How Do I Handle Relocation?

How Do I Handle Relocation?

by Kerry Scott on 25 November 2009


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.

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Ginny T Logan November 25, 2009 at 9:28 am

As a relocation services provider/consultant this is a question I deal with often. I think the relocation conversation should come up early in the discussion. Find out what’s driving the needs of the company, where they want the job position to end up, what are the gaps they are needing to fill, then use your experience and knowledge to build YOUR value proposition for them, that eliminates (or helps eliminate) the hesitancy to offer a relocation to you. Corporations can structure a relocation/new hire offer that is a win-win for both parties. It does not have to cost an arm and leg when structured correctly. When the corporations sees the value the candidate brings, the relocation issues becomes a negotiating item and less of a big deal.

Amy Boland November 25, 2009 at 9:29 am

O Clue Wagon,

Would your advice differ for someone who is relocating because a partner/spouse got a job in a different city? This is somewhat likely to happen to me someday, as my partner is a college professor. If she ever goes job hunting, it will be a national search. What’s best practice – quit, move, search? Search, find, quit, move?
.-= Amy Boland´s last blog ..Thank You for Not Liking Delicata Squash =-.

Sabrina November 25, 2009 at 11:35 am

We relocated last summer. Didn’t have jobs just up and moved. My husband had a business he was selling either way, I quit my job. We had nothing lined up because we couldn’t find anything that anyone would interview us for (and had no local address to give). I had one interview and we realized that with the expense of it we may has well live here so that’s what we did. I wouldn’t call us a success story though. I want desperately to move back and my husband has a job here he likes. While looking I tried to get a local number, it didn’t help, even after we moved it hasn’t helped. If I’d had a local address I would have used it in a heartbeat. I tried to get one at a UPS store but you have to open those in person and I couldn’t justify driving the whole way just for that. On the flip side if we do move back I’d probably use my dad’s address or even another relative’s.
.-= Sabrina´s last blog ..Hamburger Review: Applebee’s =-.

Alice November 25, 2009 at 11:43 am

Beg to differ!

I moved from the East Coast, to a city lots of people want to move to (LA) to be closer to my family, and I got the job by having an in-person intvw while I was home visiting. In fact, now that I think of it, I got my job on the EAST COAST while I was out here, and took that one sight unseen. I would say it’s rare, but it’s happened to me twice. A couple of jobs that I interviewed for when moving back home screened me using online video and it was a totally acceptable experience. If you’re qualified, and you’re a good candidate, you and your future employer can figure out a way to make it work. If you’re not…maybe the addy change will give you a boost…

Hawkeye November 25, 2009 at 11:53 am

Thanks for the tips, Kerry. I am in the fairly large state of North Carolina, and would love to live closer to the Appalachians. As a result, am applying to jobs in WV, KY, TN, VA, NC, nw SC. Its been hard. I get a lot of rejections, but I think I will stick with the honesty route and keep my address in my resume. If I had a family member with an address though, I’d use it in a heartbeat! I definitely will try to explain more in my resume reasons for moving to the area.

Thank you for putting up the relocation post!

Interviewer November 25, 2009 at 12:31 pm

If I see a non-local address but the candidate has all the qualifications, I check the cover letter for details on relo plans and a timeline. If there are none, and the candidate is really qualified, I might call or email to find out, but if the candidate doesn’t look like a good match on paper, I move on. Seriously, I don’t mind interviewing non-locals (and most tell me nowadays they can interview and relo at their own expense) but I do want to know what your commitment is to my town before I go to any effort on your behalf with the hiring manager. So be upfront from the beginning – that’s what I’m looking for.

Apolinaras "Apollo" Sinkevicius November 25, 2009 at 1:06 pm

I moved from Chicago to Boston for my wife in ’08 (she is cancer research, so when Harvard came calling, I had no problem dropping a high-paying job midst recession and moving to city I knew nothing about). We knew about 6 months prior to the move date, so I set up UPS Store mailbox (looks like street address) in Boston area and got Google Voice number with local # to forward my calls. No, neither will replace something more important – networking. But, with the right kind of attitude and planning, you can execute it.
I had to fly only one for interviews. I scheduled four in two days I had to fly in for.
Would I do that again, for myself – no. For my wife – hell yes.

Geekette November 25, 2009 at 6:32 pm

Interesting views. Some of us who apply for jobs locally use email+local# but leave off physical address for privacy reasons. I didn’t realize that it meant some HR managers might interpret that as the applicant not being local!

GeekChic November 25, 2009 at 8:06 pm

All of the jobs I’ve applied for (and gotten) have been non-local. In most cases I haven’t even lived in the same country. I address the issue in the cover letter (including that I’m legal to work in their country) but I don’t try to hide that I’m non-local through changing my address or phone number. It’s never been a problem. Maybe I’m unusual though.

