June 12, 2012
Facing, and conquering, relocation realities
I'll give it to you straight. By and large, employers hate, hate, hate relocating people. Given their druthers, they'll almost always hire a local candidate over a person they'd have to recruit from out of the area -- especially in a tight economy, where they may feel there's no compelling reason to cross state lines in search of talent.
Why is this the case? For starters, there's the obvious one: Many professionals who search for work in a different city expect the employer to kick in a generous relocation package to help cover their moving costs. This can be a pretty expensive deterrent from the employer's point of view.
There's another potential fear that comes into play: More often than you might think, employers spend months trying to fill a position, decide to take a chance on somebody from out of town and then end up getting burned when the new hire ends up not liking the new city and moving back.
This situation just happened at the workplace of one of my family members. The company hired a senior marketing executive out of Atlanta and moved him to Seattle with great hoopla, expense and excitement -- and he quit and moved back to Georgia after six months. Apparently, he hadn't heard that it rained a lot here. Or something.
Never fear, though; thousands of people still find work in a new city each year. It starts by appreciating how this issue is viewed from the employer's perspective, so that you can use this empathic understanding to help win over companies that are reluctant to consider a remote candidate.
Here are a few other smart strategies:
• If you've narrowed your job search to a specific metro area, consider getting a phone number in that city that you can forward to your existing phone. If hiring managers see a local area code on your resume, they won't discard your resume as quickly as if they see an unfamiliar one.
• If you have friends who live in your target city, ask if they would be willing to let you use their address during your search. Or omit your address from your resume entirely; this is an acceptable new convention, as discussed in a recent post.
• If you're determined to get hired in another city and you're not searching confidentially, change your LinkedIn "location" to that of your target destination. Otherwise, it could tip off employers to the fact that you're a remote candidate.
(Note: If you try any of the above techniques, you'll have to be prepared to address the fact that you're not technically a local candidate if an employer calls. You can say that you're in transit to the new city and would be willing to fly there for an interview on your own dime, if needed.)
• LinkedIn is a godsend for job hunters seeking to network and build new relationships in a distant location. Try running a search for contacts in your desired geographic area; you might be amazed at how many second connections (friends of friends) turn up.
• If your relocation plans are due to a spouse getting a new job and/or you'll be moving to the new city regardless, be sure to mention this in your cover letter. It will help convince employers that you're serious about the move and not nearly as much of a flight risk.
At the end of the day, there's no getting around it: You're going to be flying into a headwind if you search for positions outside your local area. But if you take the challenge seriously, and take steps to increase your chances of landing an interview, you might just get the big break you're looking for!
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.
Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.
Randy Woods writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.
Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.
Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.
Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."
Paul Anderson helps professionals in transition find their desired employment.
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