Lately, it seems like everyone’s talking about how remote work is the new normal. Why does it seem so hard to get a remote job if this is the case?
The fact is, even though working from home has become mainstream, the competition for remote positions–especially fully remote ones–is fierce. Also, getting a remote job differs from a traditional in-office job. Not only must you prove that you have the right skills, but you also need to market yourself specifically to the needs of a job that will be done outside the office. So, you might need to take additional steps to ensure you’re a viable candidate.
We’ll walk you through the requirements for remote workers and outline exactly what to do to land the work-from-home position of your dreams.
Steps to land a remote job
1. Assess your requirements
First, clarify your motivations for seeking a remote job and your requirements around this preference.
Why do you want to work from home? If it’s primarily because you’re seeking more flexibility, are looking to eliminate your commute, want the option to travel more freely, or are looking for opportunities beyond what’s available in your current city, remote work may be the solution.
But perhaps there are other factors behind your inclination to go after a remote job. Are you disillusioned with your existing employer? Fed up with a negative workplace culture? Bored in your current role? These are problems that can be solved by searching for a new position that may or may not be remote.
It’s important to ask these questions because the honest truth is that getting a remote job is, in most cases, harder than getting one that’s in office. There’s more competition, and you’ll be under higher scrutiny as a candidate. So, consider whether your work location is a true make-or-break factor for you.
On that same note, also analyze the kind of work-from-home arrangement you’re after. Would you be willing to commute part of the time, like two to three days per week, or even just occasionally? Or do you want a job where you never have to visit a physical office? The tighter your requirements, the more challenging your job search may be.
Considering these factors will ensure you go into your job search with your eyes wide open about what to expect.
2. Know what hiring managers are looking for in remote candidates
While the set of technical skills you’ll need for a job remains consistent whether it’s in-office or remote, being remote requires an additional layer of skills and qualities that hiring managers and recruiters will be screening for.
For starters, you’ll need a proven track record of being able to work independently. A hiring manager needs to feel confident you can take direction and run with it rather than needing to be micromanaged from afar.
Since you won’t have the office clock to keep you on task, you’ll need strong time management skills and the ability to prioritize your work. Strong communication skills are also necessary to keep your manager in the loop with what you’re working on and convey any challenges holding you up.
Previous work-from-home experience is a plus and sometimes a requirement. If you don’t have this, you can boost your chances by building relevant experience with a side hustle or freelancing from home in your off time.
Finally, some hiring managers are looking for proximity to their headquarters even if you’ll be working remotely. Employers often feel more comfortable knowing an employee is within arm’s reach if a special circumstance requires them to be in the office. So, if you do live nearby, be sure to include your city on your resume.
3. Search a remote jobs database
While finding fully remote jobs on traditional job boards like Monster and Indeed is possible, they’re not your best bet. They’re being used by thousands of other candidates, who are also applying to in-office jobs, so you’re up against a hefty stack of other resumes. And these boards require you to filter through many spam positions and bait-and-switch listings.
4. Tailor your resume for a remote position
Tempted to use the same old resume that’s saved on your desktop during your search for remote jobs? Don’t. Since hiring managers (and the automated tools used to screen resumes) are focused on different criteria when hiring remote candidates, your resume will need to be customized accordingly.
First, go over every position in detail and make sure you’re emphasizing the skills, qualities and accomplishments that a recruiter is looking for that are specific to remote work. Here are some examples:
Stepping up to take the lead on a project (leadership)
Taking a new concept from idea to reality (ability to work independently)
Juggling competing priorities (time management)
Making a strategic decision (critical thinking)
Overcoming a communications challenge (written/verbal communication)
Working with coworkers in different time zones (remote collaboration)
Managing a team of remote staff (important for remote managerial roles)
Next, cite your experience with the tech tools that will help you succeed when you’re working from home. These might be included in bullet form in your ‘skills’ section, like so:
Communication: Slack, Teams, Zoom, Skype
Project Management: Trello, Basecamp
Alternatively (or additionally), you can work these skills into the bullet points listed under the positions you’ve held. For example:
UX Designer – West Technologies, 2019 to present
Maintained clear and consistent communications with onsite team using Slack, Zoom and Basecamp
Finally, make sure your resume checks the boxes for all the requirements you’d adhere to when applying for any type of job, like incorporating keywords from the job description and proofreading carefully for typos.
5. Prep for the interview
As we’ve mentioned already, the competition for remote jobs is stiff. It’s not enough to merely be a sufficient candidate; you need to wow a hiring manager. Your best chance to do that is during an interview–once you’ve tackled the other items on this list, of course.
As with any interview, you’ll want to be prepared to give examples of your skills in action. The key when you’re interviewing for a remote position is to choose examples that showcase the important work-from-home skills we touched on earlier.
Also, prepare to discuss why you’re so interested in landing a remote position and how you’ll do so successfully. Here are some likely questions you’ll face:
Why do you want to work from home?
Have you ever worked remotely before?
What skills will help you successfully work from home?
How do you prioritize tasks?
How do you manage your time?
What does your ideal day look like?
If you’ve never worked remotely before, a hiring manager may press further to make sure you’re up for some of the unique challenges it can bring, like distractions, loneliness, and FOMO. Check out our interview preparation checklist for more valuable tips!
6. Go freelance
One way to guarantee your ability to work from home? Freelancing. As a freelancer, you not only get to choose where you’ll work, but when and how.
Companies in all types of industries have been ramping up their relationships with freelancers for years, so there’s a good chance freelancing is a viable option in your field.
Being a successful freelancer requires many of the same qualities that make for a good remote worker: independence, ambition, and focus, to name a few.
By tailoring your job search not only to the role you want, but to the nuances of remote work, you’ll be well on your way to landing a remote position and realizing your dreams of having more freedom and flexibility in your professional life.