how do I find a job in another city without moving there first?

A reader writes:

I’m actively trying to move out of my current city – it’s overpriced here, most of my friends have moved away, I hate the weather, and I’m just ready for a change. I don’t have one particular place I’m hoping to move to; I’m open to a lot of destinations, depending on where I can find a job.

But I’m running into trouble with my job search. I’ve never had this much trouble getting interviews before, and I suspect it’s because I’m not local. I do say in my cover letter that I’m actively looking to move and that I’d be excited to move to (fill in whatever city I’m the job I’m applying to is in) and … crickets. I don’t think the problem is my resume or cover letter (I applied to some local jobs out of desperation, and I actually did get called to interview for those). I think employers are balking that I’m out-of-state and I don’t know how to resolve that, since I can’t just move and find a job once I get there – financially, I need the job first.

Jobs in my field aren’t ever really remote since you have to be on-site to work with clients. How do I convince employers to take a chance on a non-local candidate? Or am I doomed to stay in my current city forever?

You can read my answer to this letter at New York Magazine today. Head over there to read it.

{ 141 comments… read them below }

  1. Dragonfly7*

    Does anyone ever put something like “future local address” or “temporary local address” on their resume, or will that backfire? I am looking out of state but am specifically moving to be closer to family who have offered me a place to stay for my first month in the area if needed.

    1. Beth*

      I’m a little over 30 and have never put an address on my resume, and it’s never been a problem. Why draw attention to your not-yet-ness at that address when you can just leave it off?

      1. Dragonfly7*

        Only because most application systems I’m encountering do require an address in addition to an uploaded resume, but not all offer a space for a cover letter where I can explain my reasons for moving. I’m definitely including “Relocating to [Name of city] by [Date]” on my resume but have wondered if an actual address would make it more solidified.

        1. ecnaseener*

          I don’t think you need to label it as “temporary.” If you were currently living there and paying rent, but you were going to move to a new address when your lease ended in a month, you wouldn’t specify that. It’s a current address where you can be reached, you can update them later if needed and just say you moved.

      2. Anon in Canada*

        Two obvious reasons:
        -ATS’s require a home address.
        -Even if there’s no ATS, if you’re currently employed and not remote, the location of your current job will give away where you are. You cannot “just leave it off”, and claiming that you can do so is naive.

        1. Unkempt Flatware*

          Come on, now. That last line was unnecessary to add–no need to call someone or their ideas naive. It didn’t advance the dialog one bit.

        2. Beth*

          I’m talking about the actual resume document, not the “type info into a form” part of a job application. Obviously if there’s a required field on an application website, then you have to put something in it to apply. But on the actual resume PDF, I don’t see any reason to include your address.

          As for the location of your current job–plenty of people work remotely nowadays, and as far as I know at least, there’s not a strong convention around how to list that job’s location. If I was looking at someone’s resume and saw their current job was “Role, Company, New York, NY”, and I had no other info on their home location or whether they work remotely, I might think it’s likely that they live in NYC but I wouldn’t assume that they definitely do.

          1. Anon in Canada*

            If you work remotely in a different city than where the company is located (or the company itself is 100% remote with no location), you need to say that it’s remote.

            Some fields and job titles are inherently not remote. If your job title is “lab technician”, and the company is in City X, it’s extremely clear that the person lives in or near City X.

      3. lincva*

        I’ve always left my address off my resume, but I once had a recruiter confront me about it and ask if I lived in the area. I just responded that I was relocating there within the next few weeks (which was true). On online applications, I just put my address in OldArea until I got my address in NewArea.

    2. Shimmy*

      No need to even add that info. If you have a local residential address you can use, use it! I’ve moved states several times in my life, and the only time I actually got some attention from a job was after I already found a place to live and updated my resume to reflect that.

    3. Hlao-roo*

      I have done an out-of-state, moving-to-be-closer-to-family job search before, and what worked for me was using my current (non-local) address on my resume and including a line in my cover letter about how I was looking to move to [metro area/state] to be closer to family.

      Two things that also helped in my case:
      1) I was moving back to the area (think previously lived in the Atlanta, GA metro area, moved to Los Angeles, CA for work, and was living in LA and applying for jobs in the Atlanta metro area again–not the real locations, just as an example)
      2) When I was applying, the job market was fairly tight in my industry/for me position. I doubt my resume would have gotten a second look if the company had had enough strong, local candidates to interview.

    4. Itsa Me, Mario*

      If I had a planned move to a specific place, and that place was near family, where I had a confirmed address (versus a more speculative “it would be cool to move to Chicago” kind of thing), I would just apply as if I were already a local. If necessary for job interview small talk, I might say, during the interview itself, “I’m actually in San Diego at the moment but will be back in Omaha within plenty of time to accept a job offer.” But if it were easy to just pretend I was joining a zoom from the same city, or it never came up, I might just let it ride.

      But for the OP’s situation, I can see a ton of potential reasons why companies might not want to hire someone who doesn’t live in the area and isn’t particularly prepared to move to their area. Unless OP is fresh out of school or with endless financial resources at their disposal, moving cross-country isn’t usually something that happens within the same kind of time frame as accepting a job offer.

      1. AngryOctopus*

        Yeah, it might help OP to narrow down to a city (or maybe 2) they’d be happy to move to, and focus their attention there. Not that they can tell where you’re applying, but often a lack of “I’m relocating to X because I love the area” or “I have lots of family I’m looking forward to being around” in the cover letter tells the employer that the person is fishing a bit, and may not be moving to the area on a timeline appropriate to the job. They could address it in a phone screen, but if they also have 25 other applications who are all either local or have solid communicated relocation plans, OP will lose out on that front.
        OP I know it’s not easy. But maybe you should take some weekend visits to places you’re really interested in and see if you really do want to move there. If nothing else, being able to focus your job search (for you!) might help!

        1. Dona Florinda*

          Also, if there’s a particular place with a lot of companies in OP’s field, it could be a good idea to focus on that.

        2. Ace in the Hole*

          I know my area has a lot of issues with people moving here for jobs because they think they’ll like the location, and then leaving when the reality doesn’t match expectations.

          Most employers are understandably skeptical of hiring non-locals unless they have previously lived here or in a similar environment (small, isolated community) and know what they’re getting into.

      2. Hannah Lee*

        The company I’m at is recruiting for a couple of positions.
        We’ve had several candidates apply from out of state.

        The ones who submit an application showing address, contact info and latest employment all in Florida, applying to a job at my company in New England, offering no context don’t get more than a quick look. Because a) we’re not looking to relocate someone for these positions and b) it looks like the candidate is just applying scattershot to anything

        But the ones who say something, either on their resume or their cover letter if there is one, about “currently living in Florida, planning to relocate to (my area)” and especially if it’s “planning to relocate to (my area) to be closer to family (or whatever reason that’s not ‘it seems cool on Trip Advisor’) by November 2023” are ones I would consider and move forward in the process if they are otherwise strong candidates. Basically, the candidate is already intending to move, with a timeline that could work for me, for non-trivial reasons that aren’t related to this particular job opening. (even if the candidate technically hasn’t put things in motion, or is still considering Hartford vs Boston, their *intent* is to move to NE soon) This isn’t just for the hassle during recruiting. I want candidates who want to be in this area, are pretty certain it will suit them, so they will not quit in 6-9 months when they suddenly realize they hate NE winters.

