Modern telecommunications allow companies to hire employees from pretty much anywhere in the world. Hiring foreign workers can be difficult due to language barriers, visa requirements, and other issues, but hiring out-of-state candidates within the United States is much easier.
It still presents some unique challenges, however, and navigating those challenges is critical to making the best hiring decision.
Here are our tips for successfully handling an out of state hire:
1. Consider Candidate Motivations
Anyone considering a position in a city (other than the one where they currently live) has to have some motivation for doing so. Perhaps they visited your city and liked it, and are now looking for a job there. Maybe they don’t like their current situation and want to make a major change. Or, they could have ties to the city, such as friends or family.
It’s important to consider these motivations and even discuss them with the candidate. A candidate looking to make a major change may or may not make a good long-term employee if the change doesn’t address what led them to that point. If they’re making a major geographic jump, such as from Florida to Minnesota, weather can be an important consideration they may not quite understand.
You’ll also want to be open to discussing the reality of life where you live. A good candidate may not be interested once they learn the realities of the weather, the local culture, or even certain state or local laws.
2. Be Transparent About Salary and Costs
One important factor that many job seekers may fail to recognize is that the cost of living can vary dramatically from place to place. Your company’s salary and benefits package may sound great on paper, but if the area your candidate will be living in is much more expensive than they’re used to, it may end up resulting in a drop in salary after living expenses. This is especially true of major cities.
The internet is full of cost of living calculators, so your candidates are likely going to have some idea of what they’re in for. Be transparent with those costs, your salary and benefits options, and how your offerings stack up to those of other companies in the area.
You may also be able to provide and promote certain kinds of local benefits, like paying for employee passes to local attractions and trails, offering a transportation stipend, or facilities in your office that assist with costs, such as indoor bike storage. These can also help your prospective employees tie into local culture quicker.
3. Streamline Your Interview Process
Clinton Brown, the permanent placement lead for Experis, says time is of the essence.
“If you want to secure an out of state candidate, you need to move relatively quickly.”
The longer your interview process goes, the less a candidate is going to be interested in your company.
The issue is relocation. Moving, whether it’s across a city or a state, usually has a strict timetable. Leases need to be managed, rent needs to be paid, moving companies need to be booked in advance, and so on. The greater the delay is in the hiring process, the less a candidate will trust you to have everything ready on the timetable they need. Relocating is stressful, and organization and communication are important.
A delayed interview process also increases the chances that your candidate will receive another offer in the meantime. By the time you’ve progressed to the interview stage, another company may have already extended an offer. Remember, you’re not just selling yourself as an employer, you’re selling your city and state as well.
4. Skip (or Finance) the Face-to-Face
Whether or not you need a face to face interview can be a critical determining factor for some candidates. Depending on how far away the candidate lives, it may be inconvenient or expensive for them to fly out for an interview. Skipping the face to face interview may be a good idea for everyone involved.
If you’re skipping a face to face interview, make use of modern telecommunications to replace it. A phone interview can work, as can an interview over Zoom or Skype. This can also be an indication of how well the employee will fit in if your company is heavy on remote meetings or distributed teams.
If you must have an in-person interview, consider financing it. Pay for a plane ticket and a hotel room for the evening, working with the candidate to schedule it appropriately. Alternatively, offer reimbursement, regardless of whether or not they’re hired. The last thing a candidate wants as part of a job interview is a financial burden, especially if they’re on the cusp of moving to a new state.
5. Cover Relocation (or Not)
Whether or not your company will cover or assist with their relocation costs can be a deal-breaker for many candidates. This is especially true if your company uses recruiters to find candidates; a recruiter might not pay attention to the location of a qualified candidate, just to their skills. It’s a huge drain and a disappointment to make it most of the way through the hiring process, only to run into relocation funding as a major issue.
Elliot Lasson, an HR expert at the University of Maryland, recommends that you mention to your candidates that you can offer “relocation assistance for highly qualified candidates” – if you’re willing to extend that assistance. If you’re not, make note of that upfront.
More importantly, make sure your recruiters understand the situation ahead of time. If a candidate isn’t able to relocate on their dime, they should avoid adding “willing to relocate” to their applications. The best candidates might even list a local address when applying, even if they don’t live there yet, though that means they’re already planning to move to your area regardless.
Keep in mind that, due to the nature of the internet, you’re going to receive applications from across the country (and even outside of the country) regardless of your hiring intent. Offering to cover relocation can be a great way to broaden your potential candidate pool and ensure you get the best candidate for any given role.
