The number of people working remotely is at an all-time high, and that’s not just because telecommuting is pants-optional. By giving employees more control over their schedule and work environment, remote jobs can enhance the work-life balance that so many people struggle to maintain.
But if you’ve held in-house positions for most of your career, properly preparing for your remote job search can up your chances of impressing remote employers, nailing the interview, and landing a remote job that best fits your needs.
What Are Remote Employers Looking For?
Remote employers are looking for three things in particular.
The office may at times feel like a panopticonic prison, but there is something to be said for workplace accountability. Can you stay focused without a boss periodically checking in on you? Can you stay productive without the sight and sound of other co-workers clacking away on their computers? When you work from home, the Damocles of the deadline is blunted and the motivating effect of being in close proximity to your team members weakens.
Remote employers understand these challenges, which is why they look for candidates who can motivate themselves without external prompting. As trite as buzzwords like self-starter and proactive can be, they carry a significant amount of weight in the remote job search. Not only do you need to possess these qualities, you’ll need to be able demonstrate them to potential employers.
Working in an office allows employees to be more passive. Don’t know what’s going on? A co-worker can fill you in via a few seconds of conversation. Your boss is only a few steps away. Maybe there’s a whiteboard in the break room with announcements. Sharing a space with people just makes it much easier to stay in the loop.
But if you’re on your own, you need to take initiative. To compensate for the lack of face-to-face, a good remote worker will put effort into the virtual communication tools at their disposal. They’ll reach out to people through email or Slack. They’ll suggest video chats or calls to hash things out. Even swapping memes in a group chat can help you stay engaged. But if you give in to the temptation of solitude, communication could suffer, and so could your work.
When communicating primarily through text, it’s all too common for our imaginations to run wild with unfounded anxieties. Emailed your boss a question and they didn’t respond within whatever time frame you’ve arbitrarily decided was reasonable? They must think it’s a dumb question and you’re dumb for asking it. They must not deem you important enough to expediently respond to. They must be offended by something you wrote. Asked a co-worker to do something and they responded with “k”? They hate you. They’re telling everyone how much they hate you. Everyone hates you. You’re garbage!
Or … absolutely none of that is true and the coldness of non-verbal communication is messing with your head. Like any good employer, remote employers don’t want drama. They want rational critical thinkers who can vault the pitfalls of remote communication and maintain healthy work relationships. K?
How Do You Demonstrate These Skills On Your Resume?
Even if you have little to no remote work experience, there are ways to frame your in-house work experience so that it demonstrates remote work skills. What have you done that demonstrates independence? Communication? Rational thinking? Figure it out and integrate it into your resume.
For example, if you took the initiative on anything in a previous position, emphasize it. Say you independently devised and implemented project x or volunteered to plan, create, and maintain project y. Explain that you created and ran program z with little oversight.
Here are some other ideas to get you thinking:
How to Prepare for a Remote Job Search