update: will it hurt my chances of getting hired if I can only do video interviews?

Remember the person asking if only being able to do video interviews would hurt their chances of getting hired (#2 at the link)? Here’s the update.

One of the comments on the thread hit the nail in the head regarding my situation, which I’d simplified when I wrote to you for the sake of brevity. Basically I am relocating to a whole different country (one where I am legally allowed to work without needing a work visa) and I’ve been job searching for that country since May. Just so everyone knows, I’m leaving for the UK, and I was mainly applying for jobs in London because: 1) I love London, and 2) the job market there is filled to the brim with vacancies in my area.

I posted a small update later that same day on the comments, but here it is if you or the readers missed it: you asked if not having a job by January would be financially disastrous for me. Not really, but unfortunately, even though I made several plans around this relocation, some of my calculations were way off and I don’t have as much saved up as I would’ve liked. January would be ideal because it means I’d be able to bring more of my personal items with me and, more importantly, I wouldn’t have to worry about my admittedly-limited funds slowly depleting as time goes by. So would it be the end of the world that I would have to keep job searching after relocating? No. would it be a huge weight off my shoulders to be able to relocate with a job in the bag? Heck yes. So, with your advice and the reader’s advice, even though the scales weren’t really on my favor, I decided to keep on job searching, because you never know, right? It couldn’t hurt to keep at it, but I also reminded myself to stay realistic and not keep my hopes up.

The thing was, even though I was a good fit for all the jobs I applied for – and I had also fixed my resume and was writing amazing cover letters following your advice – I wasn’t getting any interviews. None, nada, zero. This was distressing, and one of the main reasons why I wrote to you, because I wanted to find out why I wasn’t getting any interviews. I had a growing suspicion that being remote wasn’t helping with my chances, and you and your readers basically confirmed that suspicion. But at the same time I was also job searching for a smaller city close to London, with a much smaller but not non-existent job market, and about a month after you published my letter I had an epiphany: I was getting a few replies and interviews, yes, but only from the companies located in that smaller city. I figured right then and there that it was because London must receive hundreds upon hundreds of applications, most of them from local Londoners or UK nationals who are already settled in the country, so of course they’re going to overlook the girl with the funny name who lives ten thousand kilometers away. So I more or less gave up on applying for jobs in London and began focusing my job search in that particular city.

That was the best decision I could’ve made. About two weeks ago I applied for a job that is a huge step up in my career, in a medium sized company that has an incredible product, and best of all, with a salary that is more or less what I was hoping and wishing and praying for. I had my first interview last Friday, the second one on Tuesday, and today I got an offer! I start on the 8th of January! I’ve been crying and smiling all morning, it almost doesn’t feel real.

Alison, I cannot thank you enough. These last seven months were such a journey, and throughout this time it was so good to be able to leave a comment on the Friday open threads and receive words of encouragement and support from your readers. I bought your book around the time I began job searching, and it was such a huge help. At one point I even got a phone interview solely because of how good my cover letter was! Talk about an ego boost! I’ve been recommending your blog to everyone I know who’s been job searching as well, because I am absolutely sure I wouldn’t have gotten this job if it wasn’t for you.

Thank you so much again for all your support, and also the support of the Ask A Manager community. I couldn’t be happier and more excited to start this new chapter in my life! You’re all the best! Happy holidays, and here’s to 2020, the start of a new decade! I hope everyone leaves their toxic jobs and gets everything they’ve been wishing and hoping for!!!

{ 81 comments… read them below }

  1. PuddingsGalore*

    Nosy Brit here – what was the city?
    There are so many great cities in the UK other than London so I wish you all the best! You’ll definitely be breathing cleaner air in your new city than you would be in London.

    1. jstarr*

      I’m hoping to one day leave the US for Manchester area myself. I liked it a lot better than London.

