish about out-of-town candidates for all the reasons discussed above. So the more that you can make the move sound like something that is already in the works, the more you mitigate that disadvantage. Explaining that your move is already in process or specifying a date or time frame by which you hope to be living in the area can help in that regard.

4. Put the new location on your résumé. Many employers read résumés before they even look at cover letters, so take steps on your résumé to fight the out-of-town candidate stigma there too. For instance, you can put “(relocating to California)” directly below your address, or even use a local address if you have friends or family already living in the location you’re targeting. (If you do the latter, though, be sure that you’re prepared for the possibility that you’ll be called and asked to come in for an interview as soon as tomorrow.)

5. Make it as easy as possible for the employer to interview and hire you. Since one reason employers are wary of dealing with out-of-town candidates is the hassle involved, do everything you can to minimize that hassle. That can mean covering your own travel expenses, paying higher prices for last-minute plane tickets, forgoing relocation assistance and figuring out how you can start as soon as possible if you’re offered the job.

I originally published this at U.S. News & World Report.

{ 146 comments… read them below }

  1. kdizzle*

    Spot on. I’ve relocated for my spouse’s career three times, and have successfully conducted a job search from a different state three times.

    In some instances, I think it can even be looked at as a positive by the hiring party. An employer knows you have serious continued interest if you drove seven hours just to talk to them.

  2. Dani X*

    What about when there isn’t a place you want to move to specifically – it’s just that the area you currently are living in has no jobs that suit your abilities?

    1. Elle D*

      I wouldn’t tell the company that – your best bet is to have every company you apply to think you are already committed to moving to that city.

      1. Dani X*

        But what can you say to sound convincing about moving there? You cant say you are moving to join a spouse or reconnect with family if you are already in the area your family lives! Just lie about what a great city it is and how you always wanted to live there?

        1. Anonymous*

          Are there some cities you genuinely do like and think are great? I would focus on jobs in those cities.

      2. Another Cat*

        I don’t think it’s that big of a deal. If you are committed to their cause/work/mission, they’ll go after you.

    2. Stephanie*

      I’m in the same boat. I just tell them some tidbit about the area that makes it sound like I’m invested in moving there (“Oh, I want to move back to the mid-Atlantic” or “I went to college in Texas and want to head back” or “I have family in Michigan”) and have at least thought through the realities of moving.

      It’s frustrating, I’ll admit.

    3. Ed*

      I would recommend against admitting that you want to get out of your current town, even if you have a legit reason like lack of jobs. “I really want to move to Kansas City” sounds much better than “I desperately want to leave Omaha”. I think it’s like the difference between “I really want to date you” vs. “I can’t stand the person I’m currently dating”. Your gut instinct is to hold out for someone that isn’t using you to escape a bad situation.

      I’ve found that even the most rinky dink company still expects applicants to say how much they want to work there (when common sense would suggest that you never heard of them until you saw the ad). I’ve been sent on interviews for a 3-month contract job and they ask what makes me want to work there. Uh, because you need someone who knows X for a project, I know X and need the money? I just think there is no escaping our intrinsic need to hear “because I’ve always dreamed of working at Acme Waste! (…for 3 months and then never coming back)”.

      1. Stephanie*

        I’ve been sent on interviews for a 3-month contract job and they ask what makes me want to work there. Uh, because you need someone who knows X for a project, I know X and need the money? I just think there is no escaping our intrinsic need to hear “because I’ve always dreamed of working at Acme Waste! (…for 3 months and then never coming back)”.

        HA, yeah this is annoying. I interviewed for a contract job that would last six months. It felt farcical to talk about how much I looked forward to working at Acme Waste when they barely guaranteed six months of work.

      2. Dani X*

        For me the issue is that the jobs I would like to have are not in the place I live. I really do like it here and I would like to stay, but i like having a roof over my head and food in my belly more. I don’t really have a “oh my god – I always wanted to live there” city and I am easy going enough that I figure I could be happy most places. So how to convey that without insulting anyone? I have a stable job right now, but I a brushing my resume off and it is only a matter of time until I start looking so I am just kinda getting ideas.

        Obviously an address in another town is a no go since I won’t have that. But is just saying “I visited Texas once and liked it so thought I would live there for a while” good enough when honestly you don’t care all that much if the job is in Texas or Florida.

        1. Sunflower*

          I think by doing some research and saying what genuinely seems to interest you about the city. Every city has a very different culture and appeals to different things. If you can get a grasp on that, you can find some things that would attract you to a particular city besides just having jobs available.

          Some cities are more booming than others. I’m sure you’re looking at some places that are rapidly developing which I think would be really exciting to work in. Being in a place where new company’s are flowing in and there is new business to be had is a pretty good example to me.

          I think you should look at what cities are appearing to have the most available and focus on them. Do some solid research on those cities and you won’t have to be making something up or doing more research for every job you apply to.

        2. LAI*

          I agree with Sunflower. I would be very wary if someone told me “I am easy going enough that I figure I could be happy most places.” People always think something is not that important until they lose it, or won’t be hard to deal with until it’s every day of your life for the foreseeable future. It will sound much better for employers if you say that you’ve done your research about living in that area, you’re excited about the pros and you’ve decided that you’re ok with living with the cons.

  3. Celeste*

    Yes, exactly. I’ve been the trailing spouse. The only thing I can think of to add is that if you know you’re moving there, try to get your cell phone number changed to one in the local area code as soon as you can. If spouse/partner goes first, visit and take care of it. Then you can put it on a resume.

    1. Anonymous*

      I don’t think cell phone number is that big of an issue. People relocate all the time and don’t bother ever changing their phone number. It’s very common to see people with out-of-state area codes who actually locally (at least in my experience).

