Can a non New Yorker get an NYC webdev job?
November 22, 2006 7:07 PM   Subscribe

My friend seeks a job as a web developer in NYC. He's gotten the impression that no one will interview him if he's not already a resident of the Big Apple. Is this accurate?

My friend is basing this assessment entirely on Craig's List ads; he hasn't looked on other sites and he hasn't done any cold calling or pounding of the pavement. The ads usually have a line such as "no out of state applicants please." Is this attitude shared by tech employers in New York City in general? If so, what's the reasoning behind this policy? (I think I can see some logic to it, but could use a more definitive answer than my own half-educated guesses). Also, if you have any advice, generally, to offer on how to get hired as a web developer in New York, please feel free to dispense.
posted by Clay201 to Work & Money (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I'm pretty darn sure it means one or more of the following:

They won't allow 100% telecommuting
They won't pay relocation
They need somebody soon and are not willing to wait for somebody to move to the city and get settled before beginning the job
posted by phoenixy at 7:21 PM on November 22, 2006

Does he know Ruby on Rails? Pretty easy to get a job with such skills.
posted by camworld at 8:05 PM on November 22, 2006

Look at it from their point of view: the supply of web coders in NYC is large, so they can either choose someone local who can begin work immediately, or someone from elsewhere who they'd have to pay to move and who couldn't start working for at least a month.

Which would you choose?
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 8:08 PM on November 22, 2006

I'm an NYer looking for web developers. If your friend wants to send me his resume, my address is in my profile.
posted by grumblebee at 9:28 PM on November 22, 2006

where does he live now?
posted by BigBrownBear at 4:11 AM on November 23, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks, everyone, for the help thus far.


Thank you very much for the offer. I'll be sending you an email very soon. (Seeing as how it's a holiday, though, I'm sure it'll be at least a few days before you look it over).


At the moment, he's in Vermont, but he's in the process of moving; most likely to North Carolina. It's kind of a complicated situation. But he really wants to live in NYC and if he can get an interview there, he'll be on the first train. And if he has to start the job right away, he can find short term living arrangements until he can rent an apartment.
posted by Clay201 at 4:33 AM on November 23, 2006

Best answer: Just speaking in general: employers, no matter where they are based, tend to reach out to local candidates exclusively if they are conducting interviews in a job market saturated with candidates. It's just easier for them. It's also a little shortsighted, but that's your problem, not theirs - they know if they reach out to a competitive candidate pool (a so-called "buyer's market"), they'll find someone good no matter what.

In NYC, all the professional jobs have extremely competitive candidate pools. Despite what anyone might say, there is no company around here desperate for competent workers. The talent pool here clearly outsizes the number of job openings.

Also, I've always had this feeling that the NYC tech scene was a somewhat ridiculous industry for hiring and working. Crazy hours, low pay, minimum job security, menial work, insane hiring requirements... it seems that the companies here, before Google arrived, all shared the naivete of the startups out in the Valley mixed with the attitude/ruthlessness of Wall Street. Plus, the combination of the tech crunch and 9/11 really wiped out a lot of companies that were based here, leaving few opportunities for new and upcoming workers.

I'd never tell your friend not to move to NYC, but best of luck because he will need it.
posted by brianvan at 6:55 AM on November 23, 2006

Best answer: NYC is a great place to live and work, and I'd have a real hard time adjusting if I had to live in any other U.S. city. (In fact, other than Boston, Chicago or SF, I don't think I could do it.)

That said, it's a very competitive and expensive place. You pay a whole lot of rent for a tiny apartment, and go through the Spanish Inquisition before you're allowed the privilege of applying for that apartment. Then you pay a broker 10% - 20% of the yearly rent for showing you the apartment, in addition to security deposit and rent. Long hours are expected in almost every industry, because the culture is "now! quick! quicker! NOW!". (I often have colleagues on the west coast react in shock when I answer my phone at 6pm; they react as if that is working late somehow.)

A lot of folks move to NYC, get really freaked out about the cost of living or the crowds or the fact that they're at the office 50 hours a week or miss having a car or get burned out by the omnipresent nightlife, and leave within 6-12 months. Add that factor to the fact that there is no labor shortage at all here, and its one more reason to not bother interviewing out of town candidates.

I'd advise your friend to save up a big chunk of money, then come visit for a week and line up a couple interviews for that week. Be ready to stay, or tie things up back at home with a quick weekend trip. Forget to mention that he's technically not living here. If someone offers him a job he likes, jump on it, and extend the stay.

A techie friend recently moved back here after a decade on the West Coast. (He spoke highly of He sent his resume to a bunch of recruiters a few weeks beforehand with a note saying he'd be moving to NYC on X date. This strategy worked quite well for him: he had several interviews set up the same week he moved in, and is starting contract work Monday, only 2 weeks after moving in.
posted by Cranialtorque at 8:54 AM on November 23, 2006

Very simple: NYC is intensely expensive for any company providing relocation and, as others have said, is completely saturated by (over)qualified candidates for any tech position. Think of it as analogous as seeking a work visa to work in a very desirable country. In the tech indstry, as long as he remains a 'foreigner' to NYC, your friend is not going to be in the position of "person qualified to do a job for which there are no suitable local candidates."
posted by allterrainbrain at 1:52 PM on November 23, 2006

In the web market, even though there are a dearth of potential employees, there always seems to be work available, no matter what your situation.

If he's not interested in living in the city, Long Island, New Jersey, Connecticut, or even upstate NY are a livable commuting distance away (as long as you live near a train line).

When I first interviewed in that area, the fact that I lived in the Midwest at the time I was interviewing didn't even enter into it. The only question pertinent to my living situation was ever: "How soon can you start?"

Of course, I don't know your friend's skill set, so his mileage may vary with the general enthusiasm.
posted by thanotopsis at 8:20 PM on November 23, 2006

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