You’ve got the right background, stellar credentials, and a resume that screams “Hire me!” You’d be a catch for any company. The twist is that you really want to work from home, and none of the companies advertising a remote job are calling you back.
Here’s why: You’re probably making some basic mistakes that matter a lot more when you’re applying for virtual positions. The good news is that there are quick fixes you can put into place to turn your search around for the better. So, read on for four common issues (and four easy solutions).
1. You’re a Ghost
By ghost, I mean you have zero web presence. Aside from your email address and its account avatar (if you have one), there are few other clues as to who you are and what you’ve done. Your LinkedIn profile is out of date and your personal website is just a domain name. Employers get a faint sense of what you’re about, but not much else.
“But I sent my resume, isn’t that enough?”
Not if you want to quickly establish trust. Think about it: These companies have expansive websites, social profiles, and web presences that go on for days. That’s because they want you to understand them. Failure to return in kind makes it difficult for them to see why you’re awesome.
The Quick Fix
I point to LinkedIn here because it’s free, relatively easy to set up, and it’s a social profile, blog, and personal website rolled into single platform.
My bite-sized advice is to populate your profile’s sections (especially the summary) with a least three to five lines of information each, and then share a status update once a day. It can be an article or a feel-good motivational quote—anything goes. Oh, and a solid profile picture is a must.
You’ll have a warm, fleshy profile out in the world that’ll rank highly in your search results, instead of a bag of bones.
2. Your Emails Are “Meh”
Super long emails. Stuffy, overly formal emails. Emails with generic cover letters in them. Emails that don’t really say anything. Typos galore. Emails you leave unanswered for days.
“Meh” covers so many things in this case.
At the end of the day, the problem is that your communication style doesn’t match that of the company or remote teams in general. People like working with people. Not robots. Not dinosaurs. Certainly not the guy delivering a 300-page dissertation on how goal-oriented he is.
To engage your readers via email and show that you “get it,” you’ve got to be concise, authentic, and snappy (read: fast!).
The Quick Fix
Be a copycat. Consider the tone of the job ad you’re responding to, in addition to the voice used on the company’s site. Scan the LinkedIn profile of its founder. Read the blog posts. Match the organization’s pace and vibe.
Is it business casual? Is it serious? Maybe it’s somewhere in between the two. Then, kind of like how you’d dress for an interview, be half-a-step more formal. That way, you’re balancing a message of “I’d totally fit in here” with “I still get it’s a first impression.”
Finally, match the tone in your communication with everyone you meet on the team. And if you’re volleying emails with someone from the company, pay attention to the way he or she writes, and echo the style—because maybe the hiring manager and your potential boss communicate differently. Most importantly keep your message short, because—who’s really got the time for all that jazz?
3. You’re Not Tech-Savvy
Remember what I said about dinosaurs above? That! Are you still using an email address with an @aol.com domain? Is your webcam picture a fuzzy, pixelated mess?
Before we delve too deep into this one, here’s a confession: I’m no Mark Zuckerberg.
I can’t figure out the point of Periscope, let alone revive my computer when it gives me the blue screen of death. But when it comes to getting stuff done online, I’m ready. Without the right equipment and fluency in common web tools, I’d be just another writer in sweatpants.
Worse, if I were interviewing for a new role, tripping up on the basics would instantly shake the confidence of my potential employer.
The Quick Fix
Before you even think about sending out applications, give yourself a technical audit. If you had to start working from home tomorrow, would you be ready? Run through this three-point checklist:
- Good webcam and internet connection (no less than 20 MBPS)
- Headphones (because no one likes an echo during a video chat)
- A 2015-appropriate email domain: My preference is @gmail.com or @[yourpersonalwebsite].com.
Lastly, when you’re invited for an interview, read the instructions carefully. Make sure you understand whether it’s a phone call or video meeting. Should the invite mention a tool or piece of software you’ve never used before, test-drive the you-know-what out of it before the big day.
4. Your Motivation’s All Wrong
So, you wanna work from home. You want flexibility and can’t wait to ditch your commute. Big deal. Every candidate in the pile applied for the same reasons.
“Why do you want to work with us?” is a loaded question, that much is true.
It doesn’t matter if it’s one line in your cover letter, or a response that you give during the interview. If it seems like all you care about is going virtual, you’re going to get passed over.
The Quick Fix
To stand out, demonstrate your interest in the company itself and the role at hand. Heck, this is good advice for any job hunt. Do your research. Determine what the company stands for and how you connect with their vision. Think about the role. Be prepared to explain what it means not only for your professional growth, but also as an exciting chance to influence the company and its industry.
And then talk about how you’re ready to work from home, and the experience you have focusing on doing your work even when your kitchen, TV, and laundry room are close by.
A healthy web presence, emails with a human touch, top-notch technical skills, and authentic, big-picture passion. Now there are four reasons virtual companies will interview you, hire you, and enjoy having you on their team.