How to Find a Remote Job: Guide


How To Find a Remote Job

Whether you’ve decided to rejoin the workforce after raising kids, or you need a little more work flexibility in your schedule, a remote job might be just what the career doctor ordered.

But, finding a remote job isn’t as easy as searching “remote jobs.” For starters, you need to exercise caution in where you search for remote jobs. Then, you have to demonstrate not just how you’re the best applicant for the job, but how you’re the best remote applicant.

Speak the Right Language

There are at least 19 different ways to say “remote work.” Since no two companies use the same term, as you’re searching for a remote job, you should know all the different ways to say “remote work.” Here are just a few of the common ones:

  • Distributed Workforce: You and everyone you work with work remotely
  • Work-at-Home (or Work-from-Home): You work at home
  • Virtual Job: All the work is done online or in a virtual office
  • Work-from-Anywhere: A job without any geographical restrictions
  • Agile Workforce: a flexible workforce

There are, of course, many other phrases that mean “remote work.” But knowing some of the more common terms will help you target your search.

“Pay attention to the wording used by companies in job listings,” instructs  Brie Reynolds, Career Development Manager and Career Coach at FlexJobs. “You might notice that companies in your industry or line of work tend to say ‘telecommute’ instead of ‘remote’ or ‘remote’ instead of ‘virtual.’ Those subtleties can focus your search on the best keywords for your particular career goals.”

Not All Jobs Are Equal

You already knew that which is why you’re looking for a new job! However, not all remote jobs are equal, either. While there are jobs that are 100% remote, many remote jobs are “hybrid” jobs, consisting of in-office and remote work. Make sure you read the job description carefully, so you don’t apply thinking it’s 100% remote when it turns out you have to be in the office three days a week.

Also, many fully remote jobs have a location requirement. This can be a country, a state, or even a metropolitan area. There are several reasons why remote jobs have these restrictions, including:

  • Legal: some licensing requirements or government regulations may restrict the company to and from specific locations.
  • Taxes: companies may only pay employment taxes in certain states.
  • Travel: just because it’s remote doesn’t mean you won’t have to take frequent business trips, which makes living near an airport a necessity.
  • Client base: remote work doesn’t mean never meeting clients in-person. If you’re responsible for a certain territory of customers, you may need to live close to them to facilitate meetings.

Scam Alert

Unfortunately, the “remote work” job category tends to attract scams. For every one legitimate work-from-home job, there are approximately 60-70 work-from-home job scams. In other words, less than 3% of all work-from-home job listings are for legitimate jobs. Some of the common scams include, but are not limited to:

  • Secret shopping
  • Product testing or reshipping
  • Rebate processing

When searching for a remote job, keep an eye out for red flags:

  • The ad says things like “Unlimited earning potential,” “Investment opportunities and seminars,” or “Quick money.”
  • You’re asked for personal financial information (like your social security number or birth date) early in the interview process or as part of your application.
  • The job requires up-front expenses from you.
  • You’re offered a job without anyone contacting – or even asking for – your references.

If the job description, website, or even recruiter seems fishy, it probably is. Trust your gut and do some research before you part with any personal information. Start by researching the company. The Better Business Bureau and the Federal Trade Commission are great starting points.

You should also search the company name on a search engine plus the word “scam” and see what comes up.

Finding Remote Jobs

Now that you know what to look for in a remote job posting, you need to know where (and how) to find remote jobs. While certain job boards may be focused on all types of jobs, if you’re looking for a remote job, you may want to focus your search on job search platforms that specialize in remote and flexible work, like FlexJobs.

All of the jobs we post are thoroughly vetted by our research team to ensure they’re legitimate, so that rule of 3% doesn’t apply to our members.  Take the tour to learn more. Or, read the success stories from FlexJobs members.

However, if you want to widen your search options, try these tips:

  • Read over company career pages and be on the lookout for works like “work-life balance” or “flexibility.”
  • Tap your network to see who you know that already works remotely. You might be surprised! Ask them how they found their remote job and ask for tips.

