Long-distance job search strategies

Q. I am a senior communications/marketing/PR professional looking to move to the Boston area from New York, and have spent a lot of time networking over the past year, which has resulted in a few interviews. Several Boston search firm executives I spoke with said to use a Boston address (my sister’s, whom I would live with once I got the job) on the resume, or many hiring managers would not consider me, as they normally prefer someone who is already in Boston. I do explain my situation in the cover letter, but I am afraid they would not look at the letter if they see a NY address. I just need to get my foot in the door to get an interview. In addition to the networking, what do you suggest I do?

A. Let me answer your questions in the reverse order. Here are some additional strategies that might enhance your long-distance job search:

1. Read Boston newspapers, journals and publications such as the Boston Business Journal, and the Boston Globe, on a regular basis, for both job listings and relevant business news.

2. Join (and start attending the meetings of) at least one Boston-based professional association or the Boston chapter of a national professional association.

3. Plan to spend chunks of time in Boston, to conduct your networking in person rather than just over the phone or on-line.
4. Develop a list of potential Boston employers for whom you would like to work and for whom your background and experience are a good fit. Use the Kirstein Library, to do your research, including identifying the name of a hiring executive.
5. Send each of the employers a targeted, personalized letter and resume, linking your interest and qualifications to their work. Try to schedule an exploratory interview even if there are no current job openings for you. You will be setting the stage for future employment should their needs change.
6. Land a short-term consulting gig with a Boston area employer. When you meet employers, think about how your might help them by consulting. Do they mention any projects which you would be qualified to do? This would be an excellent way to establish yourself with Boston-based credentials.
As to your question about using your sister’s Boston address instead of your New York one, in a tight job market, hiring managers need not look beyond the local area for highly qualified job applicants. They seek candidates who are ready to work without much training, are familiar with the Boston market and competition, and perhaps have local contacts. Employers certainly prefer avoiding travel reimbursement and relocation costs.
Using your sister’s Boston address may help you not get screened out automatically by some employers. You still need to demonstrate to the employer that you are committed to being in Boston for the long haul, not just until the economy turns around, and that you would be relocating at your own expense. You may want to consider moving in with your sister for a period of time while you job hunt. Otherwise, if you are only pretending to have a Boston address instead of a New York one, you may get caught when an employer wants you to interview on short notice or even during the informal ice breaking part of an interview, e.g, talking about the hometown sports teams and weather.
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