      1. Honoria, Dowager Duchess of Denver*

        I actually moved from the US to Manchester! I would recommend over London as it has plenty of opportunities, the pay isn’t drastically different and it goes so much further. Plus I hate the Tube ;)

        1. jstarr*

          That’s awesome! I’m just doing basic research on moving over now and who knows what the next five or so years holds for both places but it’s nice to hear that I’m at least justified in liking it over London!

    2. LilacLily*

      OP here! I relocated to Brighton! :) I love it here very much – it’s not too small nor too big of a city, the people are super nice, and the job market isn’t half bad. I think I will be very happy here.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        Brighton is lovely! Especially if you love being by the sea (as I do), and it’s a relatively quick trip to London. And you’re probably saving a little bit of money in rent. :)

        1. LilacLily*

          Yeah! I lived in a seaside city all my life, so it’s nice to still remain in a seaside city – although Brighton looks and feels absolutely nothing like my home town!

          Brighton rent is still a bit expensive, but it’s nowhere close to how expensive London is for sure. I’m very happy to be saving so much money on not just rent but also bus tickets, since I can walk to work every day :)

          1. Alica*

            I’m waay up north in Yorkshire, but we’ve holidayed in that area – I would recommend going to Lewes and doing the ruined priory walk at some point (free access, you do it yourself – you walk around and read the boards). My brother and I did it two summers ago and really enjoyed it!

      2. kittymommy*

        That looks lovely! (I am currently looking up pictures of the city because I’m bored at work…)

        Much congratulations!

      3. Jh*

        Brighton is hot right now, congrats! Also, yes most young people out of school head to London for work. It’s ‘the thing’. They overlook places like Manchester, Liverpool, Sheffield, Leeds, Preston, Birmingham, Bristol, Cambridge, Glasgow, and Edinburgh at times.

        I think my country is realizing with this whole Brexit shenanigans that not everything is all about London. There is life beyond it and talent everywhere.

        1. LDN Layabout*

          A lot of people don’t ‘overlook’ those places, it’s that jobs are clustered in London. My flatmate hates the city and wants to go back up North ASAP but is constrained by her graduate scheme to a minimum of two years in London and no guarantee of a northern posting once she’s done.

          My current job was offered specifically as a London posting, regardless that 60%+ of my arms length body are homeworkers and that those who are office based are spread out across the country. At the same time as the London job posting, there’s an office move being planned out of central London, because rents are too expensive (only central government departments can remain).

          Also for those of us from the South West, London’s the biggest city with halfway decent links to home and a hub for jobs. There certainly aren’t those jobs available in Devon or Cornwall.

          1. londonedit*

            Yep. I moved to London mainly because I love it (still do, 20 years later) but also because my family is in the south-west and living in London means easy road and rail connections to get home (the A303 in the summer notwithstanding…). Also my industry is very much concentrated in London (although there are now attempts by several companies to move out to places like Leeds and Manchester) so as well as the fact that I’ve made a nice little life for myself in London, it also makes sense job and family wise for me to be here.

          2. Zoe Karvounopsina*

            London-based too, and I could move to Bristol, but not any further south west. I go to visit a friend in Cornwall, and it’s a whole day just to travel down.

      4. TechWorker*

        Yay great choice! I love Brighton (I don’t live there but I’m on the train line the other way and love to visit so weirdly close to my heart :p). All the luck in your new role, hope the U.K. works out for you!!

      5. PuddingsGalore*

        I thought it might be! Great choice! I live mid-way between London and Brighton and commute into London. Misery. Unsolicited recommendation – if you fancy a day out, Petworth and Arundel are lovely places to visit – full of history and charm. I hope the job goes great and you feel welcome and at home. All the best.

    3. MK*

      In my opinion, most very big cities are better for visits than as permenant residences. My own country’s capital (half as big as London or thereabouts) is great as a tourist destination, for a couple of weekends a year, but is becoming intolerable to live in. Even the obvious advantages, e.g. the great offer of cultural spaces and events and places to go out, can lose their shine when it takes you hours to get anywhere and everything costs double.