        So my advice to LW is to do more research, visit 1-3 target new places and pick your top one and start taking baby steps towards moving there. Start the process of getting plugged into your new life: Are there certifications you’d need to practice in that location? Start that process. Are there state associations, networking groups for your job category (The Nebraska Association of Finance Professionals, or Omaha Metalworkers), local business journals, bloggers you can subscribe to, follow on line? Pick one or two to sign up for. Look into the local real estate market … maybe do a longer stay in a neighborhood you might want to live in.
        That way when you submit an application you can mention “scheduled to take the Nebraska Llama Grooming Certification Course in December 2023”
        Those things communicate you’re serious about the move, you’ve given it thought, and it’s not something your new employer will have to worry about.

        Plus, it makes it more real for you, and allows you to change course sooner rather than later if you realize it’s not the place for you after all.

      3. Anon in Canada*

        “I would just apply as if I were already a local.”

        This is possible – it may be inconvenient and cost a lot in last-minute interview travel – but only if you’re not currently employed, or if your current employment is full remote. (In this case, it’s probably the best way to go about it.)

        If you’re currently employed in a non-remote job, this is simply impossible. You won’t be able to hide the location of your current job, which gives away where you are.

        1. Itsa Me, Mario*

          I’m currently looking for work and all of my job interviews have been via Zoom despite being in-office roles. I think it’s just much easier to schedule them this way, especially if it’s a multi-step hiring process or involves panel interviews and the like.

          In terms of resume and current job location, I think this may or may not be a factor depending on your industry and company. It’s not something I would leave off a resume, and if it came up for me, in my field, that would be the point where either I’d lean on “currently in [city], plan to be living in [new city] by X date.” Or potentially go into more detail about my relocation plans if merited. I would not expect this to be a problem, for my own particular situation. It shouldn’t really matter whether I’m currently in San Diego on a temporary basis, or whether I’m currently in San Diego because I’ve been working there for the last 5 years. But I could see this being baffling information in some situations. In which case, YMMV, obviously.

          1. Anon in Canada*

            I think Canada is behind the US in switching to virtual interviewing. Zoom (or Teams, etc.) interviews are common for the first round, but the second round is almost always done in person.

            And yes it does matter where you are… as discussed here, employers in most fields don’t like candidates who would need to move. Mentioning plans to move and/or a specific timeline or preferred city is fine, but simply listing a current, non-remote job in City X and an address in City Y without any explanation (on the resume, not the cover letter) is exceptionally sketchy and most employers would automatically reject such a candidate.

            1. Michelle Smith*

              But why is it sketchy? This is what I don’t understand. WHY do I need another reason besides the job being a good fit to want to relocate to another state or city for it? I don’t want to move closer to my family – I don’t like most of them. I spend the majority of my waking hours on the majority of the days in a week/month/year working. It’s baffling to me that the job is not a priority enough that I need to have some sort of additional reason to want to relocate.

              1. Anon in Canada*

                I said that listing an address you don’t actually live at – when the lie crumbles the second the employer sees your current job – is sketchy. I didn’t say that wanting to move was sketchy.

                As some others have commented, employers have a ridiculous laundry list of concerns with long distance candidates who want to move somewhere where they have no connection, such as:
                -that the candidate will need extra time to move
                -that the person won’t enjoy the city, or that the city won’t live up to their expectations
                -that the person will fail to make friends and move back to their hometown due to loneliness
                -that the new hire will balk at the move at the last minute, even after accepting the job
                -that the candidate has “wanderlust” and will move again after a few years
                -more generally, the idea that “people who move for a job, without a pre-existing connection to the city, usually don’t last” and the employer doesn’t want the turnover.

                Some employers will be okay with candidates who don’t live there, but can demonstrate a connection to the area. Others don’t consider long distance applicants at all.

                It’s not fair, but it’s what it is.

    5. goducks*

      If you have an address where you’ll be staying temporarily, use it! There’s no expectation when you start a job that the address you list will be your address forever. That said your resume doesn’t even need a full address most of the time, so you’ll only need to enter that address if you’re filling out an application.

      1. Anon in Canada*

        You can’t borrow an address in another city if you’re currently employed in a non-remote job. If your resume shows current employment in Toronto, that the job isn’t remote, and that you list a Winnipeg address, what’s going to happen? You could drive a truck through this. The employer will know you’re lying, and that will be an automatic rejection.

        This trick can only be used if not currently employed, or perhaps if your current job is remote.

        1. Daisy-dog*

          But if it’s a real address where you’ll really be staying at, that’s not lying. You just have 2 addresses – the one you’re leaving and the one you’re going to (which is already ready-to-go). Sure, some places have enough applicants where they can throw out applications where there are questions they can’t answer without speaking to the candidate. But if the applicant is a good fit, the company can just ask during the phone screen and ask about how their current role is in Toronto.

          1. Anon in Canada*

            “some places have enough applicants where they can throw out applications where there are questions they can’t answer without speaking to the candidate.”

            Most jobs get enough applicants to not have to bother with candidates that raise such questions.

            You’re right that if you will be staying at that address, it’s not lying, but the employer doesn’t know that from the resume alone. Maybe the candidate will explain it in their cover letter, but cover letters get read after resumes have made it through the first cut (if they get read at all), and in most jobs, the moment the employer sees the current position in Toronto, the resume will be tossed without the cover letter ever getting read.

            If you’re high level enough that there are too few candidates for the employer to reject all long-distance ones, you probably don’t even need to use tricks like borrowing an address.

            1. Daisy-dog*

              I have worked in recruiting and the only place where I was throwing out applications was when I was hiring for an administrative position in Los Angeles.

        2. Itsa Me, Mario*

          I’m not clear on why it is “lying” to relocate cities. It’s something that happens pretty frequently. Again, I think there are a lot of potential distinctions to be made. It would be unethical to lie and actively pretend that you currently live in a place when you clearly do not, have never even been there before, and have no concrete plans to relocate. But if you are planning to relocate “back home” near family, and you have an arrival date, and you know what address you’ll be living at, are familiar with the area, know what your commute would be, etc etc etc. to me it wouldn’t be lying to enter that address into HR’s system, or to not shine a bright light on the fact that you’re not physically living there at the moment. What matters to potential employers is that, when the time comes to walk into the building, you’ll be there and with no real impediments to doing that.

          1. Anon in Canada*

            If you aren’t currently employed, you should be able to avoid getting caught, but you really need to plan everything around not getting caught – and that includes having an ID that doesn’t have an address on it i.e. a passport, so that you don’t get busted if the employer asks you for ID. I don’t see it as unethical – you’re just taking all the steps you can take to get around the prejudice that most employers have against out-of-area candidates. “Having no concrete plans to relocate” seems pointless to me; you’ll relocate if you get the job.

    6. mango chiffon*

      I’ve used my brother’s address when applying to jobs in his area. I just had to be ready to fly immediately to his area on relatively short notice, but I made it work. Ultimately got a job in a different area, but I did get a couple interviews in my brother’s city

    7. Ally McBeal*

      I just list the address, or AN address. When I was planning my move to NYC my future roommate let start using his address several months before I actually arrived… although it didn’t really help me land anything beyond a couple intro interviews with recruiters.

