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How to Land an Out-of-State Job

A journal that says field notes on top of a map.

Landing an out-of-state job requires you to make just as good a first impression as if you were applying and interviewing in the flesh. So how can you make a great impression from another city, state, or timezone? Here’s what worked for me:

Share why you feel connected to the location

In drafting cover letters, be sure to share why you feel connected to the area where the office is located; consider past visits, social ties, or local social-impact work that inspires you.

For instance, when I was living in D.C. and searching for jobs in NYC, I shared with my potential employers some details about my experience living in New York City as a graduate student in the last paragraph of all of my cover letters. I did this to convey not only that I have a connection to the area, but that I was willing and able to relocate quickly if needed.

If you’re not yet familiar with the city in which you’d like to work, you can still share a brief anecdote about your research or a visit that communicates why the location is special to you. In your interview, consider sharing a brief anecdote tethered to why you feel now is the right time for your move:

“I love Austin this time of year. There are so many free concerts and activities. And working at [ORGANIZATION], I would be able to support some of my favorite arts organizations as they serve marginalized communities by offering some incredible programs around the city.”

Imagine yourself already living near the job

If you’re like me and don’t quite have the resources to make the move happen before you land the job, putting firm plans in place for a relocation can be hard, but not impossible. The important thing is to be ready to communicate to a hiring manager your clear plan for how you will arrive and be settled in by the job’s start date. This becomes even more important if you make it to the second stage of the interview.

I used Airbnb to find places where I could crash for a few days or weeks so that I would be able to look for a more permanent living arrangement in person if and when I was offered the job. I also searched apartment listings on local Facebook groups. But the most impactful thing I did was ask my social network if they knew of any housing opportunities. Not long after, I learned of a sublet that was a perfect fit.

If asked, I would have been able to tell a hiring manager exactly what my plans were.

Pro Tip: Consider searching for roommates (instead of a room) using apps like Roomi and websites like Roomie Match and Roomster.

Be even more responsive to mitigate long-distance related hiccups

Sending post-interview thank you emails is important during the application process, but even more so when you are out of state. Every interaction with a hiring manager can be an opportunity to show that you are responsive, emotionally and professionally present, and committed to relocating.

You may have to go beyond the call of duty in responding to emails quickly and being willing to take or ask for a phone call if a particular concern is becoming too confusing to resolve via email.

You also need to prepare for technical difficulties like bad audio, video issues, or your internet going out at an inopportune moment. This requires planning in advance by testing your connection, reading troubleshooting tips (and having them on the ready for any calls or video interviews), and scouting locations that offer both a quiet space and fast internet (if you’re not going to be connecting from home).

When I was applying for the Communications Coordinator position at Idealist, my job was to get the job. I considered any request during the application process as important as an urgent work email. I tried my best to quickly answer interview availability and start date questions. I also made sure each day to check for living arrangements near the job. These tasks became a part of my typical work day.

Getting an out-of-state job can be harder, but with the right approach, you can make a lasting impression as if you’re in the room.

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About the Author | Imade Borha's desire to make a social impact has taken her from advertising to journalism, and now to the world of nonprofit communications. She has a love for storytelling and serving marginalized communities.

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