You’re ready. You’re good at time management, you’re highly skilled, and you’re ready to handle the demands of a remote position.
The only problem? You won’t get hired unless you convince someone else that you’re perfect for the position.
Landing work on a remote basis can be a tremendous boon to your work-life balance. If you’re after more flexibility in your career, however, you need to convince someone else that you can take that leeway and run with it. Here’s how.
Think About What You Can Do for Them
Perhaps the top mistake job applicants make when uploading cover letters and writing resumes is that they write a personal bio. And that’s important. But if you want hiring managers to notice you, you’ll have to pay more attention to what you bring the table.
After all, a full-time remote position can be a major investment for companies. They have to pay you a king’s sum combination salary plus benefits. This represents an investment in your labor — an investment that needs to yield dividends.
If your CV doesn’t highlight what those dividends might be, then you’re not going to excite a hiring manager, let alone negotiate a remote position. The first step is taking the time to research a company and show them you’ll bring more to the table than just your bio.
Every hire is essentially a transaction: your labor for their wages. And no one owes you wages if the labor doesn’t give them what they’re looking for. Think of applying for a remote position like selling someone how effective that labor can be — for them.
Treat Getting Hired Like Its Own Job
Zapier put out an interesting chart that showed just how many applicants they get for their remote jobs…and the numbers are nothing less than eye-opening.
You’re reading that right: for every 100 applications to their jobs, Zapier will only interview two and hire less than one.
That’s the kind of competition you’re facing if you’re applying to a company that’s remotely popular.
If you want to swing the odds back in your favor, you have to realize that sending off one resume and hoping for the ideal remote working situation is a bit of a fantasy. Instead, it’s better to treat getting hired as its own job for a while — and if you’re already working somewhere else, its own part-time job.
Tweaking your resume, updating your CV, sending out applications that are customized to the company you’re sending to — this takes real work. The good news is that the more you do this, the more you swing the odds in your favor. The old proverb “the harder I work, the ‘luckier’ I get” applies here.
The bottom line? You can’t expect a great opportunity for a remote job to come out of the woodwork and pluck you out of the job-seeker lines. It’s up to you to get noticed. And since competition is stiff, your best bet to get noticed is simple: outwork everyone else.
Prepare a Dazzling Cover Letter and Bio
In just about every job application online, you’ll be expected to include a cover letter in some form. Even if this is just a short 150-word intro that you submit in an online form, it still represents an opportunity to stand out from the crowd. Take advantage.
Start by writing down a list of your greatest work accomplishments. The more relevant these accomplishments are to your chosen field, the better. No one needs to know that you were voted “Most Likely to Succeed” in school, but they do need to know if you’ve had any success as part of a remote team before.
One key here is to avoid getting too fanciful in the way you put together your cover letter. Keep your sentences short and clear while making the case for yourself as part of their remote team. Overt stylistic choices can be risky and might even put off a few hiring managers who are looking for something a little more no-nonsense.
If you need help getting started, read a few samples from Resume Genius. You don’t want to take these samples word-for-word — after all, you don’t want to be like every other cover letter that comes their way. But reading these will get you used to the basic confidence and feel of an effective cover letter that grabs the attention of hiring managers.
One of the most important elements of working remotely is being tech savvy. The better you are at using a computer and the software that makes remote work possible, the better a chance you’ll have at landing a job. Unfortunately, you can’t do today’s remote work by mail.
Communication skills are essential, and you’ll want to demonstrate that you have them at some point in your resume. List any classes or education you have in the area, and don’t forget to mention your technical proficiencies as well. These will help hiring managers sort out candidates based on how prepared they are for a remote work contract.
If you’re unsure about which skills you’ll need as a remote worker, try brushing up on some basics in the following areas:
- Video conferencing. Face-to-face meetings are often the lifeblood of extensive remote projects.
- Office. Whether it’s Microsoft Word, Excel, or PowerPoint, there’s a good chance you’re going to need to know at least one of those three in your work. It’s better to know them sooner rather than later.
- Relevant skills. If you’re doing writing, transcribing, or editing, then your verified typing speed is an important inclusion. But it won’t be as important if you work in graphic design, where software suites like Adobe’s offerings are more important.
Use Several Resumes
Most people talk about their “resume” in the singular. They have a resume; they don’t have resumes. But if you want to tailor your job application to specific types of jobs, you’re going to want to craft multiple resumes that highlight different aspects of your work.
That isn’t to say that you need to make up different stories about yourself depending on the job you’re pursuing. It simply means that if a job has a special sort of emphasis — such as communications skills — then you’re going to need to highlight the truth in experience that is already there. Hiring managers can’t do this for you.
The important thing here is not to misrepresent yourself. You’ll want to fashion specific resumes for specific types of remote work, yes, but keep in mind that a resume is a small sampling of your work experience. Choosing what to include on a resume is one of the most important decisions you can make as you seek this remote work. Simply re-arrange the information for specific types of work to suit each hiring manager’s needs.
“Networking” doesn’t mean what it used to. So much of the world is online that your professional network doesn’t have to include only those local professionals that you met at a conference. A professional network in this day and age can include hiring managers and project managers from across the country — indeed, across the world.
But how do you “network” specifically so that you’re noticed by the right people?
- Simply put, you need to cast a wide net. Just as someone fishing has to wait through many attempts to find the right “match,” so to speak, you won’t hit it off with everyone, either. Keep sending out your resume and forging new contacts.
- You should have a proactive, professional attitude as often as possible. Hiring managers tend to keep people like that in mind — the ones who seem like they’re hungry for work rather than constantly busy.
- Attention to detail. In a recent article in the Chicago Tribune, it was revealed that the general manager of the Chicago Bears often tests potential draft choices by asking them to handle restaurant reservations for their meetings. To maintain secrecy, North Carolina quarterback Mitch Trubisky chose the alias “James McMahon” — a sly reference to former Bears quarterback Jim McMahon. It was a minor but memorable detail, and the Bears did end up selecting Trubisky.
The art of networking means leaving no stones unturned. With consistency and the right attitude, you never know who you might impress.
Finally, the most important person to sell on your ability as a remote worker? Yourself.
After all, you will be the one charged with sticking to deadlines without the pressures of an office. You will be the one expected to handle your own scheduling and strike a good work-life balance. If you don’t show any confidence that you can handle all of that, why should a hiring manager have that confidence for you?
They won’t. That’s why it’s so important for you to believe that you’re up to the challenge first.