Gallup conducted a survey shortly after COVID-19 forced many businesses to transition to remote work overnight. They found that, while 62% of Americans say they worked from home during the crisis, three in five people surveyed would prefer to keep it that way. Whether you’ve recently been laid off or simply looking to find a permanent remote job, there’s a lot you should know (and consider).
- What should you expect out of remote culture?
- How do you find remote jobs?
- How can you prove that you’d be a great remote employee without prior experience?
- How should you prepare for a remote interview?
There’s a lot to cover. Lucky for you, we’ll be walking through all of the questions above and more. Let’s get started!
Considerations when researching remote jobs
A simple Google search is all you need, right? Wrong.
There’s a lot more to evaluate when researching remote companies beyond where you’re located relative to HQ. Let’s walk through a few things you need to consider when starting your remote job search.
1. Remote culture
Companies like GitLab, Buffer, and Zapier paved the way for remote work long before it was the next big trend. As a result, they’ve also done an incredible job of building a workplace culture that fosters community, accountability, and provides employees with everything they need to be successful.
While not every company has the means (or bandwidth) to share every little bit about their culture, benefits, and what working for them would look like, you can use those that do to guide the questions you ask.
Let’s take GitLab for starters. They literally document everything about their culture:
- What life at GitLab is like
- Data from their “stay interviews”, which offers up internal pulse survey data
- Tips and guidelines for how to best communicate within the company
- What your education budget could look like
- What you can anticipate getting paid
Now, while it’s unfair to expect every company to have something as extensive as GitLab’s handbook, it gives you a lot to consider when you start to evaluate other remote companies.
2. Working hours
While flexibility is present in terms of location, many organizations still require that you work within core hours.
If you’re in Toronto, Canada, maybe those core hours are between 10 AM to 4 PM (EST). But, let’s say you’re based in Sydney, Australia. It’s not realistic to work from 12 - 6 AM (AEST).
As you’re browsing through job descriptions, check to ensure that:
- Core business hours work with your schedule
- Or core business hours aren’t a requirement
Learn more about how Darren Murph, GitLab’s Head of Remote approaches asynchronous communication and how he makes it work for a global company here.
3. Remote is not synonymous with distributed
When you think of remote work, you think about flexibility, freedom, and all of the benefits that come with those things.
But, that flexibility doesn’t always span the globe. In fact, there are many companies that choose to work remotely, but within the same time zone, state, country, or continent.
Remote means that they’re not tied down to an office.
It doesn’t mean that they’re not tied down to a geographic location. As you’re looking through job descriptions or career pages, be sure to double-check what their definition of remote is.
In your typical job search, you’ll likely be searching for benefits like:
- Equity or stock options
- Education budget
On top of all this, look for remote-specific benefits. Bonus points for companies who are able to offer you a remote work budget.
These will help cover your costs to get your workspace setup (ergonomics, proper lighting, a decent microphone, etc), spend money on coworking spaces, or anything that helps you succeed as a remote employee.
5. Part-time versus full-time remote roles
The points we’ve discussed so far heavily learn towards full-time positions, but that doesn’t mean they don’t apply to part time roles either.
When it comes to evaluating part-time roles, you’ll want to focus on:
- Culture: How will you be treated as a part-time worker? Will you enjoy working alongside the team?
- Working hours: Do you have specific core hours or days that you’ll need to be online or can you also work async and clock in a certain number of hours each week?
- Sync vs. async: If the team is operating within core working hours, do you have the flexibility to be asynchronous?
- Benefits: As a part-time worker, you likely won’t be receiving full-time benefits like the ones listed, but maybe you can ask for things like being async (if they’re not already) or an education budget (if you’ve got a long-term contract).
How to find remote jobs
When it comes to finding remote jobs, the options are almost overwhelming. There are so many avenues you can go down within Google search alone.
For example, some queries you can ask include:
- Remote job openings
- Remote companies hiring right now
- Remote job boards
- Remote companies
- Best remote companies
- Remote jobs for [the title you’re aiming for]
That’s just to name a few. While Google is a powerful search engine, it’s not the only avenue to take when it comes to finding a remote job.
On top of that, if you’re wondering, “How do I find a remote job after being laid off”, this search process won’t change for you.
Maybe it’ll just be a bigger driver in your criteria for the companies you search for (I.e. recently funded, stable, growing, etc).
