Remote & Async Work 16 min

How to get a remote job: An expert guide to landing your dream role

Written by Gillian O'Brien
December 26, 2023
Gillian O'Brien

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Finding a remote job can be difficult. With companies laying off tech workers en masse and many issuing “return to office” mandates, securing a flexible job may feel like a tall order. 

But despite these challenges, excellent opportunities for flexible remote jobs are still out there – and we’ve created this guide as your companion to cut through the noise and find your perfect fit. Packed with practical advice from experts who've been there, we’ll help you identify the right opportunities and give you the tools to ace the interviews. Your dream remote job is within reach, and Remote is here to help!

How to find remote roles & stand out

Since 2020 we have seen a massive shift towards remote and flexible work. For many roles, there is no longer a need to commute and spend five days a week in the office. While remote work was once seen as an amazing perk, it’s the new norm for millions of workers across the globe. And despite recent setbacks, innovative companies are still recognizing and adapting to this trend.

But as a job seeker, it might seem hard to find those great remote roles. We’ve outlined five ways to find opportunities and stand out: 

1. Reach out to your network 

The first place to start with any job search is your network. You may not think you have a large one, but if you start looking at second-degree connections, you may have more options than you think.

Companies still find talent through applications, but some roles are filled by hiring managers before ever being posted. Don't be afraid to reach out to family, friends, colleagues, teachers, ex-coworkers – you might be surprised who can help.

If your existing network isn’t providing you with the job leads you desire, here are a few other tactics you can use to tap into the remote work community:

  • Use social media platforms to connect with remote-first leaders, founders, hiring managers, and other remote workers in your industry. Ideally, you should be cultivating relationships with these people before you start looking for jobs, but there’s no time like the present to start making new connections.

  • Reach out to industry professionals you admire and see if you can start an online conversation (or even hop on a video call!) to ask them about their own path to a flexible remote role. You never know who will say yes and give you expert guidance or a valuable job lead.

Connect on Linkedin with hiring managers from companies you know are fully-remote, offering remote roles, or using a hybrid model. Introduce yourself through a private message. Make your message relevant and customize your approach to prove your genuine interest and explain your passion for the business. Don’t compromise your first impression with a generic copy/paste template.

Also, it’s good practice to give as much as you take from your network and connect others with opportunities. Respond and engage with as many online conversations about remote work as you can. Your enthusiasm and support will help you build stronger connections and might even spark some interest from potential employers.

2. Share your expertise and build a personal brand.

Creativity and unique thinking will help you generate interest and stand out from the crowd. When it comes to remote work, standing out is far more important than conforming to outdated notions of what a “good employee” looks like.

A fully remote company needs workers who have great hard skills, but they also need employees who are able to communicate and share their story in an engaging way. 

The way you share your expertise, your story, and your passion will be critical in communicating your value. Spend some time building a cover letter that you can refine for each new job application. Craft your personal mission statement to concisely express what you can deliver and how you can contribute to success. Tie your professional “why” into your personal story and emphasize your unique skills or interests.

3. Share your passion for remote work in your cover letter.

Cover letters are another opportunity to show off your creativity.

Ionut Smeu, a sales support specialist at Remote, took a unique approach with his cover letter when applying for his role. He saw that one of the job requirements was to work using Notion, so he created his CV in Notion. 

It’s also important to keep your cover letter simple, and not spend too much time on it (especially when you’re applying to several jobs). The most important things to answer are:

  • Why do you want to join the company?

  • What makes you passionate about the company and its vision?

  • How can you add value to the organization?

That's really all that hiring managers need to know at that stage.

4. Customize your resume for each remote job application.

Even though some hiring norms have changed, having a differentiated resume is still a vital part of the process.

In the digital age, your resume should be role-specific, which means customizing it for each job you apply to. If you don’t, you might get filtered out by applicant tracking systems (ATS) before your resume even reaches a real person. So be sure to comb through the job listing, identify the keywords that you should highlight on your resume, and tailor your application to each specific job. You can even use a tool like JobScan to help.

Beyond relevant keywords, what should (or shouldn’t) you include on your resume

Anastasia Pshegodskaya, director of talent acquisition at Remote, has some sage advice for anyone looking to make it to interview stage:

“Your resume is just the start of the conversation. Keep it short and clear, showcase your achievements, and focus on measurable results.”