    8. KatKatKatKat*

      When I was living in Missouri and applying for jobs in Arizona, I used my boyfriend’s cousin’s address in Arizona. I definitely recommend a local address to at least get you across the initial hurdle – but I don’t recommend calling it a future local address or temporary local address. Just a mailing address!

    9. Your Mate in Oz*

      I’ve found jobs in other cities several times. It depends a huge amount on how in demand your skills are in the area you’re moving to. But unless it’s a one-off where they’re chasing me I expect to visit the new city and do interviews there, then move at some convenient moment (usually between getting an offer letter and starting work). But one place was happy to let me work from home until my partner was also ready to move and that was very handy (long before covid when WFH was rare and unusual)

      In retrospect the weirdest one was when I was still very junior but I was willing to move to a rural area and … no-one else was. They flew me out for an interview, put me up in a hotel, rented a house for me (that I approved), paid my moving costs, the works. It was definitely a worthwhile job with some huge benefits (not least the pay bump that meant my next job also paid better).

  2. Fiesta*

    I wonder what field the letter writer is in. As an engineer, candidates from out of state are very common, and companies do usually pay moving expenses. I am currently jobhunting, and I am targeting a move to a particular city. I have been getting more calls from jobs in that city than I have ever gotten in any job search in my entire life. Some of them have done entirely phone or teams interviews. A couple have flown me out for in person interviews. All of the jobs are for on site work, where remote work is simply not a possibility.
    I think for this letter writer, rather than a generic question about finding work in other cities, It would have been helpful to know the field and the norms.

    1. Itsa Me, Mario*

      While I can’t tell what the LW does for a living, this is something that is extremely different based not only on field and what companies you’re applying for, but also based to an extent on social class and perceived social stature of a given job. I’m a career EA and legal paraprofessional, and despite my years of experience and the stature of my current company and role, I would never assume that a job would pay to relocate me.

      That said, if I used a local address, applied as a local, and came off in interviews as someone who was prepared to walk into the office in a month on my own dime, I assume that I would get some response. I feel like applying blind to job openings all over the country, assuming “oh I’ll just pick whichever city I get a job in” would not work, though. There’s a real social class divide there.

      1. Market Hargrave*

        Social class is one aspect. Availability of local candidates is another. There are lots of EAs (and paralegals, but especially EAs) who can pivot to a new company and do the same job they did at, say, a personal injury law firm as at an intellectual property law firm. Compare that to an RF designer for aircraft systems. Yes, the designer is a different social class, but there are also just fewer of them in general, making it less likely that you will find a local candidate. When your skillset is in demand like that, you get much better offer packages.
        We can’t tell from the letter whether OP is more like an EA or an RF designer. The advice would be different.

        1. Itsa Me, Mario*

          The reason I’m drawing the class distinction vs. the demand/availability distinction is that I know a lot of folks at the management level in my own current company who were recruited outside our area and relocated on the company dime. When those roles aren’t in particularly high demand or hard to recruit for. HR is just more open to relocating someone at that level than they would be if it were an IC or someone in a support role.

          1. Michelle Smith*

            Another way in which class distinction is highly relevant is that many of us do not have people we could just stay with in another city until we find a job or have enough savings to just pack up and move to another city without having a job offer in hand already.

      2. a clockwork lemon*

        Socioeconomic class may play a role in someone’s ability to relocate without assistance or to start a job while commuting from another city, but local job market and local licensing requirements are by far the biggest determining factors from the corporate side.

        When my partner and I relocated for my job, part of our calculations included how long we could live on a single income while he waited on local bar admission. I was hired to fill a specific niche where the company couldn’t find someone local, but we moved to an area where you can barely throw a tomato without hitting an attorney in his practice area and local firms aren’t interested in paying a lawyer who can’t immediately start working.

    2. amoeba*

      I do find that interesting as well! Might also depend on how many local jobs are generally available? In my (science) field, it’s very, very normal to move for a job, even internationally, but very definitely within the country. If you want to stay put, you’re severely limited option-wise. Actually, I’d normally do the exact opposite of the typical advice – never stress that I actually would like to live in city/country X for private reasons because they would then think that I’m not so interested in the job itself and only apply because I like the location!

      I never get why companies wouldn’t even consider non-local candidates – if they don’t want to pay for relocation/interview travel, why not just tell candidates that and let them decide whether they are still interested? Or do they not believe them and think they’ll pull back?

      1. Hlao-roo*

        I never get why companies wouldn’t even consider non-local candidates

        These obviously aren’t absolutes, but a non-local candidate is more likely to:

        – need more time between accepting an offer and the start date than a local candidate (non-local candidate will need to move, local candidate won’t)

        – decline the offer than a local candidate, because when they have an offer and crunch the numbers paying for the move isn’t worth it (if the candidate is paying for the move) or because when they have an offer they realize that leaving their current location/support network isn’t worth the intangible costs (if the company is paying for the move there are still costs that can’t be measured in $$)

        – stay at the job for a shorter period of time than a local candidate because the location doesn’t agree with them (could be: different climate, cultural differences, general homesickness, lack of support network, difficulty making new friends)

        Obviously, local candidates can also have a job offer coincide with a local move and ask for extra time before the start date, or decline the job offer, or leave the job after a short period of time for various reasons including deciding to pull up stakes and move to a different city/state/country. Non-local candidates can successfully accept offers, happily live in the new location for many years, and thrive in the job. But in general, non-local candidates are riskier than local candidates. If a company has enough applicants to make a good hire when only looking at local candidates, it makes sense for the company to not even consider non-local candidates. (If a company does not have a strong pool of local-only candidates, I think it makes sense to consider the non-local candidates and that’s where things like having a connection to the area can go a long way to mitigating the risk of hiring a non-local person.)

  3. Beth*

    I started my most recent job hunt with an “I could do so many things happily and well, I’ll just see where the market takes me!” attitude, and OP, it was the wrong way to go. I thought I was keeping myself open to possibilities. In reality, I was directionless, and that meant I wasn’t targeting my search or my self-marking with enough specificity to be a strong candidate.

    With that in mind, why not pick a single city where you’d like to live and work with the assumption that it’s where you will move? Come up with a really strong couple sentences in your cover letter about why you’re excited to move there. Prep your interview self-intro with more reasons you’re looking forward to living in that city. Target your networking efforts towards people you know who live there. Look into where you’d want to live, what you’d expect rent to be, what salary you’d need to make to be comfortable with that, etc. Look for job postings in commutable distance from the area you want to live, and go hard on applying specifically for those.

    If, after a month or two of that, you’re getting no bites in that city…then you switch to another city that you’d be enthusiastic about living in. But letting yourself really lean into the choice you’re making makes you sound a lot more convincing than being like “Yes, here would be fine, but so would any of a dozen other options.”

    1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      I mostly agree with your advice, though instead of limiting to one city, I think LW could pick up to 5.

      Come up with a really strong couple sentences in your cover letter about why you’re excited to move there. Prep your interview self-intro with more reasons you’re looking forward to living in that city. Target your networking efforts towards people you know who live there.

      But definitely agree with this advice.