Let’s walk through a couple strategies people use to narrow down their search.
You can find remote job online by:
- Browsing through job boards, like Indeed, or remote-specific job boards like Remotive
- Building relationships with remote work veterans (people making major noise in the space right now include Rodolphe Dutel, Darren Murph, and Katie Womersly)
- Joining Slack or Facebook groups catered towards your niche (Remotive even runs its own Slack community)
- Looking through remote company career pages
- Work with remote-focused recruiters
- Checking social media platforms like Twitter and LinkedIn
Let’s dig a little deeper on that last one.
How to find remote jobs on LinkedIn
Let’s go through a step-by-step process of how to use search and filters to narrow down your search.
- Log into LinkedIn and click the “Jobs” tab at the top.
- You’ll see two input options: title and location. Under location, select “Remote”
3. Once you start that query, you’ll also have an option to create a job alert. If you’d like to continue to get notified about roles within your search query, turn that on. You’ll get the option of how frequently you’ll receive alerts (I.e. daily, weekly) and how you’d like to get notified.
4. You can apply more filters by clicking “All filters”. This will allow you to narrow down your search by things like experience level, industry, job type (full-time, contract, etc), company function, etc.
It’s a pretty straight-forward process once you get going.
How to get a remote job with no experience
Five people working across three countries shared their awesome success stories when it came to landing their first remote job:
1. Rob Moses: Know your strengths and persist
After a 20-month job search, 15-20 applications a week and 45 interviews, Rob Moses landed a role as a Senior Office 365/SharePoint Consultant at Vidoori.
“My top skill is not the ability to answer from the top of my head but to know where to look,” says Rob, who landed a role as Senior Office 365/SharePoint Consultant at Vidoori after a 20-month job search, 15 to 20 applications a week and 45 interviews. “It seemed there was always one or two desired skills or experience that I lacked, especially coding skills. Persistence and a well-polished resume combined with good job search habits got me the job. Staying positive and humble helps a lot. I finally landed this role on a referral from an interview where I finished 2nd for the 30th time. Stay positive, encouraging, confident, and humble.”
2. Tess Dixon: Network, network, network
Tess Dixon is a Product Design Manager at Condé Nast and found her role through a former colleague.
“I was lucky to have a former colleague who was hiring for her product design team at Condé Nast in New York, and she reached out to me. The fact that most of her team was not remote but that she was actively considering and reaching out to remote candidates impressed me,” says Tess, Product Design Manager at Condé Nast. “The remote staff here never feel like we're second class team members, or that we have to spend time convincing in-office staff that we're valid—crucial factors to the success of a hybrid team.”
3. Raman Balyan: Be flexible and keep learning
Currently working as a Cloud Engineer at Accion Labs, Raman Baylan was laser-focused on getting more remote work experience. After a lot of remote freelance work, he finally landed his current full-time role in 2017.
“Companies were reluctant in India as remote work was not common in 2013. But I was keen to experience the remote work life,” told us Raman, currently working as Cloud Engineer at Accion Labs. “Hence, I started learning Python and web application development on my own, as that field had the most number of remote jobs. I didn't get any work for almost a year, so I continued my journey of learning and traveling. Then, I started to get remote projects as a freelancer. For the next three years, I worked as a freelancer; most of my work was remote but a few projects involved working from the clients’ offices. Living this unstable life made me more resilient and technically strong.” In 2017, Raman finally landed his current full-time job. “The company was not full-time remote employee friendly but they had an urgent requirement for one of their clients and my skills were perfectly fit for the job. I told them early on that I was only interested in working remotely. Somehow, they accepted it!”.
4. Carl Ingelstroem: Adapt, learn, and change
After relocating to another country, Carl saw that he would have a hard time pursuing a remote role that fit his current skill set. So, he focused on leveling up skills that would enable him to work from anywhere in the world. After 8 months, he landed a remote role as a Software Development Engineer at Tiket.
“After relocating to China, I noticed that I would have a hard time pursuing a career path in hardware engineering. Also, it was uncertain how long my wife and I would stay, so I wanted a flexible job where I could work both in my home country, Sweden, and in China without changing jobs each time we 'commuted' between countries. Remote software engineering was a better fit for my needs, so I decided to get into web development. After about 8 months of consistent self-study, I messaged my Tech Lead who was looking for a frontend developer on a Reactiflux discord channel. He liked what he saw, we clicked personally as well and he pushed me into the company where I am now, Tiket. I've been 100% remote for a year in that role.”
