Remote jobs are becoming a more and more common type of employment, especially in certain fields.
For many people, they can offer the best of both worlds, between having a regular, on-site job and freelancing.
For many others, it can be a great step forward, easing the transition between their current jobs and actual freelancing. In fact, that’s how I started freelancing myself.
Today we’re going to look into how to actually get a remote job because often this isn’t an easy task.
The Competition Is Huge
Landing a remote job may seem no different from getting a regular, on-site job. However, those who have already tried finding one know the struggle.
The main reason is that you are going to face way more competition than you do when searching for an on-site job. That’s because of two reasons.
Firstly, although companies are increasingly (more in some fields than in others) allowing remote working, on-site work is still going to remain the most common type of employment for years to come.
Secondly – and more importantly – instead of competing only with local candidates, you are now competing against candidates from all over the world.
That makes a seemingly easy task a notably harder one. It requires way more dedication and creativity than just sending CV’s to a couple of companies in your area, and means you need to demonstrate your qualities as a candidate much more impressively.
Before even thinking about transitioning to the remote-working lifestyle, you need to have solid skills in the field you’re going to work in.
There are a number of fields to choose from and they are very similar to the professional options available for actual online freelancing. However, the first prerequisite is that you have enough relevant experience.
Not only is it quite unrealistic to hope for a remote job without enough skills in the first place given the increased competition and scarcity of job offers, but even if you do get one, remote working is not the ideal way to get the skills as a beginner in the field.
That’s why, if you don’t have skills that would be relevant to something you can do from home, you need to get them first – the best way, in my opinion, being getting a temporary on-site job in the field.
Provided you do have the skills, the next step is obviously finding potential employers that allow remote working. There are several ways to do that:
Search the Remote Job Advertisements
There are a lot of publicly accessible websites targetted to remote job advertisements out there and you can usually find an abundance of ads there.
The main problem with these ads is that when a company publishes a job ad specifically saying that remote working is allowed and/or publishes it on one of these remote job portals, they are typically going to get a lot of replies within only a couple of days, significantly decreasing your chances of even getting a reply.
On the other hand, it is the easiest way to find prospects. If you have particularly impressive skills and experience, or are willing to apply to many companies before landing the job, this may be the way to go.
Use Premium Services
Alternatively, you can use a website that only premium members have access to.
One of them is Flexjobs and getting a premium membership is easy, as the only condition is that you pay for it. However, most people aren’t serious enough to do that, and therefore the competition you face is way lower, which is especially true since most of their listings seem to be exclusive.
Another example is Toptal, which only offers jobs in certain industries (computer programming, website design, product management and finances) and the exclusive access is conditioned by passing their extensive screening process which only a small fraction of people are able to pass, so I definitely recommend giving it a shot if you’re in one of these industries.
I’ve had way greater response rate with both of these portals compared to the publicly accessible lists.
Contact Companies Known for Allowing Remote Working
Another way to find relevant employers is to search the internet for companies in your field that are known for allowing remote working, then applying for a job even if they are not actively looking for new employees.
If you contact these companies in a way that makes you stand out, they may schedule an interview with you right away, but usually you need to think of this way as planting seeds.
Even though you won’t get an interview with most companies you contact, these companies usually keep a list of potential candidates and may (and some of them will) get back to you a few weeks or months later.
Build Your Own Secret List of Companies That Allow Remote Work
Most remote job listing websites have an e-mail watcher that you can set, usually also allowing you to set specific job criteria and by enabling this, they can send new remote job offers to your inbox every couple of days.
You can (and should), of course, also try and contact the employers right away.
However, another thing to do – especially if you are not ready to accept a new job offer immediately – is to store these e-mails in your inbox and that way slowly build your own list of companies that at some point were looking for a remote employee (and, therefore, probably still allow remote working) and you can contact them again later.
That way, your message will not be lost in the heap of e-mails they get at the time their job advertisement is published and it will probably get a lot more attention.
Go Where Your Potential Employers or Collegues Are
The methods I have recommended so far can be effective if used right. They are straightforward and make sense – and in this case, that is paradoxicaly the problem with them.
They are no-brainers and pretty much everybody who is looking for a remote job already engages in them, leaving you competing against hundreds of candidates, which is not an easy task unless you are exceptionally good and experienced in both what you do and how you present yourself and negotiate.
It may therefore be more effective to go to places (online or offline), where your potential employers (or collegues) are.
One of the best places to get several highly relevant remote job offers directly to your inbox came to my mind when I was helping my friend get one.