      1. Beth*

        I found for myself that doing the work to really thoroughly market myself for 3-5 possible paths at a time was too much to juggle! It led me to keep my materials vague enough that I could edit easily, when I actually needed to lean in hard and be specific. (Think e.g. the difference between “I’m in the process of relocating to X because I want to live by the ocean,” where X could be a dozen cities, vs “I’m in the process of relocating to San Diego, the home of my three favorite surfing sites. While my original motivation for this move is to pursue my surfing hobby, I’m excited that it opens a door for me to pursue this career opportunity,” which is very specific and can’t necessarily be easily edited to apply to other cities.)

        If OP can juggle different cover letter versions, elevator pitches, etc without losing specificity, then they should absolutely do so! But for me, picking one focus at a time, doing it for 1-2 months, and then switching tracks was more effective.

    2. She of Many Hats*

      This is what I wanted to say – choose your top city or two and focus your hunt there. Get to know details about the area to add oomph to your “why I want to be in X city” cover letter and resume.

    3. gsa*

      I agree. Pick your City.

      Then see what jobs are being advertised in the area and then do some COL vs projected salary research.

      Good luck.

      1. Anon in Canada*

        If you’re in a super niche field with only a few positions per city, only picking a single city is unrealistic.

        1. Itsa Me, Mario*

          In that case, the best thing is to pick the city where there are most likely to be jobs. I work in entertainment. When I decided to leave NYC, I knew that it was going to be easiest to find work in Los Angeles, and that there was no real point in applying to jobs in San Francisco, Seattle, and Philadelphia, despite my enjoyment of those cities and feeling like I’d like to live there.

          1. Anon in Canada*

            How about a field where no one city has more jobs than any other, where “every city has it, but no city has more than a few positions” e.g. librarian?

            You can’t “pick one city” when you work in a field like this.

            1. Beth*

              There are some fields where this is the case–academia also comes to mind! But if you’re in a field like this, both you and your potential employers are aware that the job hunting process isn’t like other fields. Out-of-town candidates are the norm and the reason for relocation is your passion for this niche field.

          2. amoeba*

            Naaah, I disagree. I’m in one of those fields and at least for us, it makes way more sense to really be specific with the kind of role/company you’d like to work for and then focus on that! If you have that kind of job, people know and nobody will be confused that you’re planning to relocate! I’d actually advice against focusing on the location in those cases, just focus on why you love that particular company and role. In my experience, talking about wanting to be near the ocean or whatever really makes you seem less interested in the role/company itself – because it’s already a given that you’d be ready to relocate in any case, because most people do!

    4. Market Hargrave*

      I don’t think it’s necessary to pick just one. You can write a template cover letter talking about how much you want to move to [City] bc [nice thing about that city] similarly to how you handle the name of the company and the job title. It’s not like all the companies are comparing and saying, “hey, she wrote the same thing to Acme in Cincinnati and Apex in St. Louis that she wrote to us!”

      1. gsa*

        I agree you don’t have to pick just one city. However, I would not write a cover letter until I was certain the city I thought I liked had jobs that I thought I might like.

  4. FromCanada*

    I interviewed and hired an out of province candidate for a position that was not going to be particularly hard to fill. She got an interview because it said very clearly in her CL that she had family in the area and was looking to move. Having a support network already in place, having been to the area before and being clear about wanting to move was key to getting the interview. She knocked the interview out of the park. We did not pay for moving costs. This was before COVID. (The person I hired turned out to be the best hire I’ve ever made).

    I have only ever interviewed one out of province candidate – most do not make it clear why they are interested and that they are willing to move. If you’re out of province (or state) I think you must include a strong cover letter with a clear case of why you should be considered. It will also really help if you’re applying to a job in a similar sector as what you do now – so think not just finance but insurance finance or post secondary finance rather than “finance”. It makes it less of a risk to hire you.

    1. FromCanada*

      I should also say, she had really relevant, good experience. There were no hurtles in terms of the job itself. The biggest hurtle was that she was in another province.

      1. Michelle Smith*

        What other reasons besides having family in the area would have been compelling enough to you to justify interviewing this candidate? Because I do not want to stay where I’m living now forever, and I absolutely do not want to move anywhere near my family members.

  5. BellyButton*

    In my cover letter I wrote “I am planning to relocate to {city} in the next few months” As if it was already a done deal and most seem to understand that I was not expecting them to pay relocation.

    1. Weaponized Pumpkin*

      I was once hired across the country and that’s how I did it. “I will be moving” not “interested in moving” or anything at all tentative. But even then I did not get any interviews until I planned a scouting trip and could say “I’ll be in City interviewing later this month, could we set up a time during this week.” It happened to be a boom time in hiring so I was able to line up a couple interviews (might not work now), but it showed a commitment that generated far more responses than I’d had previously.

    2. Orv*

      When I applied for my current job I knew paid relocation wasn’t an option, so I said up front, “I am prepared to pay for my own relocation.” I would only do this if you know relocation assistance won’t be in the cards, though, because otherwise you’re throwing a potential negotiating point away.

    1. Stoney Lonesome*

      I don’t know that this would work because presumably their resume lists what organizations they work for. They say they are in the type of field where all work is on-site. It might be obvious from the company name that they are in a different area.

    2. Itsa Me, Mario*

      I think this would be tricky once the hiring process progresses beyond maybe a recruiter screen. I’m especially thinking of all the interview small talk I’ve had about the weather, different local situations (sports team got to the playoffs, big local festival this weekend, etc), or just misc small talk about neighborhoods, restaurants, what you did last weekend, your kids’ activities, etc. It would be difficult to sound normal in that scenario if you’d literally never even visited that area and knew nothing about the place, but the person you were speaking to assumed you were a longtime area resident. And you needed to basically be lying that you definitely already live there.

    3. Throwaway Account*

      We are hiring right now and are getting candidates from out of the area – which we know because we can see where they work now and where all their jobs were. If they don’t say anything, we wonder if they even realize that we are in a different state/part of the state. You do need to explain why you are applying to a job in Florida but you currently work in New York!

      And if you are applying for a part-time evening job, you need to explain that you are leaving your full-time job for this one or how your schedule will allow you to accommodate both! Don’t make us guess!

    4. Zzzzzz*

      I don’t get this advice since all their work experience is listed in current city which “demands” an explanation in a cover letter of moving to new city.

  6. Maple Leaf*

    I had this same issue happen when I moved from Province A to Province B (Canadian here). I was originally applying to jobs with my current address in Province A, and stating in my cover letter that on XX date I would be residing in Province B … crickets.

    I had family in Province B and started using their street address & local phone number, and I took out the move detail from my cover letter. Re-applied to jobs with the same resume & cover letter, only change was local contact details … poof, all landed me job interviews.

    Good luck!

    1. Anon in Canada*

      Were you employed in a non-remote job at the time you did this? Because if you were, it’s baffling to me that any employers would not have seen the subterfuge.

      1. LJ*

        You speak of it as a crime or something. The point is to pass the first 1 second impression, and have the opportunity to have a more nuanced conversation.

        1. Anon in Canada*

          If I were in HR or a hiring manager, someone listing an address that contradicts a current, non-remote job, they wouldn’t make it past the first 1 second impression because I would notice the contradiction and if your resume contradicts itself, it means you’re lying. Therefore no interview. In my view, lying on your resume is an absolute no-no – if someone is willing to be dishonest on that, what else are they going to be dishonest on?

