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I want to move to a different country (also different continent) because my girlfriend will go to university there. Because the distance is quite large, I am wondering how I can explain my interest in a position at that location in the application.

Should I include this or any other reason in the application letter?

How should I handle any questions about the reason in an potential interview?

EDIT: I forgot to mention that this would be my first job after university (except the work I did as a student in my field). Also I intend to go to Canada from Europe.

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3 Answers 3

up vote 8 down vote accepted

From a purely employment perspective, I would recommend downplaying the "girlfriend" aspect of the move. While moving for family reasons is a perfectly suitable reasons for relocating, the term 'girlfriend' implies a sense of immaturity in the relationship, that 'fiance' or 'wife' wouldn't. First of all, I'd recommend using the term 'partner' when speaking about your girlfriend as purely terminologically it hints more towards stability than 'girlfriend'.

Furthermore, look at this from an employers perspective, regardless of your commitment to your relationship, when you say:

I am looking to move to Newtown to be with my girlfriend who is studying at Newtown University.

A few questions spring to mind:

  • How stable is this relationship?
  • If it goes sour will the applicant have a good enough support network to manage a break-up and working in a new environment?
  • Will the applicant stay in Newtown if something goes wrong?

While not all of these may be consciously thought or spoken about, these are the kinds of instability that might tip an employer in one direction or another.

What I'd recommend, is learning about the city/country you are moving to, and building a few other reasons for moving that you can speak about. Are there renowned professional communities in the area? No-one would question a technical person moving to Silicon Valley or an arts person moving to New York, even if they had the same motives as you. This also helps demonstrate a wider support network that would help in transitioning to a new city.

Also, if the country has a large community of speaks in your non-native tongue, you could also use this. For example, moving from the United States to Europe to practise or learn a new language.

This way if asked, you can honestly answer, like:

I am looking to move to Newtown to be with my partner who is studying at Newtown University. However, I've always been interested in programmer community in Newtown, and am hoping to improve my Esperanto.

By giving other reasons that attract you to the town you can help might allay any concerns of stability and risk the prospective employer might have about taking on an employee who would be moving a great distance.

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Thanks for your answer. That is the perspective I was looking for. ;) –  hirse Mar 25 at 15:59
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@LegoStormtroopr I know how it works (and I have accepted your answer), but I didn't want to do that in less than 24 hours after asking the question to not discourage other users from answering. –  hirse Mar 26 at 10:42
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@hirse Makes sense. Also, please don't take my answer as any but how an employer may think. I hope you move goes really well and wish you both good luck :) –  Lego Stormtroopr Mar 26 at 10:44

The phrase you're looking for is "for family reasons". You can explain that you are looking to move to that location for family reasons and are interested in that company because (blah blah blah). We live in a pretty mobile world; two-body problems like this are not uncommon.

You don't have to say anything up front, though: the fact that you're applying for the job indicates your willingness to move to that location, and at that point in the process it doesn't matter whether that's "I'm willing to move there" or "I want to move there". I've seen plenty of applications from out-of-town candidates where nothing was said, and that didn't raise any red flags. To anybody other than the folks who handle visa sponsorships, 500 miles away is not really any different than 5000 miles away -- a move is a move.

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You don't have to include this information in a cover letter or in any part of your application if you don't feel comfortable doing so - but expect the question to come up in an interview at some point, and be ready to answer honestly and professionally.

As Monica said, "Family Reasons" is a good way to phrase it, and you do not need to explain your reasoning at all - if the employer never asks you, then you never have to tell them anything.

But if they do ask you, be honest, and be professional.

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