no, I'll come to you!
January 31, 2012 2:22 PM   Subscribe

How can I convince employers to consider me equally favorably even though I'm not a local candidate?

I'm applying for a dream job in Los Angeles. I currently live in New York, but I'm ready to go live someplace else and I'd be happy to live in LA (been there, have friends there, love the weather, the ocean, the proximity to other fun things on the West Coast).

The application guidelines state that I must have (and explain) a "compelling" reason to be in LA. I'm not sure what this means, and how it should be addressed. I feel like saying LA is a great city and I'm ready for a relocation isn't enough, but what else might they be looking for?

Also, responders, if you are responsible for hiring people, what makes you like local candidates better? How can a non-local candidate reassure you that they want to be in your location?
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (13 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
For goodness sake, isn't the compelling reason that this is your DREAM JOB?? That seems like a pretty damn good answer to me.

posted by i_am_a_fiesta at 2:27 PM on January 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

What fiesta said. Tell them that this is your dream job - and specifically how and why, in terms relating to that particular company rather than the industry as a whole. Then add your other reasons on top of that - all of which are solid.

Disclaimer: I have never worked in Human Resources or hired anyone directly; I've heard others discuss resumes and potential hires - but this advice is based more on opinion than any quantifiable fact, and ymmv.
posted by mie at 2:33 PM on January 31, 2012

what makes you like local candidates better
Easy: relocation costs. They don't want to spend money bringing you over to LA, only to see you jump back to NYC in a year or two.
How can a non-local candidate reassure you that they want to be in your location?
Be able to talk convincingly about why you would love to live in LA. Educate yourself about the city, culture, etc. Tell a convincing story about why NYC isn't really the city for you, but LA is.
posted by b1tr0t at 2:35 PM on January 31, 2012

I'm not sure whether this is something you'd be comfortable with, but just to throw it out as an option: you could tell them that you are already planning to move to LA, and that you will be there as of XX date. (I did that when I applied for my job years ago, though in my case, it was true.)

Possible pitfalls: they delay their hiring decisions beyond XX date; they don't pay relocation costs when they otherwise would.
posted by cider at 2:39 PM on January 31, 2012

We are in the snowy Sierra Nevadas and in my experience, we like to hire local candidates because they are less likely to:

1) complain about commute time
2) complain about gas costs
3) complain about the weather ("It's snowed! Do we get a snow day off?")

You are less likely to:

1) ask for us to pay for you to fly in for an interview or cover a hotel
2) ask for relocation costs

A local candidate can usually start fairly quickly, no excuse about "I need two months to find someone to take over my lease / sell my house, move cross country."

So in short, it's just easier to consider a local candidate. If you were from outside my area, your cover letter alone or a good explanation about why you are moving to this area permanently better be out of this world amazing for me to even get past the fact that you are currently living more than 100 miles away.
posted by HeyAllie at 2:46 PM on January 31, 2012 [4 favorites]

One option is to tell them you're already planning to move to LA on X date. You might not land any relocation money this way, but it demonstrates your commitment geographically and makes you more of a local candidate if your residence is really just a matter of time. (This worked for me several years ago when I was vaguely planning a move to NYC but hadn't figured out the logistics yet. The company gave me a relocation allowance. YMMV.)
posted by mochapickle at 3:02 PM on January 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

Recruiter here. Hate to say it, but your best bet is to find someone who is willing to lend you their L.A. address, and use that. Or leave off your address altogether, and don't mention it in your cover letter. Needless to say, interview expenses will all be on you!
posted by Yowser at 3:04 PM on January 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

When I did hiring in Chicago, I assumed that people were partially looking at the job BECAUSE they wanted to relocate to Chicago. I would assume the same is true for any major city. Now I live in Baltimore and people are much more skeptical, as in, "Why again do you think you want to live here? Are you aware of the murder rate and that there are blocks and blocks of vacant row houses in the middle of moderately gentrified zones? Are you aware that there are no major stores to buy clothing, furniture, etc. in the city?" I'd assume that as a city LA has a pretty big ego and that the people running businesses there are used to interviewing people who want to move there.
posted by lodie6 at 3:44 PM on January 31, 2012

I like local hires better because they don't need relo/interview accommodations, they can start more quickly, and they are already committed to the area - nothing sucks more than getting somebody out to a job and they are all "I had no idea what living here would be like/I hate it."

Sometimes the only way a non-local will get a job is if they cover their own relocation costs. Other times, the place is so remote that you could talk the Hiring Manager (etc) ear off and its still a no-go. But what makes non-local candidates attractive is when they demonstrate a willingness to commit to the area - having a moving date in mind, having a reason why they would move there that is beyond the job, and that you can and will adapt quickly to a new environment.
posted by sm1tten at 4:27 PM on January 31, 2012

Well, naturally your compelling reason is that your parents are getting older, your brother in Silver Lake just had a twins, and you really miss all your old friends from LA High. AND it's your dream job.

Also borrow that local address. Good luck.
posted by cyndigo at 7:17 PM on January 31, 2012 [2 favorites]

There is probably no reason why they need to know that you aren't local. As suggested, borrow a local address and say nothing. If they ask you anything direct enough that you would have to lie, you'd be best to come clean in case they find out later. Do you even need to tell them your address?

With a bit of careful writing, you can explain your compelling reason to be in LA without mentioning that you aren't actually there. If you end up having to 'fess up, your response is along the lines of 'I'm moving to LA anyway and am incredibly excited that my dream job came up there so quickly'.
posted by dg at 7:30 PM on January 31, 2012

I hire people. Use a local address on your resume and don't mention it in your cover letter. dg has it spot on. Hiring is a huge pain in the ass. I wouldn't give them a reason to pass you over. As others have mentioned, there are so many variables in hiring non-local people.
posted by amicamentis at 8:15 PM on January 31, 2012

You don't need local address necessarily as you can leave address out, but get mobile phone with local area code as contact number.
posted by zeikka at 6:26 AM on February 1, 2012

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