I know how disheartening it can be to get to the bottom of a job posting and see those deathless words: “Local candidates only.”
Still, the facts are that there are always lots of qualified folks applying for any great job, and at least in major metropolitan areas there is no need for a company to move someone. In addition to the availability of local talent, a not so obvious issue is the difficulty of meeting and getting to know a candidate from outside the area. If we are talking “East Coast/West Coast,” the three hour time difference can make it difficult to connect.
With this as a backdrop, if you see a job posting that is a good fit but is not local to you, what should you do? My advice is to apply anyway.
However, you need to understand and fully recognize the disadvantage your candidacy represents when compared to those more easily brought in for interviews.
Basic salesmanship requires an ability to “handle customer objections.” A good salesman senses his customer’s issues and moves to address them before they get in the way, and you need to do this too.
Before you get too deep into why your background is a perfect fit, the “elephant sitting in the room” is your present location. Talk about it. Why does a move from Miami to Minneapolis make sense? Do you really have winter clothes in storage so you can come up for an interview? Would you be willing to come for an interview on your own “nickel?” Do you have (much loved and missed) relatives in the local area? Did you go to college there? Why the heck is it your candidacy makes sense from a location standpoint?
If you click and shoot without taking the time to explain, you may as well save the electrons required and not do it. A simple “attached is my resume” isn’t going to get you where you want to be. And, if the location in question isn’t a serious possibility, do your friends a favor and don’t respond. You just end up wasting everyone’s time. Yes, you can change your mind later if you want. No one can make you take a job in a “foreign land,” but at least for postings traded among ourselves, have a little consideration for others.
And, if you are willing AND able, give it your best shot. Again, this requires actually taking the time to write something unique. Your standard boilerplate can follow, but the big issue of why anyone in California would come to New York City, or someone from New York City would move to Iowa has to be explained.
Those who do recruitment for a living have a long list of city pair mental prejudices that you need to overcome. They are pretty obvious and you can probably guess when where you are and where they are just isn’t going to make sense. In those cases, you have to be even clearer in stating your case.
Local candidates only isn’t a law like gravity. It is more a guideline. It is not, however, something you can take with a grain of salt either.
So, before you click and shoot, THIMK.
(Yes, I know “think” is not spelled correctly.)