Today, applying for remote jobs is no easy task as we are likely competing with people worldwide. Even when remote jobs come with a geographical restriction (i.e. USA-remote or UK-remote only), we should safely assume that we are all competing with at least 5 or 10 times as many people as when applying for an on-site vacancy.
What are hiring managers looking for in candidates working remotely?
What does this fierce competition mean for our chances of getting to the next round? Let’s think about this from the recruitment team’s perspective. With multiple applications, recruiters need to filter out even more information. The best way to do that is to check whether it meets the following criteria:
Do applicants meet or respond to most/all of the specifications in the job description? Do applicants have a unique quality or response to the job description that makes us want to learn more about them? Generally, most people will send a CV or Cover Letter to address the above. Regarding CVs, we should always assume that ours won’t be much different from other people in terms of content. Most people have the same minimum years of experience for a specific job. They likely also have similar skills and will have potentially worked in similar companies in the past. In other words, even a well-articulated CV can get you as far as criterion 1. Think of your CV as a way to prove that you meet or almost meet the job spec requirements.
However, with such fierce competition, meeting criterion 1 only is not enough and will likely mean your application will be rejected or ignored. We also need to fulfil criterion 2 — “presenting a unique quality or response to the job”; this is where Cover Letters come in. Even if the application form indicates that Cover Letters are optional, you should always send a Cover Letter when applying. Cover Letters are the best way to respond to the second criterion and uniquely present yourself and your approach to the job.
Sending a unique Cover Letter is the most fundamental action we can take to increase our chances of getting an interview. Now let’s have a look at some of the tips that can help differentiate our application.
To increase your chances of getting hired for a remote job, show how you’ve been actively growing your skills
Showcasing what and how you are learning will be especially important if you don’t have all the required skills. Many of us will shy away from applying to a remote job because we don’t tick all the boxes. However, a healthy attitude toward career development involves applying to jobs even when we don’t have all the necessary skills. What’s essential in these cases is to justify our willingness to learn and show how we are actively getting there.
We suggest a structured plan for any current or future training we intend to take to meet the role requirements better. You can utilise your Cover Letter to argue that while you lack experience in a required skill, you are already actively up-skilling and have a time-framed plan you can share. Don’t just mention this; provide a link to an actual plan and make sure it explicitly indicates how you intend to tackle any gaps you might have.
One of the best ways to present your training plan is to host it on GitHub. Doing so is potentially a must for software engineers or any other technical field, but designers, analysts and product managers can do the same. When you aren’t necessarily working in a technical role, using GitHub shows you understand how to author and collaborate on this platform. Seeing a training plan on GitHub will be especially useful to companies with technical products or where the role you are applying for requires working closely with technical teams.
Alternatively, consider using platforms such as Notion.so which has been widely used by all types of companies, to make your training plan publicly available and link to it in your Cover Letter.
In your next job application, show that you know and use tools for remote work and that you can efficiently collaborate from home
Companies will want evidence that you can effectively work remotely and without supervision throughout the application process. While mentioning any past remote experience in your CV or Cover Letter is a plus, remember that you will likely need to do more than that to stick out from the crowd. Today, many people already have significant remote-work experience.
Be prepared to answer a question about your opinion on remote-work best practices in an interview. In the meantime, learn how to use remote collaboration and time management tools and then mention these in your Cover Letter.
A great way to show your usage of such tools is to create a Calendly link and share it with recruiters. Calendly allows you to define your calendar availability and share it with people to allow them to book a meeting with you. You can include your Calendly link at the end of your cover letter as a call to action for recruiters to get back to you. You can say something like:
Please don’t hesitate to arrange a call this week via my Calendly link to discuss my application and skillset in greater depth.
Providing a Calendly link is a simple gesture but will allow you to score points on professionalism, pro-activeness and time-management skills.
Share your work and ideas in a blog or other medium and share with recruiters
Lastly, help recruiters learn more about your work beyond your CV and Cover Letter. You can do this through writing. Many job applicants dread writing about their work or ideas, but with minimal effort, you can get a lot out of it in your next job application.
Even if you find it hard to express yourself or don’t feel confident writing (especially in English), you should only need to do a small piece of writing to get there. Sharing your work shows a willingness to learn and teach others — a quality that will resonate with all modern companies.
If you have trouble writing, focus on a minor technical topic that you have encountered. For example, If you are a frontend developer, that topic could be “Making Forms in React”.
If you are a Product Manager/Owner, it could be “How I do Sprint Planning”.
When you write, try not to focus on quantity. A short 300-word piece is often more than enough. Remember that recruiters get swamped with applications, and not many can afford to read through your article in its entirety. Showing that you have posted something and have an online knowledge-sharing activity will help differentiate you.
If you are technically-minded, an idea to inspire you to write would be to base your article on a StackOverflow question or an answer you have provided. If you find wording technical matters difficult, use more diagrams or code snippets, but don’t let it restrict you from publishing. You can always improve it later.
Before publishing, make sure you are using a text checker like Grammarly. It will spot grammar mistakes other spell-checkers often miss and help you rephrase your sentences. As a non-native English speaker, I can’t write anything without Grammarly anymore!
Finding a place to post your article shouldn’t be difficult; platforms like Medium make it easy, and you can use it to build your presence and connect with more people. If you want to talk about something and share it with multiple sites, feel free to contact us at support at world-wide-teams.com, and we will consider posting it on our blog for you.