Q: I’m actively searching for a job in another state. How can I mention in my resume and cover letter that I’m open to relocation without getting overlooked?
A: Hiring managers are heavily concerned about the logistics, costs, and time required to hire and transition an out-of-state candidate. For that reason, they tend to favor local candidates who can potentially fill the role more quickly. This also creates a situation of less risk to the candidate, if the role does not work out. The exception may be a high-level or niche position that is difficult to fill, in which case hiring managers are more open to scouring other markets to find qualified talent. But for most people, that isn’t always the case. So how can you increase your chances of consideration?
Communicate that Relocating is a Priority
Position your relocation as a priority, and discuss it as if it’s already in progress. In other words, you plan to relocate regardless of whether you receive the job offer, and that can instill confidence. This doesn’t mean you have to be packed and on your way, but do communicate to the company that picking up and putting down roots in another city is not an issue for you – in terms of time, cost, and transition. Unless it’s stated, don’t ask if the role provides relocation assistance (compensation), as most do not. If it’s clear that you are already planning on making the move, and it’s not dependent solely upon you getting the job, hiring managers will feel more confident in your ability to make a swift transition.
Get Specific on Your Timeline
When broaching the subject of relocation in your cover letter, provide a definitive timeline around your availability so that there are no uncertainties. You can try saying something along the lines of:
“I’m currently in the process of relocating to New York City, and can be available to interview with 1 week’s notice, and to start in the position within 3 weeks.”
Companies that consider out-of-state candidates primarily want to be assured that it’s going to be a smooth and fast transition, as it’s a likelihood that they need to get someone into the position and up to speed fairly quickly. If you understand and can speak to their concerns in your resume and cover letter, you have a valid shot at being considered.
Bonus tip: if possible, change the location on your LinkedIn profile to reflect the market to which you’ll be relocating.
Reflect the Local Market on Your Resume
On the resume, a physical address is ideal, even if you use a friend’s that you can justify as a temporary “residence”. But if that’s not possible, instead of listing out your full address, you can denote the cities you’re targeting in your contact information line. For instance:
Los Angeles | Chicago | (617) 312-7892 | firstname.lastname@example.org
California | New York | (617) 312-7892 | email@example.com
Your primary objective is to communicate the message that you’re serious about moving and can do so fairly seamlessly. Companies understand that hiring an out-of-state candidate is an investment on both ends, so it’s even more important that you really communicate your interest in the role and the organization, and why you feel you’re an excellent fit. Not every company will necessarily require an immediate transfer, and in some cases, particularly with very niche and high-level roles, they may be openly recruiting out of state candidates to widen their own talent pool, and perhaps even offer relocation assistance. It will depend upon the level and specialization of your role, and relocation compensation is typically stated within the job description. I don’t advise asking for it unsolicited.
Out-of-state job seekers will commonly face the challenge of competing against local, accessible candidates. Position yourself for the best results by doing your research, preparing your story, and communicating your ability to meet the immediate needs of the role.
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