          1. Starbuck*

            This is such an interesting take, because I see this all the time – addresses that don’t match recent work locations – and it’s because we’re often hiring recent college grads that have their old home address but they’ve moved for school/jobs. Or they’ve taken a seasonal job with housing at the work/field location, but aren’t expecting to live there permanently. If you’re hiring early career people, this seems like the default, that people are moving around, no? Honestly it would never occur to me that someone was lying if addresses didn’t match – it’s not even really a factor until we get to the interview convo, where we have a question asking what their moving plan would be if they were offered the job.

            1. Anon in Canada*

              If the address contradicts the most recent – but not current – job: no problem, the person has just moved. (Or so I’d believe them.)

              If the candidate is still in school, I’d give them some leeway too if the address doesn’t match the school or a part-time student job – it could very well be their parents’ address.

              You do make a good point about recent college grads who may very well be listing their parents’ address; however in Canada “moving around”, even early career, especially out of province, is very rare, given both the reluctance of employers to hire out of area candidates, and Canadian culture not emphasizing mobility as much as US culture.

              For someone who has held full-time jobs for years, a current job more than 2 hours away from their purported address would be a gigantic red flag. No way they’re commuting that. This, at the bare minimum, requires explanation on the resume (e.g. “alternate address” or “new address after impending move”), otherwise it looks like they’re lying. Unfortunately ATSs don’t have a spot for such explanations.

      2. amoeba*

        Might also be some kind of HR or even automated pre-screen, and the hiring manager might not even get to see your application – even though they would have been happy to hire you if they had!

  7. NewCityWhoThis*

    I had the same approach, but with one city OP. I was waiting to get a job in the new city since that would determine my budget for housing, I was operating on the assumption that I’d need to take a paycut to re-locate to said city. After a year of no luck, a friend finally pulled off the band aide and told me all the jobs I’ve been getting interviews for and then … not getting… the jobs were going to folks who had already relocated and were at the local happy hours etc. I made the decision to move picked a date, and had an interview before the moving truck arrived. I moved two week ago and had a final round interview, and am already hearing from professional contacts in the city that they heard I was moving, and was I looking for a new job? I wish I had pulled the trigger on this moved a year and a half ago! Just do it!

    1. Butterfly Counter*

      This was my thought. Find an AirBNB or another local extended stay place and just make the move if that’s where you want to live.

    2. Anon today*

      Oof, I think this is something where you really have to know your destination city. I lived in Denver right as there were a TON of people moving there, and a whole lot of folks got themselves in trouble with a “I’ll figure it out when I get there!” approach. It wad much more expensive, and the job market was much more co petite, than many people expected.

  8. Trying to make it all work*

    You want to reduce the risk for the employer. They do not want to be concerned that you will be lonely in a new town, not have a network to support you if you hit a rough patch, decide you don’t like the city you have moved to after all and … in all these cases, either you leave or struggle to perform. It is a big risk for an employer to hire someone brand new to a city/town/place. You need to do what you can to mitigate this risk …. with something more than a reassurance that you will be fine in the new place.

    1. Itsa Me, Mario*

      I don’t know that this is necessarily true — since companies pay to relocate people all the time — but I do think that there are a lot of unknowns about someone who is not already living in the area. Will they come back the day before they were due to start and decline the role, because the move fell through? Will they need to push their start date due to logistical issues with relocating? Will they accept the job offer and then assume they can work remote despite that not being part of the initial agreement? If they are relocating for some family or social reason, will they leave the role if their situation changes?

      1. AngryOctopus*

        And the job itself matters very much re: relocation costs. Almost nobody is going to pay relocation for an entry level bench scientist. There are lots of us out there. But if you’re looking for someone to lead a new project, or a director, these are more likely to pay relocation. It may also depend on the company location and if they’re using “relocation costs provided” as a carrot to attract people. But for the most part an entry level or just above job isn’t going to provide costs, or want to deal with “we need someone to start date X, and this person may not be able to relocate that fast and we have 3 local candidates to choose from”.

    2. amoeba*

      That’s a very weird view coming from a field where almost everybody relocates to for their job. Like, a lot of prestigious companies hire people from around the globe (think Silicon Valley as the most extreme example), how do you think they manage? I hardly think people are quitting Google in droves because they realise they don’t like the landscape after all…

      1. Starbuck*

        Yeah, those things aren’t even really a factor for where I hire. We have entry-level positions that people don’t typically stay too long at, and we’re hiring a lot of fresh or recent grads – them being new in town is the default! It’s not that we aren’t concerned about how they’ll like it here, but.. it’s just a thing that people figure out?

  9. Eng Girl*

    We always had a radius that I was “allowed” to look at for new hires. My company did not pay relocation and they did not pay for people to travel for the interview, so they basically said that I had to look within X distance. I eventually got HR to open up by reminding them that I had moved there from further away and that we had some people who commuted from areas that they considered out of our hiring zone.

  10. Shimmy*

    I’ve moved across the country (US) several times, and here’s what I’d recommend:

    – pick a city/town, maybe two, but not many more than that. It will help you to be more focused in your search. It’s fine to be “open” to anything, but this becomes burdensome when you have too many choices.
    – Visit those places, if you haven’t already, and do so with “can I live here” at the forefront of your mind. If it’s a place with extreme weather, visit during the worst season.

    Alison already gave some excellent advice on how to find a job before moving. But consider that you should pick someplace you *want* to live. The job you find may not work out, or maybe you hate it, or maybe the company goes belly up in a year. A friend of mine moved to a city in the PNW for a job, and after a year she realized she was living in a city that she did not like for a job she also did not like. It’s a good idea to make sure you’re someplace that you enjoy living, even if it’s just for the next few years.

    1. Throwaway Account*

      I’ll second all that Shimmy said!
      My friend moved to a very popular area, people are devoted to this area, for a big wig job in a well-respected business. Friend HATES the area and the devoted people and the job!

      They flew her in for the interview, and she spent just a day or two there. Not enough time to evaluate the location with “Can I live here?” in her mind. Lesson learned!

    2. Shandra*

      Yes. I’ve never done this, but I’ve had three colleagues who relocated from our big firm’s head office to field offices in other states. They all returned to head office within a year.

      Bob seemed to think if his job was secure, everything else in the new area would fall into place. Cotton discovered that his family members loving the other location, didn’t mean he would. Matt found himself missing his family back in head office city.

    3. Fanny Price*

      When my father got his first job after his PhD (in the early 70s), he interviewed for a job in West Virginia with an oil company. The company required that he visit for a full week, bringing his wife with him, before they would make an offer (they paid for the week). He was very interested in the job, but my mother cried all the way home after being there for a week, and he didn’t take it.

      That was a company that has been burned before and knew how to mitigate risks!

  11. metadata minion*

    Depending on your field, where in your career you are, etc., temping can be a good way to get your feet under you in a new location, especially if you can get a temp-to-perm gig.

    When I first moved up to my current location, the temp agency I worked for had this program where if you had a certain level of general office skills, they would place you in temp positions as normal, but if they didn’t have one after your last gig ended, they’d send you out on very short-term assignments, often to nonprofit organizations they donated labor to. I spent a day being the receptionist for the chief medical examiner’s office, and swooped in to organize files for charities like the world’s dorkiest superhero. It was a great way to just get a feel for the public transit system, geography, major employers, that kind of thing.

