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Thread: Applying to out of state jobs

  1. #1
    Cyburbian WSU MUP Student's avatar
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    Applying to out of state jobs

    I am in job search mode and have come to the conclusion that staying in Michigan is probably not something I am going to be able to do right now if I want to work full-time. So I have begun looking at jobs posted at municipalities throughout the country. I have no problem packing up and moving (I have nothing to keep me from moving out of metro Detroit) and don't really care if I have to pay for the relocation out of my pocket (of course, I would graciously accept help with that from a potential employer).

    My question is: what might the people handling the hiring look for when somebody from out of the local area is applying? Any tips on what I should say or include in a cover letter would be appreciated.

  2. #2
    I am exactly in your shoes right now. Yeah, its slim pickins in MI right now. I have been applying down in Fl for about 3 and a half months. One thing I always indicate is that I am intending to relocate to ______ location. It can be hard, because some places are not too keen on out-of-staters. You will need to read up on the laws of wherever you apply. Keep up on local news of the area as well through the papers online, especially on hot planning issues. And BE PATIENT & PERSISTENT! It has been a very difficult process for me, very frustrating. Try to get phone interviews if you can, but realize you might have to pony up and fly wherever on your own dime just to talk to people.

    This forum is a great way to learn about some of the places you apply to ahead of time. I have gotten some great insight from the people on here.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian
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    My firm has hired staff from border states, not so much planners as ecologists. In the past they have also hired staff from out west because they have a greater understanding of the local ecosystems.

    I guess the way to play out-of-state to your advantage is to convince them that your skills from where you are now will help meet their needs. For example, coastal planning, Indian Reservation planning, Homestead Preservation, etc. I still think this is going to be alot harder to pull off, especially if you don't have any experience yet.

    Unless you are dead set on relocating to one state, such as Florida, I personally would not put all my eggs in one basket, but apply to jobs in other states as well. You are at an advantage: you don't have any ties holding you down to Michigan (current job, family?, etc) so you are pretty much free to explore on your own.

    Hope this helps-

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Fresh out of college, looking for your first professional position, I see no problem with you being out-of-state. Anyone hiring you is expecting that you will come with skills identical to anyone else they may hire. They are not looking for advanced knowledge obtained through years of work. don't sweat it.

    On the other hand, if you do have several years experience in a state, don't write off out-of-state consultants. Sometimes they will specifically look for people with experience in other states, either to get a more diverse perspective, or because they hope to get more work in that state.
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  5. #5
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by WSU MUP Student View post
    My question is: what might the people handling the hiring look for when somebody from out of the local area is applying? Any tips on what I should say or include in a cover letter would be appreciated.
    My first planning job was out-of-state. Graduated from school in New York, and got my first job in New Mexico.

    Unless you're applying for jobs in Florida (DCA processes), California (CEQR), New York (SEQRA, lots of municipalities with civil service exams, some municipalities and counties with pre-residency requirements for job applicants), and Oregon (every newly minuted MURP wants to go there; the state is turning into the planning equivalent of a big law firm that hires only top-of-the-class Ivy League grads), the only problem you might have is the cost of travel to a live interview. Write that you're willing to do this in your cover letter, and there shouldn't be a problem.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian
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    When I was in Connecticut, I applied for a job in Wisconsin. I felt I was quite qualified. To my suprise, they never contacted me. So, finally, I contacted them. Turns out they did not bother contacting me because I was out of state and did not think I would want to move. Personally, I think it would have been rational to contact me to find out, but sometimes the employer is not rational. They need to be made aware that you are serious about it-whether you state it in the letter or call them at some point after the due date has passed.

    In this particular case, they said I'd be a top 5 candidate and could pay up to $200 of my interview travel expense. So I flew out for about half price. I did not get the job, but did have a legit shot, which I had to make happen instead of waiting by the phone.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally posted by SideshowBob View post
    I did not get the job, but did have a legit shot, which I had to make happen instead of waiting by the phone.
    I would echo those sentiments. Looking for out of state work, I think you have to be more aggressive. Assume that the deck is stacked against you from the beginning, because in some cases it is. Let them know you are willing to bend over backwards to accomodate them (within financial & logistical reason). The more effort you put in, the more likely they are to take you seriously. I too had a similar experience to Sideshow. A HR lady called me for an interview and asked if I really was in MI. She thought it was a joke! They were interested in interviewing me and all, but that shows the hurdles of applying out of state.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian cch's avatar
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    The only out-of-state interviews I've been granted have been in states directly adjacent to the one I lived in. Once I got a form letter back from a job in CA I applied for, stating that I'd be responsible for paying to get myself out there for an interview, and they don't conduct phone interviews, and if I was still interested there was a number I could call. I wasn't crazy enough about the job to bother making the call.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian otterpop's avatar
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    My county is currently looking to fill two positions. Most of our applicants are from out-of-state. With the exception of one applicant who is from the state, all of our best candidates come from elsewhere. We usually give them a telephone interview in they make the first cut, then if that goes well, we will invite them for a face-to-face (paying the air fare).

    I got my first planning job strictly on telephone interviews, but that was a job in Alaska.

    Good luck.
    "I am very good at reading women, but I get into trouble for using the Braille method."

    ~ Otterpop ~

  10. #10
    Cyburbian solarstar's avatar
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    We really, really need more planners here, and it's not unusual to do a phone interview for an out-of-stater. Honestly, though, those with local (i.e., Florida) experience have a big leg up on those without. One of our first questions would be why do you want to come here, and are you really serious on relocating (a surprising number of people apply to use the leverage with their current employer for a raise, or just to say they applied to a number of places). If they say they think Miami would be fun (that's many hours away) or just want warmer weather then it raises a red flag. If they mention that they are interested in Florida planning and have been researching some of the regs with concurrency, for example, that plays well. (Cyburbia may be able to help you with whatever the local issues are more than the local newspapers.)

  11. #11
    Cyburbian
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    Sometimes I asked for phone interviews, with the understanding that I would need an in-person visit before acutally getting the job. Some accomodate, but I have heard that this puts you at a disadvantage.

    I think phone interviews are particularly viable if the process is planned for first and second interviews. They are usually OK with a first interview on the phone.

  12. #12
    Cyburbian tsc's avatar
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    If you are fresh out of college it isn't a major concern, but we do have a concern that out of staters may not have a grasp of planning in New York where home rule is very strong. We always have the concern that we get applications because people get attracted to our higher salaries...without really contemplating the cost of living.....even if they are from close by.

  13. #13

    There are a lot of jobs in CA right now

    there are a LOT a LOT a LOT of Jobs in California right now. Read up on the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and apply to some jobs in sunny CA! You can't afford a house but neither can any of us, so don't be fooled by cost of living -- jobs can pay more here too.

    www.calapa.org has a state list of jobs and links to state chapters (San Diego, Orange County, Northern CA, etc).

    If you want more information on more stuff you should study, contact me at travis (dot) cleveland (at) gmail (dot) com.

  14. #14
    Cyburbian Fat Cat's avatar
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    Fat Cat

    I have worked in various states. Only three were adjacent. I agree that you have to play your skills to what they need. Also look at what the people are wearing (if you get a chance to call some one or e-mail) and dress accordingly. A friend of mine was told to wear cowboy boots to his interview in Texas - he did and he got the job, now maybe he would have got the job anyway, but it probably didn't hurt. Also if there are local language patterns or coloquialisms that you can use so that you sound like one of them. Include them in your cover letter and interview when you get one. I have done this and know others that have done this. Again you can do this through professional organizations (calling a contact in that area), Alumni etc.

    Good luck

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