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Distant Job Search Challenges

by freddo411 (Chaplain)
on Apr 13, 2006 at 20:47 UTC ( #543220=perlmeditation: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

I've been planning a major career move. My desire is to leave Los Angeles where a small house costs upward of $700,000 and move to another city where I can afford a house on my programmer's salary. While it would be a fortunate thing to have paid relocation it is not a requirement for me.

I chose a few candidate cities ( Austin TX, Memphis TN, Seattle WA ) and set about searching and I was able to turn up a number of promising postings that seemed to match my experience and skills well.

I submitted my resume mostly to HR email buckets or automated systems. Perhaps not surprizingly I received almost zero responses, one to be exact. The one response simply said "You resume looks good, but you are not located here". I followed up with my a message indicating my desire to relocate (I did not ask for relocation expenses). I did not get any response.

I also did a casual local job search and found a similar number of job listings. I also turned up an interview within a few weeks.

I am wondering if it is common policy to discard non-local candidates? Would you (or your company) consider non-local candidates? How much of a disadvantage would they have compared to a local? Can anyone share any tips on making this a successful effort for me?


Nothing is too wonderful to be true
-- Michael Faraday

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Re: Distant Job Search Challenges
by hossman (Prior) on Apr 13, 2006 at 21:13 UTC

    I had a similar problem back when I was in school on the west coast, and looking to interview with companies on the east coast.

    One big thing is to make sure in your cover letter you are very explicit about your intentions to move to the location you are applying. if you don't, it's very easy for hiring managers to assume you just spammed your resume to every job listing you found online that met a certain set of requirements without checking thel ocation (or it may make them assume they didnt' specify the location properly when they posted the location online)

    The other thing I found that helped, was to plan a trip out to the city i was interested in moving to several weeks in advance, and then when applying for jobs, mention that i would be in town looking for a new apartment between dateA and dateB and if they were interested in interviewing me in person between those dates, it could be aranged.

Re: Distant Job Search Challenges
by dragonchild (Archbishop) on Apr 14, 2006 at 02:30 UTC
    hossman has a very good suggestion.

    Some explanation of the phenomenon may be useful. Despite the fact that there are thousands of planes going to tens of thousands of locations around the world, over half the US population has been in an airplane less than 5 times. Many have never been on a plane at all. Well over half the US population lives (and will die) within 100 miles of where they were born. Those people simply do not comprehend the idea of just picking up and moving somewhere. They look at it in terms of how they would react and they feel that it would be a chore. Since you're willing to do it, then there must be a huge reason why you'd be happy to do it!

    My recommendation is to do one (or more) of the following:

    • Look for a contract position. There are thousands of open contract positions, even in Perl. (If you know Java, this is even easier.) Look for a position that's less than 6 months, particularly one where the company does not intend to hire or extend. Then, take it. You're expected to look for another job while you're on this one, so going to interviews won't be taken the wrong way.
    • Use your network. Hit up every one of your friends. Make new friends in your target cities. Tell them you are desperately seeking anything in their area just so you can move near them.

    If you're interested in moving to the Columbus Ohio area (where my 2400 sqft house was around $200k), I can hook you up. Especially if you know Java. :-)

    My criteria for good software:
    1. Does it work?
    2. Can someone else come in, make a change, and be reasonably certain no bugs were introduced?
      ...over half the US population has been in an airplane less than 5 times. Many have never been on a plane at all. Well over half the US population lives (and will die) within 100 miles of where they were born. Those people simply do not comprehend the idea of just picking up and moving somewhere. They look at it in terms of how they would react and they feel that it would be a chore. Since you're willing to do it, then there must be a huge reason why you'd be happy to do it!
      Yeah. I left a town of 20,000 in a rural area to go to college in a distant city where I had zero connections. It is certainly a leap of faith that many people don't need or want to take. The vast, vast majority of my classmates in high school stayed within 50 miles of home.

      I don't take the idea of relocating lightly; my wife and I have talked it over extensively and it happens to fit our goals. Interestingly, many of our couple friends in Los Angeles have relocated out of state recently. Jobs here are plentiful, but the cost of housing is beyond astronomical. Those couples were willing to change BOTH partner's jobs.

      If you're interested in moving to the Columbus Ohio area (where my 2400 sqft house was around $200k), I can hook you up. Especially if you know Java. :-)
      Ohio sounds great, but Java? Sacre Bleu! ;-)

      Nothing is too wonderful to be true
      -- Michael Faraday

Re: Distant Job Search Challenges
by philcrow (Priest) on Apr 13, 2006 at 21:03 UTC
    I have a college friend who became a manager at a tech company in the middle of the country. On a tour of one of their facilities (while I was a college teacher) he handed me a card and told me to send him recommendations and resumes from my students. But at the end he added, "but not people from the coasts. They're never really willing to move here. They don't understand the salaries."

    Even if you are willing to move and you do understand the salaries, convincing him is hard. He just has too much experience dealing with people who changed their mind after he paid to fly them in for interviews.

    If you visited town and called him in person, he might believe you, but then again he might not.

    Sorry I don't have more encouraging news.


Re: Distant Job Search Challenges
by tilly (Archbishop) on Apr 14, 2006 at 06:01 UTC
    Yes, it is common policy to discard non-local candidates.

    One strategy around this if you know where you're moving is to get a cellphone for the location you want to move to, and hand out that phone number. That tells people from there that you're local (even if you're not), and gets you past that automatic rejection.

