When the job you want is in a different city or state than the one you currently live in, you have to be strategic in explaining your situation to an employer.
Don’t think you can just get away with leaving your current address off of the job application.
“When you leave stuff off, we know you’re hiding something,” said Ashley Watkins, a job search coach with corporate recruiting experience. “If you leave locations off, if you leave information that everyone knows is necessary for an application, it’s going to raise a flag. It could be something that’s easily explainable, but you have to explain it.“
Here’s how to do that so your current location isn’t viewed as a red flag:
When applying online, be honest about where you live now, and find ways to explain your situation.
Be prepared to list your current address on an online application.
“A lot of companies do set up their [application software] to ask that question. You should absolutely not lie on the application at any given question,” said Tejal Wagadia, a senior talent acquisition specialist at MST Solutions. If the online application allows for it, Wagadia recommends writing “willing to relocate” next to your name or address.
Because applicant tracking systems may screen candidates based on their location, you should try to bypass that by contacting a recruiter directly and letting them know you’re willing to relocate before you apply, Watkins said.
“A system is not going to know that you’re relocating,” Watkins said. “In that case, you do yourself a disservice if you’re relying only on that system to make that determination. Your best bet is finding the individual who either posted the job or someone who can refer you when you’re relocating.”
On your resume and cover letter, be upfront about your willingness to relocate.
Watkins recommends addressing your willingness to relocate at the top of your resume, near your contact information or personal statement. This could be a statement such as “pending relocation” or “open to relocation,” and the areas to which you’re interested in moving. If you know for sure you’re moving to a new address, it’s OK to list that new address instead of your current location.
By putting this at the top of a resume, Watkins said, “it’s not missed.”
In a cover letter, you can mention your pending relocation after your first paragraph stating why you want to work at the company. Watkins said it can be addressed succinctly with language like this: “While I currently reside in St. Petersburg, Florida, my family and I own a home in Halifax, and my preference for relocation is ...”
In interviews, be prepared to sell how you can be successful in a new location that may be unfamiliar.
As a candidate, you should be prepared to explain how you will function in a territory where you have no prior familiarity, Watkins said. Particularly if you’re applying for a role that leans on local networks, such as sales jobs, you should explain how you plan to get up to speed within the first three months.
One way to do this is to talk about your successful track record with building new networks. Watkins said that could sound like: “When I started in this position, I wasn’t familiar with the product or the territory. Now I’m number five in my market. And I did that by doing these things.”
Another common question out-of-town job seekers may be asked is: “How soon you will be relocating?” In this case, it’s best to answer with an estimated timeline, such as being ready to relocate immediately, or you can let the hiring manager know that you are already in transition to move, Watkins said.
“Be honest with yourself about what a realistic timeline to move would look like before you commit to one with a potential employer.”
Be honest with yourself about what a realistic timeline to move would look like before you commit to one with a potential employer.
“Do your research first of how long it will take you. In two weeks, you are going to give notice,” Wagadia said. “Are you going to list your house that you might own immediately on the market? Are you going to relocate to a new place without your house being sold?”
Ask yourself if you are still willing to move for a job if the company doesn’t help pay for it. Wagadia said you can ask interviewers: “Do you subsidize relocation costs?” to get a clearer idea of the eventual expense.
Recognize that a relocation timeline of more than four weeks could be a red flag.
“If a candidate asks for more than a month, I’ve seen, the hiring manager is a little wary, even if they’re relocating,” Wagadia said.
If you need more time to move, emphasize that you can work from your current location until you are able to relocate.
“If you are not able to start working immediately in that area face-to-face, be ready to tell them about a plan to work remotely before you make that transition,” Watkins said.