Applying for Remote Jobs

You’ve found the perfect remote job, and you’re ready to apply. That means creating a thoughtful and well-written remote work cover letter and resume. But creating cover letters and resumes for remote jobs means highlighting more than your skills and experiences. You need to highlight your remote skills and experiences.

Sell Your Skills

If you have any previous experience working remotely, make sure you mention them in the cover letter and resume. But if you haven’t worked remotely, you may have to do some digging to find the relevant experience that spotlights your remote-savvy skills.

Start with your clients and co-workers. Are they located somewhere else? If so, have you coordinated a meeting across multiple time zones? Collaborated on a project? How did you accomplish these tasks? What software did you use? Talk about your successes in these areas.

Even if you’ve never worked with someone outside your office, that doesn’t mean you don’t have the skill set necessary for remote employee success. Employers with remote positions want applicants to have skills in:

  • Time and task management.
  • Self-motivation and focus.
  • Comfort with technology.
  • Proactive communication skills.

Think about the skills you possess that demonstrate, for example, how you’re self-motivated. Is there a work project you completed with minimal direction or oversight? How did you do that? What were the steps you took to stay on top of things? What about a personal project you undertook because you wanted to? What drove you to start and finish it?

“Your resume should include a section that highlights your Technology Skills because being comfortable with technology and basic troubleshooting is critical for remote work,” Reynolds says. “List all the programs you’re familiar with, including general programs like Microsoft Office, Salesforce, or Quickbooks, and remote-specific programs like web and video conferencing tools, online chat programs, document sharing, project management, collaboration tools, and more.”

Conducting a personal inventory may reveal that you have far more “remote” skills than you realized, making you an excellent candidate for the position.

Interviewing for Remote Jobs

In some respects, preparing for a remote job interview is the same as preparing for any interview. However, in other respects, preparing for a remote job interview requires some special steps.

Get Ready For Your Close Up

Remote interviews usually involve a phone or video call. This is a great chance to show off your tech-savviness. But make sure you aren’t overlooking some of the practical aspects of a remote interview, too.

For example, if you know the interview requires the internet, make sure you have a reliable connection. Wifi and cellular connections are OK, but a wired internet connection is usually a safer bet. Download (if necessary) and test your connection. Does everything work with your equipment?

Also, think about where you will have your interview. Do you have a home office? If so, does it look professional? Check the area around and behind you. Make sure it’s tidy and clean. If you don’t have a home office, is there someplace at home where you won’t be interrupted during the interview?

For video interviews, practice answering questions on camera, either by yourself or with a friend who wants to help. Get everything set up and speak your answers out-loud while looking at your computer camera. It’s hard to get used to at first so practicing ahead of time will calm your nerves for the real interview,” Reynolds says.

Attend to these things in advance, so you’re ready to go when it’s time. The last thing you want to do is tell your interviewer to “hang on a second,” while you download the program, only to find that it’s not compatible with your system.

The Questions

Like any interview, an interview for a remote position will include standard questions. “Tell me about yourself,” “Why did you apply for the job?” and “What are your strengths and weaknesses?” are all likely to make appearances. You can certainly prep and practice for those, but don’t overlook some remote-specific interview questions, too.

These are only a few samples, but they give you an idea of what kinds of remote work-specific questions to expect. And don’t think of these as curveball interview questions. Questions like these help the interviewer assess if you have the skills to work and succeed as a remote employee.

Start Your Remote Job Search

We’ve only scratched the surface on how to find a remote job. Start by checking out our list of the top 100 companies with remote jobs. These companies have listed the most remote and flexible jobs on FlexJobs and include jobs in Sales, Accounting & Finance, Customer Service, and much more

For even more tips on tricks for finding a remote job, we created a comprehensive, downloadable guide. This in-depth look at finding a remote job will help you figure out which remote jobs are best for you and what you can do to make yourself stand out among all the other applicants.


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A version of this post was originally published on July 26, 2013. 

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Jennifer Parris, FlexJobs Career Writer

Jennifer comes from corporate America… and a four-hour daily commute! Now, as a Career Writer for FlexJobs , she commutes to the corner office (in her house, that is) in under 60 seconds! Says Jennifer: “I’ve always been a writer,…Read More >

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