Job Search Tip of the Week #50 (2017)

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How to Make a Long-Distance Job Search Work

Tips for Applying To, Interviewing For, and Landing an Out-of-State Job




Dear CareerJuice:

I want a fresh start, and have been looking to relocate from Washington, D.C. to the Boston area for my next career move. It seems to me that a lot of companies are reluctant to consider – let alone hire! – someone from out-of-state, even when I insist I’m ready for a change of scenery and open to moving anywhere they need me.

At this point, I’ve applied to countless software engineering jobs but have only heard back from a few, who then seem to go MIA after a few emails or the first phone interview.

So I decided to broaden my search and try looking into other cities and states. But recently I’ve begun to feel like I’m starting to approach job-board spammer territory. You know, the land of the people who robotically apply to every job in sight or to the same job multiple times.

So, do you have any tips on how to get a job in a different city or state without actually moving there first?

Thanks,
STUCK IN THIS STATE




    Dear STUCK IN THIS STATE:

    Before we dive into the challenges and strategies of job relocation – good for you for looking to relocate to the Boston area. Boston’s one of the nation’s greatest tech hubs; there are plenty of employment opportunities to explore, as Massachusetts is currently outpacing most of the nation in IT job creation and industry growth.

    Now, we’re going to assume that you’re unable to move to Boston at this time, whether it be due financial or personal circumstances. And so you’ve stumbled across the catch-22 of expanding the scope of your job search remotely: Some (if not most) employers won’t seriously consider your job application unless you live locally, but you can’t do that unless you secure a job first.

    From a business standpoint, it makes sense. After all, why look at out-of-state candidates when you have so many great ones in the area who don’t need relocation assistance and who they can meet in-person at a moment’s notice?

    To ease their minds, be really specific in your cover letter about what you’re looking for and mention your timeframe and logistics of relocating to the Boston area. Make it clear that you’ve already made concrete plans to move to Boston, independent of whether or not you get the job you’re applying for. Doing so shows that you’re looking to lay down roots, and employers want employees who are going to be there long-term. As such, don’t express a willingness to relocate to absolutely anywhere, which indicates a job-hopper mentality.

    If possible, having a local address on your résumé and cover letter definitely helps you out by showing you have ties or a commitment to Boston. If you have family or friends in the area, ask if you can use their residence on your application materials or if they can secure you a PO box. If you’ve already locked down a place you’re moving into in the near future, use that address. Either way, be prepared to be upfront with employers if you’ve yet to make the transition from remote to local and get asked to interview on-site the next day.

    Remember, the biggest hurdle you have to overcome if you want to have a successful out-of-state job search is getting employers to trust your motivations for pursuing a role that requires relocation. It’s important to identify why you’re not a flight risk and are worth investing in. Share the reasons behind your relocation, and show potential employers that it’s because of a life choice and not a money chase. Once your prospective employer feels assured that you’re relocating and are there to stay, the interview process becomes more objective.

    Some more tips on how to make it more about you and less about your move:

    • Be realistic about your finances. Prepare for how much it’s going to cost you to travel to interviews and to relocate if you don’t receive assistance from your new employer. Save at least six to eight months-worth of living expenses prior to moving so you don’t feel overwhelmed.
    • Obtain current and accurate information on the local job market. You can conduct thorough research on your own, or partner up with a local niche IT staffing firm like Chase Technology Consultants (CTC). The latter has its benefits, such as direct contact with hiring managers of companies relevant to your interests, access to unpublished job opportunities, and less competition as your résumé bypasses the usual ATS scan or HR desk.
    • Get a staffing firm to represent you. Discuss with your recruiter what’s necessary or negotiable for you in terms of salary and benefits, job responsibilities, and work culture and environment. Also, tell your recruiter who else you’re meeting with, your timetable to make a decision, what other offers you have pending, and what needs to occur for you to accept an offer on-the-spot. That way, your recruiter can weed out unsuitable opportunities and make appropriate, clean introductions to only those that are good fits.

      For example, when properly informed, CTC introduces out-of-staters to hiring managers along the lines of:

      I’m exclusively representing a candidate by the name of…who is actually relocating out here to Boston from…[Name]’s serious about this relocation and the decision to move here is based on circumstances aside from what specific job offer they accept. This candidate specializes in…and is a great fit for any progressive and forward-thinking technology firm. Our agency will be assisting with relocation costs and we have blocked off windows of availability for first-round phone screens that include…Then after these successful phone screens, [Name] has booked a flight for the week of…to conduct final interviews and secure a new place of residence. [Name] will be in a position to accept an offer and start their new position within a few weeks. I’m scheduling some phone screens right now; would you like to meet [Name]?

      Plan to dedicate at least three to five business days two weeks out from your initial phone screens to be on-site in Boston to familiarize themselves with the area, look for housing, and physically meet with clients. Why? Particularly if you’re working with CTC, you should have three to five final-round interviews from two weeks’ worth of phone screens, and by the end of your visit you should be prepared to have an offer in-hand and to start your new job within two weeks. CTC has a lot of success in this approach and coined the actual process, and even gives $500 to each out-of-state candidate we place to help offset the cost of the on-site visit.

    • Network, network, network. Connecting with the local tech community can net you employee referrals, which can help you get your foot in the door. To meet people, attend local hackathons and conferences. Follow potential employers on LinkedIn. Reach out to your fellow college alumni. Join local meetup and discussion groups relevant to your qualifications, and professional associations affiliated with your target job. And obviously, tell everyone you know about your relocation plans, and ask if they know anyone in your target location that you can connect with – you never know who someone knows!
    • Focus on your résumé and cover letter. The problem with conducting a remote job search is that people lose sight of what exactly they want in the context of so many more potential opportunities. They start applying to jobs they’re not even remotely interested in, just to become employed. Doing so dilutes the quality of your application, which decreases the likelihood you’ll get a job. Take the time to tailor your résumé for each position and employer.
    • Make your presence known. Remember, you’re competing with the noise of local candidates. Put in the effort to do what will set you apart. Following-up on applications and interviews with thoughtful thank-you notes sends a strong message: “Hey, I am particularly interested in your company and available position!”
    • And above all else, go all in. You need to commit to relocation 100%. No one wants to help, refer, or hire anyone who seems flaky and will make them look bad.


    For more tips on how to maximize your job search ROI and get more interviews and job offers, visit our website.


    Blogging Forward,
    CareerJuice


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