    But that type of gig definitely makes less sense if you’re otherwise going to be applying to mid-level engineering positions or something like that.

  12. movingonover*

    I had a family member who was living in New York temporarily while his SO was going to graduate school. He was born, raised, and went to college in the southeast but knew he wanted to make California his permanent home, so he actively searched out employers in New York who also had offices in California, and made it his mission to get hired by one of them and grow the skills and connections he’d need for a position in their California office. It worked out for him and he was able to transfer to their California branch 3 years later. He’s been living there, very happily, ever since.

    1. Chirpy*

      I was able to do this even with a retail job. I still haven’t found a better job in my new city (which I love, I’d been coming here to visit my whole life) but transferring from one store to the other wasn’t hard, and it at least means I’m now local for job hunting. Granted, I’d already been working at the first store for several years beforehand, but it worked for me.

  13. Stoney Lonesome*

    I want to give on other reason why a company might be focusing on local candidates. They might want someone who has ties to the local community.

    I am hiring right now. We are interviewing a couple of out-of-state candidates, but the local ones are at the top of our list. Part of it is the reasons Alison said in the response, but part of it is that we think someone who already has some connection to the community would have an easier time. Without triangulating myself too much, we are in fairly rural Appalachia. It can be kind of an insular community. Someone non-local could do it. But if it comes down to two equally good candidates, we’d pick the local one over the non-local one.

    My advice to the letter writer would be to think about if there are any nuances in your particular field that might make a local candidate more desirable. In my case, if someone is out-of-state but says they have family here or went to college nearby or something similar, we basically plop them into the “local” category.

    1. Ama*

      I am in the nonprofit/academia adjacent sector, and I’ve seen quite a few listings lately for remote or hybrid that will say that candidates are expected to have residency within a certain area within a year. Many of these are state schools or nonprofits that are based in a specific geographic area (and thus probably need to have employees based in the area for state funding/grant funding type reasons). But that is a possible option if it works for the OP’s field and jobs like that are available in the city they want to move to.

    2. Dragonfly7*

      I’ve wondered what is considered local enough. I grew up close enough to the area I’m searching that my school would go there for field trips, but just far enough away that my parents wouldn’t consider commuting. I kind of know the area, like where the bigger suburbs, highways, and some attractions are, but not really.

    3. Itsa Me, Mario*

      I think even beyond an insular community and super specific situation, there are a lot of jobs where someone familiar with the area from day one is going to have an advantage. Someone who is local may already be familiar with the vendors they’ll be dealing with. They will already know the little local quirks of doing business that might vary from city to city for any or no reason. I’m originally from New Orleans, and having someone who knows how not to end up on the wrong side of a Mardi Gras parade is probably really helpful, if there are site visits or time out in the field.

  14. KPat*

    Since OP mentioned that their friends had already moved out of the area–if you can arrange to stay with one of those friends for a while (either while working remotely, or if it’s a distance you can reasonably drive, at least for the weekends) that can be a big boost!
    That means that you’ll get experience with an area you’re considering, can reference specific local details in the cover letter (not “I hear you have great beaches” but “I love X community and Y local benefit”), can be more available to the employers in that area, and (if your friend is on board) apply under a local address.
    Plenty of reasons why this kind of arrangement wouldn’t work for everyone, but I was fortunate enough to be able to host a friend at my place for a couple months while she found a job and then an apartment in this area, and it seemed to be a big help.

  15. Anonager*

    You can just rent a mailbox (with an actual street address) in several cities that you are applying to. They are around $10/month. This is the address I used on out-of-state applications. I think it helps.

    1. Zzzzzz*

      And how did you address the fact that all work experience was in “other city” and what you are currently doing in new city that isn’t on your resume?

      1. Throwaway Account*

        I commented on this above, we are hiring and right now and do notice when the current job is in another region or state. I think the rented mailbox would work only if the cover letter said, “I am in the process of moving.”

  16. TK*

    As someone in academia, these questions are always so bizarre to me! The thought that there are employers who don’t hire people who would have to relocate still strikes me as so odd, even though I know it’s a thing.

    1. Anon in Canada*

      Academia is an exception to a lot of “rules” in job searching – and is clearly an exception to this one!

      Unless you’re in the C-suite or the job is in a remote rural location that’s very hard to hire for, the vast majority of Canadian private sector employers will not hire out-of-province candidates, and even being a couple hours away within the same province will be a major hurdle. Based on reading things here, it seems like the US isn’t very different.

      1. londonedit*

        Yeah, even here in the UK where the whole country fits into Texas seven times or whatever it is, employers will be wary of candidates who live miles away and don’t have a concrete plan to move to the area where the job is. With London you get more geographical grace, because it’s understood that no one can afford to live in central London, and most people who want to buy houses will move out to the towns around London and commute in, so an address in Kent or Hertfordshire won’t raise any eyebrows. But if you’re living in Weston-Super-Mare or Bradford or whatever and you’re applying to a job in London that’s hybrid or in-office, you’re definitely going to face questions about whether you’re planning to move closer to London and/or how you’re going to manage hybrid working, because those sorts of places aren’t easily commutable on a regular basis.

        1. MsSolo (UK)*

          Or if the role is in the Yorkshire Dales and you’re currently in London. Have you considered that you probably won’t be able to find a dentist for several years? That the bus only runs once a week? That the schools are oversubscribed so you may have to home school for months / pay to send your kids to a private school with a two hour commute?

          I think there’s less emphasis on a support network here (due to the size of the country, and the fact you get more leave – if an elderly parent has a fall you can probably take a couple of weeks off to make arrangements for them, even if you’re not close enough to support them yourself), but it is very relevant to these kinds of moves. It’s much easier to up sticks when you’re young and single and don’t have to worry about childcare and whether your partner will find work, but if all of your experience making friends is through school and university it’s a real adjustment to start making friends as an adult (especially outside of work). If you’re moving with your family you’ve both got a support network in place and more opportunities to make friends (all those other parents at kids’ activities discovering that the cafe outside of ballet class does the worst coffee you’ve ever drunk, but there’s nowhere else to go) but the logistics are much harder to arrange.

          1. londonedit*

            Oh yeah, totally. We’ve all heard the stories of Londoners smugly escaping to the country during lockdown, only to find that it really is quite annoying having to get in the car and drive three miles for a pint of milk because your village doesn’t have a shop. No takeaway delivery, no handy nearby pharmacy, no bus services to speak of. Not to mention trying to manage a commute back to the city when your company decides everyone has to be in two days a week, and meanwhile you’re now living half an hour’s drive from the train station and a two-hour journey into London.

      2. amoeba*

        Not just academia! I’m in science and the idea is wild to me. Looking at the workforce for the big pharma companies around here, people are definitely relocating from all over the world to join Pfizer or Novartis! And that’s as “lowly scientists”, certainly not C-level. I’m sure it’s the same in Tech, as well?

        Probably also depends on the pool of opportunities, there are really only a handful of companies that offer the kind of job I would consider, and if you don’t happen to have grown up there by chance, you’ll either give up science and do something boring or you’ll relocate. (It is similar to academia in that way, I suppose…)

  17. B*

    Think about whether you’re too focused on “push” factors rather than “pull” factors. The letter has a lot about what you’re trying to get away from but very little about what you’re looking for. You’re a much more attractive candidate when you can explain what is pulling you toward a specific decision, whether that’s working for a particular employer or living in a certain place.

