New Year, New Job: How to Jumpstart Your Remote Job Search in 2020
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With a new year just around the corner, it’s the perfect time to re-energize your remote job search.
After all, an amazing job with better pay and exciting new challenges could be just around the corner. And if you’re going after a remote job, you’ll be able to work from wherever you want and finally say goodbye to office life.
As 2019 comes to a close, what steps can you take to recharge your remote job search in the new year? Here are nine tips for starting 2020 off with a bang.
1. New year, new job: Start by getting clear about your goals
Before diving into the job search, take some time to reflect on your personal and professional goals. These questions will get you off to a good start.
- How are you looking to develop your career over the next year? What excites you? Is there any career you’ve always been curious about but felt afraid to try?
- What are your must-haves in your next position? What are your deal-breakers?
- Is there a specific salary you’re looking for? (Find out what the industry standard is with some research on Glassdoor, Payscale, or a related site.) What benefits are non-negotiables, and what would you be willing to forgo if push came to shove?
- If you’re starting a new career, is there anything you can do to develop your skills, like taking an online course or earning a certification?
- What do you like about your current or past jobs that you’d want to maintain, and what features can you not wait to get rid of?
- Do you want to work for a 100% remote company, or would you join a non-remote company if you had the option to work from home?
- What sort of culture are you looking for in your next company? Would you want to wear many hats in a small, growing start-up or prefer a well-established company with various departments. Remember, “cultural fit” is a two-way street!
By reflecting on what you want in your next job, you’ll have a much clearer sense of purpose moving forward. Instead of throwing (metaphorical) spaghetti at the wall and seeing what sticks, you can put your time and energy toward the roles that would be right for you.
By the way, it could also help to set goals about how much time you’ll put toward the job hunt and when. Some people say job searching is a full-time job, but chances are you don’t have hours and hours every day to put into it.
Whether with a planner, Google calendar, or whatever scheduling tool works for you, set aside some specific times each week to devote to the job search. By designating certain hours to it, you won’t find yourself at the end of 2020 wondering where all the time went.
2. Revamp your resume and LinkedIn profile
Your resume remains a crucial tool on the job hunt. In many cases, it will be the first piece of information hiring managers see about you, so you want to leave a good impression.
Plus, your resume might be one of many, so you want it to stand out rather than get lost in the mix. If you haven’t been having much luck with your resume in 2018, take time to freshen it up for the coming year.
Make sure you have a clean format with plenty of white space. Don’t try to fit in every job you’ve ever had, but instead include the most relevant and recent ones.
Instead of describing your responsibilities under each job title, try to highlight your accomplishments. If possible, put a number on each achievement (e.g., Successfully recruited 75 new clients, surpassing the quarterly goal of 50).
By the way, most experts recommend leaving out the “objective” section at the top of the resume and instead starting out with a summary of your accomplishments. Here, you could include any credentials, certifications, and relevant experiences in a short blurb.
Finally, don’t forget to customize your resume if you’re applying to different types of jobs. If the case calls for it, switch up your resume so it shows you’re the ideal candidate for each individual position.
Pro tip: Use phrases you see in the job description in your resume. Some employers filter out resumes with an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) before human eyes take a look. If the ATS doesn’t pick up any relevant language, your resume might be discarded before anyone sees it.
Also, give this same attention to detail to your LinkedIn profile. Many employers give you the option to import your LinkedIn profile when you apply for a job, rather than attach your resume.
Plus, they might check it out before inviting you in for an interview. And LinkedIn can be a great tool for networking or touching base with someone who works in the company you’d like to join.
So make sure your profile is up to date, has a catchy bio at the beginning, and highlights your achievements in your past jobs.
3. Craft an enticing cover letter
While your resume highlights your experiences and achievements, your cover letter is an opportunity to advocate for yourself.
It’s important to customize your cover letter for each position you’re applying to. Just as with your resume, you can paraphrase some of the language found in the job description to show you understand the expectations of the position. Plus, you can write something unique about the company to show you’ve done your research and are eager to join the team.
Although you want to describe your experiences and qualifications, you also don’t want to simply repeat your resume. Instead, use your cover letter as a chance to flesh out your most relevant experiences. And instead of focusing on what you want, explain what value you’d bring to the employer.
Put yourself in the employer’s shoes for a second. Their mission is to find an employee who will bring value and help them realize their mission. So use your cover letter to demonstrate that you understand what that mission is and are the person who can help them achieve it.
Finally, don’t be afraid to inject your personality into your cover letter. This is a chance for you to show who you are and what you bring to the table. (And you never know, the person reading it might share your passion for axe-throwing or kombucha-brewing and invite you in for an interview straightaway!)
