Ask the Expert: Job-Hunting From Out of Town

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How do you handle the nuts and bolts of looking for a job in New York while you live in a distant state?

I live in North Carolina but would like to move back to the New York area - specifically to my native New Jersey. I've been looking for a job there for over a year but have had no luck in landing interviews, let alone securing a job offer. A contact of mine suggested I use a local address on my resume. That's not a problem as I have family members in the area, but I have a few questions: What will happen when employers see a New Jersey address with a North Carolina area code and phone number? If someone does want me to come in for an interview, how do I explain I need to make travel arrangements and may not be available in the middle of the week? When they see my current employer is in North Carolina - how do I explain that one?

A long-distance job search poses unique challenges and requires different strategies. Because there isn't one perfect approach for this particular challenge, you should be prepared to try one thing and then something else if it doesn't work.

Let's address your concerns one by one.

First, your out-of-state address: Once you have identified an opportunity, compose a letter personally directed to the hiring manager that includes a closing paragraph that goes something like this:

I plan to relocate to New Jersey at the end of November. I will be in your area the week of October 16th and will call to schedule an appointment."

If, however, you feel more comfortable using a local address, remember that many people keep their cell phone numbers when they relocate. So, having an area code that seems at odds with your ZIP code may be less of an issue than you think.

Long distance job searches have much in common with local ones. You must diligently network and search for opportunities, craft appealing cover letters and resumes, and continually follow up for interviews. Once you've piqued a potential employer's interest, the firm may be more willing to schedule an interview around your availability. This type of search requires a great deal of flexibility on your part

During the search, be sure to be open and honest. If an employer conducts a phone screen and your current location is questioned, be prepared with an enthusiastic response concerning your desire to relocate and your interest in the organization.

The best leads for this type of search come from networking and referrals. You may need to tap into the networks of your New Jersey family. It will also be helpful to subscribe to the local paper.

Your search will take time and persistence. If you keep a pipeline of letters and calls flowing, you're bound to make a match.

Robbie Miller Kaplan, a nationally-recognized expert on career communications, is the author of "How to Say It In Your Job Search" and "How to Say It When You Don't Know What to Say: The Right Words for Difficult Times," published by Prentice Hall Press.

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