The web is loaded with various content about remote work including what to expect, the perks, the downsides and of course the requirements. Unfortunately, there are very few resources out there that tell you how to properly apply to these positions in order to improve your chances of success.
Knowing where to look is just a minor part of the entire process. The major challenge usually comes up when you decide to start applying. And it’s not difficult to see why.
Since many people relish the thought of working flexibly from their homes or any other location of their choice, it’s a known fact that job listings with REMOTE options are usually swamped with a lot of applicants. The number can range from hundreds to thousands which leave employers and recruiters with a ton of work in identifying the right candidates. On your part, you are probably thinking how possible it is to overcome the stiff competition and get noticed in the end.
To be sincere with you, I wasn’t personally motivated during my own job search become of all the impasses. But somehow I just continued trying my luck and am glad my effort eventually paid off. I must confess that I made some terrible mistakes which I believe must have contributed in prolonging my application. It is my desire to help you avoid the same mistakes.
The root of the problem
Many job seekers don’t know how to organize their applications and resumes to meet the job requirements. They often fail to nail down the “key points” and as such most recruiters like myself don’t even like to take a second look.
You might not believe this but some online applications don’t even have names on them. Some cover letters are filled with so many spelling errors while some emails are either too long or clueless. Sometimes I do wonder if some of these “intending” remote workers and digital nomads even know what they are applying for. Seriously, it’s that bad.
Another type of application that constantly receives a red flag is the one that doesn’t match the skills or experience required for the open position. Unfortunately, we always receive tons of such applications and it just makes our work more difficult.
As long as you have the required skills and experience, you have a greater chance of landing the job even though there are hundreds or thousands of people applying for the same role. All you need is to pay attention to properly articulate your resume and ensure you submit a very good application. Trust me, nowadays, great application are no longer common even though the pool of applicants continues to rise.
My advice to you is this – go for quality not quantity.
When looking for a remote work, it’s normal to have an eye on every job opening or position you come across. However, the problem in applying for so many jobs is that it robs you of the opportunity to really focus on submitting quality applications.
Personally, I recommend submitting as many applications as you can every day, but it should never be at the expense of quality. When it comes to remote jobs, a poor application is as good as NO application because there are many other people applying for the same job; some of which might even be more qualified than you.
So if all you can do per day is 1 kick-ass job application, it is far better than submitting 5 mediocre applications that don’t impress anybody. This includes tweaking your resume and cover letter so that it suits every application you submit.
Let’s go through the entire process step-by-step:
Start with the minimum requirements
The very first part of a job ad you should always read is the minimum requirements. Don’t waste time reading a long job description for which you might potentially not be qualified for except you just want to do so for learning purposes.
If you come across a job you feel qualified for but lack the requirements, don’t be discouraged. While some job requirements are critical and cannot be negotiated with employers, there are others that are flexible.
However, you might not know this except you are able to get through to the hiring manager or recruit team, which might not always be possible. The requirements you miss but feel can be compensated by your other skills should be well explained in your cover letter.
Going through minimum requirements will also ensure you don’t waste your time preparing a cover letter when there isn’t a spot to attach one or doing something else that is unnecessary part of a job posting.
Overall, my advice to you is not to join the pack of “poor job seeking nomads”. Don’t always be in a hurry. Know what you’re applying for before throwing your resume and cover letter at anyone.
Read the Job Description
If you meet the minimum requirements, then the next thing you should do is to read the entire job posting carefully.
Don’t be like one of those “busy” hunters that always jump before they look. Unfortunately, most of them end right inside the pit they are trying to avoid.
So take my advice: read the entire job post and make sure you understand the information presented so you don’t end up sending an uninspired material. Some employers might have specific application instructions in the description; not adhering to these might cost you.
Understand the tone of the job post
When going through a job ad, try to identify exactly what the company is looking for.
Knowing what is most important to a potential employer will guide you on how best to approach the application. You will know what to say and how to pen it down without sounding contrary.
For instance, if you are applying to a company that values team spirit, you might want to stress your ability to easily connect with people from different backgrounds.
Don’t miss the mark
While some job ads are very specific, some usually sound generic without any clear pointer to the exact skills or qualifications required. However, this shouldn’t stop you from hitting the mark.
For instance, an opening for a business analyst may list “excellent communication skills” as a requirement. Instead of just highlighting “communication skills” on your resume, try to tweak it so that it suits the role you’re applying for.
