Job Interview: Do I tell them why I want a new job?
September 10, 2013 5:49 PM   Subscribe

I have a job interview this Friday. It is in a city 90 minutes from where I currently live, and 30 minutes from where my wife currently lives. Looking at my resume, it's obvious I'm having a good career at my current place of work, steadily getting promotions and increased responsibility. If I was an interviewer, it would be in the back of my mind, "Why's this guy looking for a new job? Problems where he is now?" I know they can't ask about my personal life and reasons for relocating, but does anyone think it would be weird to tell them I'm applying for this job because I want to live in the same city as my wife? Of course, I'd also tell them I'm applying for the job because of the skills and value I can bring to the organization, my prior experience gives a unique perspective from both sides of the desk, etc. etc.

Sometimes I can look at a resume or job app and it's obvious why the person is applying for the job, with mine I don't think it's so obvious.

Just in case it's pertinent: my current supervisor knows about my job search and I am confident they will give me a good reference.

I'm over 40, newly married.

Wish me luck.
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (22 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
It is not even a little bit strange to be moving to accompany your spouse to a new city. That's a totally valid reason to be relocating.
posted by xingcat at 5:57 PM on September 10, 2013 [28 favorites]

Family reasons are a perfectly normal (and good) reason to be looking. It's perfectly reasonable to tell them that's why you are looking. Of course make it clear that your interest in them is about more than just location.
posted by JPD at 5:57 PM on September 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

I would just add a line in your cover letter, towards the end, like, "I am currently planning to relocate to CITY to live with my wife."

Perfectly normal.
posted by firei at 6:04 PM on September 10, 2013

Why would you think it's weird? Do you mean that there's something unconventional about living apart from your wife to begin with? You don't need to get into detail, just say you're moving to City to live with your wife.

(As a company recruiter, I'm always happy to hear that a candidate from out of town has personal reasons for wanting to be in my city, rather than that he's just applying to us on a whim, and may not be serious about moving.)
posted by fingersandtoes at 6:06 PM on September 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

I would just add a line in your cover letter, towards the end, like, "I am currently planning to relocate to CITY to live with my wife.

No, say you're currently in the process of moving. Employers generally don't like to be your desperate foothold in a new city; they assume you'll use them to move without risk, wait till you're established, and then jump ship for a better opportunity. Act as if you're moving with or without the job.
posted by showbiz_liz at 6:08 PM on September 10, 2013 [5 favorites]

I would actually hesitate to mention that because it would give the prospective employer leverage over me in salary negotiations. If they know you really need to get the job for a reason like that they may feel like they can low ball you. I might mention it but I would really downplay it relative to the other corporate hiring catechisms.

New jobs are when you get your real salary increases these days and that stuff compounds...
posted by srboisvert at 6:23 PM on September 10, 2013

Telling them you're relocating to be with your wife seems like a total no brainer.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 6:26 PM on September 10, 2013

It is true that it would give this new company increased leverage in salary negotiations; however, out-of-town candidates are often not taken as seriously as in-town candidates. This depends on location, industry, and company culture. This really depends on how risk-averse you are--would you rather relocate and potentially contend with a lower salary, or would you rather live apart from your wife while trying to get the highest offer possible?
posted by studioaudience at 6:45 PM on September 10, 2013 [2 favorites]

In my experience, that kind of disclosure can actually help you get the job. Prospective employers usually want to see locals. Having ties to the area can be a huge plus.

of course YMMV.
posted by sm1tten at 6:52 PM on September 10, 2013

It's only a salary problem if you let it be. Do your research and know what they should be offering, don't accept less than that. They may, on the first try, but just say no.

My company is unbelievably shitty about hard-pressuring people to move across the country to live in a beautiful but expensive location where they have no family or non-work reason to be, often in three weeks or less, and are SO SURPRISED when they're gone in less than three months. Whereas my one hire, who came from the east coast but his parents live in town and he grew up here and went to college an hour away? Still here two years later.

Tell them your wife already works in CITY, absolutely.
posted by Lyn Never at 6:56 PM on September 10, 2013 [2 favorites]

Yep, my coworker was hired the same time as me and wanted the job because his kids live here in town. He was open about wanting to move here to make visitation easier. No issue at all.
posted by chainsofreedom at 7:03 PM on September 10, 2013

Personally, in future I would use your wife's address on your cover letter so they can see you are committed to living in the area. For this interview, yes, I would say you are moving to [wiife's address]/new house in wife's city.
posted by saucysault at 7:04 PM on September 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

Just say you're already planning to move and that's why you're looking for jobs in that city. Moving to be with your wife is normal and they will probably like hearing that you will have reasons to take a job in a different city seriously AND stay there long-term.
posted by AppleTurnover at 7:05 PM on September 10, 2013

This has to be reason, like, #3 in a list of top ten reasons for looking for a new job. Just be honest.
posted by deathpanels at 7:07 PM on September 10, 2013

One of the great things about your situation is you are absolutely free from having to say anything negative about your current employer. You can always toss in a "running out of places to promote up to", which is a pretty good complaint to have about your current employer, but needing to move means you're free to talk about how much you love your job and are so sorry to be leaving but it's time to move on and you're so excited about living in CITY and just being the most positive applicant they talk to. Take advantage.
posted by Lyn Never at 7:36 PM on September 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

This is not at all weird to tell them. Also, your moving costs might be tax deductible due to the trailing spouse provision, but haha, I am in no way, you or anyone's tax adviser.
posted by cnc at 9:02 PM on September 10, 2013

It wouldn't be weird if you said, "I want to move to $CITY because I really like the restaurants here." Moving to be closer to family is about the most normal reason there is.
posted by Errant at 9:30 PM on September 10, 2013

Yeah this is like a built-in great reason to want to move. And "I was looking to relocate to ___ to be closer to my wife, which is when I heard about your company, which I am excited about for blah blah reasons" is not a bad segue.
posted by stoneandstar at 10:27 PM on September 10, 2013 [3 favorites]

I'm in a different country than you so probably different office cultures but I definitely used the 'why do you want this job?' part of the interview for my current job to mention that I wanted to live in the same city as my long term partner and that I had personal ties to the location. I can't remember if I mentioned it in my application because it was a structured online form (and I was a job applying unemployed machine at the time) but certainly in person, it did not hurt (and probably helped me).
posted by halcyonday at 11:30 PM on September 10, 2013

I know they can't ask about my personal life and reasons for relocating

Of course they can. Expect to be asked.
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 5:15 AM on September 11, 2013

Slightly different spin on the above - they can't ask certain questions about your personal life (religion, etc.) but "why are you interested in relocating?" is absolutely standard.

Also, the fact that you can't ask as an employer doesn't mean you can't volunteer info as a candidate. My employer can't ask about marital status, but I can mention my wife in the interview.

I would introduce the topic as a two-fer. "I want to relocate closer to where my wife lives, AND I think your job is a phenomenal fit for me."

LOTS of married couples end up living/working some distance apart from each other. Not to overthink it, but some actually seem to prefer it that way. I think it's important in the interview that you establish that you WANT to relocate, that you LIKE the job prospect, and that you're not being pressured by your wife to move.
posted by randomkeystrike at 7:20 AM on September 11, 2013

Just wanted to echo that your reason is perfectly valid (in fact I recently moved cross-country because my fiance got a job here). Also rethink your assumption "I know they can't ask about my personal life and reasons for relocating," because that is just untrue. They can ask you pretty much anything and decide to hire or not hire you for pretty much any reason, unless it's some kind of discrimination (based on your race, gender, etc.).
posted by radioamy at 10:36 AM on September 11, 2013

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