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Pursuing Out-of-Town Jobs?

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Recently, someone asked a question on Quora.com that I answered.  The question was: "Does applying for out-of-state jobs put you at a disadvantage?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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4 comments:

Cynthia Noell said...

"The challenge can be overcome."
How? Tell us how? Did you read your own article? How can it be overcome if recruiters aren't willing to look at out of state / out of town applicants?

Unfortunately, I'm experiencing this first hand. After a very lengthy interview, I was offerred the job. As I was putting on my coat the interviewer realized I lived two hours away. Game over. Just like that! I was stunned!

That line of thinking is completely ridiculous and moreso today given the economic state of the country. Sadly many don't grasp the magnitude of this issue if they have not been directly affected. At any rate, this geographical bias is contributing to the problem. People need jobs. Geography should have no baring on employment. We aren't talking about relocating from foreign countries. Recruiters need to get beyond this nonsense. My credentials are what matter. Not my zip code.

Harry Urschel said...

Sorry to hear of the bad experience you had Cynthia! Although that incident was an instance where they did decide not to move forward based on geography, it doesn't work out that way all the time.

The concern from the company likely is that you would take a job that far away because of the current job market, however, take off as soon as a closer opportunity arises. That may or may not be the case for you, but statistically, they have a valid concern. It's an expensive and time consuming process to find and hire a new employee and they'd like to increase their odds that they have a "keeper" the first time around rather than have to go through the process again relatively soon.

I know that certainly doesn't help your situation, but it's the reality of the current market.

I wish you the very best in your continued search!

Harry

Ellyn said...

I live in an area where decent paying jobs are scarce even in good economic times and relocation is a given for most young people graduating college.

Harry, you advocate dealing with the out-of-town issue with the recruiter / HR person during a telephone conversation. In my experience, corporate HR people are unwilling to even take calls or return voice mail from candidates. What is a person supposed to do in this situation?

Harry Urschel said...

Hi Ellen,

Thanks for the question. You are right, it can be difficult at times to connect with an HR person, however, it is still critical to talk to someone.

You can call several times to try to catch them on the phone. Don't leave a voicemail, however, try to reach them at different times of the day in the hopes of catching them at their desk.

Secondly, through LinkedIn or other networking sources, find others in the organization to talk to as well. They don't have to be directly related to the position you are pursuing. Ask them how they would recommend you might best get in touch with someone related to the role you are after. Ideally, you might get the name of the direct hiring manager who is more likely to want to talk to you since they have the need.

Persistence is necessary. But the payoff can certainly be worth it.

Best wishes!

Harry

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