      1. LilacLily*

        Oh for sure. At the city where I used to work, which is almost twice the size of London in population, I had coworkers who spent at least one and a half hours each way on commute to get to work – more or less the same amount of time I took, and I lived in a completely different city, about 50km away. It always baffled me.

        There is a lot to see and do, yes, but living and working there is so emotionally draining that I don’t think it’s too feasible. I do know some people love it and wouldn’t trade it for the world, but I personally prefer a smaller city that allows me to have more me time, which is why I’m so excited about Brighton.

      2. lobsterp0t*

        Yeah, we relocated to London from Aberdeen three and a bit years ago and it’s pretty miserable for us in some respects. The pollution is shockingly bad. While there is a smorgasbord of cultural activity, I find it almost overwhelming. Like it’s so big that I’ll never be able to make the most of it? But Aberdeen was a professional dead end for us since the oil crisis also dried up other jobs and we needed (at the time) to be closer to the biggest concentration of friends and family.

        But it is excellent for jobs.

        Bristol has become good for charity sector jobs the last few years. Depending on which bit of the sector, quite a lot seem to be based there. Manchester and Leeds are also great if you’re in higher education. I love the smaller cities up north and would love to live there one day.

        1. lobsterp0t*

          It = London. Sorry, I added a bit after I first drafted the comment and that “excellent for jobs” refers to London

  2. Irishgal*

    Well done..and your money will go much futher in smaller city. Your commute will also very likely be much less expensive and shorter.

  3. new kid*

    Getting a job in another area of the same country can be hard enough, so I imagine across countries to be even more so. Congrats OP, you did it!!

  4. PollyQ*

    “Big fish in a small pond” is almost always used as an insult, but this letter shows that sometimes it can be a great life strategy. Congrats on the new job, LW!

  5. Granger Chase*

    Congratulations, OP! Hopefully you had a lovely first day at work yesterday & many more amazing days to come at that company!

  6. Ferret*

    Hah, I’ve been a Londoner my whole life and I love it but there are definite downsides – not least that it can be quite difficult to find your feet here without an existing base or network to help you out. I’m glad it all worked out for you OP, and I hope you get the chance to visit at some point!

    PS. Mentioning this because I’ve seen it come up a couple of times with people I know who have relocated to the UK – check if you can set up any kind of UK bank account before moving, and figure out how to get some kind of UK address ASAP (I know it’s a bit chicken/egg) – otherwise renting can be quite difficult and may require a larger deposit

    1. LilacLily*

      OP here! Thanks for the tips! I already have a Uk phone number, and with that I got a Monzo bank account (bless virtual banks) and I’ve been using my airbnb address as my current address for the time being. My host even added me to his electricity bill so I can use it as a proof of address when my NIN interview rolls around, which is just incredibly nice of him to do.

      And regarding the deposit for flats, I’m looking at properties that have a Zero Deposit option. I saw two flats today and am going to see two more tomorrow. Fingers crossed I find something good!

      I will for sure be going to London soon as well, I can’t wait to visit the museums again!

      1. MsSolo*

        Ooh, know your rights – Zero Deposit is a very new thing, and has been latched on to be some scammers, so be very careful. It can work out cheaper to take out a loan to pay a normal deposit, since you’ll get that back and you’ll get better protection from spurious claims by the landlord. If do you go Zero Deposit you’ll still be liable for any damages, so protect yourself by taking tons and tons of photos before moving in, and again on moving out, so you’ve got them on hand to challenge any disputes.

        Shelter has some good tips on things to ask when you’re looking around, but check a few sources and make sure you go in forearmed!
        https://england.shelter.org.uk/housing_advice/housing_for_young_people/top_tips_for_first-time_renters is a good place to start, but

        1. LilacLily*

          Thank you for the info! I will read the link carefully. The agency I am renting with is a very good and well-known one, and it was recommended by several people I know. I prefer Zero Deposit because I would rather not have to take a loan at this point, but I will make sure to take tons of pictures of the flat when I move in.