5. Samantha Weald: Ask for what you want
After hitting a point of no longer wanting to live in the Bay Area, Samantha Weald decided that it was time for a change. She managed to make new arrangements with her company Wiki Education Foundation and went from being an onsite worker to a remote employee.
“In 2018, my husband and I decided that after 7 years, living in the Bay Area wasn’t for us anymore. We were interested in leaving the traffic behind, buying a real house with a real yard, and getting rid of that long commute,” explains Samantha, Customer Success Manager at the Wiki Education Foundation. “When we decided that we wanted to really pursue leaving, I spoke with my boss who spoke with our Executive Director. Luckily, half of our team is already remote and after four years at the company where travel (aka being out of the office) was a main part of my job, our ED was happy to support me going remote with the move.”
How to prepare for a remote job interview
So, you’ve reached a point where you have found some remote roles you’re interested in and you’re now getting started with the interview process. How should you prepare?
While this may vary from company-to-company, there are some tips that will apply across the board:
- Dress to impress. This doesn’t mean you need to go full-out in a suit (unless that’s the company culture), but don’t show up wearing a stained shirt either.
- Prepare your setup. Make sure you have everything you need before the interview. Consider things like a webcam, great microphone, stable internet connection, etc.
- Take your tech for a spin pre-interview. Set up a call with a friend or family member before the interview to make sure things are connected properly and working.
- Practice looking at the camera. During video calls, it will feel natural to want to look at the person’s face on the screen. But a great way to make the other person feel like you’re paying attention to them is to look directly into your camera when you’re speaking.
- Prepare questions. Like any interview, come prepared with questions you’d like to ask the interviewer. From the role to the culture, come with at least three questions.
While these tips are a great starting point, just know that the best remote companies will help prepare you for your interview.
Hotjar, for example, lays out their whole remote interview process online.
What to expect in a remote job interview
Regardless of being remote or onsite, the interview process will be very similar between the two. So, expect that you’ll:
- Be evaluated on your skills, attitude, and if you’re someone who will embrace and practice company values (i.e. transparency, collaboration, etc).
- Have to do some sort of assignment, panel, or test.
- Meet your direct team and people on other teams as well (depending on the company).
On top of all of that, you can also expect to:
- Go through the interview process 100% virtually.
- Share why you think you would be a great remote employee.
- Negotiate salary and other compensation based on data around your current geographic location, not HQ.
How to follow up after a remote job interview
Just as you would for an onsite interview, it’s polite to get in touch with the people who you just spoke with by sending a thank you email.
Here’s a sample email to help you get started:
Hi [Interviewer Name],
Thank you so much for meeting with me today. It was such a pleasure to learn more about the team and position, and I’m very excited about the opportunity to join [Company Name] and help [bring in new clients/develop world-class content/anything else awesome you would be doing] with your team.
I look forward to hearing from you about the next steps in the hiring process, and please do not hesitate to contact me if I can provide additional information.
How to start a remote job
- You don’t need to be a remote expert from day one. No one has it figured out perfectly. What matters most is finding a system that works best for you, your team, and the company. While the company might have things (mostly) figured out, there’s always room for improvement.
- Meet as many people as possible. You’re no longer going to get an office tour where you walk around the office and meet 30+ people at once. Book a one-on-one meeting with everyone on your team to get to know them better. Ask your manager who some great people outside of your team would be for you to meet and schedule time to get to know them too.
- Don’t be shy. Ask questions and get in-depth details. Learn about what a full work day looks like for your team. Are you measured on performance or presence? What communication channels are used for what? Don’t feel bad about asking questions.
- Take breaks. It’s easy to start working from the time you would normally start your commute to the time you would get home from the office. But, the beauty of remote work is that you don’t need to replace that new-found time with more work. Walk your dog, enjoy a meal with your family.
Remote work is the future, but it’s not for everyone (and that’s okay).
If remote work is for you, these tips will help better prepare you to find and land a remote job this year.
To get started, check out over 2,000 remote jobs across engineering, customer service, marketing, and product, on the Remotive job board.