      1. Eden*

        You can also get a Google Voice number for your local area code (it’s free, and rings your current cell phone), but be warned! I just found out that one employer I was interviewing with could not call my Google Voice number. And Google Voice does not show missed calls, unless the caller leaves a message (at which point it hilariously ‘transcribes’ the message and sends it to your email).

        I was worried about not appearing ‘local’ on my applications, but I think if you have a local address, no one really does care about your phone number.

        1. BeenThere*

          Google Voice shows my missed calls, it sends me an email when I have one and it also shows up in the missed calls list on the Google voice page.

      2. The IT Manager*

        I’m not sure. I think it depends on the industry and town. I was in the military and know a lot of people who moved every 3 years or so, and many have given up changing their cell phone number with each move. But I think in some places and industry without a history of frequent movers, an out of town phone number is a sign of a non-local.

  4. Jill*

    This is GREAT advice. My friend and I are moving from Southern California to Chicago and we followed all of these steps and we both have had a handful of interviews. We have found that employers are so curious as to why we are moving so make sure you have a very solid reason. The new address has made a huge difference too (even if it is a relatives).

    1. Ed*

      That’s interesting. Like I would suspect with most people, I’ve only tried to move from relatively unpopular areas to popular ones. I wonder if moving from a popular area generates interest instead of becoming a red flag?

        1. Stephanie*

          Ha, I interviewed for something in Detroit and I’m sure the interviewers were thinking “What the eff? It’s five degrees here and she wants to leave Arizona?”

          For me, since I’m out of work, I’m trying to be flexible (and using that as an asset). My last two positions were also horrible fits, so I’m really trying to emphasize the position (over the geography).

          If finding the right job means breaking out the sleeping bag coat and moon boots, then so be it. I figure I can get pickier once I have way more experience under my belt.

            1. BeenThere*

              Yes!!! I’d move somewhere cold as long as I could snow board a few months in the year :)

      1. The IT Manager*

        I think both southern California and Chicago sound like popular areas to me. I’m not sure why people love Chicago so much because the weather sounds horrible, but it seems to be a very popular place to work and live for some people.

        1. Anon*

          I re-located to Chicago from the mid-Atlantic about a year and a half ago for a new job and it’s definitely not been easy adjusting to the horrific winters (especially this past one — coldest and third-snowiest on record!).

          However, the city has so much to offer with museums, theaters, thriving neighborhoods, restaurants, several universities, great public transit and a really low cost of living compared with other large cities (I think average rent for a one-bedroom apartment is below $1,000 — but don’t quote me on that!). Plus a great public park system and very bike-friendly downtown (if we ever thaw out!).

          1. Jamie*

            I don’t think we have a really low cost of living unless you’re comparing us to NYC or LA – in which case we practically live for free. :)

            I’m with you on the weather. Woke up to several inches of wet, heavy snow which my sainted boys had to clear off the driveway so I could get to work.

            Whilst they did that I was taking a shower in the dark since we lost power right after I woke up at 5:00 am (thank goodness my husband was able to make coffee before that or I wouldn’t have made it through.)

            Got to work to spend the morning bringing the network back up from our power outage here.

            Com Ed and I are so fighting right now. They don’t care, but I’m never speaking to them again.

            (Power still out at the house – really looking forward to going home and eating pizza in the dark.)

            1. HR lady*

              Oooh, someone should invent a coffee machine that runs on a battery!

              Sorry about your power :(

            2. Audiophile*

              Jamie, sorry about your power issues.

              I’m in NY, and while we haven’t lost power, thankfully, we’re definitely tired of seeing this fluffy, white stuff. I thought the 2010 snow was crazy, but this is nothing. I missed more work last month, because I couldn’t get out of the driveway. It really made me think I need to move, somewhere without snow.

            3. Elizabeth West*

              My sister lives near Chicago and wants me to move there. No way. Too cold, I told her. If I moved to a big city in the U.S., it would probably be in California.

              Of course, if I could pick anywhere, it would be London, but that’s a pipe dream at the mo.

  5. Dan*

    Interesting. I work in data analytics, and we don’t face these kinds of issues. Employers don’t think twice about talking to out-of-area candidates. They pay our travel expenses without a second thought. For my last go at job hunting, I had an interview in Ohio — I have some minor personal reasons for moving to the general area, but really, the biggest selling point for me cheaper cost of living. In my field, they don’t second guess us — if we say we’re willing, they take us at our word.

  6. Ethyl*

    Question on this — a lot of jobs I am looking at involve a background check or security clearance prior to employment. Would putting my sister’s address down on my resume and having the company find out that I don’t *actually* live there be….bad? It’s hard to see how “lying on your resume” looks good for any reason, but it seems like it might be more understandable? Am I overthinking this?

    1. AmyNYC*

      Lots of people have different mailing address and living at addresses.
      I see nothing wrong with using a local address (or better yet, “Currently in Kansas, relocating to Oz in October 2014.”) but once you speak to a human – phone or person, do not pretend you already live in Oz.

      1. De Minimis*

        I think in general you would fill out a separate form for the security clearance where you’d list your actual addresses. I don’t think it’s likely they would compare that with your resume.

        Even if they did, it could probably be cleared up by letting the investigator know about the situation.

    2. Sunflower*

      As far as security clearances, I have a TON of friends who still use their parents address as their main address so that isn’t weird at all. All my credit cards/student loans and official address is my parents house. It would be way too much of a hassle to change it considering my mail is shotty- sometimes I get it, sometimes I don’t and I move apts every year.

    3. Ethyl*

      Thanks everyone! I suspected I was overthinking it. I haven’t used my parents’ address as my “permanent” address since I graduated college, but it’s good to know there’s precedent :)

  7. Stephanie*

    I had a recruiter once tell me it looked bad I had worked in a few different parts of the country, that it made me look indecisive. I’m not really sure how I would have “fixed” that on a resume? Omitted the job locations?

