I’m asked about this a lot: How to get a job in another city or state.
You need to avoid being ruled out based on your location, handle complicated interview schedules, and more. There’s a reason so many people fail at getting a job before they relocate.
Fortunately, as a recruiter, I’ve helped numerous people get a job out of state before they move, and I’m going to share my best tips for how to do this below.
Assuming location is your main concern in trying to find a job, make sure to check whether your current employer has positions available before putting effort into applying to new jobs in another state.
Of course, if you have other reasons for wanting to leave your employer, you can disregard this step, but it’s always simpler and easier to talk to your current manager first or check your current employer for new locations before applying externally.
Then, if unsuccessful, you can begin to apply for jobs in a new city or job market with other companies.
One of the first thoughts most people have when beginning an out-of-state job search is, “I know, I’ll just talk to a few recruiters in the new city and they’ll find me some local interviews.”
The truth is that recruiters can’t help most candidates in a job search involving relocation. The exception is if you have a hard-to-find skill that isn’t readily available in the local area.
Otherwise, recruiters are going to have a much easier time getting a local candidate to go interview for the job, and they get paid the same either way, so they’ll choose the route that’s less effort and less likely to fall through.
So when it comes to recruiters, I suggest you do your research online and find a few people who specialize in recruiting in the location you want to move to (and ideally, the industry you’re in, too.)
Talk to them briefly, send your resume, and see if they’re willing to introduce you to employers.
But you also need to create your own opportunities and get interviews on your own. Don’t wait for a recruiter to do everything for you, because it’s quite likely they won’t be able to get you interviews before you’ve relocated to their area.
This is important when looking for an out-of-state job. Don’t cut and paste generic info into every cover letter.
You need to catch their attention and explain why you’re relocating to their city.
Let’s talk about the first point first. You need to sound 100% sure you’re moving.
No company wants to hear that you’re tentatively thinking of moving but only if you find the perfect job.
A hiring manager probably won’t interview you if you say you’re unsure if you’re relocating because it’s a risk! A risk that you’ll waste a company’s time, money, and even accept a job and then bail at the last minute because you’re anxious about moving.
So to succeed in landing a job in a new state, you need to sound as low-risk as possible when you apply for the job, and your cover letter is the first place you can do that.
You do that by showing them you’ve thought seriously about moving and are fully committed.
This is rule #1. Be low risk!
Now onto the resume…
You need to avoid location-based discrimination when sending out your resume and applying to jobs in a new location.
Most employers have interviewed a few out-of-state candidates, made a job offer, and then had them change their minds and decide they cannot move themselves and their family.
So that’s a big concern that hiring managers have when reading an out-of-state resume and cover letter, and you need to address it.
So should you put your current address and risk losing out on interviews from companies who want local candidates only?
Or should you lie and put a local address?
That can be risky too. If they think you’re local, they aren’t going to offer to pay for ANY travel for the interviews (because they don’t even know you’re traveling). Also, they’ll usually mail your job offer to the address you gave them on your resume. So if it’s a fake address, you’re in trouble. If it’s a family member’s address, you’ll be okay.
But there’s a third option for your resume when you apply for out-of-state jobs, and I think it’s the best by far.
You put your new location, not your current location, in your resume contact info.
First, let’s look at a typical resume contact section:
John Smith | email@example.com | <street address>
Now, here’s an example of how to show hiring managers that you’ll be relocating to a different location:
John Smith | firstname.lastname@example.org | Relocating to <new location> in <Month><Year>
Here’s an in-depth article on more about this strategy for the address/contact info on your resume when applying for jobs out of state.
This step can make the difference between your resume being read or thrown away immediately.
Putting the new state on your resume puts a hiring manager’s mind at ease and helps convince them that you’re definitely moving to the new state and that you won’t back out.
Whereas, if an employer thinks you’re unsure about relocating, and you don’t specifically mention in your resume and cover letter that you’re certain you’re moving, they’ll be hesitant to interview you.
Just be prepared to back this up in the interview. The hiring manager is going to ask why you’re relocating and you need to sound convincing and have a great reason.
As a final step here, consider setting your social media profiles to private if they show your location, too. That may also help you avoid scaring a hiring manager off, so you can find a job faster when you move.
Getting interviews is tough in any job search, and any time you move to a new city, it’s tougher.
One of the best ways to get interviews is to talk to your network and get referred to employers as much as possible.
This can speed up the interview process and boost your odds of getting to meet with hiring managers.
