The average U.S. worker’s commute eats up over 200 hours of his time each year. What would you do with all that time if you could get it back?
With a remote job, you take back the time you usually spend trekking to and from work. It can also help you expand your job horizons, avoid workplace drama, shorten your workdays, and much more. Lots of people want to work remotely for obvious reasons. But not everyone knows how to start the search.
We’ve put together this guide to help you transition into working from home (or the cafe, the beach, or anywhere else you want).
If working remotely sounds like an upgrade from your current job, here’s what you need to know.
The Best Industries for Remote Work
Not all industries are suitable for remote staff. If you’re a barista, you won’t find any remote work options—at least, not yet!
However, there’s a long and growing list of industries that employ remote workers. If you have some untapped skills or are willing to put in some training time, you might be able to transition into a new career that allows you to work remotely.
If a job involves working on a computer, you can almost certainly do it from home. Here are some of the top industries you should check out:
- Customer Service: Modern customer service is handled via phone, email, or social media. This means it can all be done from home. However, depending on the position and the company, it could require that you work odd hours.
- Marketing: As most modern marketing involves email and social media, most of these positions are work-from-home (or soon will be).
- Writing and editing: During the average workday, most modern writers and editors rarely touch a piece of paper. Everything is created and sent online. From writing marketing content to editing blog posts, there are lots of remote jobs under this umbrella. If you have other content-creation skills, like creating promotional videos, you’re even more marketable.
- Web and graphic design: Often available as remote positions, design work blends creative skills with technical knowledge, which keeps things interesting. And you can learn most of the technical skills you need online, too.
- Tutoring: Although it’s difficult to find a full-time remote tutoring position, you can often tutor from home part-time to supplement your income. Some of these jobs don’t require any specialized knowledge beyond standard English.
While this list will get you started, many other industries also offer remote opportunities. As new tech solutions are developed, there will be more new ways to work from home.
So, don’t count out your dream job just yet. If you do a bit of online research, you’ll see what your possibilities are.
Full-Time or Freelance?
Before you start your search, you also need to decide whether you’re interested in full-time or freelance positions.
Both work well for remote jobs; it’s just a matter of what’s available in your industry, and which suits your lifestyle best. For example, most remote tutoring positions are freelance, while you can find a full-time remote customer service job easily.
If you want to delve into the freelance world, it’s best to start slow. You might want to wait until you have a couple of steady clients, or a significant amount of money saved before you quit your day job.
If you find a full-time remote job, though, you can dive right in, just as you would if you’d found a new traditional full-time job.
Where to Start Your Remote Job Search
So, you’ve decided you want to work from home. Now you have to find a job.
While you can scan the usual job-search forums and websites you always have, you’ll probably have better luck on platforms specifically for remote workers. For remote work, you have to learn how to leverage the power of the internet, and that starts with the job search.
Here are some suggestions on where to start your search.
If you don’t have any specific companies in mind you’d like to work for, you can skip this step. If you do, research whether they offer any remote options.
Check out their websites and social media pages. Familiarize yourself with their brand and tone. You can impress them with your in-depth knowledge when you write your cover letter.
A lot of people mention how helpful LinkedIn was during their job search. If you’ve never successfully found a job on there, though, this might seem hard to believe.
However, as an online business networking resource, LinkedIn is a great place to begin your remote job search. Not only does it allow you to sift through a long list of possible jobs, but you can also impress potential employers before you even send your resume.
You can search LinkedIn job listings using keywords, like “remote” or “virtual.” You should also reach out to people at the companies to which you decide to apply. On LinkedIn, it’s normal to send a professional message to a stranger in your industry—and it can help you get a job.
First, fill out your profile completely, and then send a note to a few people in the work-from-home positions you hope to get, at the companies you want to work for. Ask them if they’re open to a short call to tell you about their work experience, and how they landed their job. You can even offer a small gift, like a coffee gift card, to thank them for their time.
This networking idea can give you valuable insight into how to get hired. It can also help you get your foot in the door at your dream companies.
This online remote-work hub has a searchable list of potential jobs in many industries. It also offers a blog section all about working remotely, as well as other community resources. We especially like the remote Q&A section, where you can find answers to popular questions about working from home from real remote workers.
Remotive offers a helpful blend of searchable jobs and community resources. While some of the content requires paid access, you can get a lot of mileage out of the free offerings. We suggest you sign up for the email list, so you get weekly messages about jobs in your field.
We Work Remotely
We Work Remotely uses a similar concept to the other options we’ve covered. It pairs job listings with educational resources for remote workers. You can also join the We Work Remotely community on social media, where you can make valuable new connections that might lead to new jobs. And, of course, a community of remote workers is also helpful to answer any questions you might have as you transition to working from home.
Since We Work Remotely is also the largest of all the online remote-work communities, it offers you a longer list of possible jobs than most. You can search by category or use the helpful Resources tab to narrow it down.
Tips for Getting Hired
Once you’ve found a few work-from-home jobs to apply to, how can you increase your chances of getting hired?
While many traditional recommendations about resume editing and interview skills apply, remote work also poses some unique challenges. Here’s how to help yourself stand out as a candidate.
Social Media and Websites
When you apply for remote jobs, your online and social media game needs to be super-strong.
The hiring manager isn’t going to meet you in person, so her first (or only) impression of you comes from what she sees online. Your online presence should be professional but also show your personality. Your future boss wants to know what kind of person she’ll be bringing to the team.
Before you submit any applications, take a quick inventory of your online presence. Try to view it from the perspective of a hiring manager. It’s fine if you have vacation photos and funny tweets, but it’s also helpful to have some posts about your professional abilities.
For example, if you’re a writer, do you have an online portfolio of your published work? If you’re a marketer, does your LinkedIn profile show off your ability to market yourself as a candidate?
Resume and Cover Letter
Your cover letter and resume don’t need to look much different when you apply for a remote position. However, you might want to make a few small changes.
For example, you should definitely highlight the skills and qualities companies want in remote workers, as well as the skills needed for that particular job. If you have remote-friendly tech skills or creative communications solutions to offer, those are worth a mention. You might also want to highlight your ability to stay self-motivated, meet deadlines, and communicate effectively on online platforms.
With time and careful attention to your applications, you should start to get some interview requests. Next, you need to prepare to interview well via phone or video.
If you’re interviewing via video, dress professionally—and, yes, wear pants! Be sure you’re in a quiet location with a nice-looking background. You then approach the experience just as you would an in-person interview.
For phone interviews, remember to smile so your voice sounds friendly and make sure you have a good connection for the call. You can also check out this guide to prepping for a phone interview to get some more detailed tips.
Your Dream Job
When you work remotely, your entire life can change for the better.
Suddenly, you can eat fresh food from your home fridge, instead of debating which fast-casual restaurant to grab lunch from. You can stock up on comfy athleisure clothes instead of office separates. You can sign up for 11 a.m. yoga classes, instead of trying to squeeze in a workout before your 8 a.m. commute.
While working from home affects everyone differently, many people find the change is for the best. With these job search tips, you’ll be well on your way to finding a remote job that works for you.
After you start your new remote job, be sure to check out our guide on how to stay organized when you work from home!