How to Get a Job in Another State: Tips From a Recruiter

By Biron Clark

Published:

Applying for Jobs

Biron Clark

Biron Clark

Writer & Career Coach

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.

Check if Your Current Employer has Jobs in Other Locations

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.

Contact Recruiters but Don’t Rely on Them

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.

Address the Topic of Relocation in your Cover Letter

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…

Position your Resume for an Out-of-State Job Search

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 protected] | <street address>

Now, here’s an example of how to show hiring managers that you’ll be relocating to a different location:

John Smith | [email protected] | 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.

Utilize Your Network and LinkedIn Connections

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.

Prepare for Interview Questions about Relocation

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.)

How to explain wanting to move to a company’s state/city in job interviews:

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:

  • “I’ve visited multiple times and decided it’s the best city to build my future in”
  • “I want to move there to be closer to family” (I love this line because you don’t necessarily need family IN the city for it to be true. You just need some family members who are closer than where you currently live).
  • “My wife/husband/partner took a job offer in the city and I’m looking for a job since we are already sure we are moving.”
  • “This move will get me closer to family, and the city also has a better cost of living than where I currently live and work.”

How to Handle Hectic Interview Schedules (and the Cost of Travel)

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.

Batch Interviews Together if You’re Talking to Multiple Companies in a State

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.

Final Thoughts on Getting a Job in Another State

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

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36 thoughts on “How to Get a Job in Another State: Tips From a Recruiter”

  1. Do you have examples of a cover letter I can model in regards to seeking a position in another state? I am in professional biotech sales. Thanks

  2. Hi,
    I’m looking for a job in a new city. I’m work in a very specialized field (visual effects) and I’ve been looking for a job in another city for 3 years. I’m at my wits end and about to give up. I’ve had two different people write my resume, I’ve applied to hundreds of jobs. Is there any help or advice out there for someone with such a unique skill set?

    Thank you,
    Kristin

  3. Hi Biron,
    I noticed this is an older article, but hoping you are still responding to questions.
    Where can I find a good recruiter to help me find out of state employment? There are so many sites out there with services, but I would love to connect with a reputable recruiter. Any thoughts or suggestions would be much appreciated!
    Tammi

    • Hey Tammi,

      Unless you have a unique or hard-to-find skill set, I wouldn’t expect much help from recruiters in your relocation. It’s easier for them to find local candidates. The truth is: recruiters help employers find people to hire. They don’t help people find jobs. It sounds similar but it’s a big difference.

      I wrote about how recruiters really work (and how they’re paid) here:

      https://careersidekick.com/should-i-use-recruiter-job-search/

      That article explains who a recruiter can help most, and who they’re less likely to be able to help. Unfortunately, someone looking to get a job in another state isn’t the type of person they can help most.

      It’s still worth a shot though, so to answer your question directly – I’d search LinkedIn and Google for a recruiter in the industry and city you want. So for example, “Sales Recruiter New York” or “Finance & Accounting Recruiters Seattle”.

      Talk to a few and see who seems friendly, competent, trustworthy and helpful.

  4. Hello. I am really glad that I found this article because it will definitely help my husband in finding a better job, or career i should say. But one of the important reasons we are trying to relocate from Maryland to Minnesota is so I can try to get medical help from The Mayo Clinic because I am sick (I need a higher standard of care than what I have encountered here). So when asked why we are moving in an interview, do you think he should mention that reason or would that make him seem risky because they might think he would call out a lot? I am independent when I go to multiple doctor visits, he does not go for those, only surgeries so he wouldn’t be calling out for me. I just need better medical care. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for your time.

  5. When giving a reason that you want to move to said city, what if you don’t have family/friends out there? What if you don’t have a partner/spouse/girlfriend who already has a job in that city? And what if you don’t have the money to visit the city before you move there?
    What do you say then, granted that you really want to move to that city? Could you say that you feel that your future city is in more align with your personality/beliefs/politics,etc?

  6. My question is how far in advance should you begin applying for positions if you want to relocate ?

  7. Thank you, this information has been very helpful. I have been considering relocating for quite some time and this information has provided useful tips as I begin my search.

  8. I’m looking to relocate from CA to Portland, OR. I knew that many Oregonians have a bad taste in their mouth in regards to Californians cause we are all moving there and driving up costs, so I went into the job search suspecting I would be discriminated against and that hiring managers would be more likely giving a job to a local.

    This article is perfect at increasing my odds, as I didn’t know what strategy to take and you really helped me understand the mindset of a recruiter and their concerns of giving a chance to someone out of state.

    I feel a lot more prepared and more empowered and have updated my cover letter with some of your suggestions!

  9. Thank you!
    I’m trying to move to NY from CA and honestly it doesn’t look like I can secure a job before moving there. Every recruiter so far has turned me down saying they need me to be local so they can work with me. But I know I want to live there so I might just move and spend a whole month hustling for a good position!

  10. I found this article to be enlightening especially since I’ve moved south with my daughter. Needless to say, I kept, or rather, keep plugging away with no success at all. Immediately, I thought my resume was the culprit. My address wasn’t updated. Fixed that and still nothing. Resume updated, transcripts and letters of recommendation uploaded and nothing. My experience and schooling shines, but still nothing. I’ll try the steps above and hopefully it will increase my chances. Thank you for posting this.

  11. Great article! Thank you! We are moving and my wife and I already decided she and the kids would move ahead of me (she has a job lined up and immediate family nearby) so we could focus on getting them settled and I would finalize things here and take the time to find the right job in our new city. I will move as soon as I find work but we plan on living apart for a maximum of 3 months after which I’ll just move anyway. So I don’t think I could be more committed to moving! At the same time I’m reluctant to say moving to X city in 3 months, because in reality I could move 2-3 weeks from a written job offer in case they were looking to fill a position sooner. Could I say something available to relocate/start 3 weeks from written job offer? Does that sound desperate or come across as unprofessional?

