Long Distance Cover Letter

Tips to help keep you in the running with hiring managers when you want to relocate.

Now that you’ve decided you want to relocate and your calculations tell you that the financial math is on your side and you can afford to relocate, there’s still one small detail to work out — getting the actual job.

Hiring managers across the country are being bombarded with resumes from qualified candidates within their own city, which makes it tough for an out-of-towner to get recognized. To make matters even more challenging, some companies use computer programs to scan each resume to weed out undesirable characteristics such as distant zip codes.

Rachel Dotson, a communications manager at the job-distribution service ZipRecruiter.com, says don’t fret. She recommends that job seekers looking to relocate should leave their address off the online resume forms. Or if that doesn’t work, use the address of a family member or friend that’s in the market where the job is.

“It’s a little misleading,” Dotson said. “But that way you don’t get your resume automatically thrown out.” She added that tricking a computer and tricking a real person are two totally different things, so once you get to the level where you’re dealing with a hiring manager make sure you come clean. “It’s tricky because you have to be honest about it,” Dotson said.

The cover letter is often an effective forum for explaining your situation, experts say. “Talk about the local market and specific stuff in that city,” she said. “Present yourself in a way that shows you’re going to be there regardless.”

Lynette Kittle of Colorado has moved for work multiple times with her husband — each taking turns as the job seeker who drove the relocation. “When first looking, we include in the cover letter ‘My family and I would like to relocate to….’ which seems to help,” Kittle said. “Once one of us has been hired, then the one of us who is still looking changes it to ‘My family and I are relocating to….’”. But nothing sells a relocation effort like good old-fashioned face time. “If the person already knows where they want to move they should go out and attend some career fairs,” Dotson said. “Being there in person shows how committed you are.”

When talking about your desired location, Dotson says job seekers should make sure they come off like a native. “You don’t want to sound like a tourist,” she said. “Ideally, you’ll have some sort of a connection.” That kind of intel can be attained by making local connections through social media sites, Dotson said, adding that job seekers should take advantage of all types of technology when pursuing a relocation.

Even the interviews can be done digitally. “Video interviewing is becoming a big thing for a lot of companies,” Dotson said. “Even people within the city are getting rid of the phone interview for the video interview.”

Consider Skype to be face time — but with a modern twist. It can be much more convenient for both sides involved, but Dotson warns job seekers not to get too comfortable with the process. “At least from the face up be presentable,” she said. “Don’t do it from a Starbucks or somewhere that’s noisy. … Treat them like any other interview.”

The next steps to figure out will likely involve plane tickets. By then you’ll be well on your way to your dream job — in your dream location.

More from Ladders

Conducting job searches from afar complicates an already taxing process. Whether you're a recent grad, relocating for your spouse's job, or escaping a sluggish job market in your current locale, you can benefit from a few pointers to help your hunt go smoother and increase your chances of landing a job. (See also: Crucial Job Search Steps Most People Skip)

1. Narrow Your Search

It's likely that you have already come up with a list of places you wouldn't mind moving to (with a few dream locations thrown in, of course). The next step is to get detailed information about the livability of each one so you can make a well-informed decision. Go to websites such as Glassdoor, CareerBuilder, and Salary.com to research the salary in the area. Look for housing, crime, and local economic information on sites such as City-data.com. Once you've found locations that match your needs, you can focus your search in these areas instead of scattering your efforts in places that you may end up not wanting to live in. (See also: 6 Places It Pays to Relocate To)

2. Do Local Searches

You're probably aware that you can look through the city-specific pages on Craigslist, eBay, and other web-based classified ad websites, but you can find job postings in many of the online versions of local newspapers, too. Using your favorite search engine, look for "<City, State> newspaper" or, "<City, State> classifieds." Read the business section of the newspaper as well. You may discover news about company openings or expansions in the area that require the hiring of new employees.