    1. the gold digger*

      What? That doesn’t make sense to me. I have worked in Houston, in Austin, in Miami, in Cedar Rapids, in Memphis, in Chile, and in the Frozen North. Nobody has ever, ever given me that kind of feedback. And I get interviews. (Two last week, one this week.)

      1. Stephanie*

        No…I didn’t get it either. I’m also 27, so seems like this is the time when that would be ok. Arizona’s kind of insular, so that was my only guess as to why she’d take umbrage to bouncing around the country.

        And again…I don’t know what I do with that kind of feedback? Just say every job was in one area?

        1. the gold digger*

          I would say that you have highly-sought-after skills that many employers have wanted and you have been at a point in your life where you could travel and have that kind of adventure, but now you want to settle down, etc, etc.

          1. Stephanie*

            Oooh, thanks! I mean…that is the only instance I’ve had someone question that. It was odd, especially since she was recruiting for jobs in a different city (same state, however).

    2. Mouse*

      What? I wouldn’t think that at all. Actually, to me it would make you seem interesting and experienced. You learn a huge amount by living in different parts of the country.

  8. Julia*

    This is what scares me about my next job search. I work in a remote location in the tropics. (Yes, I get hardship pay and go scuba diving after work) I love my job and do not want to leave for at least a couple of years.

    However, I eventually will have to leave paradise. I don’t want to relocate back to where I am originally from so anywhere is open.

    I don’t think I am prepared to leave a good job without something already lined up. However, how am I going to get interviews? Sorry, the internet is to slow for streaming and flights are on Fridays and every other Tuesday?

    Again, a couple years down the road, but it still bugs me. (I am very prepared to answer how you respond to difficult work conditions.)

  9. Anonymous*

    Has anyone here actually had success with putting a friend or family member’s address on your resume? And managers, how would you feel if you found out a candidate used a different address? I keep seeing that advice given to job-seekers , but I’ve never really heard any success stories from it. It just seems like individuals directly correlate using a friends’ address with getting more calls, and I wonder if that’s really the case. To me, it seems deceitful. And I feel like you would be “found out” quickly anyway–especially if you got the job. I’m just wondering if it’s better to fake an address than leave it off entirely, or to put something simple like “Relocating to City X in May?”

    This whole process is frustrating as a graduating senior who is trying to relocate (and not even that far–from one Midwestern city to another). It’s almost as if you need to know exactly where you want to live from the moment you choose a university!

    1. Ed*

      I personally never felt comfortable doing that but I know it is common. I figure eventually it will come out when they want to schedule an interview so I would rather just be up front. I had a friend get called back for 9 (!!) follow-up interviews recently. While that is very uncommon (it was a very senior position at a large salary), I could never afford to travel to my destination city that many times and burn all those vacation days just for a shot at a job.

    2. Stephanie*

      I’ve successfully done the friend’s address thing once. I don’t know if I’d do it again TBH. Luckily, my mom had extra airline miles so I could swing a last-minute cross-country flight. If you are going to do that, be prepared to shell out big bucks for a last-minute flight and to move with little notice.

    3. Sunflower*

      I think you are given a little more lenience being a recent grad. You don’t have a job already tying you down and your schedule is probably pretty open. I went to a school in the middle of no where so I think 2 people stayed in the area and everyone else didn’t. I didn’t really start applying to jobs til after graduation and I had moved home (not the best idea)- I mostly just talked to recruiters that came to our school so i don’t have a whole lot of info on applying long distance. But I would think because they see you are in school, they figure you won’t necessarily stay in that area after graduation, at least from my experience.

    4. Denise*

      I have. At the time I was living in NJ and was looking for jobs in NYC. An interviewer told me she wouldn’t consider anyone from NJ because the commute was “too far,” despite the fact that thousands of people commute from NJ to NYC every single day. I started using a cousin’s Manhattan address on my resume and landed a job within a week. Go figure.

  10. Ed*

    I’ve attempted to relocate several times and it’s typically harder than you would expect. I would even state in my cover letter that I already sold my home, have no dependents and have extended family in the area I can stay with when I first move there. I could literally give two weeks notice and start in week three just like local candidates. I still usually got the runaround. When I was interviewed, they would often tell me I was their “safety candidate” in case they couldn’t find anyone local. I finally got really lucky and stumbled upon a temporary job at a local branch that was closing (so employees were leaving in droves). I worked out a deal to prove myself while helping to close the branch and then relocate to my target city. They obviously could have screwed me over but it all worked out as planned.

    1. Stephanie*

      Yeah, I’ve wanted to say “I’m living at my parents’ and have no dependents. I CAN BE THERE IN TWO WEEKS.” But I know no one likes desperation, so I end up saying something that interests me about the area.

      1. Anonymous*

        I successfully got a job out-of-state and I always mentioned that I was relocating on X date and if it fit with their hiring timeline, I’d love to be considered for the position. I actually had quite a few interviews and two job offers before even arriving in the state. If you can move at a moment’s notice, couldn’t you write something like what I wrote — that you’ll be relocating to the area in 2 weeks? It might not be true yet, but if they hire you, it would/could be.

  11. Ali*

    I have tried to apply for jobs a few times in NYC (of all places, I know) with NO luck. I have family in the area, and I have offered to be available for interviews when I know I will be in the city (I have stayed with my sister there for a week at a time at periods), said I would pay my own expenses and put that I was relocating on my resume and/or cover letter. Nothing yet. Plus, from where I live, there are people who commute to NYC every day at their own cost (the bus service does have passes available though), so that is an option for a while…albeit not a fun one…until I save up for a move. I know I want to live there, having explored neighborhoods outside of the tourist traps, but yet I never get calls.

