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New City Job Search? Here’s How To Tweak Your Resume To Avoid The Out Of Town Bias

Moving for a jobI’d say that 80-85% of job search is pretty local. You’re job searching in your current town or at least your current state.

But a lot of people, at various times in their life, will find themselves job searching in a new or strange city. This can present a lot of problems, including the obvious travel issues, time issues, cost issues and just the general confusion of having to research and navigate in a community you might know very little about.

But one big issue job seekers might not even know they face with an out of town job search is what we like to call out of town bias. It’s hard enough to have your resume stand out from the crowd. Any little detail can give the hiring manager to pass your resume over in favor of another one.

Being an out of town-er might be just such a reason.


Well, it’s simple if you think about it. If you had two equally qualified candidates, who would you call for the interview? The one that lives 5 minutes away and can show up at an interview with 24 hours notices? Or a candidate 1,000 miles away that might have to schedule and fly in for the interview? Would you be more interested in the candidate who is already settled and invested in the community? Or one that might have to uproot their family and learn the ropes a bit?

It’s not a malicious bias. It’s just simplicity. It’s human nature to sometimes favor local candidates.

So what should you do if you find yourself job searching in a new city and don’t want to play the odds of the out of town bias?

Well, if it’s a cold job search (i.e., you’re not being recruited… if you’ve been recruited, then you’re fine… the hiring manager knows your situation) then you need to consider tweaking your resume to avoid the out of town bias. After all, the resume is all the hiring manager has to go on at first, so you’re going to want to tweak things just a bit to avoid any out-of-towner red flags.

The Address On Your Resume

Obviously, an out of town home address can be a big red flag. So you have several options here.

Now-a-days, it’s not such a big deal to leave your home address off the resume. After all, 99% of the time, you’re gonna get a call or an email. They’re unlikely to send you an interview offer via certified mail.

So, instead of your home address, why not put just the city and state move to down on your resume. Trying to land a job in Chicago? Leave your current address off, and just say “Chicago, Illinois” on your resume header under your name. It’s not lying. You INTEND to move there… that’s what this application is all about. You want to land this job and move to Chicago.

Do you have a friend or family member who lives in the city in question? Great! Put their address down instead of yours.

Finally, if you really, really want to be meticulous, you could get a PO Box or mailbox at a FedEx/Kinkos or UPS in that city. Some of these boxes even offer real addresses, not just PO Boxes.

The Phone Number On Your Resume

This used to be a much, much bigger deal than it is now. After all, if you’re applying in NYC and instead of a 212 area code or  a 917, the hiring manager has to call a 734 number? Well, that used to be a dead giveaway that you weren’t local to NYC.

This is not such a big deal anymore. Not in the age of cell phones.

I can’t tell you the number if young professionals in their 20s or even 30s who still have the same cell number that they received with their first cell phone. That may have been in high school or college. They might have lived 3 different places since then!

Everyone has a different area code now. Especially in major metropolitan areas, it is not unusual at all to have a “strange” area code. Now that your number moves with you, why change it?

So if you think this isn’t a big deal, then don’t sweat it.

But if you WANT to sweat it, maybe because you’re targeting a small town or a rural area where unusual area codes would stick out, then consider getting a 2nd or temporary number..

Get a temporary number in the local area code you’re targeting, put that on your resume, and have the number forward to your existing number.

It’s more and more common for job seekers to set up a Google Voice number just for their job search. It’s easy, it ensures privacy and better organization. We encourage it. And we’ve written about it before, so check that post for the details.

Any Local Work You Can Highlight In Your Career History?

Finally, there’s your work history. You can’t change the fact that your last job was in Phoenix. But then again, you could leave off the location data for your employers. You’ll still be listing the job title, the employer, the dates employed… but maybe just leave off the Phoenix, AZ part. It’s just leaving off some data you don’t think is relevant.

A super easy advantage would be if your current position (or any previous positions) included some occasional, out of town work in the city you’re now trying to target. If you have such experience in your background, then I’d be sure to highlight that on the resume. It will show some familiarity with the community.

When To Come Clean

So, let’s say you’ve successfully shielded yourself from out of town bias using some of the tweaks above.

You’ve gotten the call or the email, and now the employer wants to meet you for an interview. At this point my friends, you should consider coming clean.

There are several ways you can handle this.

You could come clean right now. Let them know you’re gonna need to fly or drive in, but assure them you’re so eager for this job, so you’ll pay for it.

Or, suggest a phone or even a Skype interview. It saves you time and money, and it saves the hiring manager time and money.

Or, finally, you could punt. Do you have the money to get a quick flight into the city? If you can schedule things for early next week, then you have plenty of time to set up a flight and no one needs be the wiser.

Come Clean In The Interview

Whichever path you take, at some point in the interview, you’re going to have to come clean about the fact that you’re relocating to take this position.

When you do, it’s better to have a firm move date to give them. Just say, “Oh, we’re moving on the 30th. It’s already lined up.”


Well, if you get the job, then great! You would have had to move anyway, so this just finalizes everything with a firm date.

And if the job falls through? Well, then, you don’t move on the 30th after all. It’s no skin off of anyone’s nose.

But definitely have a move date to give them. It will remove any lingering doubts the hiring manager might have.

This article was written by: Resume Writing

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