Looking for a job in Chicago from my desk in Connecticut (912 miles and two regional accents away) made learning to play Scrabble in Chinese look like a beach day.
I was starting to get the impression that I was from another continent, instead of just another state. I imagined when Employer X reached into Towering Resume Stack Y and saw Connecticut in the top corner of my resume, his massive interview-granting hand went straight from stack to garbage quicker than you can say "relocation."
Employers hate relocation. Those little surgeon general's warnings at the bottom of HR sites that say, "does not discriminate on the basis of basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, disability, age" should say "that is unless you need to be relocated, in which case we don't care if you're related to Jesus Christ himself."
Employers have legitimate concerns about people who need to relocate, says Revi Goldwasser, author of "Secrets from a Wall Street Recruiter." They're worried that you can't start tomorrow. They're worried that you won't understand the "culture" of their city. And, of course, they're worried about money - and not just theirs.
"I once had a candidate who made $100K in Florida and lived in a four-bedroom house," says Goldwasser. "He got a job in Los Angeles at $180K (almost double), but now he had to commute 1.5 hours to work each way, spend money on gas, pay 11 percent to the state government (in Florida there is no state income tax) and his house was half the size. So, yes, he made 80 percent more in 'gross' income, but after accounting for all expenses, he was actually making much much less. He quit and moved back to Florida."
I did learn. Slowly. My little "I'm moving to Chicago" eventually moved from a blurb at the bottom of my cover letter to a blurb at the top of my cover letter. I finally nixed the formal address-below-the-date cover letter for the just-the-date-and-employer's-address cover letter.
But I still got e-mails that said, "don't do relocations," "looking for someone local." Sometimes the rejection was written right into the job description. I felt a little like the new girl, which, I am. But come on, Chicago - what's with the hazing?
A good friend, who has been looking for jobs in Boston and New York for about six months asked me a few weeks ago, "Don't you have a Chicago address you can borrow?"
Apparently, her sister let her "borrow" her Manhattan address and that helped her land a few interviews. Of course, her "current" employer is still listed in Connecticut.
Heather R. Huhman, career expert and founder/president of Come Recommended, agreed that using someone else's address isn't exactly the standard among upstanding job-seeking citizens.
She suggested writing "Willing to Relocate" at the top of your resume and using this statement in your cover letter (Go ahead, cut and paste): "While I currently reside in [STATE], I am extremely interested in relocating to [STATE] and willing to do so at my own expense.'"
But career advisers like Employment Spot says there's nothing wrong with a little address fudging: "If you do not live in the immediate area, perhaps you have relatives who do. Using their address is not meant to mislead the recruiter but rather to show that you have a connection to the area and are able to come for interviews without prohibitive expenses at hotels and the like."
Really? So, when I got the telephone interview, and they said, "How are you enjoying Chicago?" was I supposed to say, "I don't live in Chicago but instead used a Chicago address in an attempt to indicate that I am able to come for interviews without prohibitive expenses..."?
That said - If you're willing to sell your local address, apparently there's a market out there.