Tips For Applying For A Job That Is Thousands Of Miles Away—Or Even Close To Home!

I go to school in Morgantown, West Virginia—in the middle of the mountains with not much near it. However, this summer I’m spending a good portion of time in San Diego, and I wanted to get a job while I was there. Applying for jobs is already a somewhat demanding task, but even more so when you’re 2,435 miles away from the establishment you’re trying to get a position with. Through this process, I’ve learned quite a few things, some basic and some through trial and error, but in the end, there are a few common guidelines everyone should follow when applying for a job—5 miles away or 5,000 miles away.

Many of us have already held multiple positions at a number of jobs in our lifetime. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics says that before the age of forty, the average working American will have held 10 different jobs, but in the newer generations, this number is expected to reach between an average of 12 to 15 jobs within their lifetime. Whether the job you’re applying for is something simple like waiting tables or valeting, or something big like a corporate office or internship, the same basic rules apply to every job application.

First and foremost, be true to yourself. You may think you love a company or brand and want to work for them, but without knowledge of their workforce, you could possibly not get the position simply because they don’t think you’ll fit in with their other employees—and this isn’t something to be upset about. The number one thing you hear about jobs is to make sure you’re doing something you love, and if your ideals and values don’t align with a company and their employees, you’re going to eventually end up resenting going to that job anyways.

Along with this, always personalize your cover letter and resume—this one is a given—by doing your research about the place you are applying to (even if it’s a coffee shop a few towns over). By doing so, you show the company that you really care about their business and the position before you even get it. Doing your research on a company will also help you to prepare for the interview and to craft good questions to ask afterward.

“Be creative. Contact people you know in that area (family, friends, alumni) who can help you start to work through the logistics. If you’re completely stuck, I think it’s OK to contact the company offering the internship and ask them what interns have done in the past. They’re often very forthcoming with that sort of advice,” says Eric Minor, West Virginia University professor and expert. 

Always follow up. No matter how busy you may think the big man or woman in charge is, it is important to give them a call or shoot them an email. If they really are as busy as you think they are, they definitely won’t remember who you are, so you need to follow up in order to remind them of who you are and your interest in their company. When you email them, you can also attach a copy of your cover letter and resume to refresh their brains—they probably are not going to spend the time to dig through the trash and find your resume (among the hundreds of others that are probably there), so attaching these documents is a convenient tool for employees. Hiring someone is supposed to in turn take more responsibility off of the employer’s shoulders by having extra help around, so by doing little things like this you are already demonstrating that you are doing just that. 

Minor, says he “I don’t think it’s a good idea to just contact the company and ask if they’ve made a decision. “Checking on the status” of your application is also risky business. I think if you get to a point where you’re just going to lose your mind if you don’t follow up, take this approach: is there anything new you can tell them that might help them make a decision.” Minor also says that he would recommend you follow up by email before a phone call, as well as 

If the job is a smaller scale job, like a minimum wage or similar occupation, it is a good idea to try and go into the business as soon as you can get there so that you can give your possible employer a face to your name. This is a big boost for these types of jobs because it also shows the extent of your interest in the position. Introduce yourself and get a feel for what the other employees are like—be yourself and be comfortable! Remember, most people can walk into a minimum-wage establishment and get a job, so you need to be able to stand out among the commonalities. 

Speaking of standing out, this is important for big jobs too. In a pool of hundreds of other professionals with similar resumes (unless you took the Elle Woods route—in which case, more power to you), it is hard to be the one person that jumps to the top of the pile. You need to sit down with yourself and decide what it is about you that makes you hirable, different than others, a good asset to a team and what will help you grow. In discovering these things about yourself you will find something you can add to your resume that no one else has. 

If you don’t listen to anything else in this article, listen to this: practice basic interview questions with yourself & send a thank you email after your interview. Even if you know you blew your interview or it isn’t the job you were expecting it to be, sending a thank you email or letter after the interview has concluded is crucial. After all, business is all about networking, and you don’t want to burn through any bridges before you even find a job. Just because you weren't the right person for that job, doesn’t mean an employer couldn’t refer you to another one. Either way, it is always better to leave off on a positive note rather than a messy interview that went every way you were hoping it wouldn’t.