Your Home Town Knowledge Can Help Land a Job
By: Jessica Holbrook Hernandez
Have you ever read a job description that said, "Strong knowledge of local community preferred?" Many jobs are very regional in nature, including law, real estate, and economic development. When applying to these types of jobs, it is important to highlight your experience in the local area, or to downplay the lack of it if you have not worked there for very long.
Even if a job ad doesn't explicitly mention a preference for local knowledge, many employers consider that knowledge to be an asset anyway. For any position that requires traveling to clients' homes or to other businesses, familiarity with the area will allow you to do your work much more quickly and efficiently. For positions where fundraising or negotiations are required, having connections in the community can be an invaluable asset.
Consider, for example, a social worker in Kansas City who encounters a drug addicted client. Any social worker would refer that client into some sort of treatment program. However, the employee who hasn't worked in Kansas City very long would have to research which local drug programs were available before he could even make that referral. A social worker familiar with the area would know that the ABC Center specializes in just what his client needs. He can make a phone call to Jane because he knows that is able to have people admitted in a flash. He is knowledgeable and efficient.
Whether a job description asks for it or not, don't be afraid to mention your extensive knowledge of a local area or region. You can easily insert the words "lifelong resident" or "long-time resident" into your cover letter or resume summary. These phrases succinctly notify potential employers that you not only bring certain skills and experience to the table, but also an inherent understanding of the business environment in which they work. At the end of the day, hiring someone with extensive local knowledge is just easier on the employer. So if you've got it, go ahead and say so!