No one claims the job search is fun. I mean, it’s hard to have a good time sending out carefully crafted resumes and cover letters only to receive way more misses than hits—be that in the form of a rejection or no response at all. If you’re currently located in one state, city, or geographical location and are planning to relocate (or have already moved) to another, you have a specific set of challenges on top of the standard job seeking frustrations. In some ways, relocation can be a good thing: maybe you’re moving to a larger job pool or are gaining more flexible work hours. But when I recently decided to swap one state for another, I soon realized that geography was a greater challenge than I’d anticipated. It was definitely a learning process, but now that I have mastered the long-distance job search and successfully secured a 40-hour-a-week position with a cubicle of my very own, I’ve compiled a few of the lessons I’ve learned for those embarking on similar journeys.
Location, Location, Location…
The very first mistake I realized I was making in the long-distance job search was putting my address on my resume. Many of us have been taught that including our addresses is protocol for resume headings; however, if you’re living in one area while looking for jobs in another, it can hurt you. In the weeks after I removed my address from my resume, I had a billion* more responses than what I had gotten with it on.
Once your resume is perfected and the responses start pouring in, you’re still not out of the woods. Brace yourself: you’re going to be interrogated. For many interviews, phone calls, or even e-mails, my current location was the very first thing hiring managers brought up after the obligatory “hi-how-are-yous.”
“You do know this position is here, right? Your work history lists places in another state.” Yes. Yes it does. I had to assure several people that was not a mistake. It made me wonder about the competency of some of the other applicants. Are people accidentally applying to jobs in different states? How often does this occur?
Sometimes there’s an application where an address is a requirement. I hated those. Why do they need to know? But I had an easy fix: I used my boyfriend’s address, which became my address anyway a few months later. Do you have someone in the area who will allow you to mooch off of their home address for a little while? Are you squatting on a cousin’s former roommate’s couch while you apartment hunt? Use their address. It’s closer to work than your old address.
But professionally speaking, hiring managers want to know about your living situation for a number of reasons:
- They want to know you’re available to begin at the time they need you.
- They want to know you’re familiar with the company and what it does as well as its reputation (which means you have homework to do).
- They’re afraid they’re going to have to invest in your relocation costs.
- They want to know if you’re planning on staying in the area—they’re not going to invest in someone who says they moved “just because.”
You need a game plan to address these things. I’ve learned to address it briefly in a sentence or two in the cover letter. When in person or over the phone, don’t sound like your plans are up in the air. You may not have packed everything yet or have found a decent apartment; maybe you are having a battle of wills with your landlord over a window crack you absolutely want documentation of beforehand so you don’t get charged for it. No matter what the case may be, your potential future employer doesn’t need to know any of that. As far as he or she knows, you’re either right on track or already settled right in and ready to report to work in just two short weeks.
Why You Should Really Bookmark Google Maps
So you made it to an interview. Assuming this isn’t a phone or a Skype interview, you need a way to get there—and know where you’re going. When I was heading out to interviews, Google Maps became my new best friend—actually, it became my best friend even before I got to that stage. I mapped every place I applied to. It helped me piece together the area, establish some benchmarks, and estimate what kind of a commute I would have if I were to get the job. The commute check was especially helpful. Indeed.com may say it’s within 15 miles, but are they 15 miles of hell or 15 miles of heaven? Will the drive be more like 25 miles because there’s no direct route? You likely have no idea because it’s a foreign landscape. That’s where Google Maps comes in.
Sometimes Opportunity Doesn’t Knock, It Stands Behind The Door And Waits For You To Open It
This last important nugget of information is not necessarily pertinent to your long-distance job search, but to the nature of your application in general: Apply to everything. Well, OK, not everything, but I know for a while, my strict adherence to guidelines and lack of faith in my self-selling skills made me hesitant to apply to more than a few jobs. I had no real grasp on what I was good at, and a detailed job description tended to stop me in my tracks. I told myself that if I didn’t fit every single criteria to a T, there would be no hope for me, so why apply? But then, after reading this fantastic article from the Harvard Business Review, I learned something valuable about the job search—to choose roles that would challenge you and that have growth potential. The article expanded the way I thought about my job search and convinced me to take some risks. Because of taking those greater risks, I was surprised by even more responses. The moral of this story is that if you see a job and think “eh, that’s a long shot,” apply anyway. The worst they could say is nothing at all, so go get ‘em.
*(statistics may be inflated)
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