    When you’re desperate to get out of a situation, you really may be willing to take just about anything else, anywhere else. Unfortunately that’s not a very appealing sales pitch. I have had much more success in job hunting (even relocating, a couple of times) when I am reasonably happy in my current position and only applying to select positions for reasons I can articulate. Even if you have to fake that energy in your own search it will likely pay dividends.

  18. Milton's Swingline Stapler*

    Pro-tip: Job listings aren’t the only places to start an out-of-area search. I’m currently working on several workforce attraction campaigns for a State agency and we are competing hard with other states and municipalities for inflow talent. If the places you think you’d like to live are outside of major metropolitan areas (or places that are currently “hot”), they’re probably looking for you too! Many states, and some small cities, are so hard up for workers and have implemented incentive programs to attract folks from out of state. These programs often include offerings like help with navigating the job search, matching you with employers who are actively recruiting in your sector, relocation assistance — even student loan assistance/forgiveness. If there’s a place you think you might want to live, try searching: work in + place name.

    1. Dragonfly7*

      I would consider within an hour of the metropolitan area where I’m looking (church-related reasons for not further out), so I’ll give this a try!

  19. Alex*

    One thing that happened to me was that I was looking to move–I really, truly was!–and I got an interview and then an offer from a position in my target city. However, during the process, some things shifted in the reasons that I had to move, and when my current job gave me a counter offer, it no longer made sense for me to move. I think that more things can “go wrong” when interviewing non-local candidates, and employers don’t want to deal with that. In my case, I did apply in good faith, but by the end of the process the job wasn’t something I was excited about and my current situation had sweetened the pot, and I had to make the decision that was best for me, but unfortunately I think I contributed to the reputation of flakiness of out-of-state candidates…sorry :/

  20. Anon today*

    I work for an organization that attracts a relatively high number of out of state applicants. We’re also in a very divisive state – people tend to love it or hate it, and until you’ve spent time here it’s hard to say which way it will go.

    A compelling reason that somebody *wants* to move here, including some amount of time actually spent here, goes a long way. It gives me, and the hiring team, much greater confidence that we won’t get through an entire hiring process – or worse, a few months of employment – before someone realizes that they don’t actually want to live here and decides to move elsewhere.

  21. CreatorMundi*

    I found a job before moving to another city. Here’s what worked for me:
    1. Update your LinkedIn profile to your future home. Only apply to remote jobs or jobs in that location. If any recruiters call you, steer them to your new location.
    2. Only put your email address and phone number on your resume. I haven’t found an issue with having a different area code from the destination, but you can set up a Google Voice phone number if that’s a problem.
    3. If you have a cover letter, mention your plans to move and when that will take place.
    4. During interviews, be prepared to briefly explain reason for move and your estimated time to be ready to work.
    5. Join all trade and employment networks near your new home. It was very helpful to see the local job market and hiring process experienced by others.

    Best of luck!

    1. Dragonfly7*

      I hadn’t considered the trade / employment networks advice. I would be hesitant to update the LinkedIn profile location just because I have several current coworkers as connections, and at least one DOES pay attention to that sort of thing. Great suggestions!

  22. NobodyHasTimeForThis*

    I think the problem may be the phrasing “I’m actively looking to move and that I’d be excited to move to XXX”. If there is no relocation budget they will pass right over this as it reads that you are looking for them to pay for the move.

    “I am in the process of relocating to XXX “

    1. Anon in Canada*

      Nothing in that phrase even remotely suggests that the candidate expects relo to be paid by the company.

      Employers really need to stop assuming that out-of-area candidates will expect relo or interview travel to be paid by the company. Just say in the first communication that the company doesn’t cover those, and the candidate can withdraw if they aren’t willing to pay.

  23. Anon in Canada*

    Several issues here:

    1) Every ATS requires a full mailing address to apply, no ifs or buts about it. There is also no way to list two addresses or to explain why you want to relocate.
    2) If you are currently employed in a non-remote job, taking your home address off your resume won’t hide anything, because the prospective employer will know where you are from the location field of your current job.
    3) Again, if currently employed and not remote, you cannot borrow a friend’s or family member’s address. Nope nope nope. You just cannot. If your address and current job location clearly contradict each other, the employer will know within seconds that you’re lying, and no wants to hire a liar. (You should be able to get away with it if unemployed. Make sure you have a passport, though. If the employer asks for ID, you don’t want to provide an Ontario driver’s license when you claimed to live in Manitoba. Talk about awkward!)
    4) I really wish Alison would stop assuming that every job application includes a cover letter, and that cover letters are being read before resumes. Many companies have phased out cover letters in their ATSs (as in you can’t even submit one at all), and even in those that still take them/ask for them, they either tend to be read after the resume has made it through the first cut, or not at all. An out-of-province address or current job probably means your resume will be tossed in the first cut, and the cover letter never read. Saying “just explain yourself in your cover letter” is naive.
    5) In some fields, “just pick one city” is unrealistic. Some fields only have a few positions per city. You can’t necessarily wait for one of these positions to come up – that would make you wait forever!
    6) I hate, hate, hate the fact that employers ever paid for interviewees’ travel costs and new hires’ moving costs. This has created an assumption that candidates will require those – when in fact most long distance candidates would be happy to pay these costs to get a shot at the job. Let me pay my own way instead of rejecting me based on a false assumption!

    2, 3 and 4 especially need more attention. It’s NOT as simple as “take your address off” or “borrow an address”.

    1. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      (6) Even my first straight out of uni paid generous relocation expenses including 7 months at a hotel & asociated legal costs etc of purchasing a house. I would have struggled to start my career otherwise, having grown up in poverty.
      When I moved abroad, that was paid too. And of course all interview expenses – flights/trains/taxis & hotel.

      It’s the norm in some fields and I’d hate to see those costs moved to employees, especially those just at the start of their career.

      1. Anon in Canada*

        Fair point, but in most fields, entry-level candidates aren’t in high enough demand, and don’t have enough leverage, to get even a fraction of the relo package you got. I assume you are probably in an extremely in-demand field and/or graduated from a prestigious school like an Ivy League one, for you to get that straight out of uni.

        Passing those costs on to candidates and employees would suck for those who used to get such packages, but rejecting candidates on the mere assumption that they will require such reimbursement is even worse. If the role isn’t specialized or high level enough to command such reimbursement of travel/relo, why automatically reject all out of area candidates without even checking if they’re willing to pay their own way? A lot of people are stuck in a locale that they hate, or that doesn’t have opportunities in their field, because employers just think “out of area, don’t want to pay” the moment they see their location.

        Candidates can always withdraw from the interview process if they’re not willing to pay. Extend the opportunity, and if the candidate is willing to pay, let them. It could even be added as a question in the ATS – “are you willing to travel to City X for an interview at your own expense?”.

        1. TK*

          As always, this is totally industry-specific. As I note in another reply, in academia not paying travel costs for interviews would be a giant red flag.