      Another strategy is to look for work in rural areas. A big reason non-local candidates are discarded is that, in large metro areas, there's a ready supply of local talent. Look for jobs in rural areas that are a couple of hours travel from a large metro area you're interested in. There's a good chance that, because a lot of tech people are reluctant to move to small towns, you'll get a relocation package. Once you're in, you can start looking for something in the metro area...if you still want to. ;)

      Small town tech jobs are out there. I work for a rather large Telecom company whose headquarters is in a good sized city but whose operation center is in a small town. We're 2-3 hours from the nearest city which makes it nice for weekend or day trips but we don't have the high crime, high cost of living, rat-race life style, etc. We also don't have a large pool of technical people to choose from so the company expects to pay relocation.

      Also on the plus side, since there is a tech company here, we do have high speed internet access (either cable or DSL), a couple of coffee shops, reasonable shopping in easy reach, etc. It's not 'Bright lights, Big City', but it's not bad considering that there are only 3 stop lights in the entire county.


      Vonage and other VoIP services that let you have a local phone number regardless of physical location are great for this. When I was planning a move to the twin cities, MN area, I established Vonage service in St. Paul -- even though I was working contracts in the Chicago/Milwaukee area. I followed that up with neglecting to provide my full address on my resume.

      Once you can actually talk to people on the telephone, you can explain the situation accurately, but the local phone number has already given them a "this guy is local" vibe. I simply explained to interested parties that I was in the process of moving to their area, and that I was working a contract job in a different area. I gave my then-current home address as a "temporary address" where I could be reached.

      None of that was untruthful, but it did demonstrate to interested parties that I was a local candidate, even if I hadn't moved quite yet. As a result, I was never discarded for living out-of-state.

      A collection of thoughts and links from the minds of geeks
      The Code that can be seen is not the true Code
      I haven't found a problem yet that can't be solved by a well-placed trebuchet
Re: Distant Job Search Challenges
by monarch (Priest) on Apr 14, 2006 at 11:36 UTC
    I, personally, have just finished a contract in Australia with the intention of moving to the UK and getting work there. I've sent in a few CVs to UK recruitment firms but had no response; but I almost expected this.

    When I moved to Sydney a year ago it was pretty much the same thing; prior to moving to Sydney I had one agency get back to me, and actually organised an interview on a one-week trip to Sydney prior to moving. This landed me a contract role (however I didn't last long in that job).

    Later, in Sydney, finding myself unemployed, I looked for work and must have submitted over a hundred online applications for jobs. Of which maybe 2-5% resulted in responses (and in the end almost all the responses were for roles that were actually inappropriate - but at least I got a couple of interviews).

    It wasn't until my original recruitment agent discovered another of his employees working at a different firm knew of an opening at that other firm. That is, word of mouth. Had the interview, got the job on the spot.

    Funnily enough I had a series of strong arguments with another recruitment firm that was taking a cut of my pay, because I had applied for the same position through them online several times with no response. They were getting a cut because they were one of a select few agencies authorised to recruit for the firm I was working for. (I cannot identify this agency although they begin with C and resemble something that burns.. their senior managers can be very unprofessional, and outright dishonest).

    So I guess in summary I would have to say this: finding work is hard, especially on-line. Being available for interviews, picking up the phone and getting in recruitment agents' faces is vital. Finally, be aware that a lot of agents are lazy and only interested in legally binding you into large commissions. There are some good agents out there, however. They are diamonds in the rough!

Re: Distant Job Search Challenges
by samizdat (Vicar) on Apr 14, 2006 at 13:38 UTC
    I moved my family to Austin first, without leaving my day job in ABQ. It is a big plus to have a local address, but I found that companies looking for talent did pay for plane trips, hotels and cars. However, these were the big companies, AMD and Freescale, et al. Smaller companies were not as willing to do so, and I think I got passed over several times for that rather than for my skills or lack thereof.

    The thing that helped me the most was having a local contact in my skill arena who recommended me into a bunch of companies. Austin is very much like Hollywood in that everybody's a networker looking for mutual legs up. Wasn't even a previous friend, just somebody another friend suggested as a helpful person. Austin has a big (and proud) Linux geek community, so you might try a similar tack through that avenue.

    Update: try Metro Search also

    Don Wilde
    "There's more than one level to any answer."
Re: Distant Job Search Challenges
by ptum (Priest) on Apr 14, 2006 at 13:49 UTC

    If you can afford it, I think planning a trip to a prospective city and telling prospective employers that you will be in town for a certain set of days might substantively increase your chances of getting interviews and being considered for jobs. Some years ago I decided to move from a job just outside New York to the Detroit area (for family reasons -- why else would someone move to Detroit!). After sending many letters and resumes, I finally found a contracting agency willing to pay my airfare and expenses to come to Detroit for an interview. I let it be known that I would be in town, and suddenly I had two additional interviews and a total of three job offers after I returned home. I was in the happy position of choosing between competing offers, which is always a good thing. :)

    This has the added benefit of giving you some exposure to the prospective new city before you make a decision to move. For example, many Californians have trouble adjusting to the weather patterns here in Seattle, and average home prices now exceed $400,000 in King County (admittedly, this is a far cry from $700,000). You might find that other locations may not meet your expectations.

    I entirely agree with other advice you have received with respect to contract employment. Nearly every job I've taken has started as a contracting position, including the one I'm working in now. Contracting is a great way to 'try before you buy' both for the employer and for the employee.

    I've also been very pleased with LinkedIn as a networking tool.

    No good deed goes unpunished. -- (attributed to) Oscar Wilde

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