Today’s job market is undergoing a dramatic evolution, a “perfect storm” resulting from a global pandemic that has upended the economic, social, and cultural guideposts in the United States and all over the world, as well as a wave of technological innovation that’s changing the way we engage and do business. Things are changing in the work world at breakneck speeds, and companies both large and small are trying to pivot accordingly in an effort to stay viable. Those that are able to stay agile and respond accordingly to external volatility will be best positioned to weather incoming storms and lead their industries into the future.
The same holds true for employees. Those who are able to weather incoming volatility, quickly adjust to new baseline concepts of “workplace normalcy,” and demonstrate value to current and future employers will be the ones to thrive—while the rest of the pack struggles to keep up.
One significant change to the work world that has accelerated during the pandemic is the concept of remote work. All types of businesses, from lean startups with just a handful of employees to global corporate juggernauts, have quickly shifted to a telecommuting strategy to stay productive—and many employers have discovered that employees who are well-positioned to shift to remote work can be just as effective or even more so while working at home.
So, what does this mean moving forward? Although each business will make decisions regarding how and when to deploy a remote working strategy that best works for them, chances are that opportunities to work remotely will remain and even increase even when the effects of the pandemic recede. Companies have come to realize that technology has finally reached the point that allows them to achieve optimal efficiency with a remote strategy. This is often a win-win for employers and employees alike: companies can reduce the infrastructure costs that go along with maintaining a centralized hub, while workers have new flexibility regarding how and where they handle their job responsibilities and can often save time and money traditionally spent on commuting and working from an office. The result? A compelling and attractive approach to work for everyone involved.
If you’ve reached the point in your career journey where a remote position seems attractive to you, then consider the following strategies for finding your next dream job.
Assess your situation
Jobs and employees are like snowflakes—no two are ever exactly alike. Your specific situation and needs can weigh heavily into how a remote working situation can fit into your life. Variables such as available space to dedicate to work as well as the technology and tools at your disposal can really impact how well you can perform a job from home, as well as what types of jobs and responsibilities you can feasibly take on.
Do you live alone, or do you have a partner, roommates, children, or other family members around? You better believe that this can impact your focus and availability, as well as what you’re likely able to accomplish. Do you have other life commitments that could feasibly impact your at-home work schedule? Perhaps this means that a blended strategy that includes a mix of home and office work days is right for you.
What sort of remote employment structure best meets your current needs—freelance, part-time, or full-time? Are you looking for a traditional 9-5 schedule or something more flexible? The key here is that before diving head first into a remote work job hunt, take a step back and fully assess your situation in order to make informed choices that best fit your lifestyle. The last thing you want to do in a competitive job market is to waste time chasing jobs that are poor fits and potentially take on the wrong remote position that leads you to burn a bridge at a company that you would have otherwise enjoyed working at.
Once you’ve clearly defined the right parameters for your remote job hunt, you’ll benefit from having a good roadmap for finding opportunities that fit your needs. This includes searching in the right industries and on the right sites in order to make effective use of your time and effort—and to help you find your remote work dream job.
To start off, some sectors of the work world are likely more open to remote work than others, like tech-focused companies—although the pandemic has gone a long way towards leveling this playing field across a wider swath of industries. That said, you’re more likely to find openings for jobs that can largely be performed on computers and phones.
When searching for a new position, you’ll find an abundance of targeted resources online—from job sites that focus on remote employment or allow you to use work-at-home flexibility as a filter, to social media groups based around telecommuting in which members share strategies and resources. Make sure to search out and take full advantage of what’s available. Also, make sure your profiles on LinkedIn and other job-focused sites highlight your desire and ability to work remotely, so when hiring personnel and potential employers search for you they’ll get a good idea of your value proposition.
Master the tools
Whatever type of work you decide to pursue, make sure you’re fully able to utilize the industry-standard tools that allow employees to work remotely, and make sure that your resume and profiles reflect this capability. Some of these tools are general across industries (things like the MS Office suite, for example) while others may be more specific to your target field (like Adobe Creative Cloud tools, for example).
Here’s the bottom line: before embarking on a job search, make sure you know the standard tools and practices used across your target industry and master them. If any of these are new to you, the good news is that there’s a nearly unlimited universe of helpful resources available online to help you master nearly any software or resource—all from home, of course.
Along your journey toward finding the remote job of your dreams—and after you achieve this goal—there are a wealth of pitfalls that could potentially derail you from your mission. For starters, make sure you respond promptly and appropriately to all incoming communication from potential employers. You wouldn’t believe how many candidates ruin their chances of getting hired for a remote position by taking too much time to respond to messages from potential employers or by sending poorly crafted responses that ignore the basics of good grammar. After all, if you’re that lackadaisical during the hiring process, how are you likely going to perform on the job when no one is watching? Also, be ready to move forward at any given moment.
Today’s work world moves faster than ever before, and if a potential employer who just reviewed your resume wants to jump on a quick Zoom video conference call to discuss the position, it’s in your best interest to be ready, willing, and able—and to handle the situation professionally and appropriately. In fact, it isn’t uncommon for the entire hiring process to be handled remotely these days. Just try to be flexible.
And if you’re lucky enough to land your dream position, be sure not to fall prey to taking advantage of the freedoms that remote work offers. Many employees allow external life distractions to distract and derail them from staying focused and on-task, and you’d better believe that your employer will take notice if you fail to meet expectations—and respond accordingly. Remember, working remotely requires a heightened level of self-discipline and responsibility, so make sure you’re up for the challenge.