Remote jobs are more popular than ever, and I completely get why.
As remote workers, we have a better work-life balance, are more productive, and enjoy our work more, among many other benefits of remote work.
And that’s not me saying that work-from-home is superior. That’s Stanford remote work research and other renowned institutions talking!
So, how to get a remote job? I did the research and found that it only takes five key steps:
1. Prepare Yourself to Get a Remote Job
As Benjamin Franklin famously said, "By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail." Here’s what you need to do before applying.
A: Understand What A Remote Job Is (And What Isn’t)
Remote work comes with its lexicon, essential for navigating job listings and avoiding accidentally applying for an in-office role.
Terms like "work from home,” “remote-first,” “distributed work," "virtual job," and others are commonly used.
Each term has its nuances – and it's key to understand this. I’ve seen too many people get hoodwinked into thinking they applied for a remote job only to find out it’s a role with in-office days:
- Remote or Fully Remote Job: This should mean the role is fully remote, meaning ZERO office days. However, it always helps to double-check!
- Distributed Role: Implies that the entire team or company operates remotely, with or without an office, and is available when you want or need them.
- Work from Anywhere: Similar to Distributed Roles, if the company you’re applying to says they have a Work from Anywhere Policy, it should theoretically mean you can work fully remotely. But double-checking remains a must.
- Virtual Job or Online Job: Work done entirely online or in a virtual office setting.
- Work from Home: Working from home is occasionally used interchangeably with remote work.
Especially be aware of a term like hybrid remote, which SOUNDS remote but virtually always means hybrid. This model combines working from home and working in the office.
Recognizing these terms can help tailor your job search effectively, especially as certain industries may favor specific terminology.
B: Assess Your Suitability for Remote Work
This may sound odd – because you’re here to find a remote job.
Well, let me share how suitability is a real concern after browsing hundreds of Reddit and Quora threads.
For many people, the benefits of remote work are so attractive that they forget to assess whether they fit this kind of role.
But in these threads, you can read story after story about how people thought remote work was a dream, only for it to turn into a nightmare.
Not everyone thrives in a remote work environment. Reconsider applying for a remote role if you:
- Need Structure: Exceptions aside, if you thrive in a structured environment, many remote companies may not be the best place for you. Especially all-remote companies in the tech sector may rely heavily on your ability to structure your days and work.
- Love Separating Work and Life: Some people are great at creating boundaries between work and life, even when working from home. But many others feel work takes over when your living room is your office. An absence of physical separation between work and personal life can lead to difficulty maintaining a work-life balance.
- Communicate Best Face to Face: Remote work relies heavily on digital communication, which can lead to misunderstandings for those who prefer face-to-face interactions. Not everyone is a top-tier Slack-er.
- Lack Self-Motivation and Discipline: If you’ve worked in an office before, you know that the physical presence of colleagues and bosses can be a good reason to get going. Remote work demands a high level of self-motivation and discipline. Some may struggle to stay focused and productive without the immediate presence of supervisors or peers.
- Don’t Have the Right Technology: While many companies will provide you with a laptop and other home office needs, some things still depend on your tech. Not having a strong internet connection will make it difficult and frustrating to participate equally in online team meetings, for example, or upload and share your work in real-time.
- Love To Drink Coffee With Others: Do I have to say it? Tread carefully, extroverts!
Of course, there are exceptions for each, but reflect honestly on whether this work style aligns with your personality and work habits.
Consider the benefits, such as no commute and flexible scheduling, against potential drawbacks like feelings of work-from-home loneliness or the challenge of separating work from personal life.
2. Find a Remote Job Opportunity
So now you know that only “Fully Remote” means zero office days, and you’ve checked off all the boxes on the perfect remote work candidate’ checklist.
Then, it’s time to move to step two: finding remote job opportunities. Here’s how to go about it.
A: Finding the Right Remote Work Job Platforms
Every job board says they have work-from-home and remote jobs. But to ensure quality remote jobs, you’ll want to be selective on which job board to trust.
Niche job search platforms like FlexJobs and We Work Remotely specialize in remote and flexible job opportunities.
These platforms often vet listings for legitimacy, offering a safer job-hunting experience. They police much more strictly about fake remote jobs, like the ones using vague language to cover the fact that they are actually hybrid roles.
To get a remote job without getting catfished, take a look at:
The job board allows you to filter for job type (full-time, part-time, contractor, or internship), location, or even timezone. Yes, these guys get it!
The great thing about Remote is that they often list the salary and already work with the best remote companies in the world.
Go to Remote.com/jobs.
FlexJobs has been around since 2007 – before most people knew remote work was possible.
FlexJobs is a membership-type site where you can browse unlimited work-from-home jobs for a certain fee per month.
In exchange, FlexJobs invests a lot into vetting every job placed on the platform and weeding out fake remote jobs.
You can try out the FlexJobs membership with a $2.95 14-day trial. (At the moment of updating this article in February 2024.)
We Work Remotely has been the number one destination for finding remote jobs for over a decade and is home to the largest remote work community.
What makes We Work Remotely unique, besides the fact that the site looks cool and that the team behind it has obvious remote street cred, is that you can select a role and get job listings sent to you daily. You can sign up for a free Job Seeker account to have a curated list of remote jobs that fit your profile.
We Work Remotely also lets you browse with advanced search terms and look at trending work-from-home roles.
