You need to specifically target your job application if you want to work remotely. Here's how.
If you’re looking for a remote job to escape the dangers and drudgery of office life, you’re not alone. Competition is fierce right now. LinkedIn reported that the number of remote job listings has nearly tripled since March.
But landing a remote job requires more than simply telling friends and recruiters you want a post in which you can work from anywhere.
In job application materials, the focus should not be your personal journey, but on how your past virtual experiences and skills make you the best fit for this job.
“You must craft your résumé taking into consideration what the company needs and expects from you to succeed in the role,” said remote career consultant Fabrizia Zanca.
Here’s how to do it when you’re trying to go remote.
Your résumé needs to display specific language about working remotely.
Showcase any and all remote experience. You likely have more of this experience than you think.
“If you’ve worked at a distance from your coworkers, across time zones or physical distances, that counts. If you’ve worked from home occasionally or regularly, that counts,” said Brie Weiler Reynolds, a career development manager and coach at FlexJobs and Remote.co. “If you earned a degree or certification online, that counts. If you volunteered on a project where you did most of the work from your home office, that counts.“
You can include this in descriptions of your past jobs with a statement like, “Led a team of five customer service reps in a completely remote work environment, and successfully earned an average team satisfaction rating of 94%,” she said.
Clearly denote which past titles were remote with language like, “Director of Marketing (100% Remote Work),” Reynolds said.
Make sure your virtual tech skills are prominently displayed. Recruiters scan résumés quickly. If you know the company you are applying for is using a platform like Asana or Slack, you want to make it immediately clear that you know how to use it well.
List your expertise with remote tools at the top of the first page of your résumé or in a place where it is clearly displayed, said Zanca.
Don’t have virtual experience? There are ways to gain it. If you don’t have any experience with working apart from others and are making a radical career switch, don’t despair. Remote job coach Jordan Carroll, said you should first identify which skills you are missing for the roles you want by working with people who already work remotely.
“Make a list of the people in your network who are already in that role in some way. They may work virtually, or remotely, or they have a job they mostly do from the computer. They may be a business owner that has a company that hires people virtually,” Carroll said. Asking them to work with you may require you to do work for free, but by taking on some tasks in exchange for mentorship, you’re not only getting experience for your résumé, you’re getting real-world practice for the job you want.
Your cover letter should support why you’re a great remote worker.
The cover letter is not about you. It’s about how you can support the company. Remote job experts emphasized that your cover letter should support why you make a good remote worker, not why you personally want to work from home.
“The reason is not that you want to travel the world or be able to pick up your kids from school,” Zanca said.
Instead, the cover letter should present a business case. Zanca said you can make this case by describing how much your performance has advanced during whatever time during the pandemic you worked from home.
Keep in mind that hiring managers who scan your job application are looking for key remote skills. Job search coach Ashley Watkins said that when she was a recruiter for remote jobs, she focused interviews around determining whether candidates had the following skills: flexibility, such as responding to the unknown with little guidance and taking initiative; adaptability, such as managing shifting priorities, relationship-building and the ability to gain trust and buy-in from customers or leadership; the ability to prioritize multiple projects and the ability to close the loop on pending decisions.
“Providing clear examples of how you’ve been successful in each of these areas supports your request for a remote role,” said Watkins, adding that this approach works for both cover letters and résumés.
On LinkedIn, don’t just state you’re looking for remote work.
Make your profile headline a targeted pitch. “A LinkedIn profile is not about you. It’s about the people that are going to land on the profile,” Carroll said.
In the headline, “A lot of people write, ‘Seeking remote job opportunities.’ That is about the worst thing you can put there,” Carroll said, “because you’re only focused on yourself. You’ve wasted a chance to put any searchable keywords there. If a recruiter or a hiring manager were doing a search from the recruiting version of LinkedIn, they’re not searching, ‘Seeking [remote] opportunities’ in their search, they’re seeking the role title or the industry title.”
To improve your headline, Carroll said you should look for roles for which you would be a good fit, then use a site like Wordclouds to show you which keywords are used most in job descriptions for those roles. Use what you find to make your headline statement specific.
“The job seeker focus is, ‘How do I find those companies and connect with the people in the companies that are already championing remote work, and how do I display myself and articulate my value as a good fit for that role, remote or not,’” Carroll said.
Filling up the “About” section matters, too. Watkins said leaving the “About” section of your LinkedIn profile blank or just making it a sentence long is a common mistake she sees remote job seekers make.
“Even though the section of that profile is not searchable if you have enough keywords that fit the job posting that sends them to your profile, that ‘About’ section is a bonus because it lets them know about you the person,” Watkins said. “That’s where you make your connection to draw them in, to grab their attention, and entice them to reach out to you.”