    Most of my family is local to where I live now, so there’s not that many areas I can look into where I know even friends. I’ve just had no luck yet even explaining things, but I’ll take these tips to heart and see what happens.

    1. Sunflower*

      How far are you from NYC? I am in Philly so I’m in a similar spot where I can easily get there- I also know people who commute to NYC from here everyday- so getting no interviews is SOOO annoying. I think it’s about finding the right place and industry too. My friend was trying to go from Philly to NYC, he had previously worked in the city and gave all signs he was good to go. It took him about 8 months to get a job there with a start-up. It was harder for big company’s to look at him.

      I’ve mostly applied at magazine publishers and feel I’m probably getting passed over because there is so much local competition. I’m in the same boat though and it’s terrible! I’ve thought about moving to Chicago and can’t imagine how much more difficult that would be considering how difficult a city that is 1.5 hours away is…

      1. Ali*

        About 2.5 hours away. I have done the trips for day outings and overnight several times before. So it’s not like I’ve never been there!

        1. Dang*

          If it makes you feel any better, I live in the NYC suburbs (CT) and can’t even get interviews there. I’ve gotten more in Philadelphia.

    2. Stephanie*

      I actually managed to get an interview in NYC, even with my Arizona address on my resume. I was really surprised to be honest. But then, I think what helped is that it was kind of a specialized position. I also didn’t get the job, so the distance may have been a factor.

      My friend said at her job, usually their issue with long-distance candidates is that they’re not always realistic about the realities of living there: cost of living (especially wrt what’d you’d get for your money), commute times, and trying to find housing.

    3. AmyNYC*

      This came up in an open thread a few weeks ago, but unless you HAVE to move to New York, please reconsider. It’s not “Sex and the City,” it’s not “Friends,” it’s crazy crowded and expensive.
      At the very least, look up cost of living calculators, see what you can actually afford (hi, random roommates from Craigslist), and best of luck.

      1. Ali*

        I don’t have unrealistic expectations of living in the city and know it’s nothing like those TV shows. Kind of annoying to make the assumption that I do think that way. But whatever.

      2. Sunflower*

        I travel to NYC every couple months for work and I’ve talked to lots of people there about cost of living vs salary since that is a big concern of mine. Most my of friends seem to be doing okay, probably living better than I am in Philly. Do you know a lot of people who moved to New York thinking it was sex and the city? I honestly thought it was common knowledge that no one lives that way there.

        1. Stephanie*

          Hmmm, I don’t think it’s that. I think it’s more little things like not realizing how small apartments are, how old buildings are (thermostat? what thermostat?), how rundown the neighborhood would be, not having laundry in the building, commute times, the cost of groceries, etc. I think all those in combination can really be a downer if you’re not expecting it.

          I experienced some of this moving from Texas to DC (where the COL isn’t anywhere as bad as (some parts) of NYC). I knew it was “more expensive”, but didn’t really understand that what meant (aside from higher rent) until I moved there. Of course, once I got settled in, I definitely adjusted my expectations, but it was a pretty big shock.

        2. AmyNYC*

          Sadly, I do. I’ve had a few younger friends (kids of my parents friends) want information about NYC and assume they’ll waltz off a bus, find a cheap apartment and a plush publishing job and be set. I’m not picking on you, Ali; I’m just warning you that it’s not the glittery playground some people expect.

    4. Katie*

      I found a job in NYC while living in another city on the east coast. I do have ties to the city that were obvious in my resume, but I hadn’t worked there before. It also depends on what kind of work you’re looking for, and what your skill set is. I was hired for some specific skills and content knowledge that gained on the job. I had a lot more trouble finding work before gaining those skills.

  12. Denise*

    I am trying to get a job in a new career field. Right now I have a note at the bottom of my cover letter: “My class was told that entry-level would probably have to relocate. So this is something I have thought over and accepted.”

    Do you think I should put “willing to relocate” under my name on the resume? Instead of an address? Like this:

    My Name
    Happy/Willing to relocate
    Phone number

    My address is on my cover letter.

    And I just thought that maybe I should change the cover letter note to “thought over and am looking forward to.”

    Any help would be greatly appreciated! :-)

    1. thenoiseinspace*

      No – that sounds like it’s an option. Don’t make it optional. Say “relocating to CityX on DateX.” Even if it’s not true yet, you should make it sound like it’s a done deal and you won’t flake on them.

      1. Sunflower*

        Yes I think this is the key. You need to show you are going to be in this area whether you get this job or not. Maybe you are planning to only relocate if you get the job but the idea that you’ll be there no matter what gives the company confidence in you. All you have to do is make sure you can be there by then.

        1. Dani X*

          What if you can’t? I have a house…. I would need to sell it or have a relocation package to help with that.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            It’s going to make the job search harder, unless you have very in-demand skills (or are at such a senior level that it’s assumed many top candidates will be non-local). Not impossible necessarily, but harder.

            1. Dani X*

              So what would you suggest? Putting in the I would love to move to your city and then not bother with a “and I will be there by X date”. And then see what happens? If I get a job I can always rent out my house if it doesn’t sell, and there are always options. But there is no way I could possibly just up and move on a moment’s notice.

              No I am not in a senior level, I don’t know if my skills are in high demand but I wouldn’t count on it. I can’t be the only person in the situation where you want to move but have a house so isn’t as easy as just picking up and going.

