Over the course of the past few years, we have seen a rise in the number of remote positions available to recent college grads and professionals alike. This rise (largely credited to advancements in technology and a new generation of professionals pushing back against the standard nine to five work day) has seen a recent acceleration in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
With the national shutdowns that occurred in the beginning of 2020, companies and businesses were forced to adjust to new working conditions as employees shifted to work-from-home models. While the transition was not always a smooth one, many industries have come to realize that much of the work previously done in office can successfully be done from home.
As a result of both this realization — along with the continued spread of COVID-19 — more and more remote positions are popping up.
Remote work comes with great perks, including flexible work hours and the ability to work from anywhere in the world. But given that remote work is still a fairly new phenomenon, many recent college graduates have little to no knowledge of how it works.
Below we cover everything you need to know when applying to remote positions from what to include on your resume and where to find job postings to how to prepare for online interviews and what you need to set up a home office.
Consider What Type of Remote Culture is Best for You
Every company has its own unique approach to remote work. Some have both in-office and remote workers. Others only have remote workers who are located throughout the US (and sometimes even abroad). Some require their remote employees to report in-person a few days per week. Others are more flexible and may only require remote workers to appear in-office for monthly team meetings.
The way in which companies communicate with their remote teams also varies. Some companies meet weekly via calls and video conferences while others host regular in-person department and company-wide meetings. In most instances, email and messenger apps such as Slack also play a heavy roll in how employees communicate when working-from-home.
Before you begin your job search, it’s important to determine the type of remote work best suited to your individual working style. Compare different companies and send your application where you’re confident you’ll fit in.
Visit the Right Sites, Platforms, and Groups
Identifying a remote position that inspires your interest is the next step to securing great remote-based employment. And you can only do that when you are checking the right places.
There are tons of Facebook groups that advertise remote positions, including Digital Nomad Jobs, Female Digital Jobs, and Remote Jobs — to name a few.
And don’t forget about LinkedIn. There are tons of great posting listed everyday, including new remote options.
Tailor Your Resume and Cover Letter
Just like when you apply to any other job, when applying for a remote position you’ll want to tailor your resume and cover letter.
First things first, if you already have previous experience working remotely, make sure to highlight that on your resume when discussing your past employment. Employers — especially those who have recently transitioned to work-from-home models — will be happy to see you’ve succeeded in remote work before, which means the onboarding process will be smoother, giving you an advantage over other candidates.
If you haven’t worked remotely before, don’t worry — there are still ways to demonstrate your potential to future employers. In your resume when discussing your past job responsibilities, highlight any team projects you were a part of putting an emphasis on your collaborative and communication skills.
Then, in your cover letter, continue to emphasis your strong communication skills while also stressing your ability to work independently. Remote workers need to have a strong work ethic, good time management skills, and self-disciple. Make sure you demonstrate all of these skills in your cover letter.
Lastly, it may be helpful to mention any software and/or platforms you are familiar with using. For example, experience with Adobe and other editing tools means less on-the-job learning. Rather than struggling through remote video training sessions, you’ll be able to jump right into your new work tasks.
Prepare for Online Interviews
Once you’ve sent out your winning resume and cover letter, get prepared for the next step in the application process: the interview.
Since most offices are still closed as a result of the pandemic, even remote positions requiring workers to report in-person will be holding interviews online. If you’ve never had an online interview before and are nervous or unsure of what to expect, put these tips to use:
- Practice interviewing in front of your computer so you get use to how it feels
- Dress to impress just like you would for an in-person interview (top AND bottom)
- Ensure there will be no distractions during the interview (from roommates, family members, etc.)
- Pick a background that is uncluttered and won’t distract the interviewer
- Test your audio and camera beforehand to prevent any technical difficulties
- Arrive 10 minutes early so you’re there as soon as the interviewer logs on
- Use notes to your advantage by having a bulleted list of key skills you want to highlight or questions you want to ask
For an even more in-depth look on how to prepare for your online interview, check out our post: 5 Tips to Help You Ace That Online Interview.
Set Up a Dedicated Work Space
Once you’ve nailed your online interview and secured your new remote position, its time to set up your dedicated work space.
Many people working remotely for the first time aren’t prepared for the reality of all that that entails. Especially if you’re use to working in an office environment, you may be in for a bit of a rude awakening.
While the idea of working from the comfort of your own home may sound too good to be true at first, after a few months it can be easy to grow lethargic. You may soon find yourself wearing the same pajamas you woke up in or getting distracted by household chores.
Avoid the burnout by setting yourself up for success by creating a dedicated workspace.
If you already have an office room in your home that’s great! But if, like many recent grads, you’re living with roommates and sharing a communal space, you can still set aside a portion of your bedroom or the common room (with your roommmates’ approval) to be your “office.”
Set up your office with a desk, chair, and filing cabinet (if needed). Take the time to make your office space special and welcoming so it feels like a space you want to work in. Adding a plant, framed photos, or scented candle are just a few ways you can personalize the space.
Then, every morning, make a point of getting up and getting dressed — just like you would for a regular office job. Make your home office your dedicated work-space where you spend the day during your work hours. Once you’re done for the day, don’t return to the office again until the next morning.
This will help you create a sense of separation between your home and work life, making it easier to stay focused throughout the day and relax post-work.
Alternatively, if you’re still finding it a struggle to work from home, find a coworking space in your neighborhood or a Wi-Fi friendly café. Just make sure you use a VPN every time you connect to a public Wi-Fi. There are different kinds of VPN available, for example, NordVPN is a good option to consider. (You can get a better idea through this NordVPN Review.)
Invest in Good Tech
In order to successfully work from home, you need the technology to support you. This means you’ll need to invest in a decent laptop (or, depending on your remote position, a desktop with dual monitors).
You may need to purchase a printer, scanner, an/ or copier. Luckily, most modern printers also have copier and scanner functionality. If you’re on a tight-budget, you can always go to the local library or Staples for your printing and scanning needs. Additionally, there are free apps for your phone that can scan and email documents.
Reliable, high-speed internet is a must. And you may also want to invest in an external hard drive as a means of backing-up and storing important information.
Last but not least, for effective sharing of files, you will need software such like WinZip, to zip and unzip files. Zipping and unzipping helps you compress and decompress various files so they don’t take up too much space on your computer, essential for remote working.
Pro Tip: Many companies will reimburse remote workers for items such as the above. Before purchasing, check with your new employer regarding their remote work policies. Additionally, when you file your taxes for the year, you may be able to claim any purchases you made for work.
Working remotely may not provide the productivity and engagement associated with a fast-paced and diverse workplace, however, it is increasingly becoming a standard practice, especially among recent grads.
Knowing the above 6 things when applying to a remote position will not only help you stand as a great prospective hire, but also succeed once you land the perfect remote position.
About Lisa Mottins: Lisa is a young, ambitious writer with a bachelor’s degree in psychology from UCF. She is currently learning to code and developing her photography skills. She loves expressing herself creatively and sharing her experiences in hopes of helping others.