Agent Friday November 26, 2009 at 9:06 am

I’ve seen several candidates include in their cover letter an explanation for why their address is not local. Many have even gone so far to say that they are relocating to our city in such and such a time frame and will be in town to interview prior to that on certain dates. If the candidate has the skills that we are looking for then we will contact them.
.-= Agent Friday´s last blog ..Selling Yourself In An Interview =-.

class factotum November 26, 2009 at 12:43 pm

When I first met my then-boyfriend (now husband) and was looking for a job in Milwaukee (I was living in Memphis at the time and had just been laid off from my job), I did not explain that my boyfriend was in Milwaukee because I thought that information would be used against me. Ha.

Then I got a clue because I realized that recruiters were getting applications from this person living in a place with no state income taxes and no snow where it is legal to park on the street overnight and wondering, “Huh? Why does she want to move here?” So then I put it in my cover letter that I wanted to be in Milwaukee because that’s where my One True Love lived and then I got interviews.

Course, I stink at interviewing and it didn’t help that I wasn’t particularly interested in another SAP conversion with “long hours and short deadlines,” but I did get some interviews.
.-= class factotum´s last blog ..Chats du jour: I’m ready for my closeup =-.

class factotum November 26, 2009 at 3:43 pm

Or I could be good at interviewing but not a good fit for those jobs. Or they just didn’t like me. Who knows?
.-= class factotum´s last blog ..Marriage 201, Lecture 62: Darn grateful =-.

calliope November 27, 2009 at 10:11 am

another great (& timely!) post. We JUST relocated ourselves to a location between two major cities in the hopes that being nearer The Jobs that The Jobs will want to interview. Only time will tell if this was/is the answer. It is incredibly scary to have made a move with no jobs in sight and leaning on the kindness of friends to help us through.
.-= calliope´s last blog ..It really is a whole new world =-.

calliope November 27, 2009 at 10:14 am

While you are taking questions from readers (she says, crossing her fingers with hope) what are your thoughts on the box on the on-line applications that ask for your current or most recent annual salary? One, if you have no current job- what do you put? Two, if you are willing to work for less than your most recent salary (sigh) do you put the actual number or do you fudge it low?
.-= calliope´s last blog ..It really is a whole new world =-.

Dan November 27, 2009 at 10:36 am

I would say that it all depends on the field that you are in. If you’re looking for a “filler” job (ie retail, customer service, or whatever) it’s really hard to find that from afar. When I did that, I made a point to go on a “scouting” trip and fill out applications in person. It definitely greased the wheels — I had one interviewer tell me that she was going to chuck my application when she saw my cross-country address but then realized I had come in and filled it out, so she knew I was serious. (We’re talking about $10-$12/hr jobs here.) Heck, I even had an interview with Kerry’s old company, for a position where I was moving. They gave me the choice of interviewing at their HDQ (Milwaukee) or where I was going. I chose the former. The funny part was that they are an airline, yet would not provide me with transportation. I had a friend who worked for the company, and he gave me free tickets. Huh.

For my professional career that I have now, I had eight long distance interviews. I had no issues not being local.

Kerry November 28, 2009 at 1:54 pm

Amy—for all but one of my out-of-state moves, I went before I had a job. I find the out-of-area job hunting just excruciating, and I have kind of an iron stomach when it comes to career risk, so that seemed the lesser of two evils for me. Each time, I landed on my feet…but I’m hoping that the economy is better by the time you’re in this situation. Even my iron stomach couldn’t take doing that in this economic client.

I don’t know if this is common in education, but in private sector companies, it’s not uncommon to get help for the trailing spouse in terms of job hunting (and other relocation-type stuff). Some companies have (or hire) relocation consultants that do this stuff, but most of mine haven’t, so I’ve done it myself. I’ve taken spouses around to show them different neighborhoods, offered resume help, connected them to other HR people who might be hiring, etc. A lot of times, if you ask, they’ll do this…partly because it helps to recruit the candidate, and partly because it’s the decent thing to do (and it’s fun…I always really enjoyed helping folks in that situation).

Kerry November 28, 2009 at 2:01 pm

Calliope—viewpoints on how to handle the salary thing is like snowflakes; no two are alike.

My own rule is to avoid filling in that blank when I can. I’m willing to answer the question, but I prefer to do it verbally rather than on a form. If it’s an online form and it asks for my salary requirements, I put the lowest number the computer will take, so that when they search the database, I’m not excluded (same strategy you use when selling your house for $199,999 instead of $200,000).

If it’s asking for my previous salary, I don’t fudge…but my personal tic is that I won’t give out salary history unless I’m already in the interview process and sure I want the job. Not everyone has this option (because sometimes you just really need the job that badly), but I really hate people who want salary history before we’ve even met. It’s like trading naked pictures before the first date…just, y’know, not a good idea.
.-= Kerry´s last blog ..Meet the One Who Hung Up on Me =-.

Kerry November 28, 2009 at 2:03 pm

For the record, I think Dan is referring to the parent company of the one I worked for, not my company. At my company, we flew people in for interviews (at least while I was there).

I’m sure we did dumb things where I was in charge too, but that one was not on my watch.
.-= Kerry´s last blog ..Meet the One Who Hung Up on Me =-.

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