Remote work is more common now than ever before. An estimated 4.3 million people in the US work remotely — and that was BEFORE the start of the pandemic.
Even still, not everyone has a job that is remote friendly. For example, service workers, tradesmen, construction workers, first responders, and many other professions are traditionally in person.
If you’re a server at a restaurant or bartender, it’s impossible to do these jobs remotely. Similarly, if you’re a welder or electrician, you can’t exactly telecommute.
But that doesn’t mean if you work a traditional in-office or on-location job you can’t transition to telecommuter.
In fact, as a remote work career coach, I regularly help job seekers do just that! Many aspiring remote workers want to ditch their out-of-the-house job for a more remote-friendly position.
Here’s what I advise them to make the transition as easy as possible.
Assess Your Skills
The more skills you have the more opportunities for remote work. Traditionally, employers want similar soft skills in their remote hires. These include attributes like trustworthiness, written communication, time management, and problem solving. In other words, they look for potential hires that have the ability to put in a full day’s work independent from the office.
While soft skills are important, what is really going to make you a competitive remote job seeker are your hard skills.
What are hard skills, you ask? Great question. Let’s look at hard skills:
What are hard skills?
According to the Balance Careers, hard skills are teachable abilities that you can easily quantify. Often, you learn hard skills via on-the-job training, certification, college or other schooling.
Example of Hard Skills for Remote Workers
So, what are hard skills that are in-demand in the remote world? Here are the top ones I see again and again:
From sales to support, and everything in between, companies need a remote workers with a variety of customer service skills. Most want to see technical skills in this role, including troubleshooting and problem resolution.
No hard skills in customer service? No problem. Check out Become a Customer Service Specialist Learning Path via LinkedIn Learning. In just 5 hours, you learn how to troubleshoot, de-escalate angry callers, and even best practices when communicating with chat and email.
Medical Billing & Coding
Medical billing and coding skills are in huge demand as there are more jobs than professionals to fill them. These hard skills are used in healthcare settings to ensure doctors and nurses get paid for their services.
You can receive online training and get certified in medical coding and billing in less than a year via CareerStep. To learn more, check out my free guide: How To Become A Medical Billing Pro in Less Than A Year.
Most of your communication will be done in writing as a remote worker. So, employers want to see remote workers who can type efficiently. Some jobs will absolutely require you have a minimum typing speed.
For those who have never had to use a computer to communicate, it’s time to brush up on your typing skills. You can learn touch typing for free at Keybr.
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, graphic designers create visual concepts. Graphic design is used to develop websites, brochures, magazines, ads, and many different visual elements.
Learn the Fundamentals of Graphic Design over at Coursera.
Web development is a broad term that can apply to a number of different coding languages out there. Developers use a series of code to create apps, games, websites, and more.
To learn more about web development, coding languages, and their respective career paths, I highly recommend visiting Fullstack Academy.
Sales is a valuable skill to businesses because more sales = more money. So, if you are able to demonstrate sales experience, you become an asset to companies.
Check out this course Sales Training: Building Your Sales Career to find out more about developing your own sales skills.
Marketing ability means you can transform a company’s central message and appeal to buyers. Marketing skills can include social media, email, blog posts, and more.
Introduction to Marketing is an online course taught through the University of Pennsylvania that will help you prepare for a career in marketing.
Project managers ensure products are delivered on time and within budget. To do this, they must be able to apply problem-solving and clear communication to effectively allocate resources.
You can learn this highly sought after skill online through: How to Get Skilled: Introduction to Individual Skills Management (Project-Centered Course)
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. Understanding SEO helps businesses and brands rank higher than competitors on Google. Again, this is a valuable skill set to have because higher Google rankings = more customers = more money.
You too can master the ins and outs of SEO via the online course Search Engine Optimization (SEO) taught by UCDavis.
Bookkeepers monitor the flow of cash in a business. They keep track of all money coming in and going out. Often, bookkeepers rely on software, like QuickBooks, to maintain accurate financial records and generate reports.
Check out this free 3-part video series to learn more about bookkeeping and whether it’s the right path for you.
So many remote teams rely on Google Suite and it’s many web-based apps to stay connected and collaborate. If you’re not familiar with Google Suite as an aspiring remote worker, you need to be.
Google offers its own G Suite Learning Center where you can learn the basics and familiarize yourself with everything from Gmail to Forms, Slides to Drive, and so much more.