              1. Anonymous*

                I was in this situation but we just made a decision to move. We planned for about two years, met with the realtor to discuss when to put the house on the market if we wanted to move by a certain date, put the house on the market at the time he suggested and in the meantime, sold a lot of our stuff, saved plenty of money and paid off as much debt as we could. My partner was able to transfer to a different location (but there still needed to be an open position and he still needed to interview for it). I found a job before arriving in the new state. It is harder with a house because a lot still has to go right. We got lucky because the house sold in the time we expected it to and we had an amazing realtor. It’s hard, and it’s not something you can really do on a whim when you own a home.

              2. Anonymous*

                Also, we did not live in a high-demand housing market – houses were relatively slow to sell. We were able to price it reasonably and basically did EVERYTHING the realtor suggested as far as staging, showings, accepting offers, etc.

              3. Ask a Manager* Post author

                I think you’re looking for a formula for how to make it happen, and the reality is that there isn’t one. It will be harder if you can’t do the stuff I talked about in the article. That sucks, I know, but it’s the reality of it.

                Employers aren’t there to give everyone a fair shot; they’re making decisions that make sense for them.

                1. Dani X*

                  You are right – I am an engineer and like having everything fit into a nice formula. Do this and then that and things work out it so much nicer then the alternative! I guess I have to just bite the bullet and throw my resume out there and see what happens. :-)

          2. Malissa*

            Get ready to move anyway. Start selling off excess goods. Pack things up. Make it so you can move quick. Squirrel away money like Scrooge McDuck.
            This way when the right opportunity come along you can jump on it.
            If you are serious about relocating get your house listed now. Pack as much stuff as you can and put it in storage. If your house sells, find a rental. All of this makes it easier to relocate. If you aren’t that serious, then you can look for those companies that have relocation benefits.
            I was lucky enough to have enough time to start wrapping things up before I relocated. I even thought we had our house sold. Nine months later I’m still trying to sell it. So not everything goes as planned, but if you prepare enough everything can still happen.
            Good luck!

        2. Denise*

          But I’m NOT going to be there no matter what. Offer me a job and I’ll move. And that sounds really snarky. Sorry.

          It’s just…I have thought a lot about moving. I accept that I WILL be moving. Fine. I’m not danceing a jig – but I won’t complain about it either.

          And I don’t understand this idea that someone would accept a position ( in a different city) and then change their mind because they didn’t want to move. That makes NO sense. None. Zero. Zip. You applied to a different city. Didn’t you think that though? (general you)

          1. Anonymous*

            You must know some people who don’t really think things through. Maybe someone thought it would be a great idea to move and when the reality set in, realized they didn’t want to after all. Or maybe a situation at home changed for them (family emergency, health issue, money issue). You or I wouldn’t plan a move across the country on a whim, but not everyone is like us :)

            1. Denise*

              I can be annoyed at them for causing trouble for those of us that HAVE thought it through, right?

              Did the canidate say WHY they changed their mind? Any specifics? What could I say to reassure you that I will NOT be doing that?

              A radical home change I can understand – but it doesn’t sound like that is what is usually happening.

            2. NylaW*

              A family/health/money emergency is a whole other thing that can make it so someone is unable to relocate, without taking away from the fact that they may still really want to.

              That’s different than someone who is a poor planner or incredibly indecisive and starts down a path to relocate and get another job and then just doesn’t for a reason that may only make sense to them. I had a friend like this and she made all sorts of half-assed plans to move here or there, looked for jobs and interviewed, and then just decided not to move because she became enamored with another city or company.

          2. De Minimis*

            I think sometimes if the relocation means having to leave family [maybe even a long-term separation from your spouse, as some are having to do for work these days] , the reality of it might not set in until later on. I had to do that, and honestly if I had a chance to do it all over, I probably would not.

            And unfortunately, that is a big reason why a lot of employers don’t want to take a chance on long distance candidates. Since I’ve been here, we’ve had at least two not pan out, and one of those was one where we’d paid relocation costs. In my case I was probably hired because I grew up in the area and had family there, and was able to play the “wanna go back home” card.

            1. Denise*

              I don’t have a spouse and my adult kid will be staying in the house – so no selling problems. I have a sibling in the city to keep an eye on our parents – none of this seems to be stuff you put in a cover letter.

              And I’m boggeling at the idea that you PAID someone to move and they still backed out. Did they have to pay it back?

              1. De Minimis*

                I think they eventually did, or at least a payment plan was set up. That was handled more by our regional headquarters.

                It would have been better if they’d backed out, they actually reported to work but quit after their first week. We had the moving expenses floating around in our financial system for the rest of the fiscal year. Some of it is the organization’s fault, I think they work too hard to recruit people from out of the area for positions they consider hard to fill, but they could probably do as well if they focused more within the state or nearby states instead of halfway across the country.

                1. Denise - Biomed*

                  So they were already there!?!

                  So I HAVE to come up with some good wording to combat the perceptions left behind by that guy.

                  Wonderful >:-(

              2. De Minimis*

                They were a she, and she claimed there was a family emergency involving a parent, so she would have to move back. Which is quite possible, although generally if there’s the possibility of that type of situation it’s probably ill-advised to do a long distance relocation for work. But I’ve known others who have had to quit jobs before due to a parent’s medical situation, so I know how it can be–especially if the parent lives in an area with few jobs and can’t or won’t move.

                1. Denise - Biomed*

                  I am a little worried about my parents. But at this point I have been unemployed for a loooong time and will move to the opposite coast for a job. And my parents would prefer me to move to the opposite coast over staying here with no job – I am going insane. And unfortunately that is not being figurative.

                  And I do wonder if she checked other options beside moving back.

                2. Anonna Miss*

                  My mother took a new job that relocated her to a different part of the state she was living in. Shortly after she started, she went to visit my grandfather on a pre-planned trip, and saw that his health was such that he could no longer live by himself. He refused to move to where she lived, or even to assisted living. She ended up suddenly quitting, having to retire early (against all personal, professional, and financial plans she had), and moving to the small podunk town where he lived in order to take care of him. There were no jobs for her, or anyone, there. She was not happy about leaving that company high and dry, retiring earlier than planned, uprooting her life, or any of it really.