Focus on the impact you made, not just what your duties were. Yasmine Gray, a talent sourcer at Remote, shares her experience assessing resumes for competitive roles:

“Most companies, even if they list certifications or degrees as requirements, actually just care about impact. Did you keep a high number of customers happy, or leads coming through, or sales signed, or candidates hired? Did you totally transform a process or dramatically reduce costs on a key project? Find ways to succinctly highlight the real-world difference you made and share any important data points around your performance.”

And keep in mind that biases exist. Avoid including your picture, address, nationality, or anything else that can create bias. Hiring managers should want you for your experience and value alignment, not because of what you look like or your citizenship.

5. Show your connection to the company’s mission and values.

Companies want to hire people who are invested in their mission, which is why it’s important to familiarize yourself with the company and what they stand for before submitting an application. Scan their website, read their company blog, and work through their social media profiles. Remote makes our employee handbook completely public, which has plenty of examples of what it’s like to work for a remote-first company.

When you reach out or speak to a recruiter, explain why the company mission and values resonate with you personally. If you’ve had previous remote experience, you could share how remote work changed your life or helped you find opportunities that aren’t available in your local job market. If not, you can express how important flexible work is for you and your family.

How to ace the remote interview process

So you’ve now submitted a killer application and snagged an interview for an exciting new job. You’re excited to have your first conversation over Zoom, but you may feel a little intimidated about presenting yourself in a virtual interview.

Remote interviews have become the norm, even in situations where the job itself is on-site or hybrid. Many employers and hiring managers prefer to conduct first interviews virtually to save time and hassle. If you are applying for fully remote roles, you need to be able to communicate effectively to demonstrate that you can work well in a remote environment.

This is why it’s more important than ever to know how to ace a remote interview. Take a look at the below tips from Remote’s internal recruitment team to help you land your dream remote job.

1. Practice with the technology the interviewer uses.

While many aspects of the interview process are the same whether in-person or virtual, there are some key differences to keep in mind as you prepare. Anastasia explains why candidates sometimes falter, as remote interviewing can be a more stressful experience:

“When interviewing over Zoom, you’re not only worried about your responses to the questions but potential instability when it comes to technology. You need to connect on time, you might be worried that your internet bandwidth won’t be enough, and sometimes you may need to use tools that you may not have used before.”

To combat this, get comfortable with all the tools you’ll need for the interview ahead of time. Scott Entwistle, recruiter at Remote, suggests you work through a dry run at least ten minutes before your call to make sure you have time to sort through any tech hiccups:

“I always recommend doing a test before an interview. Video platforms like Zoom, Whereby, Teams, and Google Meet all have their quirks, so the best way to test them is to invite a friend (or even yourself on a different device) to make sure you can successfully join a meeting. Don’t just check your connection. Make sure that your camera and microphone work to avoid further stress on call.”

Your interviewer might ask you to use other things, like whiteboarding tools for assignments or sharing a presentation you’ve prepared for the role. Read the interview instructions carefully and ask questions if needed so you can practice and be ready for whatever is required technically.

If you’re concerned about your internet connection, do a trial video call with a friend or family member in the exact room where you will be taking the interview. You can also seek out quiet public places with good Wi-Fi, like a library, cafe, or a hotel lobby.

If you run into issues, offer to continue your interview with your video off to save bandwidth. You might even need to rejoin the interview link.

No matter what, stay calm and composed — remember, you’ll need to manage these types of instances on a semi-regular basis in a fully remote role anyway. You should be able to reschedule the interview for a different time without too much hassle if the technology just won’t cooperate. 

With proper preparation, you’ll feel much more confident and assured in the moment. Take stock, stay calm, and triage any problems on the run.

2. Present yourself well through your attire and background.

Before your interview, put some thought into your attire and setting. It might feel a bit ridiculous to show up to a Zoom interview from your living room in a suit jacket, but it’s still important to convey professionalism through your attire. 

A formal outfit shows that you are willing to make an effort for the interview. A top with an interesting print can convey your creativity. A clean outfit will demonstrate that you have considered your appearance. Remember that your interviewer is expecting professionalism even though you are not in a physical office.

Jobs in more traditional industries like finance or law might require more thoughtful planning. If you’re not sure how far you need to go with your attire, it won’t hurt to ask. Check with your recruitment contact via email before the call. A question like this shows that you are committed with a strong attention to detail.

You also shouldn’t neglect your background. A clean background like a wall behind you and good natural light usually works best. Scott advises that interviewers don’t expect you to have a full office in your home, but they do want to see that you can switch from living-at-home mode to working-from-home mode.

“Check your surroundings — if they're not quite desirable, you can always use an artificial background to make things easier!”

