It’s a challenge many job seekers face. You want to move to a new city, but you need a guaranteed paycheck before you make the big jump. So you look for opportunities on local job boards and send out applications.
But here’s the problem: employers have a distinct bias against long-distance job candidates.
It’s an uphill climb, but there are things you can do to improve your chances of landing an interview. You’ve got to convince the employer that interviewing and hiring you will be nearly as easy as any local candidate. And it all starts with a solid relocation cover letter.
In addition to everything else you need to include in your cover letter, make sure you tackle, head-on, the challenges related to your relocation. You want to do this, briefly, in the final paragraph of your letter, after you explain how awesome you are and how you’ll solve all the employer’s problems.
Here the four things you want to include in any relocation cover letter
1. Explain why you are moving
There’s a big difference between applying for a far-flung job and actually packing up your belongings and moving to that new town. Sometimes our dedication to a big move wavers when the opportunity arrives.
This is one reason employers may be skeptical of out-of-town applicants; they question whether you are really serious about the move. That’s why it serves you to be crystal clear about the reason for your move.
You don’t need to go into a lot of details—remember, real estate on your cover letter is precious—but provide enough information to show that your desire to move isn’t some flight of fancy. The more concrete your reasons, the better. The goal is to show the employer that your move is a done deal.
Here are some things you could say:
“After a decade in Washington, DC, I’m looking for opportunities to return to my hometown, Cleveland.”
“I moving to Tampa to be closer to my family, who all live in the area.”
“My husband recently accepted a position at UCLA, and we’re moving to Los Angeles later this month.”
“I’m marrying an Oregonian this summer, and we’re relocating to Portland in August.”
Reasons like “I like the way-of-life in Tucson” or “I loved Austin when I visited last year” carry less import with employers. While these sentiments may be true, they lack the stickiness that makes your move a done deal.
2. Give a date or time frame
The best way to ease an employer’s mind that you are really moving is to provide a date for your arrival. Again, this is why a concrete reason for a move is so helpful.
Organizations hire because they have a problem and they need help ASAP. Often, that puts a premium on candidates who are available to start immediately. A hiring manager might be willing to wait for a stellar candidate but their patience won’t last forever. You have to explain exactly how long they’d have to wait to bring an awesome candidate, like you, onto their staff. A firm arrival date (hopefully in the not-too-distant-future) can put the hiring manager’s mind at ease.
If you don’t have an arrival date, share how quickly you could relocate, if offered the position. The faster you can make the move, the better—just remember to to be realistic in your projection.
Identify the resources or connections you have that could best facilitate a move. Again, this can be done in one sentence:
“I can start within two weeks of a job offer, as I already have family in the Wichita area.”
“I’m willing to commute from Sacramento, until I move to closer to the Bay area.”
3. Explain how you can interview
Another perceived challenge with out-of-town applicants, from the employer’s perspective, is how they’ll interview you. Hiring managers are used to the traditional interview process—namely, an in-person meeting in their office. Anything that varies from this path may be be alien territory.
Do not expect the hiring manager to know how they can interview you remotely. Instead, offer up your own solution for this challenge. It’s simple, just say:
“I’m available to interview by phone, Skype, FaceTime, or any other platform that is convenient for you…”
The goal here is to make the remote interview process as easy as possible for the hiring manager. The offer of a video-based communication system is particularly helpful as it more closely approximates the typical in-person experience.
4. Put an in-person visit on the table
Did you notice how my last quote ended with an ellipsis? That was intentional because you’re not going to land an offer with just a Skype chat.
Most hiring managers will want to meet you in-person at some point. And, frankly, I would warn against accepting any offer without first meeting the employer in-person. A face-to-face meeting is the best way to learn more about the organization and whether you’ll be a good fit there.
So, you need to put the offer of a visit on the table in your cover letter:
“… and I’m open to traveling to Boston for an in-person meeting, should there be mutual interest.”
This is an important addition to your earlier interview suggestion. You’re making it clear that you’re open to a visit, eventually, but only if the initial phone interview goes well. This is a gesture of good faith to the employer and shows that you’re serious about the right opportunity.
Leave unmentioned who will pay for this travel. At this point in the process, talking about money is putting the cart before the horse. Just put the idea out there and focus on your desire to learn more about each other. If there’s genuine and mutual interest after your Skype call, you’ll have more leverage for asking for travel expenses.