Military spouses, new graduates, and workers transitioning to new industries are among those who might have to consider a long-distance job search. Local candidates have several distinct advantages: they may already have a local reputation in the industry or have connections with a recruiter through networking. They can commit to an interview on short notice. And there’s the cost advantage: they can start the job without a major household move. Therefore, they won’t be asking for extra time or funds to transition to a new city.
Here are some ways you can minimize these competitive advantages:
1. Choose your target cities carefully.
Recruiters will want to be reassured that you have thought this through. Companies know that relocation is risky. You may decide you don’t like the area or get homesick. You might discover that it’s more expensive than you thought it would be. If you’ve spent time in the area, you’re more likely to be considered. Do you have ties such as family or pastimes or favorite activities that connect you to the city?
2. Remove your current address from your resume so you’re not eliminated based on geography.
Companies generally don’t need your address to consider your skills. It’s becoming more common to remove any traceable personal information from public documents. Update your LinkedIn profile to say that you’re seeking opportunities in your target city. For instance, start to connect with people in your industry that have connections to the area. LinkedIn will be one of the best tools you have to network long-distance. Invest time in polishing your profile and building your network.
3. Schedule a couple of trips to your target city.
You’ll want to expand your network there and let potential employers know when you could meet with them in person. You’ll also want to learn about the city and scope out neighborhoods to make your eventual move smoother. Subscribe to the local newspaper and business journal; you’ll gain valuable insight and may find networking events to attend when you’re in town. You’ll also be able to talk about local news with your interviewers, making you seem less like an outsider.
4. You’ll need to develop a plan for relocation that you can manage and afford on your own.
Unless you have a skill set that is extremely rare, a company may not pay to relocate you, even in this tight market. It’s just not worth the cost compared to hiring local talent. Consider additional expenses like those associated with moving your pets or your vehicles. Demonstrate that your plan can be executed on short notice, allowing you to start work quickly. All things being equal, companies will choose the candidate who can start first.
5. Since you may be asked to interview long-distance, invest in and get comfortable with technology.
Experiment with your webcam or mobile device to find the best background and most flattering camera angle for you. Practice online conversations with a friend, paying attention to your eye contact and energy level. In other words, you’ll need the practice. It’s harder to make personal connections in web-based meetings and technology can sometimes work against you with time delays and static.
6. Don’t be tempted to deceive the company about where you live if it comes up.
Prepare a short, confident elevator speech about why you want to make the move and how you are prepared to accept an offer and get started as soon as possible. You’ll have to make a very strong case to stay in the running for the job.
The good news is that companies are very eager to find and keep good talent. Therefore, if you’re the right person for the job and have a plan for reporting to the company smoothly and quickly, you’ll make it easy for them to make an offer.
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