A remote job search is a different beast than a traditional one.
Sure, there are resumes, ads, and agonizing waiting periods just like you find when applying for in-office jobs.
But virtual positions aren’t restricted to a specific geographic location, which makes the applicant pool that much deeper.
So, if you’re not having too much luck as of yet in your remote job search, don’t panic. You may be making one of these common remote job search mistakes without even knowing it.
But don’t worry. Once you know what the mistakes are, you can fix them — fast!
Mistake 1: You’re Applying to Too Many Jobs
When I decided I wanted to work from home, I would sit down on the weekends and apply to dozens of remote positions.
I even had my ‘system’ down to a science by using a template style resume and cover letter to plug in information like job title and company and — boom — an application was finished in a matter of minutes.
It wasn’t until one day when I was applying for a remote sales job that I was both uninterested in and unqualified for that it hit me — I wasn’t going to be happy with any remote job simply because it allowed me to work from home.
Chances are, you wouldn’t be happy with any ol’ at-home position too. So, stop applying for every work from home job under the sun! Sure, the thrill of getting hired may carry you for a while. But once the novelty wore off, then what?
You’d be in the exact same position you’re in now — and nobody wants to keep going through a remote job search over and over again.
Do This Instead
Stop applying to every work from home job you come across. Instead, take a second to think about what you really want from a remote job. Sure, you’re working from home — but what else?
- Are you working for yourself?
- What field are you working in?
- What’s your likely job title?
Use the answers to those questions to narrow down your job search. For example, if you want to work for yourself, launch a career as a freelancer or start a money-making blog. Or if you have your heart set on customer service work, don’t waste your time with writing jobs or admin-heavy positions. If you need the stability and benefits of work-from-home employee jobs, don’t even give freelance and independent contractor ads a second look.
The bottom line is, your time is precious. Don’t waste it applying to just any remote job. Think about what you really want out of your next job — other than being able to work from home. Doing so will save you time and give your remote job search purpose!
Mistake 2: You’re Not Making Your Resume Keyword Rich
Once you’ve narrowed down your ideal remote job, you need to focus on your resume. And this means creating a custom resume for each job you apply to — no exceptions!
Because of widely used Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) by recruiters, companies, and hiring managers, most resumes are never seen by humans. In fact, an estimated 75% of all resumes are discarded by ATS before reaching a real person’s desk.
As a remote job seeker, this is important! You want to be the one of the 25% of resumes that get seen. This increases your chances of getting an interview, and that’s really half the battle.
Try This Instead:
Pull keywords directly out of the job advertisement and place them strategically in your resume. This does not mean you should ‘stuff’ your resume with keywords. Instead, thoughtfully place relevant keywords in areas that make sense.
For example, I whipped up an overly simplified fake job ad. In red, I’ve highlighted the relevant keywords that you would want to place in your resume — if they actually apply to you and your previous work experience:
When recruiters use ATS, they are asking the software to scan resumes for specific keywords. If your resume contains these keywords, your resume is sent back to the recruiter with these words highlighted! If your resume does not contain enough keywords, it’s discarded, never to be seen again.
Of course you want to get seen. And the best way to do that is to pull keywords directly from the ad and put them in your resume. Period.
Yes, it’s a little more labor intensive than simply sending the same, tired resume out to every recruiter, but the payoff is worth it. And, if you corrected Mistake Number 1, you should be applying to fewer jobs at this point anyway.
Remember, when it comes to your remote job search, it’s all about quality over quantity. One well done application and resume is infinitely better than 50 half-hearted ones.
Mistake 3: You’re Not Putting Your Best Digital Foot Forward
A whopping 80% of recruiters scope out an applicant online before they interview them. That means, once you narrow your search and submit a knockout resume with appropriate keywords, your recruiter/hiring manager is likely going to google you.
What does your online footprint say about you?
If you’re taking your remote job search seriously, you really need to take a good, long look at your online reputation.
This doesn’t mean just seeing what Google results come up, but also taking stock of your social media accounts.
Many recruiters will turn to Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to scout you out before they call you. As a remote job seeker, this is even more likely since you’ll never have an in person interview. Instead, your online presence will be used to get a better feel of you and your personality.
Of course, you want to put your best digital foot forward so you make a great first impression. If you made it to the point where a recruiter has your resume on their desk and is scoping you out, don’t give them a reason to suddenly place you in the ‘no pile.’
Try This Instead:
Audit your online presence! Take a look at your Facebook page. Browse through your Tweets. Log into LinkedIn. Delete anything that is offensive, profanity laden, or politically charged. This doesn’t mean you can’t show personality on your personal profile pages — on the contrary. It’s great to be yourself, just make sure it’s the version of yourself that will make recruiters want to work with you, not run in the other direction.
Keep this in mind, when surveyed, recruiters said these things found online would prevent them from hiring a candidate:
- Provocative or inappropriate photos
- Profanity-filled posts and updates
- Posting about drug use or excessive drinking
- Bad-mouthing current or former employers and coworkers
- Poor communication skills
But social media isn’t just a place for recruiters to find your flaws. In fact, nearly half of recruiters say what they found online about a candidate led them to hire that person. These positive impressions included things like:
- Getting a feel of the person’s personality and seeing they would be a good fit with a company’s culture
- Professional, positive profile image
- Information that supports a candidate’s stated professional experience
- Finding information that showed candidate was well-rounded with many interests
Remember, having an active Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn profile can make you a stand out candidate in your remote job search. Not only will you present well to recruiters, but when someone googles you, these profiles will come up.
To give yourself an even better boost, put up a quick resume site! Having an online resume is an easy way to take control of your personal brand and knock the socks off even the toughest recruiter.
Mistake 4: You’re Not Sourcing Your Own Leads!
I’m a work-from-home blogger. And I follow many other work-from-home bloggers too. I recommend anyone interested in starting or strengthening their remote job search to do the same.
And while the posts and job leads we all share are great to get the ball rolling on your remote job search, you shouldn’t just rely on these job leads!
The problem is, when 8 bloggers share the same leads (and we all do!), thousands of followers see these ads and an overwhelming number of applicants are received. And even if you are the perfect candidate for the job, it’s hard to stand out when you’re in a sea of a thousand applications.
Try This Instead
Go above and beyond in your remote job search. You definitely should look into job leads you find on Pinterest, Facebook, and those shared by your favorite bloggers — but don’t rely on them! Instead, get out there and start finding jobs on your own.
When you do, you’ll find dozens of remote jobs others aren’t seeing. And when you apply to them, the competition will be much smaller than you would find when applying to widely-shared ads.
So, how and where do you find your own remote jobs? Great question! Grab your free guide at the end of this post. In it, I share plenty of resources to help you expand your remote job search on your own.
Take Back Your Remote Job Search
And remember not to make the same mistakes in your remote job search! As a reminder, when looking for remote jobs, only narrow your search to those you’re interested in and qualified for. And before you apply, make sure you create a custom, keyword-rich resume for each and every job. Remember, keywords are pulled directly from the ad itself — these are the exact keywords the ATS is using to scan thousands of resumes and separate the ‘good’ from the ‘bad.’ You, of course, want to land in the ‘good’ pile.
And then, audit and clean up your public profile pages on social media. Recruiters are checking you out online, make the best impression possible. You don’t want to blow your opportunity to interview, especially after tracking down leads and keyword filling your resume, only to be discarded because of poor personal branding.
You’ve got this! Questions? Hit me with them in the comments below. Or send an SOS on Twitter.
Happy job hunting!
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