As a job search coach who works with people across the country, the concept of out-of-state career moves comes up frequently. Whether it’s moving from Chicago to Colorado or Connecticut to San Diego, I’ve supported many job seekers in their cross-country quests.
Along the way, I’ve learned a lot. Here’s a collection of some of the best advice I have to offer job seekers specific to conducting out-of-state job searches.
Make yourself geographically neutral
Remove the reference to city/state in your resume header and simply list your email and cell phone number. Explain in your cover letter that you want to be considered like a local candidate and that you’re not expecting relocation costs to be reimbursed. If you’re willing to fly out at your own expense for an interview, let them know.
The more you come across as serious about relocating and focused on the specific location you’re networking/applying in, the more serious out-of-state companies will consider your candidacy.
If you have concrete reasons for relocating, share them. They’ll help your cause. Are you moving to be closer to family? Maybe your kids are grown and you’re looking to retire in a different state? Perhaps you just graduated from college and you have a group of friends in the new state. Show the company or contact that there is a reason you’re specifically targeting their location.
Your Illinois contacts probably know people in Colorado. Your connections in New York likely know people in San Francisco. We are not as tight a circle as we once were. People move around a lot and the west has always been a destination for migrants (think of the Gold Rush). I’d often laugh at everyone I met in Colorado who was from Chicago – including the man who became my spouse! We met in Colorado only to learn our parents lived an hour from one another in the Midwest.
You’re likely a second-degree connection away from getting a great introduction to someone in the city where you want to relocate. In my blog, Why LinkedIn is the Most Important Tool in Your Job Search, I explain how to utilize LinkedIn for a job search.
There is also likely an alumni chapter from your college in the new city. Reach out to them to see how you can get involved in events and networking opportunities.
Talk like a local
Subscribe to the local business newspaper and learn about what’s happening. You’ll see who’s hiring, who’s getting acquired, and you’ll begin to understand the economic landscape of your new desired home city. Educate yourself on the cost-of-living difference and have an understanding as to whether positions will likely pay more or less than where you’re currently living. Investigate local job boards and subscribe, if appropriate.
Get out there
Take the time to fly out for in-person meetings. Load up a week with coffees/lunches/happy hours, etc. Meet people face-to-face. Find conferences, workshops, and events to attend. Even better: attend with a local friend, if you can, who can introduce you around. Find your industry group and begin to understand who the players are and how to manage relationships.
Employing these steps in your search can go a long way in getting you taken more seriously as an out-of-area candidate. If you want it more than the others, your passion and enthusiasm will not go unnoticed.
Have you successfully made an out-of-state career move? I’d love to hear from you. What worked best? How did you make the switch?