There used to be a time some years ago when employers would readily hire candidates from out-of-state. Not saying that they don’t still do it, but I believe they don’t do it as much. Now, it is still possible to relocate to another city, but you must have a strategy and let employers know your value. In other words, why should they hire you over someone else who may be local? They are probably thinking it will take you longer to actually be able to start the job and you may require relocation assistance and these wouldn’t be issues for a local candidate.
I have relocated twice in my career. The first time I relocated from Missouri to Dallas and the second time was from Alabama to Dallas. (Yes, I relocated to Dallas twice!) Since I have been asked about this subject a lot recently, I thought I would share some of the bumps and bruises I encountered when relocating and give you tips to get around them, which should make your transition smoother.
1) START EARLY IN YOUR JOB SEARCH
You should start your job search 6 – 9 months in advance to give yourself plenty of time to plan. Since you will be relocating there are a lot more things to consider than if you were just getting a job across town. Starting early gives you time to save your money for the actual move. You will also need to use your vacation/sick/comp time sparingly as you may need this time to make multiple trips to your desired location for interviews and house hunting, etc.
2) TAKE YOUR ADDRESS OFF YOUR RESUME
This is to level the playing field so employers won’t automatically discriminate against you because you are not local. Yes, your phone number will still be there, but employers know people have cell phone numbers from all over so this doesn’t necessarily give away that you live somewhere else.
3) LOOK AT JOB WEBSITES SPECIFICALLY FOR YOUR TARGETED AREA
So, if you wanted to relocate to Dallas you would look at ‘jobsindallas.com’ or ‘dallasnews.com’ or ‘dallasjobsite.com.’ You can also simply Google the job you are looking for in the city you are looking to move to. For example, ‘Engineering Jobs Dallas, TX.’ You may be surprised at the results and discover more companies that hire for your position than you think. It also might not be a bad idea to work with a head hunter/recruiter in the area.
4) PICK 10 COMPANIES YOU’D LIKE TO WORK FOR
You will have to do some research because you MUST target your job search. If not, it may take longer for you to find a job. Pick 10 companies you are interested in working for. Once you have identified those companies, submit your resume whether they have a job opening or not. 60 – 80% of jobs are never advertised. They may not have an opening now, but they may once they receive YOUR resume. Once they see your resume, they may realize that they need someone like you at their company. Remember, you want to relocate so you have to BE BOLD!!
5) USE LINKEDIN TO CONNECT WITH EMPLOYERS
Go to the ‘People’ tab on LinkedIn and do an advanced search. Enter the zip code of your desired location and select the industry to find employers. You can also look for those who have a certain title and work for a certain company…particularly the 10 companies you identified. Be sure to personalize your invitation request when you connect with these employers. Flattery still works! You can say something like ‘Hi Ms. Smith, I was very impressed with your profile and I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.’
That’s it…..nothing more…..at first. You must have a very subtle approach. After they have accepted your connection, wait about 2 weeks and then mention that you are trying to get some tips on the industry. Ask if they could give you some advice and perhaps some feedback on your resume. BINGO!! You get your resume in front of an employer. You will just have to feel them out after that to determine your next steps – informational interview, asking to pass your resume on to someone else, chatting with you on the phone, recommending job websites, etc. Under no circumstances do you ever start off by saying “I WANT A JOB WITH YOUR COMPANY!”
Also, join groups on LinkedIn for your desired industry and location. If you want a teaching job in Dallas, you would join ‘Educators Dallas-Ft Worth.’ This will connect you to more employers and also other professionals in your industry who may be able to give you some insight. People are nicer than you think but DO NOT STALK THEM!!
6) CHANGE YOUR HEADLINE ON LINKEDIN
This is the part immediately under your name on your profile and it is a way to market yourself. You want to definitely showcase your 3 areas of expertise so employers can find you. You can say “Human Resources professional seeking opportunities in Recruiting, Employee Relations, or Workforce Planning.” Now be careful…..because your current boss may be watching! So if you think that might be the case change “seeking opportunities” to “with expertise.” This will at least let an employer know what your experience is in.
Also in the Summary section on LinkedIn you can actually say you are looking to relocate.
7) SET UP A SKYPE ACCOUNT
Do this if you haven’t done so already. This will come in handy for your interview and again level the playing field. And of course, practice answering interview questions on Skype (see my blog “How to Prepare for a Phone/Skype Interview”).
8) WRITE TARGETED COVER LETTERS
Your cover letter is your time to make a personal connection with the reader. This is where you can mention that you will be relocating in the near future. If you are willing to pay for your own relocation, then say that as well. You can mention that you will be in the area soon and you would love the opportunity to interview (see the next tip). Most importantly, let them know that you are available for a traditional, phone, or Skype interview.
9) PLAN A TRIP TO DESIRED LOCATION
This is probably the most strategic thing you should do if you want to relocate. Plan a trip during the work week so you can do interviews – informational and traditional – whether you have any real job prospects or not. You have to show employers that you are serious about moving and have to make interviewing you convenient for them. Remember, you are at a slight disadvantage than local candidates by being out of town. So you have to take the extra step. When you connect with these employers (Tip #5), try to set up an informational interview FACE TO FACE. The whole point really is to turn the informational interviews into real interviews, so you should treat them as such and be prepared.
(I did this and it works! I had sort of been getting the run around by an employer I really wanted to work for. I’d had numerous phone conversations with this employer and he seemed to like me but was hesitant to make me an official job offer. So, I planned a 3 day trip to Dallas and left him a message letting him know when I would be in town and I would love to stop by just to chat with him in person. Once I made it to Dallas, I called him again and he told me to meet him for lunch. I did and the next day he officially made me a job offer! I would like to believe my assertiveness had something to do with it.)
10) DO RESEARCH ON SALARY / COST OF LIVING
Now, I didn’t do everything perfect on my first relocation to Dallas. This is where I messed up because I didn’t quite realize the difference in the cost of living. So consequently, I didn’t factor that into my salary negotiation. I now know how important it is so make sure you have done the appropriate research to know the difference. You can use www.payscale.com/cost-of-living-calculator to figure out the difference between your current city and your desired city.
So there you have it….ways you can position yourself to get a job long distance. As I mentioned before, it’s not impossible but you do have to be strategic and have a definite plan of action. These tips worked for me and I’m sure they will work for you as well.