When searching for an out-of-state career opportunity, there are many factors that must be considered. Whether you are a law student preparing for life after graduation, a recent alumni, or a veteran lawyer with years of experience under your belt, applying to jobs in another state requires careful planning and preparation. Figuring out what kind of environment you’d like to live in (metropolitan areas will have more opportunities), getting to know the lawyers and groups in the desired location, and understanding the market for your practice area – both on a national level and in the particular city/state you’ll be moving to – will influence how successful your job hunt will be. In order to make your search as efficient as possible, there are a few things you should do well before packing your boxes and hitting the road.
First and foremost, make connections in the city that you will be moving to. The easiest way to do this is by joining McGeorge’s Alumni group, McGeorge Connect, allowing you to network with other alumni who work in your desired city or state. There are also hundreds of region-specific groups on LinkedIn: whatever your concentration and wherever you’re moving, there will undoubtedly be a networking group for you.
For in-person networking opportunities, explore sites like Meetup and Eventbrite to see what types of events and conferences are taking place near your future home and try to attend at least a few of them before you move. These are great not only for making connections with local lawyers, but it will also give you an opportunity to familiarize yourself with the city and learn about the issues specific to that area.
It is also important to understand that area’s market. For instance, moving from Sacramento (or anywhere on the West Coast) to somewhere like Texas will likely mean less demand for lawyers specializing in employment law and higher prioritization on oil, gas, and energy law. Some practice areas may be more fluid than others: corporate attorneys, for example, can find opportunities all over the world – as long as the economy is stable. Litigators, on the other hand, are always in demand regardless of the economic climate, but may find it difficult to relocate due to licensing policies and varying requirements for practicing in a given jurisdiction.
Next, have a local address that you can use on your application packets. Particularly for government agencies, it is not uncommon for local residency to be a pre-requisite for consideration. If you already know the address where you’ll be living (and can use it as an active mailing address), then you’re in a great position and have little to worry about. For others, this may not be the case. If you find yourself in this situation, contact a friend or family member who lives in the area that you are planning to move to and ask them if you can use their address as your “temporary home address.” Alternatively, where you would typically put your address on your résumé simply state when you intend to move – e.g. “Relocating to Seattle in November 2019.” This will convey to employers that while you haven’t moved yet, it is planned and imminent, relieving some of the skepticism typically given to out-of-state candidates.
Why is having a local address so important? Generally, employers do not want to worry about relocation costs, particularly smaller law firms that simply don’t have the budget to cover those types of expenses. Another reason is the potential waiting period employers may face if the position is offered to someone who still needs to finish (or even start) their move. For those who are interested in local government, having an address in that state or county will also be much more appealing as they’ll be seen as someone who’s already invested in the community.
Lastly, you must be able to explain to potential employers why you are moving. Are you returning to your home state after completing law school? Are you following a significant other or spouse due to their job? Or are you simply looking for a fresh start?
There are many reasons people move, and employers will want to know what your reasons are and whether or not you’ll be committed to a new job after moving. If you explain that you simply love new adventures and new experiences in an attempt to show a level of openness to taking on new challenges, it may also be interpreted as a sign that you aren’t looking for a long-term commitment. Whether it’s in an interview or part of the application packet, your motivation to relocate will inevitably come up. Before you apply, make sure that you understand your reasons for moving and can convey them to potential employers in a way that makes your candidacy appealing.
Whatever your particular case is, the McGeorge CDO is here to assist you in any way we can, and there is undoubtedly an alum who has been through a very similar situation. Don’t hesitate to contact us or the Alumni Department as you navigate the ins and outs of your interstate job search.