Why relocating may be the next best step for your career

A considerable number of professionals are relocating, and for good reason.

Locations have always played a key role in the availability of certain types of jobs. Detroit became the hub of automotive industry in the early twentieth century; San Francisco attracts technology companies; New York City now focuses on financial, media and technology.

The reality of the job market is that the right job isn’t always available within a commutable distance. This prompted us to investigate just how often the job seekers apply for jobs outside their current location. Using our 2015 database of six million members, this is what we found.

Job seekers stay local in large cities

Looking at this year’s nationwide job application data on Ladders, we observed that 39% of the applications sent out were from job seekers applying to jobs outside their current location (defined by their “DMA” – Designated Market Area). Further, we also discerned the likelihood of a job seeker applying to a job outside of their DMA varies greatly by the population of that location. The chart below highlights that as the population of the DMA decreases, the likelihood of candidates sending applications outside their current location increases. The adjacent table details the top 10 DMAs, by population, and their ranking in terms of job applications coming from out-of-town professionals.


What we see in the chart above is that job seekers in the 10 highest-ranked DMAs only sent 29 percent of their applications out of town, compared to the national average of 39 percent. Job seekers in all other DMAs exceeded the national average, with the 11th to 25th most populated locations sending close to 50 percent of applications out of town. Cities with a population rank of 51 or higher sent over 60 percent of their job applications to other DMAs. This is significant, considering that the DMAs ranked from 11 to 25 include many large cities such as Phoenix, Seattle and Detroit.

Recruiters don’t consider relocation as a deal-breaker

But are these out-of-town applications worthwhile? We examined next the employer side of the equation. If, for instance, employers are not likely to entertain out-of-town applications, then the volume of applications to alternate DMAs may not matter. To determine this, we reviewed the rate at which employers accepted applications that seemed a potential “fit” for the position. We found that 12 percent of candidates nationwide received a positive rating by the recruiter, compared to an 11 percent acceptance rate for applications that were from outside the job’s location. Based on our analyses, if candidates are treated negatively because they require relocation, it isn’t by a large degree at all. This is good news for relocation candidates!

So where do the job seekers go?

We’ve determined that more job seekers from smaller DMAs look for out-of-town opportunities compared to those from larger areas. But where do they go?

New York continues to be the most desirable relocation DMA, however the gap between other cities has come down this year when compared to the last. Washington, D.C. and Atlanta are displaying significant growths within in the past year, while Dallas and San Francisco continue to maintain a high share.

The following visualization depicts the flip side of this – four metro areas and their imbalances, in terms of out-of-town job applications, with other cities.

Philadelphia pushes a lot of job applications to New York; proximity may play a role here. Besides New York, Atlanta and Washington, D.C., figure out prominently. Last year, Dallas was the most prominent destination out of these cities. While Dallas remains a desirable destination, Atlanta and Washington D.C. display a remarkable increase.


Breaking this down one layer further, we see that not every location is considered equally desirable across professional functions. The visualization below depicts which functions are gaining out-of-town applications (by city) and in which functions and locations the job seekers are looking to new DMAs for their next job.

For example, New York remains dominant in the fields of finance, and marketing, though it may be giving in some of its edge in Technology. While Dallas and San Francisco continue to be a desirable destination for Technology, we see good gains in Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and Atlanta for Technology jobs, possibly some at the expense of New York.

If you build it, job seekers will come

We continue to see a trend emerging that seems to hold true throughout history: job seekers go where the jobs are. As different locations attract specific functions (i.g. New York maintaining finance and marketing hub status or Dallas becoming technology hub), the influx of applications from alternate locations grows.

This is only our second year of taking a close look at professional movements across cities, and already we see some changes in patterns on a year to year basis. Even though New York continues to be the most popular destination for professionals, we see a lot more balance this year. As we look towards the future, we can expect more competitiveness among different cities, as more and more professionals go to the cities considered to be top hubs for their industry. It appears these job seekers will be met with success and have the opportunity to explore new and exciting chapters in their careers.