And the best thing is that We Work Remotely is completely free to use! (The employer pays for the listing.)
Besides these platforms, company career pages can be a goldmine of information.
Especially remote-first companies like Basecamp, Atlassian, and Dropbox are worth checking out in this regard:
But even companies like Amazon often have work-from-home roles – you just have to be very careful to read the job details.
This helps ensure no risk of being called into the office if their remote work policy changes.
Bonus Tip: Choosing a Remote-Friendly Career Path.
People who’ve successfully found a remote role often recommend choosing a career path that naturally lends itself to remote work.
This could mean transitioning to data science, IT, or digital marketing.
These industries are more likely to provide remote work, which will mean a better chance at success than trying to land that fully remote barista role.
Be aware of scams
Once more, it’s important to distinguish legitimate opportunities from scams.
Read job descriptions thoroughly and understand the nature of the work and any location requirements.
Scams in the remote job market can take various forms, including bogus rebate processing or secret shopping gigs.
To avoid falling prey to scams, use reputable sources to check or post on Reddit for community support.
B: Craft a Winning Application
When applying for remote roles, it’s not just about showcasing your skills and experience like in a regular application; it’s also about demonstrating your remote work capabilities.
As I shared in the previous section, working remotely isn’t for everyone, and Human Resources teams at companies will want to make sure you are someone they can rely on in a remote setting.
If you have prior remote work experience, it’s crucial to highlight it. If not, focus on skills pertinent to remote work, such as:
- Proactive communication: How you’ve effectively communicated in past roles, especially in a virtual setting.
- Self-motivation and focus: Illustrate your ability to work independently and stay motivated.
- Tech proficiency: Familiarity with remote work tools and platforms.
Your resume and cover letter should reflect these qualities, showing potential employers that you’re not just fit for the role but also for the remote work environment. (And yes, you should use AI websites like ChatGPT or Copy.AI for this!)
If you have a portfolio or have led projects with minimal supervision, ensure these are prominently featured in your resume.
Bonus Tip: Making your resume and application look very remote-y is just the start.
To be successful, be consistent across everything your potential employers can see about you.
This means updating your LinkedIn and other social platforms and a personal website you may have with these remote attributes.
You can also use these sites to showcase remote projects you’ve done and courses you’ve taken.
3. Interview for the Remote Position
If you’ve done all the above, hopefully, you’ll find yourself doing interviews soon.
Here again, remote work is different from regular roles.
Interviews for remote positions often involve video calls. Prepare by ensuring a stable internet connection and a professional background.
As mentioned before, anticipate questions specific to remote work, like how you handle distractions, your home office setup, and your experience with remote work tools.
One way to ensure you’ll rock it is to practice answering these questions on camera to get comfortable with the format. It may sound obvious, but this helped me a lot.
Understand that remote employers typically seek candidates who are skilled, trustworthy, and passionate about their work.
Autonomy is highly valued in remote settings. During interviews, convey your passion for your work and ability to operate independently.
Bonus Tip: Practice Patience and Persistence.
Recognize that finding a good remote job can take time.
This is especially true if you're new to a field or don't have a strong professional network yet.
With patience and persistence, you will find that job, so don’t be discouraged if it doesn’t work out right away.
How To Get a Remote Job: a Practical Example
To create even more value for this article, I interviewed a remote worker to learn how they got their role (since, as a CEO, I could grant myself a work-from-home job.)
This is the story of Mai Nguyen, an HR-turned-marketing manager.
Mai, tell us a bit about yourself.
I am Danish with Vietnamese roots. I have a Master's degree in HR Management and a diploma in Digital Marketing.
Our family consciously relocated to Vietnam, aiming for our children to delve deeper into Vietnamese culture, language, and surroundings.
What was your remote job search like?
Before our relocation, I extensively applied for various HR positions in Ho Chi Minh City. Despite numerous applications, I encountered several rejections.
I managed to secure interviews with Shopee and LEGO; however, the primary obstacles revolved around salary expectations and my limited understanding of the Vietnamese labor market.
In my quest for a remote role, I realized the necessity to pivot and reimagine my professional profile.
Given the obstacles faced in securing HR positions, I explored opportunities in Digital Marketing.
Sometimes, the career path chooses the individual, and during this transitional phase, I engaged in an exploratory approach.
Scrolling through Instagram, I stumbled upon Your Travel Nation, a Netherlands-based travel agency managed exclusively by women. Intrigued by their profile, I reached out via direct message (DM), leading to my current position.
What was the most challenging aspect of getting a remote job?
The most challenging aspect of transitioning from application to securing a remote role was the necessity to think innovatively.
Remote job opportunities are often not conspicuously advertised on platforms like LinkedIn.
Additionally, managing the significant number of rejections and setbacks posed a formidable challenge.
Reflecting on this journey, I might have taken a more proactive stance earlier, exploring diverse avenues beyond my primary expertise.
Engaging with various social media platforms and networking opportunities could have expedited my path to securing a remote role within digital marketing.
Thanks so much, Mai, for sharing your story. It highlights that remote work has many benefits, but finding one isn’t as easy as it may seem.
The Bottom Line
Whether it’s Mai’s story or the practical tips outlined in this article, I hope it helps you find the remote job you want and deserve.
Life is too short to spend it full-time in an office.
Please contact me if you have anything to add to this article or would like to get in touch.