    1. LilacLily*

      OP here! It was so good everyone at the office is super nice, and the company itself is incredible. My boss scheduled one on one meetings with me at the end of the day every day for the next two weeks, and today he said he was really worried about how I’m settling in and how my first weekend on my own will be. I assured him I’m fine and have plans to do a bit of shopping and just chill for a bit, but it was touching to hear him say he was worried for me and that I can reach out whenever and for whatever.

      They also keep saying how glad they are that I took this position and how excited they are about me joining the team, and it’s just so weird! But in a good way! I’m the one who’s glad that you hired me, gosh! It feels like a dream tbh. I’m loving it so far and I think things will just get better from this point on :)

  7. mizunasloane*

    It feels really good to read this update. Congrats on the new job! I hope it’s everything you want it to be! <3

  8. Tess McGill*

    OP, I am SO incredibly excited for you! Seriously, this. is. awesome! I lived in England (Hampshire) for several years with my family and took the train into London weekly to lead “off the beaten path” photo safaris. (I love London too, but would prefer to live in a smaller, more manageable city.) We now return to England every year for a two week visit, but mostly to see the rest of the country, spending only two or three days in London. I’m dying to know what city you are relocating to. I have friends working all over the country and would love to hook you up with a friendly face. I am truly so happy for you! I actually teared up a bit when I read your news! Well done you!

    1. LilacLily*

      OP here! I’m in Brighton! I knew the city from previous visits, so I knew it was more or less my vibe and that I would fit right in, and so far I feel like I was absolutely correct in my assumptions, which is awesome.

      I’m so glad everyone is so happy for me, because I am just leaping with joy as well. Leaving my home country, my family, my friends, and my elderly dog, was simultaneously the hardest and easiest thing I’ve done so far in my life, if that makes sense. I miss everyone very, very much, but we’re still talking every day through messages and phone calls, and that helps a lop. I truly hope I can have a very long career in my company and that I can surpass everyone’s expectations of me in this role!

      1. An American(ish) Werewolf in London*

        If it’s not being TOO nosy (and you absolutely don’t have to answer), what is your home country? I’ve been in the UK for 31 years (32 this year), originally from the US. I live near Windsor but have (mostly) worked in London – but Brighton really is a fun place. I especially like the Lanes, rather than the seafront (we did all the seafront stuff when my daughter was small; it’s somewhat lost its attraction for me).

        Enjoy – come to London. Get a beer. Let us know when you’re coming!

  9. Emily*

    Massive congratulations! That is such a wonderful update, thank you.

    Wish I could use lots of party popper emojis here! Plus a few flower bouquets for good measure.

  10. Sloan Kittering*

    So wonderful! Why is it sometimes so hard to apply this kind of strategic thinking to our own real-life circumstances? I need to remind myself to treat my career like a business in which I am CEO.

  11. EPLawyer*

    Yaaay. Awesome update.

    Also really awesome job on really looking at what your efforts were doing and refocusing. Remember, after you have this job under your belt for a bit, then you can always go for the London jobs if you want. This time you will be local.

    1. LilacLily*

      OP here! Honestly I don’t think I will relocate to London in the future. I worked for a big/busy city that is similar to London for the most part of my career, and I hated it. It was hell. London would be a huge improvement for me in comparison, but it’s still too many people and too much time wasted on the commute. I’m glad I’m close enough that I can go visit London every now and then tho! The city is incredible and I love it very much, but I just don’t think it’s the best place to live and work in.

  12. roll-bringer*

    Congrats! Glad this worked out for you – I live in NYC and do a lot of informational interviews and emails with students from my alma mater, 1000 miles away in the Midwest, and basically have to tell them what you learned the hard way: if you want to work in that Big City and are pretty junior, you HAVE to move to that Big City – without a job in hand.