                  (My lesson learned: Don’t rely on being able to take care of myself in old age, and be willing to relocate to assisted living or whatever.)

    2. fposte*

      “My class was told that entry-level would probably have to relocate. So this is something I have thought over and accepted.”

      I would find this a strange sentence–it’s passive and reluctant and it includes information that as a hiring manager I don’t care about. You’re young and flexible and you therefore can prioritize finding a good position over geography. That’s true, right? And it’s a lot more lively a statement than something that basically says “They told us we can’t just look in town, which I guess I can deal with.”

      1. Denise*

        Well, I am prioritizing a position over geography.

        Not young – this will be my second career and that is very obvious from my resume.

        I CAN be moved to a new place in 2 weeks – figure I’ll stay in a motel until I can find a place to rent.

        As a hiring manager what would you like to see? How do I explain that I am willing to move but would not move without a job? There aren’t a lot of entry-level positions.

        Wording help? Please? I’m better at bullet points and memos.

        And I will be deleting that sentance from my cover letter :-P

        1. Malissa*

          Just say in this economy I would like to have a job secured before I move. It is a truly reasonable thing to say.

        2. Ask a Manager* Post author

          To be honest, I think finding an entry-level job from another state, especially as a career changer, is going to be really hard. Not impossible, but it’s possible that you might not be able to do it this way. There’s just no real incentive for employers when they have plenty of well qualified local candidates. Is there another way to achieve what you want here — either by looking locally or moving outright or something else?

          1. Denise*

            I am a Biomedical Engineering Tech. There aren’t a lot of candidates. The moving comes into play because most Biomeds find a spot and stay till they retire, so if the area doesn’t have a lot of retirements coming up…..

            I am keeping an eye out locally – but the 1 retirement coming up is in a hospital that is cutting staff. There is a decent chance that his position will not be filled.

            Melisa – I’m borrowing your wording! Thanks :-)

          2. Denise - Biomed*

            Just noticed that there is another Denise!

            Alison – does the field change you answer? muttering: please say yes, please say yes

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Well, that answer above was in response to Denise at 2:18 p.m., who was changing careers and looking for an entry-level position.

              I don’t know a lot (well, anything) about the market for biomedical engineering techs, but if candidates are in-demand, that make an out-of-state job search enormously easier.

              1. Denise - Biomed*

                That was me :-)

                I’d don’t know that in-demand is the right word – more like “the bean counters approved another body! happy dance! I might find my desk sometime this year!”

                I thought I had investigated well before choosing this path, but apparently not WELL ENOUGH. dang it

      2. HR lady*

        Denise, I just wanted to agree with fposte that the wording of those 2 sentences would not inspire me to interview/hire you because it sounds like you are very reluctant to relocate. I like Malissa’s suggestion better, or even something like “I am very willing to relocate. In this economy I would like to have a job secured before I move.”

        1. Denise - Biomed*

          I’d hoped that the wording would show that moving isn’t a spur of the moment idea – opps.

          Would just the “I’m very willing to relocate.” be enough? I could work it into the cover letter and put it on my resume in place of address.

          1. LAI*

            I think your best bet is to say something like “I am interested in relocating to X city because…” and then fill in a reason why you want to live there. I also think it’s the best use of everyone’s time (yours and the hiring company) if you spend some extra time researching each place that you’re considering applying to, and make sure before you even apply that you really would be willing and able to relocate there if offered the job. You should NOT say that you want to relocate there, get a job offer, and then change your mind – this ruins it for everyone else and is the reason why people are reluctant to hire long-distance in the first place!

      3. Laura*

        I agree if that phrasing is weird – it just seems really unnecessary (who cares what someone was told in class?) and reluctant (why are you mentioning you were told to do it unless you don’t want to). For sure just take that out!

    3. Malissa*

      No I’d go with something like, I love the White Sox and enormous amount of snow, so moving to Chicago would be a dream.

      1. the gold digger*

        Plus, “I love having to shovel and shovel just to get out of my driveway. I love having to wear a really ugly coat just to stay warm. I love having to take off my shoes every time I come in the house. I love paying crazy heating bills. I love taking three times as long as usual to get home when there is a sudden storm and the plows can’t keep up. I love not being able to do anything outside for five months of the year.”

        Can you tell that I am done with winter?

        1. Denise*

          It was -30 deg F with another blizzard moving in when my family packed up the truck to move. So, freezing, snow piles everywhere…Unpacked the truck in my shorts and marveled at the green grass. :-D

          So should I say something about knowing I’ll need some better outerwear? :-P

        2. jrm*

          I grew up in suburban Chicago and lived in the city 7 years post-college. I’m not sure if there are still issues but it seemed like the CTA always had issues, especially when it snowed. Baffled me. “I plan to relocate to Chicago because everything takes way longer to get places than it should.”

          I’ve relocated long distance four times. I usually had a reason but I think you can just state it firmly and leave it alone. E.g., “I’m planning to relocate to Chicago by June 1st. While I understand that I am not a local candidate, I plan to fully cover the cost of my relocation.”

          If you want to relocate you should have a good reason. No “interested” “very much would like”. Figure out your reasons and state them.

