Georgene Huang

Moving across the country is overwhelming, for a number of reasons. You have to find a new place to live, you’re up against hours of packing and unpacking, and chances are, you have no friends or family in your new town to pitch in and support you. Then, to top it all off, you need to find a new job.

The job search is always tough, but there are even more obstacles when moving into a new region. Each area of the U.S. has its own preferences and biases when it comes to hiring — and they can impact women, especially. If you go into the job search without knowing what these unique preferences are, it will be a lot harder to succeed.

Luckily, our latest research dug into how hiring managers make decisions about female job seekers. 

We showed hiring professionals across the country different images of professional women. These women differed in their race, body shape, age, hairstyle, clothing, and demeanor.

We then asked respondents to choose three adjectives they felt best described each woman, as well as list their top five choices of who they would consider hiring. Finally, we asked the respondents to pick the top three qualities they look for when assessing candidates in general.

The results showed interesting differences between various regions of the country. By understanding what hiring professionals from different areas are looking for, you can better prepare for the job search.

Let’s look at four different regions of the U.S. and how some of their preferences might affect where you look for a new job:

The Northeast

Includes: CT, DE, MA, MD, ME, NH, NJ, NY, PA, RI, VT

Focus on your skill set

Hiring professionals from the Northeast were the least likely to list friendliness as a hiring priority. Just 37.21 percent said candidates who are friendly stand out to them. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be polite or relatable during the job interview. Rather, it means you need to focus on highlighting your skills when applying for a job in this region instead.

For example, if the interviewer asks you about your personal hobbies, find a way to tie that activity back to your professional skill set. Then your interviewer can get to know you as a person but also see how you’re right for the job.

Remember, when you’re discussing your professional experience, come equipped with numbers. Showing real data will support what you say about your skills and abilities. Some good facts to bring to a job interview in the Northeast:

  • Your customer satisfaction score
  • Sales numbers
  • Increases in brand awareness

The South

Including: AL, AR, FL, GA, KY, LA, MS, NC, SC, TN, VA, WV

Confidence is key

The South was the only region that had confidence in its list of the top hiring traits. Fifty percent of these respondents said this quality was important to them.

If you’re going into an interview in the South, take the time to talk yourself up. Before you go into the meeting, make a list of all your positive qualities. Recognizing all you have to offer will help you walk into the interview with your head held high.

Some other tricks to try are standing up straight and being mindful of your hand gestures and eye contact. Even if you’re nervous, good posture will make you appear more confident. This will encourage them to take your responses seriously and perceive you as more professional.

The Midwest

Including: IA, IL, IN, KS, MI, MN, MO, ND, NE, OH, OK, SD, WI

Mind your P’s and Q’s

The Midwest is known for being friendly and polite. Unsurprisingly, hiring professionals from this region look for these qualities when interviewing candidates. The top priority was professionalism for 76.32 percent of Midwestern respondents. This was more than any other region.

It was also more likely than other areas to list friendliness. The Midwesterners were the only group to have that trait in their top three, with 46.71 percent selecting it.

In a job interview in the Midwest, take the time to form a connection with your interviewer. Research who they are and what their interests are before meeting. This will give you something to talk about and show that you’ve taken time to get to know them.

The West

Including: AK, AZ, CA, CO, HI, ID, MT, NM, NV, OR, TX, UT, WA, WY

Step up and lead

Hiring managers in the West were most likely to look for leadership ability when interviewing candidates. For these respondents, 46.03 percent said it was a top priority.

When looking for a job in this region, make sure you highlight your leadership skills. Prepare examples of teams you’ve led in the past and how you were successful. 

If you’ve never officially held a leadership role at work, think of other ways you’ve used these skills. Did you volunteer to plan a fundraising event? Have you helped to train a new employee? These types of experience can show interviewers out West that you have what they’re looking for.