The potential of technology to perform vital tasks is growing at such a tremendous rate that many of us can handle our finances without ever visiting a bank, get to know a new romantic partner before ever being in the same room with them, and yes, have a fulfilling career almost entirely online.
If you like the idea of working from home, or at least outside of a traditional office setting, the good news is that there have never been more opportunities to do this. It goes far beyond the envelope-stuffing, jewelry-making scams of the past to incorporate legit jobs in industries as diverse as finance and medicine.
So you should definitely go for it! Just be aware that landing a great remote job is a little bit different than seeking traditional employment. Following are some tips to get you started strong.
Remote work is not for everyone. There are specific characteristics that make a person successful in this arena, and they don’t have anything to do with industry knowledge and expertise. Good remote workers excel at time management and can maintain a healthy work/life balance even as they live just steps away from the office at all times.
Excellent remote workers are also tech savvy and can understand new digital platforms quickly and intuitively. They may be called upon to serve as their own IT person and troubleshoot technology or machine failures that impact the work.
It also helps to be an extroverted person because contacting clients and building relationships is a bit more challenging online than in person. However, remote work can also tax extroverts who thrive on human contact, since they will often be working alone.
If you’ve thought about yourself as a person and feel that remote work is ideal for you, that’s great. But if not, remember that it doesn’t mean you won’t be a tremendous asset in an office setting.
Boost Your Skills
Some remote jobs are low-skilled and willing to train people starting from scratch. But for the purpose of this article, we assume that you are an educated professional looking to take advantage of new ways of working in your industry. Nurses and doctors, financial and market analysts, teachers, and even operations managers are all carving out new niches using their existing skills.
But since remote work is a bit of a different animal, it can really help to take some continuing education courses that fill in any gaps you have. For example, it’s important to be familiar with the digital platforms used for work in your industry.
It can also help to take on a few relevant freelance jobs in order to demonstrate success in this type of work on your resume.
Build Your New Resume
A modern resume is almost always submitted digitally (though it is still the convention to take a few paper copies along with you to an interview). As you brush up your documents to include new, relevant skills and experience, be sure to include keywords that appear in the job posting. Both computer-based and human screeners will be looking for them.
It doesn’t hurt to have multi-media components in your application materials, including links to professional networking sites and things with your byline. But use links judiciously as most hiring managers won’t spend much time exploring them upon the first review. LinkedIn is the most important to include, and if you do it as a short URL, it will remain intact and usable even if the resume is printed.
Look in The Right Place
Not all companies are hiring remote workers, and not all remote work ads are legitimate. To avoid getting lost in the woods (or words, so to speak), it’s important to job search in the right place. Websites like FlexJobs collect listings from all over the web that involve flexible schedules or work from home positions. Even better, the listings are vetted before they are shared, so the odds of stumbling into a scam are lower.
We also cannot overestimate the importance of networking, as who you know makes a big difference in the opportunities that may be revealed. Take time to explore all the major players in your industry and even the minor ones – the closer you look the more likely you are to find the opportunity that fits.
It can be challenging to find a great remote job, especially if haven’t had one before. However, the field is expanding quickly, so it is definitely worthwhile to look! One word of caution: if you are to be an actual employee rather than a contractor, it’s advisable to speak to your employer face-to-face before signing the contract! This can be done over video chat. Do it because even if you work remotely, you want to be sure there is a legitimate home base for the company.