Q: I’m applying for a lot of remote jobs, but never hear anything back. What can I do to set myself apart and impress the recruiters?
A: Remote job posts get a HUGE quantity of applicants (thousands!), so it can feel really overwhelming to get a job from a remote job board. However, here’s a dirty little secret: over 70% of remote work applications are filtered out before they are even reviewed by the hirer. This may sound like a discouraging statistic, but think of it this way: if you know how to get into the top 30%, your acceptance rate for remote roles could be even higher than on-site jobs!
Here are the tips and strategies that will help your application rise to the top.
1. (Most important!) Be qualified for the role.
Many, many applicants are only applying for the job because it’s remote. They don’t care about what the job is. Remember that the employer cares much more about your performance than your location. Any candidates that are applying so they can “travel the world” or “wake up without an alarm” are sure to get nixed. If you can prove that you care about the job, you have relevant work experience and feel passionate about the mission of the company, you’re sure to be a rare candidate.
2. Pay attention to the details.
The majority of applicants are applying to remote roles in bulk. Which means that they are thoughtlessly copying and pasting their cover letter, skimming the job description on the hiring post, and auto-filling as many applications in an hour as they can. Employers want to avoid these candidates because they might demonstrate the same lack of care in the workplace as they did when applying. For this reason, many applications will contain hidden words, phrases, or instructions that if the applicant doesn’t acknowledge, they’re automatically disqualified. No exceptions. Prove that you are invested in the job by taking the time to read and follow ALL instructions, customizing your cover letter, and clearly communicating why you’re interested in this particular role.
3. Prove that you know what it takes to work remotely.
Working from home requires a modern and unique skillset. It’s hard for employers to train you for your new job and for how to work remotely at the same time. Show that you already know what it takes by acknowledging your strengths in remote worker skills, a proficiency in distributed team tools, your ability to self-manage, a working knowledge of time zone collaboration, and how you uniquely prevent the three remote work killers.
4. Don’t underestimate your employer.
Just because the workforce of a distributed company wears sweatpants to work doesn’t mean that the company is casual, lazy, or irreputable. Virtual business are just as viable as co-located competitors, so if you wouldn’t walk into an interview in an office wearing a t-shirt and shorts, don’t log onto a video call with a potential employer with any less desire to impress. Communicate respect, professionalism, and humility to your potential employers by properly preparing for your virtual interviews and wisely answering their questions about remote work.
5. Look close to home.
You may already have impressed your future remote boss without even knowing it. Many employers are willing to convert an on-site role to remote if the employee is worth keeping and if the role’s responsibilities are primarily computer-based. If you like your current company (and they like you), don’t be afraid to talk to your supervisor or your HR department about the possibility of going remote. Ease the transition, by just starting with a day or two per week. Who knows, you might be the reason that your whole company decides to go distributed!
No matter what kind of job you’re looking for, never forget or underestimate the value of empathy. If you were in the position of the hiring company and/or the HR manager, what would impress you? Pay attention to your answers, then make a special effort to showcase those skills during the hiring process. Doing so will connect you with a remote job in no time!