Some city, county, and state governments also provide access to job banks on their websites. You can often find them under the "For Residents" section of the site. You may also be able to find open positions by typing "Jobs" into the website's search box. These listings usually include private sector jobs, but if you're interested in a government position, you can find those on the site's "Careers" page.

3. Create a New Network

To give yourself some local roots, look for professional associations and other industry-related organizations on the city, county, or state chamber of commerce website. Inquire about membership as well as the current environment of the industry in the area and any job openings. You can also look to your current professional associations for information about chapters in different areas. LinkedIn may also offer you some leads. (See also: LinkedIn Changes Every Job Hunter Should Make)

4. Omit Your Address

Even if your skills and experience are exactly what the employer is looking for, you could still lose out on the opportunity in favor of a local candidate. The truth is, it's often less time- and resource-consuming for employers to hire someone from across the street than across the country. Seeing an out-of-town address may cause the employer to pass on your resume be without actually seeing what you have to offer.

If you don't feel comfortable simply leaving your address off of your resume and cover letter, Alison Green of Ask a Manager suggests using a statement such as "Relocating to Seattle in October" in its place. This lets the employer know you already have plans to move and may help them get past any reluctance to consider a long-distance candidate.

5. Adapt Your Cover Letter

Leave all mention of your relocation for the last paragraph of the cover letter. Use the preceding sections to provide an effective summarization of how you can use your skills and knowledge to benefit the company. That way, you've already piqued the employer's interest. To show that you're serious about the move, let them know about any job-related organizations you have joined in the area or information about other local networking contacts you have made. Give the employer dates when you will be available for an in-person interview, but be as flexible as possible to show that the hiring process won't be more difficult than it would be for a local candidate.

6. Go Back to the Future

Just as Marty McFly had to travel to the past to secure his future, sometimes your best bet is to reacquaint yourself with your old jobs to find new opportunities. Look on the company's website to see if there are any open positions in other locations. If the company doesn't provide job listings online, trying calling the other sites to inquire about any available jobs that match your expertise.

You can also contact your old supervisor or HR manager directly to ask about openings in other branches. This option can provide information about jobs that aren't posted publicly. As an added bonus, your former manager may even be able to get you an interview or at least send a heads-up about your incoming resume to the decision makers at the new branch. However you make contact, make sure your resume and cover letter highlight your previous experience with the company.

7. Utilize Headhunter Services

Recruiters have the resources to match your skills and experience with opportunities in the area, many of which haven't been posted to the public at-large. Local recruitment companies often have more personal knowledge about the job market and existing relationships with employers in the region, but national firms are fully capable of pinpointing jobs in specific locales. You can find both by searching for keywords such as "headhunter San Diego" or "national headhunter." You can also find placement services in your specific field by using search terms such as "finance recruiter."

8. Look for Temporary Positions

Temporary agencies have many of the same benefits as headhunters. They also match you with multiple potential employers and decrease the amount of searching and interviewing you have to do. These jobs often lead to permanent positions, but working for a temp agency has the added advantage of helping you decide if you really want to make a commitment to living in the area. You can find local and national temporary agencies by using similar search terms to the ones you use for recruitment agencies.

9. Recruit Family and Friends

Compiling an out-of-town search party that consists of people who know you and want you to succeed is a great way to enhance your long-distance job hunt. Local loved ones can keep an eye out for openings at their own jobs or other companies in the area. They can also serve as good sources of first-hand information about the area's job market. (See also: Hidden Networks That Can Help You Land Jobs)

10. Consider a Different Industry

Some areas have a plethora of jobs available in a specific sector, such as oil or lumber, so widening your search net to include new industries greatly increases your chances of finding a job. Although they may not seem to be up your alley at first glance, hopping on a parallel job track in the local industry lets you use your existing knowledge and experience in new way. The key is to look for the hot industries in different areas and then find ways to adapt your skills to that sector.

Have you found a job from afar? What worked for you?

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