How to Address Relocation on a STEM Resume

Have you ever searched for a job outside of the city, state, or country from where you are living? If so, you may have found that long-distance job searching is a challenge on your resume and cover letter documents. If you’re considering relocation, this post will cover common challenges and different factors to consider to make relocation as easy as possible. Let’s begin!

A client, whom I worked with during the COVID-19 pandemic, inspired this post. He had landed a job—the first one he applied to with his new engineering resume—as a computational fluid dynamics engineer with a transportation company. Recently, he contacted me about his plans to relocate back to his native country, Norway, in the next couple of years and how he could best prepare for that event.

This post will cover how to address resume relocation challenges, specifically:

  • Relocating to a new city or state in the US
  • Common obstacles when targeting overseas jobs

COVID-19 and the Great Remote Work Experiment

The COVID-19 pandemic put a whole new perspective on how we work and live our lives. The workplace has been undergoing the largest remote work experiment in history, with nearly 7 in 10 workers working remotely.

It will be interesting to see how this phenomenon plays out over the next few years. I believe (and hope) more companies will shift to the remote model as more people continue to seek positions with companies that value a stronger (and much-needed) work-life balance.

According to a coronavirus moving study, more than 15.9 million moved and continue to move during the COVID-19 pandemic. The reasons varied, but there was an opportunity for many people to reconsider their living situations and trade high cost of living cities and states for lower-cost ones.

However, some jobs cannot be remote. In particular, science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM), healthcare, and medical professionals require access to research labs, production environments, healthcare centers, and specific laboratory, manufacturing, or medical equipment.

If you fall into this category and relocation is one of your job search goals, the next 2 sections will include some helpful strategies for navigating the relocation obstacle as easily as possible.

Relocating to a new city or state in the US

We will start with the contact information. Reason? I still see many job seekers put their full physical address on their resume and other job search documents. Please don’t do this. A contact phone number and email address are all that’s needed for a Recruiter or Hiring Manager to arrange an interview.

Including your full physical address when you’re trying to relocate works against you for multiple reasons, notwithstanding the obvious: a dead giveaway that you don’t live near the job site location.

Here are a few other reasons to stop this practice:

  • Rise in identity theft.

The increase in identity theft makes people uncomfortable putting their full address on their resume. Some of my clients couldn’t care less about publicly having a great deal of their personal information out there. In contrast, other clients feel any disclosure beyond the basics, name, phone, and email, is going too far.

  • Potential economic and demographic profiling.

It’s common for Hiring Managers to look up the distance from your home address to the company. S/he could assume you live too far away, which may negatively impact your candidacy. Please don’t give them that opportunity.

  • ATS is programmed to reject candidates based on location.

While this practice may not be in the company’s best interest, especially if you are qualified for a role but happen to live in a different city or state, there are no US federal laws that prevent an employer from rejecting a candidate who lives too far away or would require relocation.

It’s important to remember that most companies will favor local candidates.

You may have seen job postings that sometimes use language, such as “locals only” or “locals preferred,” in the job description. Seeing this can be frustrating when you find a job that you are a great fit for but don’t live in the area.

Companies prefer local candidates for several reasons:

  • The interview process is more fluid.

It’s easier for a local candidate to adjust their schedule at the drop of a hat versus an out-of-state candidate. A local candidate may also have more knowledge about living in a certain area for many years, providing more opportunities to share common ground, develop a stronger relationship with the interviewer, and better understand the company.

  • Relocation can be expensive.

Typically, larger companies with more resources are better positioned to offer relocation packages than small or start-up companies. Even if you possess knowledge or ties to the local market, you may not be considered if a company has set its sights on a local candidate.

  • The onboarding process is faster.

Once an employer has found the perfect candidate, it’s easier for a local candidate to start faster than someone who needs to relocate and take care of transitional details.

  • Unanticipated delays can occur.

Even if you agree to cover your relocation expenses, unexpected delays can occur, such as finding a new place to live, selling an existing home, enrolling children into school, adjusting culturally, etc. Whether you are moving by yourself or with a family, there is almost always a disruption factor.

So knowing this, what do you do?

  • Leave your address off the resume (and cover letter) completely.

Let your qualifications, skills, and other valuable experience speak for themselves and entice the reader to call you for an interview.

  • Mention your relocation plans in your cover letter.

“I will be permanently relocating to Los Angeles on April 14, 2020, with my partner who has accepted a promotion with ABC Company. I would be delighted to attend an on-site interview and will be in Los Angeles from March 15 to March 25 when we will be house hunting.”

“I will be relocating to Denver by the beginning of February 2020 to be closer to my family and will be available for an interview anytime in February at your convenience.”

