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New grads and the out of town job search

(MoneyWatch) Dear Evil HR Lady,

I am about to graduate with a degree in finance and am interested in pursuing wealth management, as I have had several internships with this particular part of the industry. Anyway, I have 2 upcoming interviews in different cities. Is it possible to leverage existing interviews with a company to try to obtain more interviews in the same areas? For example, [for] one interview I have to drive about an hour, which is completely fine in my eyes. But it would also be cool to have a couple interviews lined up in that city. I hope this makes sense. My thoughts were "oh that person must be a good candidate, maybe we should give him a shot if he is interviewing over there."

Slow down, sweets! You are new to the business world and you're already trying to manipulate the heck out of it. Let's get back to reality here.

It is absolutely true that having one company interested in you will make other companies more interested in you. Companies are terrible at judging people and they rely on other indicators to tell them if you're a quality candidate -- things like the school you went to, what companies you've worked for, and if you're employed at the time. This is why we do resumes as well -- to say not only what we've accomplished but to give evidence that other people value you.

But, companies aren't going to go, "Ooohhh, he's interviewing with Company X? Let's try to steal him out from under them!" There are just far too many new grads out there to make any company go gaga over any one in particular. You sound like you are a quality candidate -- your degree is a good, solid one (presuming that it's from a reputable institution) and you've had "several" (which I hope means 3 or more) internships in the area you're pursuing. So, you don't need to leverage your existing interviews to try and get people to interview you.

What you can do, though, is be totally practical about it. If you're interviewing in a far away city and have interest in other jobs in that city, by all means contact them in cover letter style and let them know that you'll be in town that week. Don't say, "I'm in town because I'm interviewing with Company X," but rather, "I will be in Big City from June 15-22 and would be available to interview." It's not that your interview with the other company is a secret, it's just kind of tacky to try to do the leveraging you want to do.

The reality is, most companies prefer not to hire the out of towners because of all the problems associated with it. It's not just the logistics of interviewing, it's relocation costs (either paid for by them or by you) and there's the possibility that when you move there you won't like it. (Or, if you're married or partnered that your spouse won't like it. Seriously, an unhappy spouse can make your dream job into a nightmare.) So, when you make it clear that you'll already be there, it reassures them that you're serious about moving to the area.

And as for the job that is one hour away? For many Americans, one hour is a daily commute. I doubt you're planning to spend the night there, so you'd have to come back on a second day anyway. You don't want to try to schedule interviews at multiple companies on the same day. This isn't like your summer job when you could interview at Burger King, McDonalds and Wendys all in a couple of hours. Some companies do short interviews, but many -- even for entry level positions -- want several hours of your time. The last thing you want to do is be stuck saying, "Ummm, I have to go. I have another interview!"

So, go ahead and try to set up additional interviews, but don't expect people to fall over themselves to bring you in. And congratulations on the new degree!

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