These 5 Tips Can Help You Snag a Job in Another State Before You Relocate

Two adults play with their dogs in their backyard.
Tyler Hoyt and Kelly Johnson play with their dogs, Oli and Pyrrha, in their backyard in Hawthorne, Calif., on Dec. 8, 2018. After job searching for one month, Hoyt was able to land a job in his dream city of Los Angeles while still living and working in Tampa, Fla. Tina Russell/The Penny Hoarder

Tyler Hoyt used to dream of moving to Los Angeles.

“I always wanted to come out here,” says the 25-year-old software developer. “I felt at the time I had the skill set to compete with the people out here, so I kind of went for it.”

Earlier this year, he had enough of working his cybersecurity gig in Tampa, Florida, and started aggressively applying to openings in L.A. After about a month of searching, he received an offer for a six-month contract position with a tech company. He seized the opportunity and has been living in Los Angeles since October.  

For some people, the idea of packing up the car and heading to their dream city without a job lined up sounds like an adventure. But for others, including Hoyt, the idea of not having work lined up to pay the bills is crazy. “I have two dogs and my fiancée,” Hoyt says. “It took a lot of planning to find a house with a yard and make sure we weren’t going to be homeless within a month after getting here.”

If you’re ready to move to your dream city but have no idea how to get a job out of state, here are five tips to help your search.

Consider Getting a LinkedIn Premium Account

Hoyt says one reason he found a job so quickly was he decided to go all in with a LinkedIn Premium account.

LinkedIn Premium is one of the top-tier versions of the business-focused social media platform. This monthly subscription service allows job seekers to contact hiring managers directly and see how they compare to the competition.

After filling out an application and submitting a resume online, he went on LinkedIn to find the company’s recruiter, then sent an InMail message that was half introduction, half cover letter, to put himself on the recruiter’s radar.

LinkedIn Premium is free for the first 30 days, then costs $30 per month. “It’s not cheap, but I’d say it’s well worth the money if you’re actively searching,” he says.  

Don’t Lie About Your Location

When updating your resume, it can be tempting to put “New York, NY,” “Seattle, WA” or whichever dream city in your header. But that strategy can be risky.

Helen Godfrey, a career counselor with The Authentic Path, advises cross-country job seekers to be transparent about where they are and list their current location on their resumes. It may sound like a good idea to use the address of a friend or family member who lives in your desired town, but that might lead to false expectations. For example, you might not be able to quickly come in for an in-person interview because you live on the opposite side of the U.S.

“You don’t want that to be your first impression because it comes across as sneaky,” Godfrey says. “If you’re sneaky about that, you’re probably sneaky about other things. You get hired because people like you and trust you.

“The trust part is on the line if you do that.”

Ease the Recruiter’s Fears

A woman types on her computer.
Chris Zuppa/The Penny Hoarder

Dana Leavy-Detrick, founder of the Brooklyn Resume Studio, tells long-distance job seekers their main focus needs to be putting the company recruiter’s mind at ease.

The most significant thing on the minds of the HR department will be the transition, she says. Filling job vacancies can take a long time, and the last thing they want is for it to drag on longer than needed.

“You know part of the draw hiring a local candidate is the fact that they could probably transition very quickly,” she says. “So you have to keep that in mind, too, and try to shorten that timeline as much as you can.”

Your cover letter is an excellent way to express this. Leavy-Detrick encourages people to use phrases such as “I’m actively relocating to the New York City area,” or “I’m ready to interview immediately.” Any details that highlight that you’re treating this job opportunity as a top priority will look good in the eyes of the recruiter.

“They are taking a big risk by interviewing somebody who’s an out-of-state candidate, she says, “so give as many specifics as you can give them up-front. It’s going to increase the chances that they might consider you along with local candidates.”

Focus on the Job, Not the Location in the Cover Letter

Living in New York City might be your dream, but that means little to a recruiter.

Back in 2000, Godfrey was in San Diego looking for jobs after finishing grad school. During her search, she found a career counseling position at Florida International University in Miami. In her cover letter, she didn’t write about sandy beaches or warm weather; her focal point was on why she’d be an excellent fit for the role.

“That’s really your mission to show [during the screening process] that you’re going to be a great employee,” she says. But if there is a specific purpose to your relocation, such as being closer to family, then it’s okay to include it.

“If there is a reason, that might be helpful for them to understand that you’re not going to get there, be here a couple of months and decide you don’t like [the job],” she says. “There’s some compelling reason that you want to be there.”

Can’t Fly Out for Interviews? Try Video Chat

Two adults play video games.
Hoyt and Johnson play video games in their home. Hoyt had many video interviews while he lived in Tampa and was searching for a job in Los Angeles. Tina Russell/The Penny Hoarder

If all goes well during the preliminary phone calls, the next step will be the in-person interview.  Of course that’s going to be more of a challenge when the parties are on opposite sides of the country.

“The more senior, the more niche the role, there’s more of a likelihood they’ll fly you out,” says Leavy-Detrick. “But if there’s more competition, likely that responsibility is going to fall on you.”

When Hoyt was applying for jobs in L.A., he recalls, if a company wanted him to pay for his own airfare and hotel, he turned them down. “I’m not going to pay for a plane ticket on a week’s notice for a job I might not get,” he says.

One alternative to the high cost of a plane ticket is setting up a video meeting on apps like Skype or Google Hangouts. Hoyt says a lot of companies are flexible and open to conducting interviews this way.  

He recalls doing multiple Skype interviews from his car during lunch breaks because it was the only place he could get privacy while working for his previous employer. Although not ideal, he figured it showed that he was willing to go the extra mile to land a job in his dream city.

“Yeah, it’s not as good as face-to-face [interviews], but being able to visually see the body language at least from the chest up is much better than a phone call,” he says.

Matt Reinstetle is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. He covers career advice and side gigs. If you have a topic you’d like to see covered, send him a message on Twitter @MattReinstetle.