Career Corner: Location, Location, Location

Increasingly, jobs are clustered in large cities like New York City. – Courtesy photo

By Angela Copeland

In my lifetime, I’ve never seen a time where we were more divided as a nation. Oddly, the job search has also become geographically divided.

It is becoming increasingly common for certain jobs to cluster in large cities within the U.S. You probably noticed it when Amazon picked their new headquarters. The cities that made the list were the usual suspects. And, it’s the same for other big businesses. Many are located on the coasts, in cities like New York, Boston, San Francisco, and Los Angeles.

I’m beginning to see a trend of job seekers that are looking to relocate to these large markets. Their goal long-term is to create career stability. They assume that being in a big city they’ll have an easier time finding their next job. This thought process makes sense in today’s professional environment. Many people switch jobs every three to five years. Forty years ago you would stay at a job until you’d retire, but sadly, this is no longer the case.

The thing that’s a bit odd is this: many companies are demanding local candidates. You might even notice on some job postings the words, “Local candidates only.” I’ve seen many instances where a candidate has a positive phone screen with human resources. In the last five minutes of the call, the company will realize that the candidate isn’t currently living in their city. They plan to relocate. It is not unusual for a company to end the phone screen and to reject the candidate on location alone. They will say, “We have enough local candidates. We don’t need to consider people from other regions of the country.”

At first blush, many people assume the company is trying to save money on relocation expenses. But, I’m not sure that explains the full situation. Even when a candidate offers to relocate themselves, the companies don’t take the bait. Some hiring managers say that out of town candidates are more risky. The job seeker might not like the new city. But, isn’t everyone risky? I suspect that part of the issue is that it’s logistically more work to hire an out of town candidate. You have to plan in person interviews ahead more. Plane tickets must be booked. Hotel rooms must be reserved. The start date may be further in the future.

The candidate could move themselves first. But, quitting your existing job and moving to a new city where you have no connections is a big risk. The cities I mentioned are quite pricey. They aren’t a great place to be if you’re not going to have a stable paycheck.

I’m not sure what the solution is but we’re one country. Landing a job in a new city should be easier than it is today. Companies, take more time to consider out of town candidates. Hiring managers, if your recruiter is mysteriously only presenting you with local candidates, find out more.

Angela Copeland, a career expert and founder of Copeland Coaching, can be reached at

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