Out of state job candidates

Hi all, I seem to have permanently lost my old Core77 account that I’d had since high school, so I’m starting again.

I graduated from a respected art school with an ID degree several years ago, I’ve had several internships, a few short-ish consultancy gigs, but I’ve mostly I’ve been doing freelance and looking for a good in-house position on and off in the remaining years. I’m eager to relocate, and my girlfriend is also looking for out of state jobs, basically we both live in a state where there isn’t a ton of ID, and there isn’t a ton of presence in her industry, either.

So settle a debate: my girlfriend has been told (by some professors, at least, not necessarily by employers) that having an out-of-state address on a resume is enough to immediately disqualify you from consideration from most jobs and will get your resume put straight into the trash. She thinks I’m shooting myself in the foot by using my current address and not adopting one from someone I know in the region(s) I’m sending out portfolios.

So I’d like to hear from people who actually have been on the other side of the hiring process, are you less willing to consider candidates who are out of state? It says pretty clearly on my portfolio site what state I live in, and I do emphasize that I’m actively looking to relocate in cover letters, but am I really hurting my chances by not hiding it?


For hires in which I have been involved it was an issue in regards to the average salary for location from which the candidate was coming. We looked at people from all over the country but we were more likely to interview someone Ohio versus an equivalent candidate from New York. This was at a firm with ten people so money was tight and it was always considered when looking at candidates.

My experiences in the job hunt process has been that a current address further away than 50 miles has been a hindrance, even for in-state moves. My in-state move to San Francisco was difficult – I spoke with many managers or HR people that usually refused to look at resumes that came from outside the Bay Area. They did call me and do a phone interview but were pretty honest in saying that they strongly preferred local people.

There are a lot of people working in product design here so it really seems to be more trouble than it is worth to look at people that may or may not be moving to town. When trying to move to California from the Midwest it was pretty much impossible to get interviews. A couple years later (and after a job that did not add anything significant to my portfolio) and I got several interviews from the same companies to which I had previously applied. The big difference, at least in my opinion, was an in-state address and the out-of-state address.

I came across this line under the “minimum requirements” from a job posting for a design firm here in SF:
"Lives within commute distance to San Francisco where we are located

At least commute distance is not defined.

I’ve encountered a similar issue but on a bigger scale: out of country (I’m in Canada). Despite me not needing sponsorship (TN-VISA) and being able to start almost immediately (TN-VISAs have no processing time), I was told it was almost guaranteed I wouldn’t be considered unless I was a once-in-a-lifetime candidate. Therefore, my current plan is to work for a larger company that has an office near where I live and try and get a transfer to another location in the US (I’ve also been told if they hire you through your local office, relocation process is a lot easier for internal transfers within a company).

That being said, I’ve heard of many people who got hired from Canada to the US and from state to state in the US as well so clearly it’s possible if you make yourself desired by the employer. One thing I’m concerned about is the need to specify exact address on your portfolio? I’ve never done that and no employer has had an issue with it so far. I’ve mentioned where I’m from in my cover letter, but never given out address unless asked for.

Out of state candidates cost more money and time.

If the pool of local candidates suffices, there is no need to look far.

Hey neon fields. I think “adopting” a local address is a really bad idea . Imagine you are a hiring manager and you find an awesome local candidate and ask them if they can come in tomorrow for and in person. They then proceed to backtrack and explain that they actually live half way across the country but they can fly in next week… at this point you’re probably starting to wonder what else they could have “adopted”, is this even their work, are you going to have to make sure they actually graduated etc… Even if your intent isn’t nefarious, it will probably still end up with you looking somewhat shady and them moving on to someone else.

I would suggest not worrying about your current address and make up the perceived difference by strengthening your portfolio. Make sure that you are presenting work that’s going to make them not think twice about the $3-5K relocation package difference because they want you. No company worth working for will pass on an A candidate just so that can hire a C+ local one.

Rule 1, don’t lie. And that includes don’t mislead.

What I would do is in the cover letter explain that you are relocating to the state anyway (if that is true).

