How to get a Remote Job
The last few weeks have been quite interesting. Apart from recovering from COVID, we've also decided to be helpful, and posted a free offer on LinkedIn for people who wanted to change jobs but weren't sure they knew how.
The offer was simple: For anyone being forced back in the office and on the fence about looking for another job, send me your CV. We'll confidentially review it, and give you feedback on it. We can even do a mock interview.
The feedback has been incredible. People we knew responded privately, people which aren't in our network but had been introduced through people in our networks also reached out. We still haven't caught up with all of them due to the slow pace of COVID recovery, but we're working on it.
Meanwhile, as I've reviewed CVs and started asking people what they want to do, I realised most people don't really know how to "interview" for a remote job, or simpler: "Why do you want to work from home"?
Remote Work Rationale
You want to work remotely, but you're not sure you're able to answer "why". First let's make sure you don't feel bad about just wanting to work remotely. You're not alone. In fact, about 98% of workers would like to work remotely now, and 1 in 3 plan on quitting their job if they don't offer some remote work opportunity.
More than 56% of the people interviewed in Owllabs State of Remote Work 2021 said they would quit or look for a new job that offered remote work flexibility.
If you feel like you don't deserve or feel bad for wanting to control your life a little more, and work from home, please don't. In fact you are part of the majority.
How to Find a Remote Job
The first question that comes up is: "How can I find a remote job?" (or company which offers flexibility).
We're going to start with LinkedIn, as merely a few days ago they sent this communiqué:
LinkedIn has a helpful article which can guide you, step-by-step on how to find work-from-home jobs on linkedin.
When it comes to finding remote work we like to look in the slightly more grassroots movements. One of those movements we thought would be very useful to mention is the GrowRemote movement. Whilst currently mainly based in Ireland, it is expanding rapidly, and it fosters a really healthy community of people who have been working remotely, as well as companies offering deep flexibility.
You're not sure where else to look? What if we point you directly to of 50,000 positions offering remote jobs right now? Go ahead, look at it.
How to Prepare for Remote Work Interviews
Some people are naturally gifted at interviewing in person. Some people aren't, and that's totally ok. It is a strange power-dynamics at play when you sit in front of people and they just judge your career.
Remote work interviews are no different than normal interviews but there are things you should be prepared to answer, which will help you convey your ability to work remotely effectively.
Do you have Experience working Remotely?
This is a fairly common question, your answer has to be simple and concise. If you have worked from home make sure you explain how you started, what were the small challenges and how you overcame them to become "remote successful".
Secondly, if you haven't worked remotely (prior to the pandemic), then start thinking of times where you couldn't go to the office when your kids were sick, or when you were away at a conference and spent a few days catching up remotely. Most of us have done "some" work remotely to a certain extent and this experience can provide insights into your desire and ability to work remotely.
Why do you Like Working Remotely?
We are huge proponents of honesty at Clearword. Saying clear and simple that you prefer working from home to cut down on commute, or simply because you want to model your work around your life rather than your life around your work is also a valid statement. The goal however is to try an hone in on the point which are beneficial to you and the employer and phrasing your answers that way.
For instance, cutting down on commute allows you to take a walk every morning and evening. Explain to the employer that this benefits your health, which gives you more energy levels which means you are more productive when working. If public transport or traffic gives you anxiety, state it.
What's the Hardest part of Working Remotely?
This is tricky for some people as honesty goes a long way, but easily turns into oversharing. Everybody knows that working remotely comes with its own set of distractions. You don't need to mention the washing machine making too much noise being the hardest part of working remotely.
You will need to reflect and figure out what are the actual hard parts, and when you have those, figure out what are the steps to improve and make those hardest parts better.
For instance, you can say you find it hard sometimes to not overhear what your teammates are discussing, or you find it hard to have so many online meetings. On the other hand, that's why you make a conscious effort to setup boundaries and establish a healthy meeting cadence with the people you work with and try to use tools like Clearword to gain visibility across the teams you're part of.
How do you Stay Organized when Working Remotely?
This is a very exciting question as it gives you room for mutual growth. We've written about staying motivated and setting boundaries before. We've also described a few systems to manage distractions when working remotely.
Working closely with your team to set boundaries, establishing transparency and communication guidelines, as well as managing your time personally through a simple system are really big green flags for us when interviewing.
If you do have a system to manage your time, describe it briefly. If you use tools like Timeular, Trello, Asana, Superthread, Teamwork, etc. then mention them and briefly describe how you use them.
What is not Working for You?
These questions aren't meant to annoy you, but rather try and get you to think about what you can make better. Your goal when answering those "not...for you" questions is to show a personal level of self-awareness and self-criticism but potential for growth.
If you are aware that between 3pm and 5pm being at the computer doesn't work because the kids come back from school, that's ok, express how you are thinking about addressing this, and what are the steps you've taken thus far.
One thing we do like is also hearing "How would you approach this?" from the people we interview. It really shows someone looking for improvement and feedback.
How do you Communicate and Collaborate?
Collaboration and communication when working remotely are slightly different (in most case for the better), but we need to be aware of the differences. Transposing in-office meeting standards directly only doesn't work. You can't walk past a colleague and distract them to ask what you wanted to ask.
Instead we recommend you do a bit of home work about the value of asynchronous communication. We strongly recommend going over parts of the Gitlab Remote Communications Handbook. It is an INCREDIBLE SOURCE of preparation material for your next remote work or distributed work interview.
Updating your Resume for Remote Work
So you've found the jobs you want to apply for, you've been prepared for remote interview, and you know how to convey that information in an interview. Before you get that interview, you'll need to send your CV, and your CV/Resume will need to convey that information as well.
In the past we would have recommended mentioning remote work experience, nowadays, we recommend making it prominent if you apply for a job in a hybrid or remote company.
Include and Promote your Remote Experience
The resume summaries have always been a source of confusion for us. People writing they love travelling, they are hard working and dedicated to the team, looking to have a challenging position in a team that allows them to grow.
We recommend adapting the traditional resume to reflect a little bit more your remote work experience. In your summary, express your desire to work remotely as well as briefly describe your previous remote and distributed work experience.
Location? No more.
If you do a quick google search for "CV Template", you will notice the first item always has a "Company Position" and a location. If you've worked remotely or Hybrid, make sure to show that! If we hire remotely, we want people who've worked remotely and make an effort to express it.
Remote work is a Skill
Include remote work in your skills. Include a few of the tools you use that either shows you are at least industry-standard, but also include tools you think seperate you from there.
Keep in mind you are building a CV, a resume which will be read by people who are actively trying to discern between people who have and haven't worked remotely.
We are interviewers and the way we see things can be very different to the way you see your skills. Your job is to convey the knowledge, transferable skills, experience and techniques you have acquired rapidly through that CV (On top of ALL the other things you have to put in your CV).
Our perspective is simple, gender, race, age, style, religion, location, lifestyle, none of this matters. If we compare two resumes with the exact same skillset we are likely to be more attracted to someone who expresses either experience or enthusiasm and desire to work remotely.
Many companies are still learning how to work remotely and in a hybrid setting and are naturally attracted to self-starters and people with initiative. If you have any projects (even outside of work) where you showed initiative and ability to execute on a plan and communicate with others from a distance, do not forget to include it.