Dear Sam: We are relocating to Reno, Nevada, and looking for a job in the area. We are actively looking to purchase a house there and buy or rent depending on the job search. My job search has been unsuccessful so far, and I feel that being out of state puts me at a disadvantage. How do I stand out and be considered as a viable candidate? – Kevin
Dear Kevin: You are accurate and that being an out-of-state candidate sometimes comes with its disadvantages. Employers may think you will be more time-consuming and potentially expensive to recruit, may not fill an open position quickly enough, and potentially have more complications in the recruitment process. Having said that, as you are actively seeking to move into the area in which you are searching for a new position, you are, in essence, searching as if you were a local candidate. At the top of your resume, where you would typically put your city and state of residence, you would list “Relocating to Reno, Nevada.” Hence, the employer knows you are actively in the process of searching and moving to the region. In addition, in your cover letter, you would want to make sure you mention near the end of your relocation plans and that you are available at the employer’s convenience for an interview and readily available to engage in a new position. Putting to rest and employers fears of the expense and time it may take to recruit an out-of-state candidate is key to improving your viability. Moreover, given most of us are still working remotely, you could easily offer to engage at first remotely while you complete your relocation, perhaps a bargaining opportunity to start a new position more quickly while you get everything sorted out for your relocation. I wish you all the best in your search and move.
Dear Sam: My son is 27 years old and has a degree in History. He also has Asperger’s Syndrome, which is a high-functioning form of autism. He is currently working as a janitor and, realizing he needed more marketable skills, recently finished a six-month course as a medical office specialist. He is currently studying for his national certification. The positives of his condition are that he is very focused on completing his assigned tasks correctly and efficiently, he is always punctual, he can break down tasks and determine the most efficient way to accomplish them, and he is very proficient in all types of computer programs. His negatives are that he cannot look people in the eyes, he does not see the need for unnecessary conversation, and he cannot read nonverbal cues. How does a person with a disability such as his approach it in a resume? – Concerned Mother
Dear Concerned Mother: Thank you for asking; that is a question I have heard quite often, particularly in my work with a local nonprofit specializing in working with candidates with differing abilities. The consensus in the industry tends to be not to address the disability in the resume unless you will catch the interviewer off guard by not doing so. In your son’s case, I would say it would be prudent to provide a little insight into his condition before attending an interview. It sounds like he could struggle with eye contact and other key success strategies for interviewing. I would not address this in the resume; however, I would do so in the cover letter.
I would first develop a rock-solid resume that sells the experience and upcoming national credential he is completing. My goal would be to have the resume get his foot in the door without the need for the cover letter. I would, however, use the cover letter as a tool to provide more of the narrative behind his candidacy. I would explain, just as you did to me, the strengths of his syndrome. To me, his strengths, given the environment he wishes to work in, are perfectly aligned to a job of that nature. His weaknesses—if I am assuming correctly that he would be doing medical administration and no patient interaction—would not necessarily impact his ability to perform and do an exceptional job.
Honesty is the best policy unless you could conceal a disability, and it would not play a role in the ability to perform the role. For instance, my son has hearing loss, so when he looks for a job as a teenager or adult, I will advise him not to mention it on his resume as he can hear just like any hearing person with the aid of his hearing devices. But, I have had clients in the past who have been vision and hearing impaired where it would be prudent to mention something in advance as they may need select, albeit sometimes very few, reasonable accommodations.
I think with a solid resume and an explanation akin to what you provided to me, your son could be seen as quite the perfect employee for the field he is entering. I could not wish you more luck. Please let me know if I can provide more support. One of my favorite aspects of my job is to help those like your son position themselves in the best possible light and see all they can achieve!