Job seekers have more leverage than ever before. Here are 6 strategies to help you land a remote role at a company anywhere in the world.

A woman conducting a remote job interview

It used to be that the cardinal rule of real estate — location, location, location — was equally pertinent to job searches. Unless a big move was in the cards, candidates limited themselves to job openings within a certain radius of their homes.

But today, nearly 16 months after the COVID-19 pandemic’s forced work-from-home experiment began, more and more companies are open to remote employees. Job postings on LinkedIn offering remote-work options have risen 457% from the prior year. The upshot is that job seekers are no longer shackled by place and can launch a truly national, or even international, search for their next role. 

"The fact that people can look for jobs anywhere in the world opens up new possibilities," said Sunni Lampasso, a psychologist and executive coach based in New York. "It’s exciting, but expanding your search can also be overwhelming."

Where do you begin? How do you identify opportunities? What can you do to get noticed? And how can you tell if the role is right for you? Insider spoke with five career coaches and experts about how to land the right remote role.

Think broadly about opportunities

Uncovering new and promising remote-job opportunities starts with reflection, Lampasso said. Meditate on your motivations and values; consider what gives you energy and a sense of purpose; and think about the kind of tasks you enjoy doing, whether it’s digging into numbers on a spreadsheet, editing copy, or designing products. 

"You’ll be working from home by yourself so it’s even more important that you do something you enjoy," she said.

The beauty of being untethered to a particular region is that you can cast your net far and wide in terms of both industry and function, she said. For example, if you’ve spent your career in PR for pharmaceuticals, your skills and experience — not to mention your motivations and values — might be a match for a marketing position at a global health nonprofit. 

Do your homework to grab the attention of the hiring manager

Once you’ve zeroed in on organizations and jobs, you next need to identify the hiring managers. It’s trickier to do this remotely, so consider it a game of Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon — except you’re aiming for one degree, said Rob Barnett, a headhunter and the author of "Next Job, Best Job." 

"Summon your investigative powers and do everything possible to connect not with HR or a recruiter, but directly with the hiring manager," he said.

The next challenge is to get the hiring manager’s attention. A generic cover letter brimming with platitudes won’t cut it. "Offer specific, detailed proof that you’ve done more homework than any other candidate about what’s going well at the company and what can be improved — especially with regard to the role you’re applying for," he said. 

Don’t count yourself out prematurely

While many companies list openings and job descriptions with an explicit option for remote work, others haven’t caught up yet. No matter, said Kimberly Cummings, career coach and author of "Next Move, Best Move: Transitioning Into a Career You’ll Love" — it’s up to you to make the case.

"Don’t count yourself out just because your dream job is in Nashville but you live in Boston," she said. "Even if the company has a formal policy on remote workers, many decisions are still up to the manager’s discretion."

Cummings recommended interviewing for the job as you would if the company’s headquarters were in your hometown. If the topic of location arises in the course of your conversations, ask whether the hiring manager is open to a remote or even partially remote employee, depending on your appetite for business travel. 

But it might not even be necessary. "Exceptions can always be made for greatness," she said. 

Lean into your expertise

You might have plenty of personal reasons for preferring remote work — it makes your family life run smoothly or it allows more time for your hobbies or side hustle — but your prospective employer doesn’t need to hear them. "Instead, emphasize how remote work improves your productivity and what you’re able to do," Cummings said.

She suggested talking about your "COVID pivot" in interviews. Describe the ways in which you boosted your creativity, strengthened your ability to collaborate, and adapted to new technologies during the pandemic. The goal, she said, is to articulate your value proposition. 

"Interviewing is storytelling: Your stories should show your track record of success."

Make a virtue of your location and your perspective

Applying as a remote employee is nothing to be embarrassed about or hide, said Xuelian Chi, a career coach and HR consultant in Silicon Valley. In fact, "your geographic location and cultural background can be an asset," she said. 

Make a case for how your local expertise and network align with the company’s priorities. Perhaps you could help the organization  break into a new market, identify location-specific sales trends, or gain a deeper understanding of regional customer tastes. 

This is also true if your candidacy offers diversity that the company seeks.  "Highlight what you can do for the organization in terms of bringing a new perspective," she said.

Watch for signs of a trustworthy culture

Your objective is to sell yourself to the hiring manager, but remember: You, too, need to be sold on the job. As you progress through the interview process, pay attention to clues that will help you decide whether the organization, role, and team are a good fit.

The nature of remote work requires high levels of trust between the employer and employee, so be on the lookout for "signs of a trustworthy culture," said April Rinne, the author of "Flux: Eight Superpowers for Thriving in Constant Change."

Ask: How does this company respond to change and uncertainty? And are employees included in conversations around experimentation and improvement?

"Look for signals of humility," she said. "The companies that admit they don’t have all the answers tend to be the ones you’re more likely to trust."

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Rebecca Knight July 7, 2021 at 05:06PM

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