As candidates grapple with the difficulties of today’s tough job market, more job seekers look outside of their current location.
Applying for a job in a new location presents unique challenges – here’s 5 ways to get a job in a new city.
Most candidates who have applied for jobs in a different city at some point sense that most employers favor candidates who are closer. The reasons for this bias aren’t always obvious.
In the past, it wasn’t so difficult to find a job prior to moving to a new city. In today’s hyper competitive job market, where there many times more applicants than advertised jobs, employers can afford to be very picky.
Unless they have been in the job market for a while, candidates are still used to past experiences, where employers were starved for qualified candidates. In normalized job markets, a candidate could show they were reasonably qualified and had the capacity to learn the rest.
Not so today, where employers see so many well qualified candidates that they have the luxury to choose the best qualified – and from those best qualified, choose the best fit for the company, department, or manager. Add location into the mix and it can be daunting.
Why Employers In Other Locations Favor Locals
There are some specific perceptions employers have of local candidates:
- Cost: Employer budgets are tight. Local candidates don’t need relocation or even travel reimbursement.
- Flexibility: Local candidates can be more flexible in scheduling and rescheduling interviews, typically with less notice. Local candidates don’t have to make plane or hotel reservations.
- Familiarity: Local candidates are already familiar and established in the area. They have a lower risk of hating the weather, discovering the area doesn’t meet their personal (or family) needs, or moving out of the area for other personal reasons.
- Fit: Local residents are more likely to fit with a company’s local staff. For example, a San Antonio-based employer is less likely to see a fit with a candidate who lives in Manhattan – and more likely to feel biased that a Yankee wouldn’t mesh as well with their employees compared to candidates from the South.
- Risk: Employers are typically biased that non-local candidates present a greater risk at leaving a company more quickly. Personal reasons, family reasons, educational reasons, weather reasons, or simply missing “home” are all perceived as risks that a relocation won’t work. You may not feel that these are risks personally and you may have some great reasons to make a move, but your potential employers often still sees risk compared to local candidates.
There are ways to overcome these risks and be considered as a viable candidate for many companies, even in today’s lousy job market.
Here are 5 great ways to overcome the bias towards local candidates …
There are the obvious ways to overcome location bias – don’t talk about the loss you’ll take on selling your house, don’t press about relocation benefits, understate your present community and family involvement. In a general sense, don’t give the employer a reason to think you’d be unhappy to make a move. Instead, talk about how you hate the cold (or hot) weather, how you want a better school system, larger (or smaller) city, or better quality of life that the target city would provide.
You may have some great personal reasons for wanting to move to a new city, that could lessen an employer’s fear. Getting an employer to believe that there is little risk in hiring you and overcoming location bias is an other matter – But it’s not impossible to overcome.
5 Ways To Overcome Location Bias
- Appear to be local: Technology allows us to appear to be local when we are not. Many candidates use a local mailing address on resumes if they have friends or family in the area. What if you don’t? There are a number of inexpensive virtual PO Box services or virtual offices in many major cities that will receive your mail at a local address, scan and email you the contents daily.
- Be in demand: The best way to change locations is to have accomplishments, skills, and experience that are in high demand. For example, if you’re a nurse with solid experience, location probably won’t matter as much as there are nursing shortages throughout the US. For non-nursing candidates, find a company that has a problem that you can solve better than anyone else – make your skills and experience fit so well for the company, that you are a vastly superior candidate to others.
- Choose a less competitive market: If you don’t like opportunities (or other factors) in your current city, and just want a change of scene, you may find better opportunities in less competitive markets. For example, I have a client who is looking for controller jobs in other markets because there are few opportunities in his current rust belt city. He recently got a good offer with an outstanding relocation package, from an employer in a mid-sized Georgia town. He had no personal ties to the company’s location – if he took the job, he would move there because of the job, having no friends or family nearby. The company made him an offer the day after his interview, making it clear that they welcomed him and his family with open arms – they really wanted him. My client learned that three prior candidates turned down the job based on location and the employer didn’t have viable local candidates.
- Have a great story: If you want to move to a specific city, have a compelling case why. A spouses job transfer is a solid reason, that can lower an employer’s perception of your risk. Moving to be closer to family is a great reason, but having “fallen in love” with Houston isn’t such a strong case. Moving for a girlfriend/boyfriend isn’t as strong as you might think, as the employer would have to accept your relationship risk – if your relationship doesn’t work out, will you stay?
- Move first: Remove local bias by being a local – The best way to find a job in a new city is to be in that city. Moving first virtually eliminates employer location bias, because you’ve taken that risk on your own shoulders. Demonstrating that you’re invested enough in a new community to move there first is a strong indicator to potential employers.
That just leaves a local phone number, but that’s the easiest and least expensive part. Google Voice, now available to anyone with a Gmail account, can set up a local number with any US area code, and forward calls to any number you program – for free. This service has some amazing tools for remote call handling – I reviewed how job seekers can make use of these tools earlier this year (http://www.recareered.com/blog/2010/03/18/google-voice-can-be-an-effective-tool-for-job-seekers/).
As you are considering applying for jobs in a different location, how can you use these tips to remove the perceptions of additional risk and cost from your potential employer?
Readers, do you have other tips to share about ways to get a job in a new city?-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
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