The 4 Hurdles to Finding Remote Work and What You Can Do About Them

Hurdle #1: Remote Jobs Aren’t Online

Why might a job description not make it to the Internet? For one, companies fill jobs internally. Larger companies especially will have employees queuing up for new positions, opening them up internally before extending opportunities to the general public. Even smaller companies may jump into their networks or own employees before advertising online. Many of the smallest business do not have the infrastructure (a website, job page, or applicant tracking system) to post online.

Hurdle #2: A Time Lag Kills Applications

All online jobs are competitive, but remote positions are a different animal entirely. Remote opportunities will receive hundreds of applications within days. Even the quickest applicants suffer from a time lag: the company may well be grooming candidates considered before the job went live. Companies lose money every day an employee is not in their seat. No matter how attractive a new batch of candidates might be, those already in the final stages of interview will always hold the advantage. Lastly, job boards like Indeed, Glassdoor, and LinkedIn scrape or aggregate from the open web. A position may have been originally posted days or even weeks before migrating to a general job board. Check the company’s website to see if the position is still posted there.

Hurdle #3: Job Scams Abound

If the above factors weren’t enough, can you be sure the job is even legitimate? The Internet is breeding ground for all sorts of multi-level/pyramid marketing schemes or other job-specific scams. Why?

You will never hear back from fake job posts. These posters take personal information from your application like your address, email, and phone number to sell to 3rd party companies! Others may show interest in your application, but demand some sort of fee to be considered. As the tired cliche goes, anything that sounds too good to be true probably is. Be wary of large ‘group interviews’, poorly written job posts, unprofessional recruiter interactions, or any company without an official website or Glassdoor page. Lastly, there exist many legitimate contract, or part-time positions online. That being said, it may be easier for these companies to scam you with promises of more hours or a lack of employee benefits. One, last, disheartening, tidbit: even the ‘real’ jobs may not be hiring. Many companies leave ‘filler’ or ‘phantom’ jobs on their websites to gather applicants to reach out to in the future. No real position exists currently.

How to avoid these issues? Trust your gut above all else. If you are unsure, use the below Boolean query in any Internet browser to home in on other clues:

“COMPANY NAME” AND (“scam” OR “hoax” OR “fraud”)

Hurdle #4: The Types of Jobs Available

Available remote work positions tend to fall into one (typically several) of the following 5 categories. You face a (steep) uphill battle without falling into multiple of these buckets.

  1. White-collar, office-based jobs
  2. High-paying niche skillets (programmers, systems engineers, etc.)
  3. Internet-oriented sales and marketing work (SEO specialists, social media managers, etc.)
  4. Highly experienced professionals with tenure
  5. Part-time, contract, or freelance work (especially copy writers and creative design professionals)

Cut through the Noise: Boolean Searches

That’s a lot of hurdles to overcome! How do you start your search? The below job boards all focus on specifically on remote positions:

  1. FlexJobs
  2. Dynamite Jobs
  3. We Work Remotely
  4. Remotive
  5. Skip the Drive

What next? You can check out other popular job boards like Indeed, Monster, LinkedIn, and Glassdoor, but the lack of comprehensive remote/virtual search functionality will hold you back. Even sites with these sorting features return tons of irrelevant, non-remote hits. But given the challenges outlined above, you need to be as exhaustive as possible! Paste a Boolean string like the one below into one of these larger job boards (or your web browser for that matter). If I was looking for a remote recruiting position, I would copy and paste the below sequence:

(“remote” OR “telework” OR “tele-work” OR “virtual” OR “work from home” OR “WFH”) AND (“recruiter” OR “technical recruiter” OR “talent acquisition” OR “recruitment specialist” OR “talent sourcing specialist” OR “recruitment coordinator” OR “recruitment manager” OR “sourcer” OR “headhunter” OR “executive search” OR “recruiting consultant” OR “recruitment consultant” OR “talent consultant”)

This search brings back every hit that matches one (or more) of the first six keywords AND one (or more) of the next 13 keywords. Your Boolean search is only as good as your synonyms! Note the 13 used here. While this search will bring back a few irrelevant hits – for example, a recruitment specialist position that states “remote applicants will not be considered” – it will provide an exhaustive means for reaching as many relevant opportunities as possible. Boolean logic you will also return obscure jobs that may slip through the cracks for other job-hunters!

Other Strategies

Once you have located as many applicable jobs as possible using Boolean queries, you must make your applications count.

My background is in recruitment. The one mistake recruiters see time and time again is failing to tailor your resume to position needs. Larger companies using resume-filtering will not even see un-tailored applications. Smaller companies may, but quickly disregard them. The seasoned recruiter will know within seconds whether an application is serious. In fact, seconds is all you have to prove your mettle.

It is tempting to shoot off a generic resume to 50 different jobs, then sit back and feel good about it! After all, you have to hear back from at least a few of them, right? Wrong. Open positions are inundated with resumes. You are better off submitting 5 carefully-tailored resumes than 50 generic ones! Speak the company’s language. Use words and phrases that appear in their job description, their website, and any other sources of information you can find on the Internet. Read between the lines: how can you uniquely contribute to the problems they are facing?

Avoid these temptations:

  1. The ‘more is applications is better’ sentiment
  2. Feeling that recruiters will be so impressed by x, y, or z on your un-tailored resume. X, y, or z, might be great, phenomenal even, but are worthless if not applicable to the role.
  3. Focusing on the benefits of remote work instead of your qualifications. Companies want individuals passionate about the work they do, not starry-eyed over the chance to work remotely.
  4. Using a flashy resume design or outlandish catch phrase to grab attention. The HR department might have a good laugh amongst themselves, but won’t feel inclined to call you back.

Convince Your Boss

If the above sounds difficult, you are right on. Landing a remote position is not easy. Under the very best of circumstances, your application is subject to the timing of its submission and the qualifications of your co-applicants. Hiring placelessly means you’re facing off with everyone in the United States, or even the world.

Sounds disheartening. One alternative is to convince your current employer that you should work remotely. Just one caveat:

This is almost 100% out of your hands.

No matter how great an employee you are or how persuasive your pitch is, if your company is not ready to move in the remote direction, it flat out won’t happen. The distributed team concept must be taken at scale: without the infrastructure and a specific critical number of employees moving out of the office, it will not make financial sense. Why have everyone else but you remain in the office?

If this is within the realm of possibilities, however, consider the below selling points. How can you put yourself in your bosses’ shoes? What would his or her boss might say? Never present an ultimatum or high-stakes demand. Productive conversation should always be grounded in level-headed and argument-based discussion of your challenges and your feelings.

  1. How can I overcome the “if I can’t see them, I can’t control them” mentality?
  2. What ties your company together if not a shared office space?
  3. Highlight the below employer benefits:
  • Time lost due to illness
  • Overhead costs (office rental and supplies)
  • Improved productivity
  • Higher retention rates

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