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I've encountered a number of non-local job postings that contain lines of the form:

Candidates must be local to <LOCATION>. No relocation fees will be provided.

Assuming that the second sentence is the justification for the first, how strictly should I take this? That is, if I am able & willing to pay my own relocation expenses, would it still be inappropriate for me to apply? Should I mention my willingness to pay my own expenses in my cover letter?

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    The cost of living is a factor too -- if the position is in the SF Bay area, and you're in Smalltown, USA, they may not believe that you're willing to pay the high cost of living there. We've had out of area candidates back out even when we were paying relocation when they saw how much they'd have to pay (or how far they'd have to drive) in the SF Bay Area for something equivalent to the 4 bedroom 2500 sq foot house they live in now. – Johnny Mar 11 at 23:40
  • This looks like two separate statements to me. "Candidates must be local" meaning they don't want people to work remotely, you have to live nearby (whether you live there already or relocate for the position). Then, "No relocation fees will be provided" meaning if you do choose to relocate, you shouldn't expect them to pay for it. – DarthFennec Mar 12 at 19:03
  • @TimothyAWiseman I think if you live in LA and are applying to a locals-only position in NYC and I can call you up and ask you to drop in this afternoon and you can arrange last minute air travel without breaking your budget then you are a NYC local ... also why do you need/want a job? – emory Mar 12 at 21:44
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The general rule I follow for applying for jobs is that if I want it, I apply without worrying about minor things that might not work out. I would recommend you follow that here as well.

Specifically, it seems really unlikely that they'll care that you're remote if you are willing to pay the relocation expenses. The only sticking point I can think of is they may want in-person interviews and may be unwilling to pay for you to travel to interview there.

Edit: another sticking point could be if they wanted you to start immediately, although that could easily happen with a local candidate.

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    Usually places are willing to accommodate (eg using Skype). I've only had one place that wouldn't and didn't want to pay travel expenses. – Draco18s Mar 11 at 22:11
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    This is a good general rule. Applying for jobs is a numbers game: for the vast majority of us, you'll have to put out a lot of applications for not a lot of results. As such, if it looks interesting, and you're willing to cover your own expenses to get there, go for it. Note there are other possible reasons they'd want local candidates, depending on the job: established professional network in the area; knowledgeable about the local geography; able to start tomorrow; etc. – Bill Horvath Mar 12 at 6:56
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    +1 for not worrying about minor things. I take everything in a job posting as a guideline, rather than a hard requirement, because you never know which bullet points are actually important. – Justin Lardinois Mar 12 at 8:06
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    Another sticking point might be the start date. If the OP is not local, they may need to arrange the move before they can start working. – jpmc26 Mar 12 at 18:15
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    +1 The best way to see if something is a hard requirement is to apply, they'll tell you. :D – Retired Codger Mar 14 at 14:12
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It means no visa sponsorship and no relocation fees. If you're willing to relocate on your own dime, they don't have a problem with it. You can even mention to them that you'd be willing to have written into your contract, as a condition of employment, to relocate on your own within X miles of their location.

But no, it's never inappropriate to apply for a job that says "local" if you are willing and able to move on your own dime. The worst they will say is "no"

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    Not always the case. I've applied for jobs in Hawaii and been told (by multiple companies) they don't consider people from the mainland because too many times people can't handle the isolation and leave. – corsiKa Mar 11 at 17:49
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    @corsiKa that's a pretty unique example. There are very very few universal answers – Retired Codger Mar 11 at 17:52
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    @Richard U not as unique as you think. The same thing is true with job postings in northern Canada. When they are desperate they allow people to apply from southern Canada but require them to pay for their own travel to do the interview locally (very expensive). Story based from personal experience with ONE job application. – Tolure Mar 11 at 19:49
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    @Tolure will they do anything worse than say no? – Retired Codger Mar 11 at 19:51
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    I live in the lower 48 and have worked at places that follow @corsiKa 's example... It was not terribly nice city and everyone that relocated from a nicer metro kept quitting after a short period because they didn't enjoy driving the gauntlet in and out of the downtown area and living outside the county to have decent schools. Locals just accepted those things. I would still apply (as I did in that case), but I would expect it would lower my chances (or the offer as it did in my example). – Bill Mar 11 at 22:52
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They're not trying to enforce that all candidates come from LOCATION. The company wants you to work from LOCATION, and they don't want to pay to get you there. If you can fulfill both of those criteria, and it sounds like you can, then it is entirely appropriate for you to apply.

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    not necessarily. If for example you need to be available to be at the office within half an hour when on call, this is a very good reason to limit the area from where they're willing to hire people. I've had such jobs, where I had to as part of my contract be able to be at the office within an hour of being paged, any time of day on any day not listed as a vacation day. Paid rather nicely :) – jwenting Mar 13 at 8:33
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    How does that clash with my answer? The company wants them to work from a certain place. That involves being in the area. – TheSoundDefense Mar 13 at 15:45
  • Depends on the definition of "LOCATION". It's often seen as meaning "this town". And depending on the location of the premises, it's quite possible that someone from within the city can't make it to there within half an hour, but someone from a village just outside can. Where I grew up we had that argument regularly with delivery services refusing to deliver to our village "because it was too far" but we were actually closer to them than the far of the city where they did deliver. – jwenting Mar 14 at 4:51
  • I still don't understand how that has any conflict with what I said in my answer. – TheSoundDefense Mar 18 at 16:06
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I would definitely include something in the cover letter about why you want a job in their Location as well as stating that you understand that no relocation help will be provided. This both tells the company that you have not just made a mistake and shows them you are motivated to make the move, not just applying to any job anywhere you can without having thought through the relocation aspect.

