This guest post is from John Cunningham of ryrob.com, an online community geared toward freelancers and people who love the flexibility of remote, work-from-home jobs. Read on to discover John’s six steps to find a remote job — and the flexible work-life balance you seek.
Learning how to get a remote job is no more difficult than getting a regular job you’ll like; it’s just different.
When I first started my remote job hunt, I looked for 3 months, and got very little response at first. The big job sites receive tons of applications for relatively limited remote positions. After about 90 days, I realized that if I wanted to work from home, I needed to get creative. I was spinning my wheels, and quite frankly, running through savings. Most companies don’t really advertise themselves as fully remote, and the ones that do, are hard to find unless you are looking on the right remote job websites. This was my biggest challenge: Finding the best remote jobs and identifying the right companies to follow on those sites.
Due to limited amounts of remote positions, the competition for work-from-home jobs can be higher than competition for regular jobs. You’ll need to know where to look, how to market yourself, and how to get creative with job applications (Hint: clicking apply is usually not enough).
Here are six steps to get you started, and help you land the remote job of your dreams.
1. Ask Yourself if Getting a Remote Job is Actually Right for You
Before you start a lengthy search for a work-from-home job, it’s important to think about whether or not remote work is right for you specifically. This part requires some research and self-reflection.
For example, because I get a lot of in-person interaction from friends outside of work and phone and video chats satisfy my need for face-to-face communication as well as in-person meetings, remote work is an awesome fit for my personal lifestyle and work style.
If you want to jump into remote work with both feet, it’s really important to ask yourself if the pros outweigh the cons. For me, there was major upside, and it was a no-brainer to go remote and take on work-from-home jobs.
Here are some questions to ask yourself:
- Do I get lonely without face-to-face interaction?
- Am I good at structuring my time, including “turning off” the workday when I’ve completed my job for the day?
- Is it easy to self-motivate without in-person guidance or feedback from a manager?
Start by making a list of the pros and cons of working from home — especially all the time and money you’ll save on things like commuting and eating lunch out. Look at them through the lens of your own ideal lifestyle, and the lens of what makes you most productive.
2. Determine What Really Motivates You at Work
Taking a remote job is almost like being an entrepreneur, and motivational quotes alone won’t fuel you forever. No one is over your shoulder telling you to do your job. With remote work, the only person telling you to work is you.
The best remote workers really love their work and take pride in what they produce. If you don’t love what you do, your bed suddenly becomes really comfortable ― especially when no one is telling you to get up and go.
Most people start to get this feeling of dread on Sunday nights for one reason or another. If you get that feeling, analyze it. If you hate being in customer success at the office, you’ll probably hate being in customer success at home too. If you like your job, but the Sunday dread comes from the stress of commuting, remote work might be a good fit.
I personally look forward to Mondays (honestly!) because I really like what I do, and I get to do what I love from home.
Having a remote job is an amazing opportunity to live the lifestyle that you want, while doing the work that you love. Just make sure it’s a fit for you personally before hitting the remote job boards.
3. How to Find Your Dream Remote Job
If you’re still reading, you’re probably ready to storm the virtual gates of the remote work-world. Still, if you want to get a remote job… you need to know where to look.
Sites like FlexJobs publish annual lists of the top 100 remote companies and here’s Remote.co hosts Q&As with remote companies. I would highly suggest reading some of those Q&A’s. You’ll get insights into how remote companies work, how they started, where their HQ is (if they have one), and the breakdown of remote vs. non-remote employees. Big hint: most of the interviews are with HR directors and VPs of HR― great people to reach out to if you’re serious about a specific company.
Appen hires for all kinds of remote positions, including work-from-home jobs, flexible work in translation, transcription, and linguistics, microtasks, and more.
If you still have any skepticism about working remotely, remote companies usually produce tons of content around remote work. For example, Trello posts on their blog weekly and Appen regularly shares insights into remote work culture by just following remote company blogs and social media.
Half the battle to landing a remote job is knowing where to look, and knowing the community of remote companies, but that’s still not going to land you a job. Remote companies are very careful about who they hire, and they’re looking for some pretty specific attributes.