    4. LAI*

      “My class was told that entry-level would probably have to relocate. So this is something I have thought over and accepted.”
      I have to say that I wouldn’t like to see this statement on a cover letter, as a hiring manager. This would make me think “hmm, this person hasn’t done any of their own research, they are just listening to what 1 party (the school) told them, and they’ve begrudgingly accepted it but aren’t really very happy about it”. None of that makes me want to hire someone. First of all, I obviously don’t know what field you’re in but I think you should do your own research, talk to others in your field, and independently verify whether you will likely need to relocate. If you’re in a degree program for something, there are presumably at least some jobs in that industry near the college. Secondly, you need to make it sound like you WANT to relocate, not that you have to. And I’m not suggesting that you lie or fake it either. Do your research and find reasons why you would be genuinely happy to relocate to that region – even if the only reason is that you’d love the job enough that you don’t care that you hate the city. You’re trying to mitigate the employer’s fear that you will change your mind about the move at some point, so you want to make sure you understand what the move would entail, and you also want to be genuinely sure (as sure as you can) that you want to do it.

  13. thenoiseinspace*

    I’ve just recently started up my cross-country job hunt again, and thanks to Alison’s advice, I had my first interview today! I think it went really well. A big +1 and a cheesy “it really works!” to everything in this article! :D

  14. Malissa*

    Having just successfully done this I can tell you the advise is spot-on.
    In my cover letter I always stated something about how I wanted to live in the city where the location was and I also stated that I wanted to be closer to family. Basically I gave two solid reasons for wanting to relocate. this was always in my cover letter.
    My experience was that for every 10 applications I would turn-in I would get 4 calls. Out of those four calls two would be people who didn’t realize I was local and would lose interest. One would call me just to see why on earth I was willing to move so far–usually a recruiter. And one would be an employer who wanted to set up a phone interview.
    It’s twice as frustrating as a local job search and about 4 times as rewarding when you actually find a good position.

  15. Stephanie*

    With the terrible winter, I’ve had a couple of interviewers questioning why I’d want to relocate to somewhere cold (I’m in Phoenix). But maybe that’s just winter wariness on their part talking.

    1. Malissa*

      Having just moved to AZ, I’m wondering why you’d leave this sunny paradise as well. ;)
      Just tell them you love to ski. :)

      1. Stephanie*

        Ha, because the economy’s better elsewhere. I just want to answer “Er, yeah it’s 75 in December, but all the big industries here are cyclical.”

        1. Malissa*

          In my job search I was looking at Phoenix companies, but the pay truly sucked. So I actually do understand that. ;)

          1. Stephanie*

            OMG, yes. I’m guessing it’s because there’s a glut of candidates (especially for entry- or low-level jobs), even in engineering. =/

            Where are you in Arizona?

            1. Malissa*

              Over in Yuma. 150 miles made a difference of 23% increase in salary.
              You’re in engineering? Have you tried Washington State? I know in the inland areas there is a shortage of engineers.

      2. Denise*

        “I keep hearing about this thing called “seasons” and I really want to find out what they are”

        “What’s it like to NOT run the A/C 6 months a year?”


        1. BeenThere*

          I’m going to use that phrase. I’m trying to get out of Texas and maybe get somewhere on the West Coast (I’m in Tech). This is the first real winter we’ve had… it’s been nice to switch the AC off after 9 months of summer.

  16. Eden*

    I went against the conventional wisdom and just moved without the job. Had I found this advice sooner, I am certain I wouldn’t have spent 3 months looking for a job. As soon as I made changes to my resume and started writing good cover letters, I was inundated with responses. I don’t think it’s impossible, but it isn’t for those without a substantial financial cushion.

  17. Margaret*

    This was quite timely for me, as I’m joining my husband across the country in Washington, DC at the end of the school year and have been updating my resume and cover letters to get started on a job search this month. I knew I was going to mention it in all my cover letters, but didn’t think about adding it to my resume as well.

    This is my first move as an adult – I’ve lived in the same metro area since I started 1st grade, and I’m a little nervous about moving, but ultimately, it’s the best thing for my husband’s career and our family.

    Any advice for an east coast newbie?

    1. periwinkle*

      Yes. Job search near where you’ll be living. DC commutes can be… unpleasant. I lived in northern Silver Spring and commuted to jobs in downtown Fairfax, Merrifield, Crystal City, and Georgetown. Ugh. Even going across county to downtown Rockville or Gaithersburg was awful (in the pre-ICC days).

      When I moved for my new job, I deliberately chose an apartment that’s a short reverse commute from the office. Ah, bliss.

      (also, summer in DC can be wretched, but autumn is fabulous)

      1. Stephanie*

        I used to commute from Shaw to Old Town. I sometimes would have an entire Metro car (if I left early enough). It was the best.

    2. Stephanie*

      Hmmmm, I agree with Periwinkle that you should get a realistic idea of commutes there. They can be bad. Really bad.

      I’d also emphasize that you’re moving to be with a spouse. OldJob wasn’t crazy about long-distance candidates because they didn’t always have realistic expectations about DC’s cost of living.

    3. HR pro*

      Piling on about the commute. My advice would be to not to be lured by the cheaper rents/mortgages in the (outer) suburbs. They are that much cheaper in part because the commute might be horrible. If you go into it understanding that you’ll probably need to pay more to live closer to where you work, then you can think about that in negotiating your salary. And realize that you’ll have a smaller place than out in the suburbs, too. But the tradeoff would be having a larger, cheaper, place and never being able to enjoy it because you spend all your time in the car.

      That said, I love the DC area so, so much. I moved here over 10 years ago. Generally stable work economy because of the government (we tend to have lower unemployment rates than much of the rest of the country).

      So much culture, so many educated, progressive people, so many things to do, free museums, great shopping, great restaurants, etc. And lots of great nature nearby: tons of hiking/biking/adult amateur sports teams everywhere. (My friend is on 3 adult female hockey teams!) Plus beaches, Atlantic Ocean, mountains, lakes, rivers, and the Chesapeake Bay are all within easy driving distance.