    • Hi Moe,

      Yes, you could try that. It doesn’t sound desperate to me. You could also just say “relocating in 3 weeks”, and keep sending out that resume that says you’re relocating in 3 weeks as long as your job search takes. It really depends what you’re comfortable with and what you can explain confidently when you get on the phone with the employer, too. (Getting an interview is useless if you’re not comfortable explaining the situation over the phone, so don’t tell a lie on your resume that’ll ruin the interview).

  12. My husband and I want to relocate to Houston, Texas and we currently live in Corpus Christi, Texas which is 2 and a half hours away to be close to family and friends (plus we travel to Houston at least once a month). My husband has added in his cover letters that he is willing to pay for his way to interview for jobs and that we are planning to move to the Houston area. How does he get a recruiter to notice his cover letter and resume for jobs they have posted? He is at a loss as to what to do to stand out and get a phone call or email from the recruiters.

    • Hi Tonya,

      Are these for jobs he’s already applied to?

      Or are you talking about how he can get recruiters to actively help him and seek him out/contact him?

      It sounds like your question is what every job seeker struggles with – relocation or not.

      Here’s a big blog section with resume advice. If you’re not getting interviews, it’s usually your resume. I’d take a thorough look through here:

      https://careersidekick.com/category/your-resume/

      Or did I misunderstand?

      Best,
      Biron

  13. With all the online applications and no chance to explain that you are 100% committed to moving via a cover letter (I don’t need the perfect job, just a job that pays a comparable salary), how do I let them know that?

  14. Other (less committed) way to list relocation on the resume?
    This article has nailed the frustration and discouragement that I have experienced thus far. I have a great job, plan to relocate (VA to CO) to be closer to a large group of in-law family, but we don’t have a certain date because our commitment to move is depends on securing employment. I understand that it’s less committed than actually having a date to put for relocation, but do you have an example or recommendation of an address that is less committed than an actual relocation date?

  15. How far in advance the use of just one start looking for a job in another state? I’m looking to move from New York to Florida in August 2019. I’m so anxious and excited

    • Hi Monique,

      I’d start a few months in advance. Maybe 2 or 2.5 months. It takes a long time, so it’s best to start early :)

  16. Yes very good, I want to move out of California also. Thinking possibly North Carolina to be closer to my daughter and it seems nice there and more affordable.

  17. This is a great article! We’re looking to move from NYC to Texas (Houston/Corpus Christi area)…somewhere with the most subtle winter. I’m originally from San Diego but have family in Texas and my spouse is in the gas industry where most opportunities seem to be. I hear people complain a LOT about Houston and it still has always seemed very nice to me. Unless you live in the boondocks, most all of us from major cities deal with traffic.

    What I did want to ask was, is there another way to list the relocation on your resume? See, I’m afraid to put “Relocating to Houston, Texas in December 2018” for instance because I don’t want them to feel we need 5 months to move out there…that’s just our deadline (and goal as a couple/family)…and we could really move there in as little as 2 weeks notice upon acceptance of a job for my husband. I don’t want my husband’s resume to be skimmed over because of this.

    Any creative ideas on how to word this differently since we can actually move ASAP? Just didn’t think “Relocating to Houston, TX as soon as I receive a job offer” sounded professional lol

  18. Thank you so much for providing this useful information! I am planning on moving from NJ to RI next year once I finish my Master’s and I would already have a place to move into immediately because my boyfriend currently lives in RI and recently started his new job there. I also love the area he lives in RI and I also want to further my career and future there. Would I be at risk if I mentioned this in an interview?

    • Hi,

      In my opinion, no. Totally fine/safe to mention. This is one of the most common reasons I heard people give me as a Recruiter, for why they’re interested in relocating to a new city or state.

  19. Are recruiters more amenable to shorter-distance out of state applicants? I’m graduating college next spring and would like to move from Michigan to Illinois. Would a recruiter tend to give me a more favorable opinion than someone moving from, say, California to Illinois?

    • Yes, probably. Every recruiter is different, but if I heard someone is moving within the midwest, it’s a lot lower-risk than somebody in California saying they will relocate to Illinois for a job. The short answer is “yes”.

  20. This is really great. I’m in the process of looking for a job outside my city, state and you covered stuff I hadn’t thought of yet. Thanks man!

  21. Thank you for creating such a detailed and informative article. I will take your advice into consideration when on my phone interview tomorrow afternoon. The tips you provided were very helpful and straight to the point.

  22. Wow, this was great & pretty informative. People are searching to move to different states and countries everyday, and I know because I’m one of them trying to move from California to Texas for a cheaper and better quality of life. This really gave me some good ideas and insights, very straight and to the point is what I liked the best!

    • Thanks for the comment. Really glad it was useful and straight-forward for you. I heard a lot of people are moving from CA to TX for reasons you mentioned. Good luck!

    • I know I don’t know you or your situation but as a fellow human, I am obligated to warn you against moving to Houston. It’s an awful city. Actually, it’s barely a city, it’s a giant mega-suburb that has no soul, You will be driving 50+ minutes everywhere. We don’t really have a vibrant downtown, and there are only a few areas that aren’t generic strip malls with a Lowes and Home Depot. I’m desperate to get out of here.

      If you are going to move to Texas look at the Hill country area such as Austin or New Braunfels. Even San Antonio is better. Sorry, I don’t mean to tell you what to do, but I wouldn’t wish Houston on my worst enemies.

    • Yup. Houston is very boring. You have to be plugged in to groups or networks to know what there is to do. Don’t think your gonna go walking down the street and run into something cool.

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