    It sucks – keeps a lot of good people from getting into industries where they have to take so many Big Risks just to see the door, not even to get their foot in it.

    1. LilacLily*

      OP here – that does suck :( after going through this very stressful and frustrating job search, I’ve come to the conclusion that companies should really consider having a more open minded view when trying to find the right employee for a job, junior or not. Demanding all job candidates to already be in NYC to be considered for jobs is a bit unrealistic, and they could be missing out on incredible candidates with this old-fashioned rule.

      My company has been very acommodating with me throughout this whole process – allowing me to take a few extra minutes on my lunch break to see flats, rearranging my lunch break so I can see said flats, asking me if I’ll be ok on my own for the weekend, scheduling interviews for government documents, stuff like that, and although I’m a bit shocked with how much they care, I don’t think I should be! They saw I had a skill they really needed, they liked my profile, and they knew I would require some help the first couple of months to truly settle in, and they’ve been doing their best to help me out. And I’ll make sure they won’t regret their decision.

      And that’s another thing, too: I can guarantee you that a job candidate that’s willing to relocate hundreds – and even thousands – of miles for a job is an employee who will give 110% of themselves to said job.

      1. MK*

        Don’t give that guarantee because you will lose it. A candidate who has never lived in the place the job is in and/or has no ties with it might hate it and become disenchanted with the job as well; they might not be able to adjust to the culture, they might not find any social network and start looking to leave in months. Wanting something very badly doesn’t guarantee it will work out. And the thing with huge cities is that there are plenty of incredible candidates there already; employers don’t have to settle for subpar hires just to get someone local.

        OP, I am glad things worked out for you, but it’s both pointless and unreasonable to consider companies who prefer local candidates oldfashioned foggies who are messing their hiring practices up.

        1. LilacLily*

          I don’t think these companies are “oldfashioned foggies who are messing their hiring practices up”; I just think they could be missing out on amazing candidates when they don’t even give them a chance. Yes, hiring someone who’s relocating is incredibly risky, but so is hiring someone local – especially in a city like New York, where people actually do risk it all and relocate without a job in the bag just so they can have a shot at getting interviews. The only difference between these people and the people who haven’t had the chance to relocate yet is that the person who’s already in the city might be desperate to make ends meet, but they too might also get disenchanted with the city and give up on the job much too soon. Heck, someone who’s been living in NYC for years could suddenly feel burnt out and quit just after taking a new role. You never know.

          There’s always things you can’t possibly predict when hiring people, and I honestly think companies in bigger cities could greatly benefit from expanding their hiring pool a bit more every now and then instead of brushing candidates off as unqualified solely because of where they live. They’re probably missing out on incredible candidates that could become great assets to the company.

          1. Courageous cat*

            I hear what you’re saying, but it does come off a bit biased given your own (understandable) situation. In a lot of cases, it just really does make more sense and is less of a risk to hire a local candidate if there’s one just as good, vs one that you’d have to video interview and wait for. It’s not like dating, where the right person really could very well be anywhere in the world.

        2. Courageous cat*

          Agreed, I am a little bit surprised that this was even surprising. London is one of the biggest and most desirable cities in the world to live in. Of course there are going to be a thousand people who already live there more qualified than you, and they’re going to want to go for the closer, known quantity- unless you have a really, really niche or high-level job.

          Super glad it worked out, of course, but none of that should be surprising, and it doesn’t make a company less open-minded (again, for the most part). It’s good to consider your local population first, the people who are already there and possibly already struggling with that crazy COL.

    2. Ugh*

      How do you move to the big city without a job in hand, when no landlord is going to rent an apartment to someone without a job?

      1. fhqwhgads*

        Two ways: get an air brb for a month, hope like hell you get a job within the month, then get a more long term place OR have a ton of savings and proof you can pay your rent/ put down a giant deposit.

      2. Media Monkey*

        i slept on my friend’s floor for a month while i got a couple of weeks of temping salary under my belt and knew i could then get a flat and pay the rent on temping wages even if i didn’t get a permanent job as quickly as i actually did.

