Cover Letter Tips: Applying for a Position Outside of Your Local Area

Resume Builder _out -of -state

Question:

“I just graduated from a university in Georgia, and I’m willing to go anywhere for a job. Seriously, I’ll go anywhere from New York to Chicago to rural Arizona. I have debts to pay off, and I need to start working right away. But I have a problem: Most of my potential employers can’t pay transition fees and only want local candidates. How can I land the job if they drop me the minute they see my address?”

Answer:

There are several ways around this common problem, but the one you choose will depend on three simple questions:

  1. Are you willing to relocate without any financial assistance at all?
  2. If you’re invited to an interview, can you get there on your own—even if the interview happens within a week?
  3. If you’re offered a position, can you pack your things, move across the country, find a place to live, and start work within two weeks? 

If Your Answer Is No

If your answer to any of these three question is no, you’ll need to be honest and upfront about this fact in your cover letter. And you’ll need to keep being honest and upfront as you speak to the employers over the phone when they call you in for an interview. And of course, during the interview, you’ll need to discuss the subject again if you’re asked. Employers invest time and money in the selection process, and if this is a deal-breaker for them—or for you—it’s a smart and respectful move to let them know. 

There’s nothing wrong with simply stating the truth, as in: “I’ll need at least one month to relocate, since I’m moving from Georgia,” or “can we schedule the interview for next week instead? I’ll be flying myself out and I won’t able to make it in by tomorrow.”

If Your Answer Is Yes

If your answer is yes to all three of the questions above, then your goal is simple: Keep your location from becoming an issue that can cast doubt over your candidacy. Here are a few cover letter and resume moves that can help:

  1. Check your contacts list. Do you have any friends or family who live near your target position? Will these people let you use their address for your job search correspondence? If so, it’s okay to place their local address in the contact information section of your resume and cover letter. 
  2. Emphasize that distance is a non-factor. If you have to use your own Georgia address, add a short, one paragraph statement to your cover letter indicating that your location won’t be an issue—at least not on your end. If you know for sure that these employers will disqualify everyone outside of commuting distance, state clearly that you intend to cover your own travel expenses. If you aren’t sure, don’t say this, since there’s a chance the employers may offer to cover them for you if they’re very interested in your resume. 
  3. Save the explanation for last. When you insert the paragraph described above, do so at the end of your letter, not the beginning. Give employers a chance to learn something about your credentials and get a sense of your personality before they need to consider these nuts-and-bolts practicalities.

Use Your Resume to Your Advantage

The best way to get around a cut-off based on geographical area is simple, though it’s easier said than done: Just be the very best candidate in the applicant pool. Present your potential employers with an offer they’d be fools to refuse, and start with a powerful resume that leaves absolutely no room for doubt. Visit LiveCareer for a free resume and cover letter builder that can help you make your case.

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