6. Provide a Resource Package
Moving to a new location is difficult for many people. Their social networks, their habits, the stores they frequent; they all need to be adjusted. This means there’s always a transition period. The less at home a candidate feels, the more likely they are to consider the move a failure, and either return to their previous location or move on.
You can help contribute to their sense of belonging by providing a sort of onboarding package for your city. Put together a guidebook to your city. Not the usual touristy information you’d give to a visitor, but the insider tips from a resident. Local resources, local meetups, city information, tips for the best groceries, daycares, pet sitters, credit unions, and so on.
Geoff Smith of VanderHouwen even recommends expanding the interview into a local tour to point out landmarks, local resources, and personal insight. This more casual style of an interview can give you a deeper insight into the personality of the candidate and their interests, as well as allow you to answer more specific questions that they may have.
7. Be Mindful of External Factors
There’s more to a job relocation than just you and the candidate. Keep in mind that there are other factors at play, including entire families. Does your chosen candidate have a spouse they want to bring with them? Are they planning to start a family in their new location? Do they want to settle down, or is this a temporary transition along the way to something more solid?
Bill Humbert says:
“Avoid asking candidates to make a big decision. Keep asking for small decisions until their relocation is a logical next step. People resist making big decisions without enough information – and asking them to pull up roots and move is a very big decision because it potentially impacts a whole family. Do you tell your candidates in the first conversation that they must move to your town? If so, you are probably making relocation a more difficult issue.”
One recommendation is to invite the spouse along for the interview, so they can get their eyes on their potential new home as well. Work to ensure that your candidate and anyone else involved in their decision-making process has adequate information to make the choice.
8. Consider a Delayed Relocation
Relocation is the number one hurdle to successfully hiring an out of state candidate, especially for highly skilled or high-level positions that require years of experience. The older a candidate is, the more likely they are to have established roots, including children they don’t want to uproot or a spouse’s income they can’t disregard.
One possible solution to this problem, recommended by Joe Matar at Brazen, is an extended or delayed relocation. Allow your candidate to work partially or fully remote for a while before a deadline to come into the office. Whether you fly them into the office every other week, or you simply accommodate them working remotely most of the time while they work on the transition, these kinds of accommodations can go a long way.
9. Consider Professional Objections
When relocating for a job out of state, candidates are necessarily more concerned about their future in a new area, especially if the cost of living is higher than they’re used to. If your company is owned by a private equity firm, they may be concerned that you’ll be sold out from under them and they’ll be left with nothing. If your job offer is appealing, they’ll look to the future, to see what options they have for growth, or if they’ll have to jump ship in a few years to move to another company.
You can help alleviate some of these issues by offering a glimpse at your 10-year plan, to showcase how you anticipate growing and what potential room for career improvement they’ll have within your company. No guarantees, of course – nothing in life is guaranteed – but ensuring that you have a plan that they can find a place in can make them feel a lot better about making the move.
Some issues can’t be handwaved away, of course. If your firm is owned by private equity, it’s simply the nature of the beast that they’ll have to consider the inherent uncertainty. It might be a sign that they aren’t a good fit, as well, since that’s just how your company operates.
10. Consider Remote Workers
We mentioned this in part above, with a delayed remote start, but why not consider a fully remote position? The modern workforce is better and better at taking advantage of technological tools to assist their remote work. Whether it’s teleconferencing, casual channels like Slack, or online productivity tools for collaboration, the experience level and utilization rate of these tools is growing every year. The pandemic in 2020 is also leading to millions of workers (and thousands of companies) realizing they can survive much more remote than they thought they could.
While this may entail some shift in the way your company works, remote work is a good option for out of state candidates who aren’t able to relocate. It’s also a good option for companies located in a high cost of living area, who can’t offer competitive packages that entice a relocation.
Remote work definitely has challenges of its own. That’s why we discussed the topic in greater detail in another post. Remote work is an excellent choice when it works, though it’s not always an option. Your IT network admin needs hands on the machines they oversee, for example. You may also need to offer remote work as an option for existing employees when you start hiring others remotely, to avoid jealousy and other issues.
Hiring top candidates from out of state is a great choice for many companies. Broader horizons and the power of the internet make it more than feasible; it’s almost essential. Your competitors are likely hiring from out of state, so you should get to it as well.