      2. TK*

        Yeah, as someone in academia (I’m in academia myself, but my whole field is more academia-adjacent) that whole set of assumptions is incredibly bizarre. Relocating is the norm, not the exception, cover letters are 100% required (though they’re always much more boring than the kind promoted by AAM), and you get a bad reputation if you don’t pay moving expenses. As for interview costs, honestly I’d advise anyone against taking any professional job in academia where your travel costs for interviewing aren’t paid. That’s a huge red flag.

        1. Anon in Canada*

          Academia is very obviously its own beast, and has very different conventions than pretty much any other field. One’s experience looking for academic jobs is not applicable to the private sector.

          In my industry, 4 of 5 major employers don’t want cover letters – 3 don’t take them at all, and the 4th technically takes them but includes a disclaimer that they “don’t ask for them”. Companies paying for interview travel is absolutely Not A Thing unless you’re very high level. Hiring out of province is also not really a thing, however since the companies are Canada wide, one can get hired where they live, work at the company for a while and ask for transfer (this is very common).

          1. LJ*

            It really sounds like you’re in a niche but also perhaps underpaid field. Experiences will vary wildly, and it’s also not fair to say as a blanket statement that private sector companies will give you the 9th degree for trying to move from out of province.

            1. Anon in Canada*

              Not niche at all, underpaid if you’re in a HCOL area since the companies are Canada wide and pay the same for the same position whether you’re in downtown Vancouver or rural Saskatchewan.

              They always get plenty of local candidates for roles that aren’t high level, so why would they bother with external long distance candidates? They won’t. However, once you’re in the company, asking for a transfer is a perfectly normal thing to do and is commonly granted (they’ll usually grant the transfer to an internal candidate who wants it rather than posting a position externally).

          2. amoeba*

            It is very applicable to my part of the private sector (science). Although the processes at universities are even more drawn-out and require more effort (research statements and the like), but the principle is very, very similar.

      3. amoeba*

        Yup. Like, wtf? I would never have found a job if that were a thing here – it’s very expected in my field to relocate for your job and companies absolutely do cover the cost for both of these things. Otherwise, no broke grad student could ever manage to go to more than, like, two interviews a year. Most of the jobs I applies to requires an overnight stay and a flight or a long train ride, and I’m in Europe, the continent of short distances!

        1. Anon in Canada*

          It seems to be the consensus that the willingness to hire out-of-area candidates – and to pay for candidates’ interview travel – is highly dependent on industry, job level and country (industry seems to be the most important factor).

          People know their industry. Maybe yours is very open to relocation. But others state that they’ve sent tons and tons of applications outside their local area and never heard back from any of them, and they have to be taken at their word.

      1. Anon in Canada*

        At small companies and nonprofits, yes.

        By now, the overwhelming majority of large and medium companies use ATS’s – you don’t email your resume, you upload it and submit an application via a website. And those system require a full mailing address to apply.

        1. LJ*

          Mailing address – exactly, an address where you can receive mail. That’s why I’m a bit surprised you’d think of it as dishonesty if a candidate can indeed receive mail at an address in your town. (What if it was clearly a POBox, is that ok?)

          (I say this in the spirit of friendly debate , thanks for sharing your perspective )

          1. Anon in Canada*

            A PO box wouldn’t be a red flag like a home address listed in another city without explanation or context. But if they’re employed in a non-remote job, I’ll still know where they are no matter what, so if they’re long distance, I’ll know it. If there are already tons of good local candidates, the disadvantages of being long distance are still there.

  24. DannyG*

    At the start of COVID my rural hospital shut down everything except childbirth. I was looking in the three contiguous states that I am licensed in. The three serious interviews I had all asked about my living situation. Same answer for each: I had researched the areas in question, identified short term, furnished rentals in each, then planned to move to a more permanent apartment once I had acclimatized to the area. Selling the house and buying on site was down the road if things worked out. That satisfied all 3.

  25. Matth3w2*

    I have mainly gotten jobs where the company did a nationwide search and expected someone to have to move. I’ve moved a lot for new jobs. I work in a sort of specialized field and the pickins are slim in any given place other than maybe NYC and LA.

    I’m currently at the last stage of interviews for another such job, except this one is a unicorn – it’s actually located in my city. I am wound up like a spring waiting to see if I get it.

  26. Teacher723*

    I live in a community where people always say they want to live-it’s a big destination spot at various times of the year, but mostly a smaller town not too far from a few larger cities in the US.

    I have never met a single person who moved here (without family connections already living here) who lasted more than five years before moving away again.

    Maybe you are applying in areas where locals know that newcomers don’t or won’t last, historically-speaking? I know when I have new students who recently moved to my town (and I hear they have no family nearby) I know that they’ll probably only last a year and be moving again.

  27. DiplomaJill*

    when I did my long distance job search I planned a week to be in town about a month before submitting apps, and included that I would be “in town the week of ______” in my cover letter. The only issue was when I scheduled two interviews on the same day a few hours apart and then learned they were also a few hours apart in distance, oops.

  28. Cedrus Libani*

    I’ve heard complaints about a new trend: the job gets posted as “100% remote”, but that’s a bait and switch, they want you to move to wherever the office is. Preferably fast enough so it doesn’t complicate their taxes, but definitely within a year or so. Most people rightfully nope out when they realize this, but it occurs to me that the OP might benefit. Less competition, and it matches what they actually want. They might be able to just be honest about their situation: “After a few Seattle winters, I’m eager to come home to [anywhere else]…”

  29. Lizzo*

    LW, d o you have the option of a job you could pursue (retail or otherwise) that would get you to your city of choice quickly, while also paying enough to cover your bills? When my spouse and I first met we were in the same university town–I was finishing an advanced degree, and he had just completed his Bachelor’s. As soon as I was done, I relocated to a major city nearby. He was able to follow me there quickly because the company he worked in retail for had locations in that major city, so he transferred within the company. Once he had moved, he started job searching for full-time positions that were in line with his degree and his desired career path.

  30. Silverose*

    Been there, done that, and in the end it required finding friends to crash with rent-free, cashing in an old retirement account for moving expenses, and moving with no job lined up – then finding a job once local and worrying about housing after that. I’ve done this twice in my life now (minus the retirement account the first time – I didn’t have one of those when I was 25), once just to move cities within state and once to move cross country. Both times, it was the right decision.

  31. Elle by the sea*

    Almost all jobs I got were in a different city or even country. It was never a problem. They always asked if I was willing to relocate.

  32. Humpty Dumpty*

    Hi LW, if you use your LinkedIn profile to job search, you can put your ideal location as your main location there. If you then turn on the “open to work” feature on your profile with your ideal location, you will be approached by recruiters searching for that location.

    Joining Linkedin Groups in your industry that focus on that city can also help. especially if you regularly post some value-adding content about your area of expertise in that group. Hiring managers from your ideal future city will see your expertise and check out your profile.

  33. traytableupright*

    One thing that I haven’t seen mentioned is also being clear about your timeline for relocation. If you’re specifying in your cover letter that you’re willing or planning to move (which I think is a requirement as many others have mentioned, I won’t really spend any time with a non-local application when that’s not been addressed), it’s helpful as a hiring manager to know how quickly you’d be able to do that if I offered you the job. Having relocated myself in the past, I know how much time it can take, and if I’m hoping to fill a role relatively quickly I may think twice about interviewing someone who would need to relocate (especially from far away).

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