3. Do your research on the company and its culture.

One of the most important things you can do before any job interview is to prepare your own background research. Start with the following and zero in on more specific areas of knowledge that will help you answer questions related to the job description:

  • New terminology in the job description

  • Background information on the company

  • Brand values, mission, and vision

  • The competitive landscape

And how can you fast-track this research? Yasmine has some helpful advice:

“Look for the company’s website and make sure you understand what they do and why they feel it’s important work. Find relevant content from their careers page or handbook if it’s public. Make notes for yourself on how well you align with their values and things you think you can add to the team.”

Gaby Suarez, talent acquisition manager at Remote, recommends candidates look for everything they can find about the company through the organization’s website and external sources.

“Research your interviewer, the company culture, the founders, and funding rounds. Find out about the investors. Make sure you understand the size of the company. Learn how quickly they are growing.”

These findings can give you insight on how you can add value to the organization. The benefit is twofold. Your answers (and the questions you pose) will seem more relevant, demonstrating your understanding. You’ll also stand out in the process by showing your dedication and foresight. Your interviewer will be able to tell that you’ve put in the time to research.

Bonus tip! – You can also look the company up on sites like Crunchbase, Glassdoor, Comparably, and similar review sites to understand how the company operates and what the employee experience is like. This can help you to know whether the company is a good fit for you.

4. Build a rapport with your interviewer.

A video interview doesn’t mean you can’t form a connection with the person on the other side of the screen. Gaby is a huge advocate for building a connection through your communication skills:

“From my experience, soft skills and body language can be assessed pretty much the same way as in a traditional interview.”

It’s important to stay friendly, open, and authentically communicate your interest throughout the conversation. This can make a bigger impression on the hiring manager than many candidates realize. Scott relies on these cues to assess the cultural fit of remote candidates:

“At Remote, we value care. So the thing that makes me really excited about a candidate is seeing someone who loves our mission, has the right skill sets to do well in the role, and is ultimately a caring and open person.”

If you’re feeling nervous, remember that’s normal, especially if you’re not used to interviewing remotely. Even if you are, a remote job interview is still an experience very few candidates will have mastered. Default to positivity and assume things are going well, even if you think you’ve made a mistake or said something you weren’t happy with.

Allow yourself to have a genuine conversation. Listen, respond, engage with your interviewer, and be yourself. If possible, find a way to build a personal connection. You might want to try to begin the conversation by talking about personal things like where you live, hobbies, or interests, and even ask the interviewer about their day, their weekend, or their remote work journey.

5. Prepare questions and take notes as you go.

You may be the one being interviewed, but it’s also an opportunity for you to ask questions to the interviewer. Asking the right questions can really demonstrate your interest in the role.

Anastasia considers the questions that candidates ask as an indicator of the person’s analytical skills and their intelligence in relation to the role.

“It’s good to prepare your questions in advance. When I’m interviewing candidates, one of the most important parts for me is seeing what kind of questions they’re asking, as it shows how much preparation they put into the interview. Interesting questions that are specifically related to the company will help candidates stand out from the crowd.”

Don’t feel like you can’t take notes, refer to your notes, or jot down other talking points as you go. Yasmine encourages candidates to bring notes to the interview. She sees this as a sign of good preparation and an indication of solid organizational skills:

“Don’t read off your lap, but glancing at notes is noticed and loved by recruiters,” she shares. “And be mindful about the questions you ask — the easier the answer is to find online, the more time you waste and the less prepared you look.”

Trust your skills and persevere

Once you’re done with the interview, what’s next?

Decompress and treat yourself to some relaxation time. Yasmine advises this for any candidate to help deal with the mental stress of the interview experience.

“Breathe a sigh of relief and do something that brings you joy. Grab a coffee, crack out your favorite video game, go for a stroll in the park, take a hot bath, anything for some post-interview self-care. Remember that any reasonable team won’t expect perfection: they’ll expect a real human being who could add value to their team, and they’ll be able to overlook any hiccups you perceive. So don’t panic about those things and try to put the interview out of your mind.”

If you haven’t heard back within a few days, consider sending a follow-up message to keep yourself top-of-mind for the hiring manager. Scott says this is totally acceptable and indicates your eagerness:

“You can't go wrong with a follow up email to thank someone for their time. A good strategy is a simple LinkedIn connection request after the interview and a follow-up email three to four days later to convey your enthusiasm to move forward.”

Ultimately, remember that job searching and interviewing is a numbers game. There are more high-quality remote opportunities popping up, and more tools and job boards that cater to them. If you continue to apply and interview, you will eventually find the perfect fit for your values and skill sets.

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