      3. roll-bringer*

        I sublet for three weeks while I searched for an apartment, then switched to a month-to-month sublet with my parents cosigning. It took me a year to find a full time job; in the meantime, I interned a lot, worked in a bookstore and in catering, and ate through savings.

    3. Media Monkey*

      this is so true about london and always has been! when i graduated i spent 6 months applying for london jobs in my industry, getting plenty of interviews through recruiters and direct. but no actual job offers. so i packed up and moved to london to temp and had 2 job offers on the same day within 6 weeks. they really do worry that if you don’t currently live there, you won’t like it and will want to move back home (i’m from scotland so it’s a fair distance away!).

      OP – i saw you moved to brighton – that’s much nicer than london. we love visiting there!

  13. tink*

    Updates like this make me all warm and fuzzy! I’m glad things are working out for you OP, and best wishes with your move and new position.

  14. LDN Layabout*

    So happy this has worked out for you, especially since it sounds like you’re happier in Brighton than you would be in London :)

    (I love London, it is my city, warts and all. It is definitely not everyone’s city)

    1. LilacLily*

      I am happier, yes! Don’t get me wrong, London is incredible, diverse and beautiful, but I am not too great with crowds, and I think a loooong break from busy cities will do me a lot of good. I completely understand why people wouldn’t trade London for anywhere else in the world, though: so many people to meet! Things to do! Places to see! It’s amazing! And if I happened to get a job offer in London I wouldn’t have said no and would’ve accepted it in my life with arms open wide, but in the end I’m glad that fate put Brighton in my path instead.

      1. LDN Layabout*

        Brighton’s lovely (and by the sea! I love the sea). Plus you’ve got Hove to explore as well, which I think I actually prefer to Brighton.

        I always get the London thing when my family visit, they have a great time, but it’s clearly not their place and they get a bit overwhelmed while I glide by on autopilot XD

  15. JellyBelly*

    Congrats Op!! Happy second day of work!
    I would love to do something like that. One cause I love the UK and two cause more vacation is guaranteed!
    Plus it’s just so easy to travel around Europe.

    1. Tom (no, not that one)*

      If you wish to travel around Europe – follow British politics closely – they want out of the EU (brexit) and one of the points is the ending of the free movement.
      You`d probably be better off looking towards countries that remain in the EU.

      1. londonedit*

        Some of us very much do not want out of the EU. It hurts my heart to know that the wonderful freedom to travel and work in all the lovely countries of Europe that we’ve enjoyed for such a long time is likely to be taken away from us or at least restricted.

      2. JellyBelly*

        Yes, thanks for the reminder.
        I have already lived in Ireland (the Republic) and I’d also consider living their again.

  16. Tom (no, not that one)*

    Good update.
    But – given that you are ‘a foreigner’ in the UK – have you considered the possible impact of Brexit?
    Granted – no one knows what will happen after January 31 (although the foreign minister has said all free movement will be stopped) and a permit to stay may be hard to obtain (it is so even now).

    I cannot help but wonder what will happen – but so far, no one has any clear answers :(

    Worrying situation.

    1. LilacLily*

      OP here, and yes, I have. It is worrying, so I’m trying to get my documents settled asap and not think too much about it. I already managed to rent a flat, I have an interview to get my NIN, and as soon as I get that I’m applying for a pre-settled status. Fingers crossed it’s enough time.

      I commend my workplace for hiring me despite Brexit looming over us all, but then again, I found out these past few days that I have several coworkers from all over Europe in my office, so that might be why they barely even blinked before hiring me.

  17. Rexish*

    Congrats! I tried to apply to the UK last summer and managed to get 2 interviews (out of who knows how many applications) that didn’t go anywhere . I also think that being remote and European (brexit) didn’t help since I don’t have unique skills. But I’m so happy for you and it’s giving me hope!

Comments are closed.