4. Have your professional references ready to go
Often, employers ask for one to three references from your past positions. If you expect a reference check to be part of the hiring process, get your references squared away. That way, you won’t have to call around at the last minute and hope you can get in touch with past bosses or coworkers.
Reach out to people you’ve worked with in the past, and find out if they’d be willing to provide you with a recommendation. This could take the form of a brief testimonial you could post on LinkedIn or a longer reference letter.
If it’s a letter, don’t be afraid to shoot over some of your own ideas for what should go in it. Even though it might feel like bragging, sending over a few ideas about what to include could actually refresh your recommender’s memory and help them write an effective letter.
At the very least, take time to have a conversation with your recommenders, describing your professional experiences and goals. That way, they’ll be prepared to recommend you (with specific examples) when your prospective employer contacts them for info.
5. Build an impressive website or portfolio of work
Depending on your field, it could be extremely helpful to put together a portfolio of work or build a personal website. If you’re a programmer, writer, marketer, or other tech or creative professional, having samples of your work could be key for landing your next job.
This is especially true if you’re a freelancer going after clients. You’ll need to show them what you’ve done in the past so they have a clear picture of what value you could provide for them. It could also help to collect positive reviews from past clients.
If you haven’t had much luck with the job hunt in 2018, take the new year to build up your portfolio or make a website. Although you’ll have to invest some time and energy up front, the payoff could be well worth it.
6. Hop on the networking train
The word “networking” often has a slimy connotation, but it doesn’t have to. It just means connecting with people in your field who you can learn and gain inspiration from.
If you’re dying to be a programmer but everyone in your circle is a chef, for example, you’re probably not going to get many useful tips on how to break into your target field, and vice versa.
If you’re new to an industry, building your network from scratch can be daunting. But by reaching out to friends and family, relying on your alumni network, and using LinkedIn, you could find like-minded professionals who want to talk shop.
You might even use a networking app, such as LetsLunch or Shapr, which are basically Tinder but for networking. Through these apps, you can find someone in your area who wants to meet up for coffee or lunch and talk careers.
You might enjoy talking about the joys and challenges of building your career, as well as swap tips on landing a job. And you might end up getting a lead on an exciting new position.
According to a survey by The Adler Group, 85% of jobs are filled by networking. If you have a referral from someone on the inside, your application is much more likely to get seen than if you’re just another anonymous candidate.
So invest in building your network, and try to reach out to people within a company you’d like to join. This extra effort to make a personal connection could bring you a giant step closer to getting hired.
7. Join job alert lists to stay up to date
Back in the day, people found jobs by scouring the classifieds in newspapers. That’s just to say, today’s job search could be a lot harder than it is.
Now you’ve got lots of resources at your fingertips to stay up to date with job openings. Job boards like FlexJobs, WeWorkRemotely, and Remote OK make it easy to browse listings of thousands of remote positions.
What’s more, you can sign up for free job alerts from these sites so a curated list of openings gets sent to your inbox every day. Once you’ve figured out what you’re looking for, sign up for job alerts so you can stay on top of any promising positions that come up.
8. Consider working with a recruiter
Power to Fly for example, connects women with schedule-flexible jobs, many of which are remote.
Vettery looks for finance, tech, and sales candidates to connect with its more than 13,000 partner companies. Not everyone is accepted on this competitive platform, but if you are and get hired, Vettery will gift you with a $500 signing bonus.
Depending on your field, a recruiter could be the secret weapon you need for your 2020 job search.
9. Sharpen your job interview skills
It can take a lot of work to get to the job interview stage, but once you do, you want to make sure you’re ready to impress. Prepare yourself for common job interview questions that could come your way, such as “Tell me about yourself” and “What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?”
Prepare some specific examples to answer the dreaded “behavioral interview questions,” which ask you to pinpoint a specific time when you succeeded, failed, surprised yourself, etc. It’s easy to go blank when you’re put on the spot with these types of questions, so try to come up with some examples to share before your interview.
Along with practicing your answers, come up with savvy questions to ask your interviewer, too. Avoid basic questions that have already been answered in the job description. Instead, come up with thoughtful queries about where the company is heading in the next five years or what its major pain points are right now.
If you’re interviewing online, make sure you’re comfortable with whatever app you’ll be using, whether Zoom, Skype, Slack, Google Hangouts, or something else. Running into technical difficulties the day of could leave you flustered, so try practicing with a friend or family member beforehand to make sure you’ve got any wrinkles ironed out.
Ready for a new job in the new year? Go after your dream remote job in 2020
The new year is a time to reflect on the past year and make resolutions for the future. If a job change is in your plans, use this positive energy to recharge your job hunt in the coming year.
You might encounter setbacks along the way, but you have the tools to overcome them and keep making progress toward what you want.
By focusing on your goals — and going after them with purpose and persistence — you can make 2020 the year you snag your dream remote job.