I work in a coworking space, so I just gave it a shot and sent a short message to their instant messaging channel, saying that my friend just resigned from a job and is looking for new challenges, including a summary of his skills.
To my surprise, within an hour, I had 4 remote job offers, all relevant to him and his skills.
What originally started just as a shot in the dark actually makes perfect sense if you think about it.
Who works in coworking spaces? Besides freelancers, there are people who already have a remote job. Lots of people who do. And the companies they work for may be looking for new team members, actively or passively – and you will be the one to grab all the hidden opportunities if you take the time to get your message across in communities like that!
Turn the Tables
Another method has worked wonders for another friend of mine, who has introduced me to it.
Instead of searching for remote job advertisements and applying, he created a simple website presentation of himself, his experience and what he was looking for, had it shared on social media by people from his field and was soon contacted by dozens of companies offering him a remote job.
Get Even More Creative
As I have pointed out earlier in this article, it is important to realize that if you do exactly the same thing that everybody else does when searching for a remote job, the odds of actually getting one are against you because the amount of people you are competing against is huge.
I tried to give you a couple of examples of thinking out of the box above already that actually worked pretty well for me, but if you are struggling to get positive replies (despite having enough relevant skills and experience, and demonstrating them well in your communication), you need to start thinking out of the box and do things a little differently to the others.
Ask yourself: “What are another 5-10 ways to find potential remote employers?” and come up with your own, unique ways that nobody but you utilizes!
Negotiate with Your Current Employer
You may not be that far from working remotely already. I know that other people have successfully managed to negotiate this with their current employer or even in an interview for a position originally intended to be an on-site job – that may also be an option!
Efficiently Contacting the Prospects
When you have found your source of prospects, it is now time to start contacting them.
Again, because you have a lot more competition, it is advisable to think things through and do this step a lot more diligently than if you were looking for a regular job.
Keep the List of Prospects with Notes
Since every company you contact is your potential dream job now, you need to start thinking of yourself as a salesperson for a while and never miss a great job opportunity by not being diligent enough.
For quite a few reasons, it is important to keep a list of prospects with notes, including when you first contacted the company, when you contacted it last, and any other relevant information about the communication and progress made.
Before even contacting a company, it is advisable to do some research about it.
I, for example, like to look up each company on Glassdoor, which is a website that collects anonymous reviews and even salary information about businesses.
If, for example, I find that the typical salary paid for the position in the company doesn’t meet my needs, or there’s some other deal-breaker, I usually don’t even waste my time on that one.
On the other hand, if the typical salary exceeds my expectations, for example, I take a note of it and ask for that level of salary in the interview so that I don’t sell myself short!
Understand What the Company Is Looking for in a Candidate
It should be fairly easy to tell from the job ad what the company is looking for (often explicitly listed in there).
In addition, you need to understand that a company looking to hire a remote employee will almost certainly be looking for some additional qualities like self-directedness and trustworthiness.
In order to succeed, you will need to demonstrate these skills and traits, both in the first communication and during the interview.
Contact the Companies
The mistake many people do here is that they take the list of prospective employers and contact them with a unified message.
This works for many when looking for a regular job, but again, remember – you are competing against a lot more candidates now, so it is important to stand out as much as possible.
It is, therefore, important to adjust the message, pointing out those qualities that the company is looking for that you actually possess.
You don’t need to write a completely different e-mail for each, but at least build a template with blanks so you can adapt it for each company.
I also recommend ending the e-mail with times when you’re available for an online interview (and don’t forget to attach your CV, of course).
That said, when competing against crowds of other applicants, it helps to get creative with your applications (though not in a cheesy way, obviously) and make sure your e-mail gets read and that you stand out!
Follow-Up on Those Who Don’t Reply
This is another great way to stand out and increase your chances. With the amount of applications that the company is probably getting, your message can easily be simply forgotten, overlooked or lost.
I am not the type of person who, if not replied to, likes to write another message. In fact, I hate being that person. However, in this case, it has paid off several times for me.
My advice, therefore, is don’t be shy and be persistent, even later in the process, for example, when you don’t get a reply after the interview. Make sure to find the sweet spot though – don’t settle for no reply, but don’t be annoying either!
Keep Planting Seeds
As I mentioned before, searching for a remote job may or may not bring immediate results, depending on your field, level of skills and experience, and communication ability.
If it does not prove fruitful straightaway, think of it as planting seeds – it actually is. To this day, I get contacted by companies that I applied to months ago, despite not receiving any replies at first.
Don’t give up. It’s well worth it in the end!
What are your unique ways to search for a remote job? Discuss in the comments section below!