“I am available to interview in-person or remotely and can be reached directly at (971) 770-1460 or at”

  • Use a partial address on your resume.

List the name of the city, state, and zip code of where you intend to relocate at the top of your resume with your name and contact information.

For example, Philadelphia, PA 19106 OR Greater Philadelphia Area

You could also say: “Relocating to Philadelphia in February 2017.”

What if I am targeting jobs overseas?

It is rare for employers to pursue candidates that live outside the country unless you possess niche industry skills and qualifications, you are a senior executive, or the government is trying to address a skills gap in a particular industry.

I can personally attest to the challenges I faced when searching for R&D science and engineering roles in the Netherlands while I was still living in Portland, OR.

Just like the scenario above, listing your physical address and contact phone number on your resume when searching for a job abroad is a dead giveaway you don’t live in the country.

How do you navigate this on your resume?

We can address this challenge using similar strategies.

For instance, I suggest leaving any address information off the resume unless you have secured a residence in the country of relocation. In that case, list the city, province, and zip code where your place is located.

You can also use your cover letter to provide more details of your relocation plans using similar language like the examples above. Finally, if you can track down the Recruiter or Hiring Manager in charge of the job posting, you can ask their advice on addressing this on your application (since it may be different from Scientech Resumes).

Here are 2 examples of how you could mention relocation in your cover letter:

  • Beginning of the letter:

“As an experienced R&D Applications Chemist with 10 years of experience in formulation technology and product development, I am excited to submit my CV to join [Name of Company] as your next [Name of Position]. Ever since I first visited Germany while studying abroad, I have dreamed of returning on a permanent basis to work and live.”

  • End of the letter:

“I look forward to meeting with you to discuss this opportunity and how my background and qualifications can help [Name of Company] achieve its objectives. I am available to interview remotely and, if offered a position, I am prepared to immediately begin the visa process and minimize any delays in starting. Thank you for your consideration and I look forward to hearing from you soon.”

How should I list my phone number when applying for a job overseas?

One way to get around this is to purchase an international phone number from the country of relocation.

There are several different telecommunications providers from where you can buy an international phone number that links to your phone and give the pretense of a local presence. Some examples include Tollfree Forwarding, JustCall, and Zadarma.

Skype is also an option. However, depending on the country of relocation, you may be asked to provide proof of citizenship which won’t be an option unless you are a native citizen.

This method will give the employer a better impression than a foreign number and increase your chances of contact.

Other things to remember with an international relocation?

  • Know the standard resume guidelines for your target country.

International resume standards vary greatly, and you will stand out if yours isn’t formatted correctly or missing key information. For example, most countries outside the US ask candidates to include a picture, marital status, and birthday.

  • Research the immigration and visa processes.

Immigration policies vary widely. You may qualify for a highly skilled migrant visa in some countries, but you must research the criteria. In other cases, you may need to persuade an employer to sponsor you for a visa, making your job search extra challenging because you need to prove why they should hire you over a native citizen. Additionally, visas and work permits take time and money, and a lot of information. It’s a process you need to stay on top of so it gets done as quickly and smoothly as possible.

  • Create an organized job search strategy.

Hopefully, you researched the types of opportunities and most popular industries in your country of interest to ensure that you will have plenty of opportunities to utilize your skills and experiences. Create a list of target companies to research, including their mission, values, career opportunities, key products and services, and use LinkedIn to identify and connect with people.

  • Tailor your resume for each job.

A strong resume is critical to landing an interview. As a job seeker looking for opportunities abroad, you will need to sell your skills and qualifications and overall “fit,” especially if there’s the hassle of visa sponsorship. Remember, you will be going up against people who don’t need to worry about their visa situation. Therefore, you need to set yourself apart. Read the job description carefully, especially the “Qualifications” section, emphasizing the skills and qualifications that meet the job needs. Also, use the correct spellings for your target country.

Conducting a job search is challenging enough. Relocation makes it that much more complex. The key to going through this process is to do it with confidence and not be afraid of the word “no.” It’s important to understand it’s a lot of responsibility for an employer to hire someone outside of the state or country, no matter how much you have to offer. Some companies won’t give you a second glance, but many will. If you have a relocation story in the US or abroad, feel free to share it with me in the comments below.

Scientech Resumes is dedicated to helping science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) professionals find fulfilling work through targeted, branded, and keyword-optimized resumes, LinkedIn profiles, and other career marketing documents. Schedule a FREE 20-minute discovery session to get some real-time feedback on your current resume and job search strategy or connect with me on LinkedIn. Let's get you where you want to go, with greater results!




Kate Williamson

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