How to Land a Job Before Relocating

Ask a Recruiter - Jobseeker Q&A

Ask a Recruiter

Q: I’m living in another region right now but I’m excited to move to Portland. How can I get a job before I relocate?  

A: While it is definitely possible to secure a job prior to relocating, it’s important to understand the inevitable hurdles. The most obvious concern is cost. We know that an employer may not be open to paying the material costs of relocation (such as a flight ticket and a moving truck), but what we often forget is the cost of risk. 

You might make the move and end up discovering you don’t fit into the local culture, or that you miss your friends and family, or that you simply can’t stand Portland’s eight months of rain — all of which could lead to a move not working out. There’s also the very real possibility of a relocation falling through before the move even happens (we’ve seen this happen plenty!).  

Searching, hiring and onboarding all cost employers money, and turnover tends to hurt morale. Businesses are typically risk-averse and, all else equal, a local candidate is going to be seen as less risky.  

So how do you navigate these concerns? The most important thing to do is to be intentional and clearly state your reasons for relocating. There’s a big difference between somebody who is “willing to work anywhere” and somebody who is “relocating to Portland to be closer to family.” The first feels like a flight risk, the second has a stable, secure reason for making the move.  

We know many people come to Portland for the intangible lifestyle reasons — and that’s just fine! Make sure to be clear with potential employers that you have made an intentional choice about where and why to relocate, including extensive research into both the positives and negatives about your new hometown.  

One handy trick that we recommend is to put something like “Relocating to Portland, OR in Summer 2023” where your location would be on your resume to communicate to potential employers that you are definitely relocating, regardless of anything else (even if you maybe don’t have that flight booked quite yet).  

Even when you put your best foot forward, finding a job from out of town can be a unique challenge. For highly specialized roles where there may be few qualified candidates in a particular market, you may find that employers are actively looking outside of their area. Otherwise, qualified local candidates are assumed to not only have geographic stability, but an existing understanding of the local market, local trends and practices, and local community connections that might be valuable or necessary to success.  

For that reason, some applicants find that it’s worth just making the move prior to securing a job, in order to develop those local connections and fine their place in the job market. We know it’s scary, and we aren’t here to tell you that’s the best choice for you, but we’ve seen it work! 


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