It’s no secret that the gig economy is in full swing. But how can job seekers find remote jobs that are a match with their background, skills and interests, and how can they compete with other remote job seekers? Here HR professionals, career experts, and remote workers share specific tips about finding great remote jobs.
Competition is Stiff
The first thing to know when seeking remote work is that the competition is stiff, says Joseph Puglise, Sr., director of recruiting and executive search for JMJ Phillip. “People would much rather stay at home and work and get paid than commute to their work offices on a day-to-day basis,” says Puglise. Those with the best competitive advantage, he says, are those who already have remote work experience.
Certain industries and jobs lend themselves to remote work and others don’t. An important first step for those interested in working remotely, is doing some research to identify the areas that might be most productive for them.
Where to Look
Biron Clark, a former executive recruiter and founder of the job search website CareerSidekick.com, says: “Some types of jobs and industries simply don’t allow very many people to work remotely, so it’s going to be an uphill battle even if you’re using great tactics and strategies overall.” The types of positions that most lend themselves to remote work, he says, include programming, digital marketing, and customer service. Sales positions also often lend themselves to remote work. For those interested in remote jobs, Clark recommends researching companies that allow remote work. “You can search for ‘remote’ as a keyword, but also search for lists of ‘distributed’ companies,” he recommends—this is how technology firms and start-ups often describe remote work.
Clark also points to a few websites that offer job boards focused on remote work:
Michael Alexis, director of marketing for Museum Hack, a company comprised of 60 remote workers around the country, also points to WeWorkRemotely.com, as a good source of information about remote jobs. He also recommends setting up alerts, Gmail filters or automations—he points to Zapier as one example of an automation tool that he likes.
“We also suggest using a website like OneCraigs which allows you to search all of Craigslist jobs around the world in one browser window,” Alexis says. “Often small businesses post of Craigslist and can be convinced to try a remote work situation as it helps them save on expenses they would incur with an employee,” he says.
Standing Out From the Masses
Because competition is still for remote roles, it’s important to think about ways you can stand out from others who are competing for these roles. Aside from having the knowledge, skills, and competencies required for the position you’re vying for, there are three key areas of focus that can help you stand out: remote work experience, strong communication skills, and a quick, high-quality response.
Clearly Convey Your Ability to Work Independently
Stacy Caprio, founder of Growth Marketing, says: “My tip for finding a remote job is to make sure your resume highlights your autonomy, drive, self-directed attitude, and any remote or freelance work you’ve already done.” For those hiring remote workers, Caprio says, it’s important to have confidence that the candidate has a positive track record of working remotely in previous jobs. “Highlighting your previous remote experience and ability to self-direct will give you a chance to stand out when the remote company’s hiring manager is reading your resume,” she says.
Communication is Key
The best way to send a bad signal to potential remote employers? Fail to be accessible!
Communication is key to a positive remote working relationship, notes Puglise. Consequently, he advises? “When applying, be prompt and timely in all of your responses and stay glued to your phone or desktop for notifications and emails.” If you don’t, he warns, employers may get the sense that you tend to slack during what is considered to be “work time.”
In addition, Puglise says: “Another important skill is to be computer savvy, as you will be doing all of your work from the computer. Place heavy emphasis on your communication and tech skills in your resume and the application.”
Respond Quickly, But Don’t Skimp on Quality
Virtual Vocations CEO Laura Spawn, not only leads a fully remote team of more than 40 employees and contractors, she co-founded her company in 2007 (along with her brother, CTO Adam Stevenson) to help job seekers find remote openings with companies and individuals they could trust. Back in 2007, she says, “we were lucky to find 200 telecommute jobs to post to the database each day.” Today, she says, “at any given time you can find upwards of 20,000 listings on our site, all of which can be filtered by industry, career level, and more.”
Applying for these openings quickly is important, says Spawn—there is, after all, lots of competition. But, she cautions, don’t sacrifice quality and accuracy. “Remote recruiters can receive thousands of applications each day and they aren’t going to waste their time on applicants who failed to follow instructions or missed the deadline.” Her advice: “Put your best work forward—including both a resume and cover letter that are free of grammatical errors and irrelevant information.”
Don’t Be Limited by Jobs Advertised as Remote
One final word of advice. While your goal might be landing a remote job, that doesn’t mean you should limit your applications only to jobs that are presented as “remote,” says Candace Barr, a former C-suite executive recruiter who is now a job seeker advocate and the owner of Strategic Resume Specialists. “Remote is often negotiated, not advertised,” she says.
“Look for companies with progressive cultures and proactively network with the people you need to meet there, long before a job opening is posted online,” says Barr. “Your goal should be to garner as many informational interviews as possible with right-fit organizations and roles. If they do not allow flex-options—and please do not lead with this question—then move on. I see far too many people focus on ‘working from home’ to the extent that they eliminate many potential right-fit positions!”