Like many of the other hard skills on this list, administrative skills is a blanket term that covers a lot of different abilities. In a remote setting, administrative pros often handle scheduling, calendar management, coordinate meetings, and email for members of a team.
LinkedIn Learning is a great place to uncover administrative-based courses you can use to strengthen your profile and brand as a remote job seeker.
Writing is an essential skill to have as a remote worker, that’s because the bulk of your communication is in writing. Companies want to see you can effectively get your message across in writing. But, if you want to write for a living, you’ll need to hone this hard skill even further. Some career paths for remote writers include grant writing, copy writing, and SEO writing.
Check out the Good with Words: Writing and Editing course to brush up on your writing skills.
Learn More About Hard Skills
The list I just gave is not an exhaustive one. It includes some of the top hard skills companies routinely seek out in popular remote positions. For more inspiration check out the Top Skills In Demand for 2020 – And How To Learn Them.
Pick a Path
Before you launch a new job search, it’s important to niche down. You aren’t qualified for every remote job under the sun. Similarly, you wouldn’t want to do every remote job out there. So, it’s time to figure out which type of remote job you want to go after.
Be sure to think about hard skills you would enjoy using on the job. Even if you don’t have those skills right now, that’s okay! Remember, you can learn hard skills. The point right now is to determine a potential career path that interests you and you would enjoy doing. There’s no point in settling for any remote job. You want a remote job that fulfills you (I didn’t name this blog Work From Home Happiness for no reason).
To determine a career path, I highly recommend you figure out your career ideals.
What Are Career Ideals?
Simply put, your career ideals are your must haves and have-nots when it comes to how, where, why, and when you work.
Let’s take a look at an example. Are benefits like paid time off and employee-sponsored healthcare a must have for you? If you answered yes, then one of your career ideals is working as an employee (and not an independent contractor or freelancer). That’s because employee positions offer benefits and contract positions do not.
In this scenario, it wouldn’t make sense for you to even consider contract or freelance roles. That means you can easily narrow your job search down to employee positions only. And, when you do this, you save yourself tons of time, energy and effort.
Needless to say, it’s important to determine the right type of remote work for you so you can find and land your dream remote job.
Fill in Any Gaps
Chances are, there’s a remote job out there that sounds amazing to you. It fits your career ideals and is something you would enjoy doing. The problem? You don’t exactly have all the right skills to get the job.
That’s okay. Remember, you can learn hard skills (that’s literally what they are — learned skills). So, don’t panic if there’s a remote job out there that sounds perfect for you but you don’t quite have the know how.
Instead, it’s time to start learning. Today, it’s easier than ever to brush up on skills or learn something completely new.
I prefer these two platforms because they are both well respected and provide certificates you can proudly display on your LinkedIn profile and resume upon completion.
These certificates will show remote-friendly employers that you have the right hard skills to get the job done. And that will go a long way in helping you get hired in your ideal remote career.
Re-brand Yourself and Your Career
Now that you know your career ideals and have filled in any skills gaps, it’s time to re-brand yourself. This means you need to write your career marketing materials for the job you want to get and not the jobs you’ve held in the past.
Your career marketing materials include your resume, cover letter, and LinkedIn profile. These are all documents recruiters and hiring managers will use to determine whether you’re a good fit for a job.
It’s important you take the time to rewrite these. In fact, you should adjust your resume to match every job you apply for.
It’s up to you to take control of your career narrative. So what if you worked as a bartender before and are now looking to get a virtual bookkeeping position?
All positions have transferable skills and it’s up to you to position them in a way that works for the role you’re going after. Plus, when you learn new hard skills relevant to a role, it shows you’re serious about the career pivot and not just applying to any and every position on a whim.
Get Help When You Need It
Remote job searches take time. On average, they last between 5 -7 months. So, don’t get discouraged and give up if you don’t get interviews within your first few weeks of applying.
Plus, don’t forget, you vary well need to enroll in an online course or program to learn new skills you can use to market yourself effectively as a remote job seeker.
If all of this seems overwhelming, I’m here to help. As a career coach, I specialize in helping traditional workers transition to telecommute roles. I can help you too.
Schedule a free 15-minute consultation with me to give your remote job search much needed clarity and direction.
Ashlee Anderson, CPCC
P.S. This post contains affiliate links. Check out my disclosure statement to learn more.