That was always my thinking, having a different address wouldn’t help, especially when the hiring manager asks me to come in for an interview the next day and I can’t, or whatever. But it sounds like the consensus opinion is that I’m just out of luck unless I can pick up and move myself across the country to a bigger design city? (Which is basically impossible unless I have a job lined up, first, and any city that has a bigger pool of design would certainly be more expensive than where I am now, i.e. it would be difficult to move to, say, san francisco or NY and live for x+ months while I job search).

So is my best option just to say in my cover letter that I’ll work for next to nothing, and move myself across the country if I get offered a position? Should I be applying for internships, and hope I land one in a city where I can couchsurf for three months? Should I just give up now? I’d really like to think that the last 8+ months of active searching haven’t just been all for nothing because I don’t live in (x-state)

I started in a design wasteland. 3 places entirely that did ID within an hour’s drive. No full-time job but one did throw me the occasional freelance gig while I worked 3 other non-design jobs to pay rent.

I was lucky in that I was only 3 hours from Chicago and could apply there. After 18 months I got a “real” job. I was paying rent on 2 places as I was in a lease in the old city as well as the new place in Chicago.

If I were you, I would work as many non-design jobs and any design jobs you can do locally. Even if those design “jobs” are merely exercises in design. Save. Buy some luggage. Move to where there are design jobs. Work anything to pay rent. Keep working on your design skills. Show you are serious. Someone will pay attention. Probably later than sooner.

Good luck.

I think you’re over thinking this way too much.

Relocation is very common especially in the design world. The key is they have to be excited enough to want to relocate you. So if your portfolio is currently sitting in the middle of the pack for applicants, some of whom are local you’re definitely not getting a call.

Let’s say you save up all your money, move to NYC of SF but are still applying with a middle of the pack portfolio, the fact that you’re now local still doesn’t really help, and you just burned a ton of cash on rent for no good reason.

My guess, if you’re having a hard time finding work is that it’s more about portfolio than it is location. Post up what you’re currently sending out and get some feedback on what you can do to improve it.

In the last two years I’ve hired 8 people, 5 were local. Not bad odds. I think NY and SF are more unique in that there is so much local competition.

Like Sprockets says, I can see being out of state as an issue for smaller companies.

In my short experience, some larger companies/corporations can more easily fly you out to interview as well as relocate. Something to consider…

Of my two jobs I’ve been hired at both were not local. And I doubt my next job will be local either.

Skype makes it pretty easy to get initial interviews out of the way. And like others have said if they like you flying you out for an interview isn’t terribly prohibitive for a lot of companies. ( plus it’s a write off)

If you can make companies excited about your work, they’ll make outta state work. A few extra grand to get a better designer in the door is not a bad investment in the long run.

I for one would like to know how you qualify a “better” designer in the interview process.

While a few hours can give you an indication, it is by no means a true barometer to the success or failure of a hire. That takes time.

Also, the choice of any candidate is a negotiation between all candidates. Candidate A may have mad sketching skills but can’t make a model. Candidate B may also have mad sketching skills but is an introvert. Candidate C can present like Steve Jobs but knows nothing about a core manufacturing process that the company uses.

Now take into consideration the OP is obviously entry level. Those guys know nothing. I am probably losing money on them for at least the first six months. You want me to take on the added expense and time to deal with someone out of state? Just a few extra grand? Can I take it out of your paycheck?

Being out of state is by no means the death knell the OP makes it out to be. But it is a factor in the negotiation when choosing a candidate.

True, It is all subjective. But the hiring manager is getting paid to make these judgements. So the risk and judgement ultimately falls unto them. (haven’t had to ever make that choice so cant truely speak to it.) But there gotta be a mentality that the interviewer/company uses, to weight all the pros and cons. Skill, location, experience, etc.

Just a few extra grand? Can I take it out of your paycheck?

They usually do. Thats HR’s job to get you in as cheap as possible. Signing bonus/ relocation, instead of adding it your salary is a great way to recoup cost in the long term. Those bonuses come with timeline usually (usually 1-2 years for entry, 2+ for upper). But by lowering your salary and padding your onboard, they are able to control your raises (% based usually) and thus end up being “cheaper” in the long run.

Being out of state is by no means the death knell the OP makes it out to be. But it is a factor in the negotiation when choosing a candidate.