So before you relocate, look through your connections on LinkedIn and other social media, and see who you know in the city you’re trying to move to.
LinkedIn is my favorite for this since you can filter by a person’s location.
When you get on the phone with an out-of-state company, you need to sound laser-focused when discussing the topic of moving.
Prepare a solid reason for wanting to move to their city, and be ready to say it’s the only city you’re looking at, or one of just a few cities you’re looking to move to.
Just like when you sent in the job application, your goal here is to put their mind at ease and show them you’re 100% serious about working for them and coming to their location.
You also want to have a specific idea of the type of job you want (and you need to show them that their job fits with what you’re looking for).
So make sure you research the job and company beforehand. You can’t sound like you’re applying to every job in their city or they won’t hire you.
And if you do this right, it’ll work in your favor. It’s powerful to be able to tell a company “I’m only looking for jobs in Dallas and I’m only looking at Senior Engineer positions”. That’s the type of focus you need to show.
That will help reduce the perceived risk and calm the interviewer, but not completely. After you do this, you still need to tell them why you’re looking for jobs in their specific city.
Whether you’re able to tell them their city is the only one you’re looking at, or whether you’re looking at two or three cities, you need a great reason for why their city is a possibility!
(If you are looking at more than two or three cities you should really stop and narrow it down more. You are hurting your chances of getting hired and making it much harder to explain yourself on the phone. Stop applying for out-of-state jobs until you figure this out.)
If you followed the advice above you showed them their city is one of the few you’re looking at, and their job fits with what you want to do next in your career.
But now you need to tell them why you’re looking at moving to their city.
The best reasons are family and friends, or that you’ve visited the city multiple times and liked it. If you have a spouse or boyfriend/girlfriend and you’ve made the decision with them, mention it. It makes it sound more convincing and “secure,” like you aren’t relocating on a whim and aren’t going to change your mind.
The biggest red flags for me as a recruiter are when someone has never visited a city they plan on moving to before, or they don’t know anyone in the city. If I hear you know people there or have been there before, I’m instantly a lot less skeptical.
So to recap, here are examples of great reasons you can give the interviewer for why you applied for a new job in their state or city:
If you’ve followed the steps so far… you have applied for out-of-state jobs, landed some phone interviews, and hopefully got invited to the next round.
There are a couple of things you can do to make this part easier for yourself.
First, if they know you’re out of state, ask how much of the process can be done via phone and Zoom interview. The goal isn’t to sound like you’re trying to avoid ever going in face-to-face. Bad idea (the rare company will allow it, but don’t ask).
The goal is just to get as much of the process done BEFORE having to visit face-to-face. That way you and the company both have a good idea of whether it’s a good potential fit before any travel happens.
When it does come time to visit an out-of-state company by driving or flying, ask if they cover travel expenses. Don’t be shy; it’s a normal question to ask and it could save you hundreds of dollars.
If this is a higher-level position, there’s a greater chance they’ll pay. Don’t expect to have your expenses covered if you are looking for an entry-level job with no work experience.
If you get one company willing to fly you in for an out-of-state job interview, contact the other companies you’ve been speaking with too and say, “Just so you know, I’ll be in town next Monday and Tuesday for a couple of interviews. If you’d like to meet with me face to face this would be a great time to do it.”
That way you don’t have to travel back and forth as many times to interview with multiple companies.
It’s always worth following up with the companies you’ve had phone interviews with if you’re going to be in the city. Even if you haven’t heard feedback yet. Maybe they liked you, haven’t had a chance to send feedback, but would like to meet you face-to-face.
Now you know how to get a job in another state, but it still takes work and effort.
If you follow these steps above you are going to have the greatest possible chance of finding an out-of-state position, but remember to be patient and persistent.
Since you searched and found this article, I’m guessing you have a big reason (or multiple reasons) for wanting to relocate. It might be money and opportunities, or a more personal reason like family.
Whatever it is, remember why you started this out-of-state job search and don’t give up if things get tough, or if it takes longer than expected to get interviews, or if you go interview with one or two employers but don’t get a job offer.
Keep going. Your next interview could be the one, and you’ll be glad you didn’t doubt yourself or give up too early.
Biron Clark is a former executive recruiter who has worked individually with hundreds of job seekers, reviewed thousands of resumes and LinkedIn profiles, and recruited for top venture-backed startups and Fortune 500 companies. He has been advising job seekers since 2012 to think differently in their job search and land high-paying, competitive positions.
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