All About Applying for a Job Out of State

woman on airplane

Adobe Stock

Laura Berlinsky-Schine
Laura Berlinsky-Schine

How do I get a job in another state?

It’s a question on many a job searcher’s mind. It’s difficult enough to find jobs locally, never mind one in an entirely different region. 

So, how do you go about applying for jobs out of state? Here’s our step-by-step guide to conducting a successful out-of-state job search.

How to Find Out-of-State Jobs

1. Give yourself extra time.

It’s difficult not to be a little (okay, a lot) impatient when it comes to finding a job. Unfortunately, both the job search and hiring process tend to take several months if not longer. And if you’re searching in a different state, you can tack a few more months on top of that.

Out-of-state residents do tend to have more difficulty finding jobs. Add that on top of relocating, which can also take months (accounting for searching for and finding a place to live, physically moving your stuff, and so on), and you’re looking at a considerably longer timeline than the average job hunter. So, if your goal is to move or start a new job by a certain date, you should start looking several months earlier than you would if you were applying for local jobs. 

There’s no exact figure to determine how much earlier you should start looking—it depends on factors such as your skill set, how in-demand jobs in your field are, your desired salary, and other factors—but it never hurts to start looking sooner rather than later.

2. Network.

Networking is key to job hunting locally, of course, but it’s especially important when you’re looking out of state. It’s a lot easier to find job openings, as well as show hire managers that you’re invested, if you have local ties.

That means browsing LinkedIn for connections in your desired state: friends of friends, former classmates or fellow alums from your college or high school, extended family members, former colleagues, and others who may be able to fill you in on opportunities at least keep their eyes and ears open.

Of course, you should also use job search sites, browse company job boards, and apply to jobs through other means, but networking will often give you access to openings that these vehicles won’t.

How to Apply to Jobs Out of State

3. Research the region or city.

When you’re planning on relocating, you need to know that your prospective area is one that truly fits you and your needs. It should be a place you’ve visited, where the culture and people align well with you and your life. Just because you’re moving doesn’t mean you’re starting your life over. You’re bringing the activities you like to do, the foods you eat, the types of people with whom you mesh well, and other aspects of your personality. Your location should just be a job—it should be a home.

Moreover, if you thoroughly research the region, you’ll be able to speak about it knowledgeably and enthusiastically to your interviewer and in your cover letter, which makes a stronger case for your commitment to relocating.

4. Research your field within that region.

In addition to researching the location itself, you should spend some time researching the nature of your field within the region. Are there many jobs available? Does your field have a strong presence in the area? These are factors that can make or break your ability to conduct a successful job search.

Additionally, you may find that some aspects of your field or position are different in another area. Make sure you’re comfortable with any changes you may encounter in terms of the work you do.

5. Emphasize your desire to relocate in your cover letter.

In both your cover letter and the screening interview, emphasize that your plan to move is not contingent on the job. You should have other reasons, such as ties to the community or a lifelong dream to live in the area. Perhaps you have family or friends there and have visited frequently. It’s important to make the employer aware of these circumstances so she understands you plan on staying put in the new state.

6. Emphasize how the job aligns with your career path.

Perhaps you’re looking at a job within your existing field or are trying to make a career change. Either way, make it clear how the position fits within your overall career trajectory. This is an important aspect of applying for any job, but it’s especially necessary when you’re moving because you want to show the employer that the role is a great fit for you. Your prospective employer may worry that you’ll move again, so you need to show her how excited you are about this particular job.

What to Put on Your Resume When You Live Out of State

7. Emphasize your plan to relocate.

How do you write an apartment address on a resume? This can be a little tricky. Having a local address may give you better odds of landing the role, but it’s never a good idea to lie on your resume, and using a friend or family member’s address can be misleading. Plus, you may want or need the employer to contribute to your moving expenses.

You don’t have to put any address on your resume. You may choose to leave it off entirely—or, even better, emphasize that moving is a definite plan by stating “Relocating to X city” underneath your name. 

Do you need a state ID to get a job?

You don’t need a state ID to get a job. Before you’re officially hired, you will need to provide your employer with some proof of identity, which can be a passport or passport card. If you don’t have one, you can provide your birth certificate and driver’s license, military ID, or government-issued photo ID.

How to Interview for Jobs Out of State

In the screening interview...

8. Discuss your plan.

In the initial phone interview, mention your plan to relocate. If you have a partner and/or children, briefly note that they are on board and you’ve discussed a plan. You don’t need to get into the nitty-gritty of what school your kids will attend, but you should make it clear that you’ve spent some time thinking about the various factors involved. 

9. Make it clear that you’ve narrowed down your relocation to this city.

“I’ll work anywhere” won’t sit well with your interviewer. Instead, you should have narrowed it down to this particular area or no more than one or two other locations. This is because the interviewer wants to know that you picture yourself working for the company long term. If you are relocating for the city, not just the job, then you’re more likely to convince her that you plan on staying.

Before the face-to-face interview…

10. Ask if you can have a video interview.

If you move on to the next round of interviews, ask if you can conduct them by Skype or another video platform. Express that you want to get a sense of the fit before either of you invests too much time or money into the process. 

If the employer insists on having the interview face to face, ask if they will cover your travel expenses. This may feel a little awkward, but if the employer is truly invested in you as a candidate, they will probably be willing to accommodate you. Make sure to convey your enthusiasm for the company and position when you make this polite request. 

12. Try to schedule multiple interviews in the same city. 

Try to schedule your interviews in bulk to avoid too much travel and expense. Traveling again and again the same area can get time-consuming, never mind expensive.

13. Budget.

It will help your case if you’re able to offer to pay for relocation expenses. This, of course, will require some budgeting on your part. If you already have the job offer, it’s fine to ask if the employer will assist you, but if you can mention earlier on in the interview process that you’ve budgeted for the move, the employer will probably view you more favorably.

Applying to Jobs Out of State: The Bottom Line

There are certainly factors that hurt you when you’re applying to a job that’s out of your state. This is particularly true when the job is in high demand and receives numerous applications or if you need to be familiar with the area to perform the work.

But don’t be discouraged. In many situations, your location won’t hurt at all; in fact, it may even help you land the role. For example, if the employer has budgeted for the employee’s relocation expenses or you’re willing to pay for your own moving expenses, your residence shouldn’t hurt your job search. Additionally, having ties to the community can give you a leg up. If you have a unique or in-demand skill set that the employer can’t find locally, you’ll have a major advantage in the hiring process.

One final note of caution: Never suggest that you’re trying to escape your current location or situation by applying out of state at any stage in the job-search process. For example, avoid mentioning that you need to get away from an ex who lives there, hate your current job, or no longer have a support system in your community. 

This will raise red flags for the interviewer both in terms of the negativity associated with your application and the appearance that you’re not truly invested in the job or location but simply want to get away from your current reality. While that may be the truth, the interviewer doesn’t need to know.