Exactly, I was reading all these post and thinking “dang next time I want a job move I need to quit, relocate myself, then start applying.” But the truth is not in most peoples plans. Last time I was looking I took a personal week long vacation to various cities and held informal interviews to get the ball rolling. Sure I was outta state, but it broke the initial ice for me to personally fly out there.

Again this is all my personal opinion, but like you said I didn’t want the OP to think being outta state was a death blow.

My barometer is, does the candidate understand the design process, have they demonstrated it, and are they passionate enough about it to advocate for it.

“Candidate B may also have mad sketching skills but is an introvert.” Whoa, since when is being an introvert a negative?

To answer the Op’s question, I personally don’t care where the talent is coming from, if I like their work and their resume I’ll do a phone interview. That said, my company does sometimes offer travel reimbursement for interviews and relocation assistance, but even if not candidates will find a way to relocate if they want the opportunity badly enough.

Certainly do not lie and put a fake address on the resume, and don’t send out generic bulk applications. Do your research on the companies you apply to, if it is a big corporate company that you feel could afford to fly you out for an interview or offer relocation assistance then fire away. If it is a small studio or agency then they are a lot less likely to fly you out or pay for a move, in that case you can always preface your application that you’re considering relocating to their area (you are because you’re applying), and see if you can get an interview that way. Even better if you can line up several interviews in one area within a week or a few days, but either way expect this to be on your own dime.

All that aside, if your work isn’t up to snuff you won’t get a callback.

When I need him/her to make a presentation. When I need her/him to sell to a client.

It is always a negotiation for what you need at the time and what is available.

I have never found an “ideal” fit. Ever.

Agreed, and yeah I’m getting off topic, and I agree that there’s no “ideal” fit, ever, but I believe that that’s where creative leadership comes in to play. I can design, illustrate, and present well, but what matters to me is that the designers on my team can develop creative solutions that solve problems, and I try to keep them focused on that. If need be I can do the heavy lifting where presentation is concerned, but the key as a design leader/director is to acknowledge credit where it is due (so that your introverted designers feel appreciated), and I think there are a fair amount of “creative directors” who could benefit from adopting this rather than presenting themselves as the sole source of the idea. I think that it is a bit unfair to assume that introverts can’t present well, they can, and in most cases they do it in such a non-biased, non-salesy way that it can be incredibly effective.

As a design manager/director/leader, whatever you wanna call it, I find myself more and more having to play the role of the “ideal”, and that is to assume the strengths and weaknesses of my design team to find ways to communicate their work effectively, I don’t think it is fair to lay this at their feet all the time, but at the same time it is to lead by example for others who want to step into a similar role as mine.

At the end of the day, my perspective is that there’s strength in a design team of diverse approaches and abilities, but yes it can be subjective on the part of the hiring design manager to determine what those strengths and weaknesses aught to be, and to that there is not a whole hell of a lot an applicant can do, but hope that their own strengths and weaknesses are in demand by the potential employer, and that said employer is savvy enough to understand the differences…

No one can do everything (not even any of us in this conversation) we all have our weaknesses and need other people to collaborate with. Team composition matters a lot. I don’t need a team full of extroverted prima donnas, I need the right combination of skills and personalities to tackle the best estimation of our challenges ahead.

I’ve been thinking about this introvert comment a lot. I initially agreed with the sentiment but the more I thought about it the more something didn’t quite fit. I spoke with a few people, including some people in mental health, and it seems their professional definition of introvert/extrovert is not black and white. It is a continuum and you are not at a static point on that continuum, you shift with the situation. IE some situations you feel absolutely confident in, some you have more trouble with. Someone who is completely introverted is probably going to struggle just getting through school, and wouldn’t function, but for the majority of us who live in the middle I think some good coaching and mentoring can help. I try to put people in situations where it is safe to fail, where I can save it if need be. A few of these and they start to figure it out on their own and find their own style.

I do think in general you have to learn to be more extroverted to go into leadership, but it is more than just that trait that makes a good leader. The desire for accountability and responsibility, the ability to work harder than anyone else and lead by example, the inert nature to mentor and coach…

Anyway, big tangent, but these things on my mind a lot lately as I try to build a sustainable organization. Ideally the goal of a design leader is to create a team so strong that he can take a vacation and know everything will run smoothly for a bit :slight_smile: