As I write this, I’m imagining how I felt when I first discovered this “working remotely” thing.
I was dumbfounded that something like this existed, that employees — not just freelancers — were working wherever they wanted and however they wanted, that they were working with freedom and choice.
Working like this seemed possible enough, but impossible for me. These employees were just lucky, I thought. They stumbled upon a rare breed of employer at precisely the right time.
So I forced the idea out of my mind. I took a trip to Chile to work on a farm for a few weeks. I thought I just needed a break. And then I returned to my job in Los Angeles.
I was happy to be back, to see my friends and coworkers, to do my morning bike commute to the office across from Universal Studios Hollywood, and to explore the vastness of LA.
But weeks passed and the idea of working remotely returned. I couldn’t shake it. I wanted to travel without giving up on the career I loved. I knew it was possible, and I shook the idea that it was impossible for me.
I found remote jobs. I applied. I interviewed with a company here and there. It took forever. But eventually I landed one. And when I got bored of that one, I landed another, and then another. I became really good at getting remote jobs fast.
Today, I’ll show you how to build a foundation that will help you get remote jobs asap.
This tutorial is part of a free remote job course I put together based on my experience of landing three full-time remote jobs in my career.
Before you start looking for remote jobs
You don’t have to be a software developer, writer, or graphic designer to work remotely. There are remote positions for many other professions, too.
Here are some popular fields that offer remote work opportunities that people don’t think of as being remote friendly:
- Business operations
- Customer service
- Human resources
- Project management
Tip: If you don’t absolutely need to be physically present to do your job, you can find remote positions for your profession.
Pivot to a remote profession if you don’t already have one
Many companies with remote cultures are startups that prize personality and drive over experience. So if you’re not interested in your current profession and want to work remotely, you can pivot.
The quickest way to pivot is to apply your current skillset to a profession that’s remote friendly, then do some test projects for free or for pay to build up your portfolio. This isn’t a fast way to get a remote job, but it’s much faster than going back to school.
If you’re motivated to learn and diligent in your job search, it will probably take you 3 to 6 months to pivot.
Here’s an example of a pivot…
My friend Bart went to school for chemical engineering and is currently a field chemist. He doesn’t love field work but still has an interest in chemistry. He also likes writing. (You can find him at the cafes in Mississippi writing free poems for passerby.)
When he first told me he was interested in working remotely, I didn’t know how he could make it work. Chemists do most of their work in the lab or field that can’t be done remotely. But, after some brainstorming, we agreed that chemical companies need writing for either marketing or customer support purposes.
To grab the attention of these companies, Bart will have to put together some portfolio pieces. He’ll have to link to these pieces in his cover letter and fashion his cover letter in a way that makes him open to doing test projects for free.
If Bart does this, he’ll eventually grab the attention of a chemical startup. And because writing is a remote friendly profession, he’ll be able to negotiate working remotely.
Tip: If you don’t currently have a remote profession, combine your current professional skills with a remote friendly interest (writing, customer service, marketing, sales, etc). This is the fastest and most effective way to become eligible for a remote position.
Have focus for the position you want
This is my biggest fault when it comes to applying to remote positions.
During my previous remote job search, I applied to many different types of positions: customer support, content marketing, email marketing, technical writing, and many more.
At the time, I was interested in content marketing and a qualified content marketer. I should have only applied to positions relevant to content marketing (content management, director of content, content specialist, etc).
The reason I applied to unrelated positions was out of fear. I was afraid I wouldn’t get a remote job fast enough. This ended up hurting me…
I spent countless hours trying to convince companies that I was a good fit for other positions. Instead I should have put more effort into finding and applying to companies that were 1) actively hiring content marketers or 2) in need of a content marketer without knowing it.
Looking back, I should have done more of that than applying to jobs unrelated to my primary profession.
When you have focus on a single role, the application process is much easier. You spend your energy thinking of uncommon ways to get that job instead of spreading yourself too thin into other roles you don’t have a chance at.
Action step: In a new Google Doc, write down your target profession. Below that, write down all the different job titles for that profession. Write down as many relevant job titles as possible. If I were still applying to content marketing roles, this is what my Google Doc would look like
To find different job titles, enter your primary profession into the search bar on Indeed. I did this for my content marketing profession and here’s what came up…
Because they are relevant to my profession, I added them to my Google Doc.
Scroll through the listed pages for your search and add the relevant positions to your Google Doc. You can use other job boards for this purpose, too.
Organizing your remote job search
During your job search, you’ll find a lot of companies and positions you’re interested in. To keep track of them, use a Google Sheet. This will give you a full overview of your job search progress in a single view.
Action Step: Create a new Google Sheet titled “Remote Job Tracking Sheet” and copy the first row from this template. Then paste it into your new sheet.
This is the same Google Sheet I used to organize my job search for the last remote job I landed. Before that, I didn’t have a good system for organization and it created a lot of stress.
Since the same jobs are posted on multiple job boards, it’s hard to remember which jobs you already applied to without a sheet like this.
When you come across a position and/or company you like, add it to this sheet and fill out all possible fields.
Here’s what my tracking sheet looks like for my current remote job search.
Tip: Don’t skip filling in the “Company Description” and “Note” columns. This information will help you keep track of what you like about each company without having to return to the job description.
Finding remote job opportunities
By this point you should have a list of 1) remote friendly positions you’re interested in and 2) a Google Sheet you can add job opportunities to. When you have both, you’re ready to start searching the remote job market.
Below I’ll go over the most popular remote job boards, as well as traditional job boards like Indeed and ZipRecruiter that also post remote positions.
Warning: Don’t apply to any jobs until you have a cover letter and resume that hiring managers can’t ignore. In the remote job course I show you how to create both. If you apply before you have these two things, you risk losing the job opportunity because your cover letter and resume aren’t optimized, not necessarily because you aren’t qualified for the job.
Action step: Go through all the job boards below and add open positions that match your job title list to your Google Sheet. Try to find three solid positions today that interest you.
Remote Job Boards
FlexJobs is $14.95 per month. I was skeptical at first about the pricing, but, because it’s a paid service, FlexJobs has the resources to employ people to scour the web for remote jobs. While the quality of the jobs varies, the amount of jobs listed is great. There is something here for everyone.
Jobspresso probably has the best job filtering system. You can also post your resume there if you want hiring managers to reach out to you. I didn’t do this myself but it doesn’t hurt.
We Work Remotely mostly posts positions for programmers, system administrators, customer support engineers, marketers and designers. While it doesn’t post as many positions as other boards, the quality of the jobs posted is very high.
Tip: You can find other remote job boards by doing a quick Google search for “remote job boards”. There are a bunch of blog posts that list the most popular boards. The boards listed above are just the ones that worked best for me.
Traditional Job Boards
Indeed is one of the few traditional job boards that allows you to enter “remote” as your location, plus it’s a good job board for all types of professions. To search for open roles, enter your position in the “what” field and “remote” in the “where” field (see below).
In your job search results, you’ll see the word “Remote” or “Home Based” in the location field next to the job posting. Both of these mean the same thing…
If a job listing has Easy Apply under it, you can apply to the job directly through Indeed. If it doesn’t, Indeed will direct you to the job posting on the hiring company’s website. But, again, don’t apply to anything yet. Just put the link and information in your Google Sheet.
LinkedIn Jobs is not as remote friendly as Indeed but is worth checking out. I landed a few good opportunities from here.
To find remote opportunities on this board, use the keyword search field at the top of the site.
After typing in your desired job title or related keyword, add the word “remote” to the end of the query.
For instance, when I was looking for jobs as a content marketer, I typed “content marketer remote” in the keyword field…
The location field will automatically populate if you leave it blank. So, if you want to work for companies in a certain country, enter the country name there. If you don’t care where the company is located, select the “Search worldwide” option.
Because LinkedIn Jobs doesn’t have a remote friendly search engine, you need to look at the context “remote” is being used in for the job opening.
To do this, click on a job listing, then press Ctrl+F or Command+F depending on whether you’re using a Windows or Mac.
Locate the word “remote” in the job description and make sure it relates to the company hiring remotely rather than not having remote positions available…
In this example, the company was listed on my search results page but is not actually hiring remote workers. Make sure you perform this check before adding the job to your Google Sheet.
ZipRecruiter is another solid job board, but, like LinkedIn Jobs, doesn’t have an option to filter jobs at companies with remote cultures. You must perform the same search and “context checks” as you did with LinkedIn Jobs.
On ZipRecruiter, you’ll notice that there’s a one-click apply option for some positions, but I say again: Don’t apply to anything yet!
I promise, that’s the last time I’ll remind you. 😉
Using Google to scrape job recruiting sites
Most companies don’t post open jobs on their actual website. Instead they post them on recruiting sites. This makes the hiring manager’s life easier because they don’t have to develop the software to receive applications.
Often these open jobs remain hidden. The company wants to hire someone but they don’t know how to get the job out there, or they don’t have time. Because of this, there’s very low competition for these open jobs.
You can find these jobs using a simple search tactic that most people don’t know about.
Here’s how to do it, step by step…
Choose from one of the following recruiting sites: greenhouse.io, lever.co, or workable.com. You can also Google “applicant tracking software” to find more sites like this or check out this list of other recruiting sites.
Assuming you’re searching greenhouse.io for remote jobs, use this Google search, replacing “content marketing” with one of your focus job titles…
And it worked!
The second result is the perfect role for me. This is a position I probably would not have come across had I not done this advanced search.
To see recruitment pages that were updated with new jobs in the past month, click on Settings > Advanced Search…
On the Advanced search screen, locate the field titled “last update” and switch the value to “past month”:
Now click Advanced Search to refresh your search results.
Tip: You should experiment with these advanced settings. For instance, you can try leaving the “last update” field to “anytime” or switching to “past week”. Do the former if you want to see pages that still have open roles but haven’t been updated in a while, and the latter if you plan on checking these recruitment sites for new jobs each week.
You’re on your way! 🎉
By now you should have 1) identified your target profession and relevant job titles, 2) created a Google Sheet that you can add potential jobs to, and 3) used the job boards and tactics described above to add at least three open roles to the Google Sheet.
When you do all of this, go celebrate with a glass of wine, a beer, or whatever your little spoil is in life. But don’t celebrate too much. You still have a lot of work to do, like creating a cover letter and resume that attracts the interest of hiring managers.