      1. HR pro*

        periwinkle said autumn is fabulous, and I agree. Spring is also breathtakingly beautiful (although sometimes short, as summer sometimes comes quick). If you come house-hunting in the spring you will fall in love :)

  18. Anon The Third*

    This is very apropos to my current situation. I have been contemplating a job and location change for the last couple of years. I know where I want to go, and have been keeping an eye on job postings and the housing market in that city and surrounding area. I feel confident that I could convince a hiring manager that I’m very serious about relocating, but I couldn’t possibly put a hard date on when I would without a job offer. It’s really difficult to sell your house and move your family to a new city with no job.

    1. LAI*

      I think that it’s ok to not have a hard date. When I relocated, my cover letter said “I am currently in City X and seeking to relocate to City Y in the near future”. When I got the interview and they asked about my availability, I told them two weeks and I stuck to it. Fortunately, I didn’t have a house to sell but I did end up paying rent on an empty apartment in my old city for 2 months because I couldn’t get out of my lease.

  19. periwinkle*

    How about professional networking as a long-distance job search tool? I recently made the move from DC to Seattle to start a new job. Would I have been considered if I had simply applied online? Maybe, maybe not.

    However, I had met the hiring manager at a professional conference earlier that year, talked with him about the field, expressed an interest in his organization, and then touched base with him after I’d applied for a suitable position that opened there. I loathe networking (introvert alert!), but gritted my teeth and did it anyway – and here I am in the land of mountains, Subarus, and coffee.

    1. Sunflower*

      Has anyone been successful with applying to long distance jobs and interviewing over Skype? I’m not planning to do a long distance move but I have thought about it. I don’t really have the savings to be taking multiple flights for interviews so I wonder if anyone has done this?

      1. Anonymous*

        I did! I had a couple phone interviews and then a Skype interview and got the job, without having met them in person.

        1. Sunflower*

          Did you request the skype interview or did they? And did you/do you like the job! I’m not sure how I would feel about not meeting them at all in person but for the right job/company, I’d take the chance

          1. Anonymous*

            Hmm… it was just a couple weeks before I was moving and I think they asked if I’d be in the area prior to moving. I said I wouldn’t be but would they consider a Skype interview? They agreed to it. I was a little nervous about accepting a job without meeting them in person (as I’m sure they would have been too!) but it actually worked out really well! I consider myself very lucky.

      2. Elsajeni*

        Yep! I got my current job from across the country. I had 2 Skype interviews, received the offer via email, and didn’t meet my new boss or coworkers in person until my first day. (Skype was their suggestion — when they first called, they asked if I could come in the next day for an interview, I said something like “I’m afraid not; I’m still living in [city] and won’t be able to get into town that quickly–” and they said, “How about Skype?” before I could finish with my usual “… but maybe phone or Skype?”)

        I LOVED Skype interviewing. Way better than phone interviewing. If you can’t do an in-person interview, definitely try for Skype rather than phone. (Oh, and if you have trouble making “eye contact” over Skype, try temporarily sticking a pair of googly eyes on either side of your webcam, or propping up a stuffed animal behind it so that when you make eye contact with the animal you’re looking toward the webcam.)

        1. LAI*

          I have to offer a dissenting opinion. I’ve done a couple of interviews over Skype and I didn’t really like it. The interviews themselves weren’t completely terrible but they were just slightly more awkward and less “warm feeling” than an in-person interview. And I think it was mutual because neither one led to an offer.

          After those 2 Skype interviews (initiated by the employer), I decided to just be more picky about what jobs I applied to, and make the commitment to fly out if offered an interview and pay expenses myself. I know that’s not sustainable for very long – it’s not only expensive but it’s exhausting to fly that much and it’s also exhausting to come up with explanations for your current job about why you need to be gone for a full day with little notice…

          1. Elsajeni*

            Oh, I’m sure it’s true that it’s not as good as an in-person interview. But as you said, in a lot of long-distance job-search situations it’s not really feasible or sustainable to only take in-person interviews, so the choice isn’t “Skype vs. in-person” but “Skype vs. phone or nothing,” and in that case I think Skype is definitely the better choice.

  20. Anon*

    I am moving in May to another state and already signed a lease for a new place. My resume lists my current address with “Relocating to X in May”. Should I add my new address on the cover letter? Or leave it as is?

    1. Chriama*

      Put your new address in whatever location you usually put your address, and add a line in your cover letter stating you’ll be on location by May.

  21. Juli G.*

    This is all hilarious to me because I work for a huge company in an unpopular area. Local talent is pretty scarce and often the request is “Didn’t anyone out of state apply for this?”

    This is a unique situation I understand but these comments are so far removed from my own reality that it makes me chuckle.

  22. Erin*

    I recently accepted an internship in another city. I’ve been searching for several years unfortunately because 1. a new grad it was hard to find jobs that would except the little experience I did have 2. I knew I wanted to be out of state (in NYC). After hundreds of resumes/CV’s sent I finally landed an internship. It will afford me the experience I finally need and it’s at least a stepping stone to where I want to be.

  23. moink*

    This seems so strange to me. I have gotten all my post-university jobs while living in other cities. I am a Canadian living in Berlin. I have also lived in Boston, Albuquerque, and Belfast (Northern Ireland). My current company has very few employees who are from Berlin – I would guess about half to two thirds are natives of Germany while the others are from parts around the globe. I have colleagues from Turkey, Spain, France, India, Pakistan, Portugal, Italy, and probably almost everywhere else. When I interviewed, they of course flew me in from Belfast, and the offer came with a generous relocation package.

    It was a little weird writing the cover letter though – I wanted to indicate that we were quite interested in moving to Berlin, so I stated we had friends here (which is true). I didn’t mention, even though it would have clearly showed we were committed to here, that one of those friends was my husband’s girlfriend.

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