How Do I Handle Relocation?

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A reader writes:

I’m looking to relocate back to where my family lives.  How do I get employers to even consider me when I’m not local?  I’m considering using my relative’s address on my resume, but I’ve seen conflicting advice.

I’ve seen conflicting things on this too.  My own experience is that I’m not crazy about it when I think a candidate is local, and I call and find that they’re actually across the country and will have to fly in for the interview.  I’m not usually averse to doing that, but I like to know it up front.  On the flip side, I know from experience that it’s crazy-hard to get a job when you’re not local; I moved from LA to Milwaukee, then Milwaukee to DC, and then DC back to Milwaukee, and it sucked each time.  It’s even harder in this economy.

So I think the answer depends on how far away you are, how firm your relocation plans are (do you have a drop-dead date, or are you waiting until you get a job?), and what you’d do once you got the job.  I knew someone who was moving from Milwaukee to Minneapolis, and she used her parents’ address up there.  She drove up for the interviews, and when she got the job, she stayed with them and started in two weeks just like a local candidate.  I’m not sure they EVER realized she wasn’t local.  If you’re 3,000 miles away and would need to move a family of six and sell a home and find a piano mover…well, that’s a tougher sell.
It also depends on the market you’re going to.  In places where lots of people want to move to (like NYC, DC, LA), employers tend to dismiss anyone who isn’t already local.  Here in Milwaukee and in other less glamorous places, employers tend to be a little more open to out-of-state candidates.  Your field also matters; if you’re an HR person…well, the world is full of those, so they can find all they need locally.  If you’re a chemical engineer who specializes in latex manufacturing, you have some leeway.  Most people are somewhere in between.

In some circumstances, you may also be able to leave the address off altogether.  This won’t work for jobs where you have to fill out an online application, but if you’re just emailing a resume, you can get a local phone number through Skype, and just use that and your email address on the resume.  I always know what’s up when I see resumes like that, but at least it shows me that you’re serious about moving to the area, and not just sending out resumes to every job in the country.  If you do this, be sure to explain in your cover letter that you’re looking to move back to be closer to family, because that’s another sign that there’s a reason for your move.

For jobs where you have to provide an address, try using the relative’s address and see if it works in the area and field that you’re targeting.  The worst that happens is that they don’t want you…but people who don’t want you when they find out you’re not local are people who probably wouldn’t have wanted you if you’d used your current address anyway, so you’re probably not out much.

Photo by Photo Denbow

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