11 easy mistakes that could be sabotaging your remote job search

Could simple mistakes be sabotaging your job search? Discover the 11 errors you really want to avoid when looking for a new remote job.

According to a FlexJobs survey, 65% of respondents want to work remotely full-time post-pandemic, with another 33% preferring a hybrid work arrangement. At the same time, the remote job market is growing. FlexJobs saw a 12% increase in the number of remote job listings in 2021 over 2020.

However, even though opportunities have grown and it is a job seeker’s market, candidates still need to adjust their job search tactics to become a competitive remote seeker in today’s environment.

To help you have a more successful remote career search, FlexJobs’ Career Coaching team has identified 11 common mistakes that can stall a remote job search. 

1) Applying for remote jobs outside your geography

Up to 95% of all remote job postings include a location requirement. It may be due to tax or licensing laws, because of an existing client base, or one of many other reasons. Paying attention to where the job is located or what the location requirements are – even if it’s 100% remote work – will help ensure a candidate’s application isn’t stalling because they don’t meet location criteria.

2) Forgetting to highlight remote-specific skills

In addition to specific skills for the job, candidates will also need remote-specific skills for remote work. Employers know which skills they want in remote candidates and look for those skills. Ensure remote skills and experiences are highlighted on resumes.

Remote employers like to know that potential employees have good organizational, time management, problem-solving, and written and verbal communication skills, as well as technological know-how. Including these remote-specific skills and tools on a resume will help candidates stand out. 

3) Not using your remote network

80% of jobs are found in the hidden job market and never posted on job boards or social media. However, tapping into professional networks – and using tools such as LinkedIn, informational interviews, and professional associations to expand one’s network with other remote workers – can help job seekers find them.

It’s also recommended to search for the recruiter or hiring manager’s email or LinkedIn page to send them a message before or after applying for a job. This will display an applicant’s enthusiasm, eagerness, and help set them apart from other candidates.

4) Casting too wide a net to catch a remote fish

If job seekers are so focused on working remotely that they’re applying to tons of different remote roles, they may be wasting job search time. Target job searches to the career field and roles one is qualified for. Employers need applicants to show them that they can do the exact job, and they need it spelled out clearly.

An applicant may be capable of doing five different types of jobs, but if their resume and cover letter aren’t specific to the one job they’re applying for, an employer won’t realize they can do that particular job.

5) Jumping right in

While job seekers may be ready and eager to start their remote job search right away, a slow and steady approach may yield better results. Before scanning job boards, research companies in a specific field to find the ones with aligned values and goals. 

Beginning with research first can create a targeted list of remote-friendly employers and companies that match a candidate’s preferences, putting them in the driver’s seat.

6) Sending the same resume

Tailoring a resume and cover letter to the remote job description can help demonstrate how a job seeker is the perfect fit for a role. Not only will it show they “get” a given company’s culture, but it will also be able to show how their skills will benefit the employer.

It’s important to tailor resumes to the job description to improve the odds of an application making it past the applicant tracking system (ATS). The resume and cover letter should reflect not only the skills and experience you have for the remote job, but also how you might be a strong fit for their remote company culture. Shared values, previous remote experience, and even details about the applicant’s home office setup can all be included.

7) Submitting a fancy resume

To make a resume stand out, a candidate might include graphics, columns, unusual fonts, or even a photo. However, using any or all of these elements could stall your remote job search. The ATS scans resumes for keywords in the text, but can’t easily scan these types of formatting elements, and often with columns and tables, the information isn’t parsed correctly.

Photos, background colors, headers and footers, and columns are not read by the ATS. If the ATS can’t read application materials, the application will likely rank lower in the system, making it less likely a human will read the resume.

8) Using a task-based resume

In addition to customizing a resume for each job application, it’s essential candidates explain why they’re perfect for the role. Job seekers commonly default to writing their work history similar to their job duties, listing off all the tasks they performed but not talking about the outcomes of their actions.

But employers want to read more than just a list of tasks and duties. They want to know the results and outcomes of the work that was performed, which provides them with information on why someone is better suited than the competition for a role. Specifically for a remote position, employers need to see how things were accomplished while working independently, staying focused, and utilizing common remote tools and technology.

9) Setting an unrealistic timeline

The average job search might take three to six months, but some job searches may take longer. When candidates state they must have a job by [X date], it could lead to unrealistic goals or push them to consider roles they wouldn’t ultimately be happy with. So much depends on the type of career field and industry, the overall job market, and each employer’s situation.

As for remote work, it also depends on whether a candidate is seeking a fully remote or hybrid job or if they’re open to both. As a job seeker, there are some things that can be controlled and some that cannot. Rather than focusing on a specific timeline, job seekers need to focus on what they can truly control, like sending customized resumes and cover letters, building remote skills, doing company research, and networking. 

10) Changing careers without preparing

Before a job seeker decides to change careers or start their career search, they need to prepare a resume and themselves. When changing careers, it’s important to demonstrate to a hiring manager, via a cover letter and resume, how skills will transfer from an old career to a new one.

Additionally, being purposeful about pursuing training that will advance skills in this new direction, can give a candidate the skills for their resume and show a potential employer that they’re serious about the transition.

If the career change includes working remotely for the first time, the candidate needs to show they’ve learned remote communication tools, have strong remote work skills like time management, and understand how remote teams operate, all of which requires research and self-training.

11) Not saying “Thanks”

Finally, it’s important to remember that a job search doesn’t end with landing an interview – it ends when a candidate lands the job. Remember to send a thank-you note after the interview. Many candidates forget this simple, yet crucial part of the interview process, but it’s an opportunity for job seekers to reiterate their excitement and convey why they’re a great fit for the role and company. 

Job seekers can also access an expansive database of Q&As from the FlexJobs career coaching team, including resume reviews, one-on-one coaching sessions, mock interviews, and more career advice and support.

Photo by Jenny Ueberberg