For a business analyst, you can feature something like “written analysis” in your summary since it’s expected that your job will require you to express your findings in written form. Try to include an example that shows a time you actually wrote an important summary. Below is a good example of what I’m saying:
“Wrote an executive summary for
Research the company
This is not important but still helpful. You should consider researching the company you are applying to so that you can understand what they do. You cover letter and resume should be tailored to also include your findings about the organization as well as your ability to fill in the role that is being advertised. This will show the reader that besides your qualifications, you are also well-versed on the company.
Watch out for scams
Just normal office jobs, there are many telecommuniting ads that are nothing but scams. This is why it’s important to read diligently.
When you come across job ads that have things like “a golden opportunity to break into an exciting industry”, “make $400 from home every week” or “huge pay and benefits for great performance”, just show the red flag and move on. Such jobs are often low-end jobs or don’t even exist.
The gist is to simply ignore anything that looks unreal or sounds too good to be true and just go ahead with your next applications. No serious company will start discussing how much they pay their workers or the numerous benefits they offer on any job listings.
Prepare Your Resume and Cover Letter
Keep a Word format copy of all your resumes, cover letters, and long response to application questions. Re-use them if applying to the same kind of job; however, make sure you tweak your resume and cover letter to specifically address the job ad.
VERY IMPORTANT: you will likely have to edit your resume for every application. Make sure to use similar verbiage as that on the job listing. Sometimes, software is used to shortlist applicants and it picks up on keywords in resume. E.g. if the listing says “minimum 3 years’ experience in expense reconciliation” and you have this experience, state it as so in your resume, don’t use an umbrella term such as “experience in bookkeeping and accounting”.
Always use a professional cover letter format (depicted below) and mention the company name and position in the body of your cover letter so that it does not seem generic. Update the objective/profile part of your resume (if you have one) to match the position and company.
Proofread your resume and cover letter at least TWICE before sending them off especially if you’re re-using the same letter. The amount of time spent proofreading is well worth it considering that you might be immediately denied for a position on which you spent two hours filling out an application if there are mistakes on your application documents.
If there is a skills test involved, try your very, very hardest! Make sure you use proper grammar and professional language. It’s sometimes ok to be a bit more casual or to include more of your own voice but this depends on the company. Get a good feel for the company before making your diction chummier.
It’s also important to complete your sentences. If there are scenarios or personality – type questions – paint yourself in the best light. For instance if you’re asked “what would you do if you won a million dollars?” your answer shouldn’t be buy a boat and fill it with supermodels. Another example: “What’s your worst job experience?” your answer shouldn’t be “When I did this awful thing at XYZ Company and I got fired”
Some companies pay very little attention to resumes and instead use scores of skills tests to shortlist applicants, that’s why it’s imperative that you give every single skills test your best. If you have to submit a video make sure you dress appropriately, unless you’re applying for a super hip company or one who seeks an alternative appearance in its employees (not the norm). You should have the following in place:
- Shirt with sleeves
- Clean and groomed appearance
- Professional setting
- No messy rooms
- Avoid bedrooms with visible beds in the background
- No background noise
- Clear, articulate speech (no matter how many takes it takes!)
Avoid filler words as much as possible, e.g. “umm”, “like”. Also avoid sounding like a robot – Do not read a script – instead make bullet points and practice, practice, practice.
When answering minimum wage questions – be truthful. Odds are that if the company put this question in there, it’s because they’re looking for the best talent at the most cost effective wage. Don’t give a ridiculously low amount (for which you’re not willing to work anyway) or a very high amount which will be a turn off to the employer.
You can always do a google search for “average salary for [the job in view]”
Finally, don’t lie about experience which you do not have, instead tailor the way you phrase your experience to fit the needs of the job add.
- Some of these might sound like common sense, but I can’t tell you how many times I see these blunders as a recruiter
- Answer to e-mails promptly
- Always address the recruiter or company representative in the same manner in which they are addressing you. If they refer to you as “Ms. Jackson”, refer to them in the same manner
- Pay attention to your grammar!
- Follow up with recruiters once, maybe twice, but do not pester them!
- Be polite and never rude, entitled, or demanding
- If there is an error or something wrong with their application process, let the company know in a polite manner. They’re still human and if you’re mean, odds are you won’t get the job and you would have wasted a lot of your time in the application process
- Keep your Job tracker spreadsheet updated! It makes it easier to track your goals and to refer to jobs when talking to a recruiter or during an interview.