Remote jobs are getting more and more popular, but that doesn’t mean getting hired for one is easy.
After all, when you apply for a remote position, you’re not just competing with applicants from your city. Instead, you could be up against applicants from all over the country or even world.
With the stakes this high, the margin for error gets even smaller. If you’re pursuing a remote job, make sure you’re not making any of these seven mistakes in your job search.
1. Failing to network with others in your industry
Even if networking isn’t your thing, there’s no denying it’s a powerful tool in the job search. According to The Adler Group, a whopping 85% of all positions are filled via networking.
Many companies prioritize applicants that an existing employee recommended. Simply knowing someone in a company can get you an interview.
What’s more, connecting with others can keep you up to date on what’s happening in your industry or reveal job opportunities before they’re posted online.
So how can you connect with like-minded professionals in your field, especially if you work from home?
LinkedIn remains a great networking tool. Although some people frown on connect requests from strangers, you could introduce yourself with a thoughtful message and start a conversation.
If you went to college, check out your alumni network for fellow graduates in your field (or the field you want to break into). You might even find a mentor who can help guide your career development.
You could also reach out to friends and family to “set you up” with any acquaintances they know in your industry. Conferences are also a great way to network with other professionals.
Even though putting yourself out there can be tough, your efforts at networking could pay off with knowledge, inspiration, and, knock on wood, a job offer.
2. Using the same, generic cover letter for everyone
Sending off the same tired, generic cover letter to every hiring manager is a surefire way to get ignored.
In most cases, changing the salutation isn’t enough. Instead, it’s better to customize your cover letter for each and every position you’re applying for.
Sure, it can get time-consuming, but this effort will impress a hiring manager. You can reflect the job description in your cover letter, for instance, showing that you understand what experiences and qualifications they’re looking for.
Plus, you can include details specific to the company to show you’ve done your research. Finally, you can focus on what specific value you could bring to the organization.
Instead of going on about what you’re looking for in your next job, remember to shift the focus to what you can deliver to the company.
The hiring manager is looking for an employee who will help move the needle forward on their goals and help them achieve their mission, so use your cover letter to (succinctly) summarize why you’re the best person for the role.
3. Sending an unpolished or outdated resume
If you’ve been sending off the same resume for the past five years, it’s time to hit refresh.
First, make sure your work history is up to date and you’ve included your most recent position. You don’t have to list every job you’ve ever had, but instead should highlight the most relevant ones.
Rather than simply describing what your role involved, focus on accomplishments you made in each position. If possible, quantify them so anyone reading your resume can clearly understand what you achieved.
Although resume experts used to recommend putting an “objective” section at the top, they now suggest a summary of accomplishments. In this section, you could reflect the job description to show you understand what the company is looking for (more on this in the next point).
Finally, I’m a fan of including some personal interests at the top, like brewing beer or running marathons. You never know what connection you could spark with the hiring manager before you meet. But every work culture is different, so use your best judgment on whether this would be appropriate or too informal.
Also, some experts say the “one page” rule of resumes isn’t so hard and fast anymore, but it’s still a good guideline in most cases. Unless you have an extensive list of certifications, degrees, and relevant positions, you can probably say all you need to in one page.
4. Forgetting to incorporate keywords in your materials
Remember how I said that hiring managers typically get tons of applications from all over the world for remote jobs? Sorting through all these resumes is a tall order, so many companies now use software programs to do the initial sorting.
Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) search resumes for certain keywords, which often reflect the core competencies of a position. For instance, a job description might say it looks for “proficiency in Adobe Photoshop” or “5 years experience in UX design.”
If the ATS program doesn’t find that language anywhere on your resume or cover letter, your materials could be discarded before they ever get before human eyes.
So if you didn’t think it was important to customize your resume and cover letter for each job before, now you know it can make or break your chances of having a human see your application.
5. Neglecting to build (or clean up) your online presence
Before hiring you, most hiring managers will Google you to check out your online presence. Even if your accounts are set to private, be careful about posting anything NSFW. Even though it might not be fair, R-rated images and tweets could sully your image in the interviewer’s eyes and sink your chances of getting hired.
Along with cleaning up potentially incriminating info, make an effort to build a positive online presence. Update your LinkedIn profile with current information, a thoughtfully crafted bio, and even testimonials from colleagues, clients, or bosses.
And if you’re going after online work, consider building a personal website to showcase your skills and accomplishments. If you’re an aspiring remote worker or digital nomad, having a personal website could be a powerful tool to have in your job search toolbox.
6. Not building a portfolio of work to show what you can do
Depending on your line of work, building a portfolio could also be essential to landing a job. If you’re a writer or programmer, for instance, employers will likely want to see samples of past work.
A portfolio can also be a huge help if you’re working as a freelancer or starting your own online business and going after clients. Without one, prospective employers won’t have proof that you can deliver on what you say you will.
Showing a portfolio of work could go a long way toward proving your credentials and impressing a potential employer.
7. Not collecting testimonials or references from past clients or coworkers
The final mistake to avoid when on the hunt for a remote job would be failing to collect references or testimonials.
Altogether, your resume materials — resume, cover letter, portfolio, etc. — should tell a story about who you are and what you can do.
And personal testimonials and references from past colleagues, clients, or managers can go a long way toward reinforcing that narrative and convincing a prospective employer that you’re the right person for the job.
Not having any could be a major weak point in your application. So collect some testimonials for your LinkedIn profile, and have references on-call if you need them.
This step could bring you much closer to getting hired for your dream job.
Avoid these job search mistakes to put your best foot forward
When all’s said and done, the remote job search isn’t hugely different from any other job search. But you want to be extra prepared when you apply, since getting your application noticed among a global pool of applicants is challenging.
Once you land an interview, make sure you’ve prepared to answer (and ask) questions. Along with prepping for the usual suspects, be ready to talk about what you enjoy about working remotely and how you manage your time.
Working from home requires you to be independent and self-directed, so make sure the hiring manager knows you can excel in a remote environment.
Ready to conquer the job search? Here are 17 of the best websites for finding a 100% remote job.