Q: I would like to know the probability of being interviewed/hired for an out-of-state position. As a recent graduate, I am looking for an entry level position. I am curious if employers are ever hesitant to contact someone who may live out of state.
SM: To answer your question directly, I’m sure there are employers who are hesitant to contact an applicant who lives out of state. Many institutions cannot or will not pay to bring in applicants from other states, or even those who live on the other side of the state. But, I have been on many search committees and I can safely say that employers want the best possible applicant pool they can get. My advice: don’t worry about what employers may or may not think, or if they may or may not have the money to bring in applicants from out of state. Apply for all the jobs you are qualified for, no matter where they are located. Employers want to find the best person for the job, and that means that many of them will be looking at out-of-state applicants.
I am speaking from an academic library perspective. Public library systems, school libraries and government/special libraries may require their applicants (and employees) to live inside the city, county, or state limits.
When a job is posted, employers have to consider and accept resumes from all applicants. It gets a little trickier with applicants from other countries who may require visas in order to work in the United States, and who may not have the equivalent credentials to qualify for the job at hand.
First, you need to ask yourself: are you willing to move for a job? If you are, you will have an easier time searching for that perfect job. Being geographically mobile will allow you to apply for many more positions and, it will allow you to be more selective in your search because you have that many more jobs available to you.
Second, you need to ask yourself: are you willing to pay your own way to interview for a job? Normally, I would advise people to be hesitant (as in “don’t do it!”) about spending their own money for the mere chance of a job. When I was looking for jobs in other states I turned down several interviews because I – indignantly – refused to pay my own way. My thoughts on this have mellowed slightly over the years. I would still advise people to be hesitant, but I realize that many institutions have experienced severe budget cuts and hiring freezes and as much as they would like to pay for a candidate to come for an interview, they cannot.
Here are some things to think about before you pay your own way:
- You need to have a really good feeling about the position and be fairly certain you would take the job if offered.
- Only pay your way if you have the money to do so. Some trips and locations are much more expensive than others, so estimate how much it will be and figure out if you can afford it, and if it is worth it (even if you do not get the job). Perhaps you have a friend or relative you can stay with, or it is a destination you had planned to visit anyway.
- Try to get to know them (the library, the staff, the search committee, the director, the institution) and the city/area as much as possible from a distance. Do your research!
- Make sure that they know you by having a well-crafted cover letter and resume, and supporting materials (such as an online portfolio, professional web site, samples of your work, etc.) that you can provide to them ahead of time.
- Ask the search committee how many candidates they are inviting for in-person interviews. Normally you wouldn’t ask this, but if you have to pay your own way, this could affect your decision to interview. If they are inviting two or three people, then your chances will be much better than if they are inviting five or six people.
Finally, before you go for an out-of-state interview, no matter who pays, you will (or you should) have an initial interview, either over the phone or via Skype (or Google Chat, etc.). So brush up on your phone interview skills and be prepared if the search committee wants you to do a Skype interview. You might even suggest it to them… just be sure to wear a suit if you are going to be on camera.