4. Know What Remote Employers Are Looking For
The majority of remote employers are looking for two main things: (1) trustworthy people and (2) those that actually love their work.
If you are getting a remote job just because you hate your work, and you’re hoping that working from home will help… unfortunately, it won’t. Working from home might even make it worse. Working from home offers myriad wonderful distractions. Your TV might be calling your name at lunch, and your dog might be calling your name all day. If you’re not motivated to work, you likely won’t work if no one is looking over your shoulder.
Remote work is reserved for people that love, or at least really like what they are doing. Sounds harsh, but your motivators need to be in the right place. If you show your remote interviewer how much you actually care about your work, I promise, it will resonate with them.
5. Crafting a Resume for a Remote Job Application
Self-starter experience goes a long way in an interview. But to land an interview, your resume needs to be tailored to remote companies. Here are a few things to put on your resume that’ll make it stand out to remote employers.
Talk about tools: Remote companies use software to bridge the communication gap. List any tools you’re familiar with using, and if you’re looking for a software engineering job, be sure to highlight which languages are your areas of strengths. Some tools might include: Slack, Salesforce, Basecamp, Trello, Harvest, GoToMeeting, Google Hangouts, Skype, Zoom, Zapier, and many more.
Communication: Communication starts with your resume. Remote companies fail because of bad communication, thus they look to hire amazing communicators. Your resume should talk about your communication skills, and typos should be non-existent. Your email communication with hiring managers and recruiters should be great too.
Innovation or portfolio: If you have done something to innovate at work, put that on your resume. If you have a portfolio, share that too.
Side projects: depending upon how you breach this subject, side businesses can start some controversy. You might not want to put those projects front and center on your resume unless it adds to your case, but you’ll want to talk about them in an interview. Working on a project autonomously shows that you take initiative. I say tread lightly because some employers, remote or not, might think that your side project is going to take time away from your day job.
Location: This may seem obvious, but if a remote job is location specific, make sure to mention your proximity to that location. For example, some sales jobs might have an NYC territory. If you live in NYC, make sure that you mention it in your correspondence with the company.
Results: If you have any hard numbers associated with your job, put those on the resume too. For example, if you have the marketing skills and you doubled traffic in X period of time, due to X reasons – that’s good resume information.
Autonomy: Can’t hurt to talk about any time you were a “self-starter” or worked on deliverables without much supervision. Any time you worked with low or no supervision is valuable. Your ability to work autonomously is big, but you don’t need to have direct remote experience to work remotely.
Working remotely is much more results focused than hours-worked focused. Some remote positions will require 9:00-5:00 work hours, but others won’t at all. Some remote companies won’t monitor your hours worked, but they’ll be monitoring your deliverables.
If you love your work, you’re a genuine person, and you tailor your resume to remote companies. You’re on the right track to landing a remote job.
6. Bringing it All Home (No Pun Intended)
One last tip before you hit the remote job boards: pick up a copy of Remote by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson (founders of Basecamp). I promise that no one from Basecamp forced me to talk about their business book (nor did they pay me off), I just found the book to provide great insights into working remotely.
For remote job seekers, the book outlines how a good remote company is managed and provides you with an outline of what to look for in a remote employer.
With your reading list in hand, here’s a recap of your action items for getting a remote job:
- Determine if remote is right for you personally.
- Weigh the pros and cons, and know your own motivators.
- Know the right sites for remote job hunting.
- Know the worst sites for remote job hunting.
- Get familiar with the remote community.
- Be trustworthy, be autonomous, and love your work.
- Tailor your resume for remote job applications.
- Take your job search into your own hands.
When you do finally get a remote job, it might seem weird at first… working for a company with no HQ, or a company with an HQ thousands of miles away. Give it a few weeks and you’ll feel right at home (literally).
Good luck getting those remote job applications out there. Remote work has been so rewarding for me personally, it fits with my working style, and I couldn’t be happier writing this post from my back deck on a sunny day.
Thank you for contributing to the Life at Appen Blog, John!
If you’re looking for part-time, flexible, or work-from-home jobs, Appen is hiring.