If you have dates when you will be in the area, or the move is already planned, I would include comments on availability for local interview, and generally try to be as clear as possible. They may decide to reject you still because of this, but you will have done what you can to be as up-front as possible.

  • I agree. I would indicate in your cover letter that you are actively planning to relocate to that area and are seeking work there. Which is true as of writing the letter. – CCTO Mar 12 at 15:15
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Should I mention my willingness to pay my own expenses in my cover letter?

No. Don't bring this up. They don't care, and those who will do the initial selection of resumes aren't interested in that at all.

In many cases, they won't care where you are actually living (unless you have specific jobs where you are required to be in the office within X minutes during "on call" time, but that should be clear from the job description). It's just that they won't do relocation. But whether you solve that problem by paying for relocation yourself, or having a 3 hour commute should not matter.

It does mean though that you shouldn't bring up relocation fees during the hiring process. Bringing that up will just make them say "which part of 'no relocation fees' did you fail to understand" (although probably phrased a bit more friendly).

Just apply. The worst that will happen is that they won't hire you. Which they certainly won't do if you don't apply.

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I've been planning to move to Tau Ceti V for years, because I like the local fauna. So your Cybernetic Midwife position is a perfect match for me! However, I'm 13 trillion miles away. I have the necessary experience, and I also have a pacemaker if that matters. When can I start?

Just tell them you're about to/willing to relocate, and they don't need to do anything (pay/paperwork) for this. That should be enough in most cases. There could be governmental restrictions however (e.g. they're willing to give tax cuts to hire from the local unemployed), but I don't know how common (or even legal) it is in that area.

3

This means the company is looking to hire someone to work out of their office.

I see two potential problems hiring someone who doesn't already live locally:

  1. It will cost money to relocate. The company is saying in the advert that they will not cover this cost. You are happy with that, so this should not be an issue.
  2. It will take time to relocate. This may delay your start date or mean you are not as focussed as you could be when you start (e.g. if you are unable to relocate before your start date and have to temporarily stay in a hotel or have an excessively long commute). You may even change your mind and decide not to relocate after all, which would mean they would need to restart their search. This puts you at a small disadvantage compared to a local candidate. If there are lots of candidates for the role it may mean you get excluded at the screening stage, but if you are selected for interview your location is unlikely to be an issue.

When I am hiring I would ask my recruiter to discuss your relocation plans before I invited you for interview. You can shortcut this by including them in your cover letter, especially if you have already started the relocation process. If you don't then your application might be filtered out by the recruiter before the hiring manager has seen it, but even if that happens you haven't lost anything except the time taken to apply, so go ahead and apply for those roles.

  • This is exactly the purpose of a cover letter. It is literally a letter, that provides insight, into you as an applicant. You should of course only put relevant insight within the letter. For instance, nobody cares you dress Fido in a dress, on Halloween. – Donald Mar 12 at 19:28
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As a former hiring manager for a defense contractor, I meant it. I wasn't interested in dealing with out of state candidates because we weren't going to pay for relocation expenses and since our business was labor, the company wasn't tolerant to long hiring periods where someone may need to sell a house or wait for a lease to terminate before they could start working. I would also consider a person's commute if they were semi-local... meaning if they would have a 2 hour commute or something. The customer didn't allow us to work from home so all work needed to be done in the office. Long commutes and the weather in the northeast created issues for people and I didn't want to deal with employees who wanted to work from home due to snow when I wasn't authorized to approve it. We also performed a rather in depth technical interview that required white boarding things and that needed to be done in person and again, the company would not support paying to fly someone out for an in person interview. I couldn't even get them to pay a recruiting service but only to post jobs on free sites. They wanted to invest zero dollars in recruitment which really tied my hands.

With all of that being said, there is no harm in applying for the job (I received MANY resumes that weren't local) because the worst that can happen is the manager reads it and moves on. So go ahead and apply and put together a strong cover letter as to why you are uniquely qualified and you may get a call back.

  • This is very depressing to hear: $$$ > people. However, if you read between the lines, one could say you are also saying "But this is a good thing! The company I worked for had a lot of negative aspects, so you would be dodging a bullet when we did not call you back." – Aaron Mar 13 at 17:17
  • A few other points... this was a very small company that simply didn't have the budget to support non-local candidates and in order to keep afloat, we needed people to bill so the business model didn't afford having openings for months on end where a local candidate could do the job. It was also in the Boston area so there were many local candidates. I also disagree that money came before people... the owner was the most generous person that I ever worked for in terms of benefits and support to his people. He just didn't want to spend money on recruitment. – rhoonah Mar 13 at 17:36
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This is as much about relocation / accommodation costs as it is often about visa requirements.

If you're allowed to work in the country and are willing to pay the afforementioned costs it should be fine.

Be prepared though, it might still automatically ignored.

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