Remote jobs are increasingly popular, both in number and demand. It’s really no wonder, since finding a great remote job is pretty much the dream - from better work-life balance, more time with the family, homemade food, that damn commute that makes it seem you’re working 60 hours a week even during low-pressure quarters… Not to mention the sweatpants! But remote working isn’t only good for you - it’s good for companies, too. Nicholas Bloom, a professor at Stanford University in California and James Liang, CEO of Tripp.com Group conducted a study that found just one day working at home per week increased productivity by 13%. To top it off, cost savings will usually be the case for both you and the company. And while it has its downsides just as anything else in life, if there is trust and a healthy environment, at Nixa.io we contend that the benefits of remote work far outweigh the in-office environment. But how do you find that perfect remote job and sell your skillset?
This article will explore the general how-to of the topic, but will be more focused on software developers and engineers looking for remote work. After all, we work with software brainiacs.
Map out your skills and preferences
It’s really important to find a role that suits you, where your tech talent can shine and you feel fulfilled. Look at your current role or your most recent role and work out which parts of the job you really enjoyed. Make sure to map out your skills and preferences
Take stock of your work and decide what your next role should have and what you want to avoid. It is important that you have a clear vision of your preferences and where you want to go. Ask yourself the questions: What is important for me to find in a new job or what type of challenges/problems would I specifically want to work on solving?
Skill up where needed and research if there are any certifications required for the type of roles you are looking for. Experience counts for a lot, but having documented proof of your skills and talent can make all the difference between hiring you and someone else. Put some thought into what kind of industry you'd like to work in and what type of products you'd like to build. Start browsing for jobs within these areas and jot down which skills come up the most but may be lacking under your sleeve and get to work.
Find a remote job
There are plenty of platforms and online jobs boards that specialise in remote jobs – including us at Nixa.io.
Our platform is a one-stop shop for software developers and engineers looking for remote jobs. After signing up with some basic info and your preferences as to the job you want, we send you an invite to a technical assessment via HackerRank or Coderbyte that looks at your problem solving skills. If you pass, we invite you for a meet-and-greet screening call to better understand your background, those preferences you listed, whether your English will suffice, and how we can best serve your needs. After this super short pre-qualification process of 2.5 hours, you are onboarded on the Nixa platform. If there is a match, you could get an offer in as little as 2 weeks. You don’t need to apply or tweak your resume. Companies apply to interview you. But there’s a catch - we specialize in long-term, mostly full-time opportunities. Most other platforms and job boards go the usual freelancer route. While we personally prefer both stability and flexibility in one, your needs may be different, so check out these online job boards where you can find different remote working positions:
ATS- and HR-proof resume
The Internet is filled with insane amounts of information on what that perfect resume looks like and it takes ages to go through it all. Luckily, we’ve compiled the most important things here.
1. Formatting your resume
No, you don’t need to have the most sleep-inducing format, but do not go overboard. ATS, just like HR and hiring managers, prefer something readable and in text format. Leave the fancy charts and the like out, and focus on formatting your resume in such a way as to make it most readable, separating sections and placing them according to what you want (and need) to emphasize. Be consistent with fonts and bold, italicize, and enlarge important things. Don’t forget that one of these is your name, too.
You can obviously use some pre-made resume templates to guide you, as well.
2. Contact info and summary
Start with your name and most important contact information, such as your email, phone number, and relevant social and showcase links (LinkedIn, Github, your website, etc.). Make sure to polish your LinkedIn profile beforehand and to avoid adding irrelevant social profiles that are easily found anyway by a simple Google search.
Follow your contact information by either a resume summary in case you’re more mid- to senior level, or a resume objective if you’re a fresh grad or just entering the field. The summary should be concise, i.e. no more than 3 longer or 5 shorter sentences, tailored to the job whenever possible, and on point - mention your title, relevant degree and certifications, as well as a short snippet of your professional achievement, hopefully with some numbers as icing on the cake.
3. Work Experience
List the title first, the company and timeframe second. Follow by responsibilities and achievements in active voice and try to highlight aspects for which you were directly responsible with verbs such as “overhauled”, “directed”, etc. Make sure to mention numbers wherever possible, such as “increasing X by Y%” or “improving X by Y%”. If numbers aren’t possible, try something like “improving design to the recognition of X [person]”.
Focus on hard skills first and group them by expertise. This is where you avoid fancy charts or confusing ratings. If you use a vague scale like for example 1-10, it isn’t exactly obvious to the reader what a 3 or a 7 is. Rather, showcase your skills in 3 or 4 groups, such as:
Expert ⟨⟩ Advanced ⟨⟩ Intermediate ⟨⟩ Beginner ⟨⟩
For soft skills, you can either list them separately, or tie them in within the work experience section. “Allowing me to fine-tune my communication or leadership or organizational, etc. skills” is an example.
5. Education and Certifications
If you’re a beginner, add relevant coursework to your degrees. Otherwise, list your degrees in order from most recent downward, and begin with your degree in the heading, and school below. If your grade-point average isn’t perfect or near-perfect, avoid adding it. Important: Don’t forget that alternative ways of learning count! If you’ve taken courses at Udacity, Udemy, EdX, Coursera, or wherever else, mention it! It shows your dedication and is written proof that you were educated in a relevant field. Not to mention that many software developers and engineers didn’t even get a degree at all or in the field, more specifically. Companies know this and increasingly accept it.
For certifications, list them spelling out the full name of the certification, then follow with abbreviations. Don’t list them with abbreviations alone. Mention the date of issuing and, where applicable, date of expiration. Follow with a hyperlink as proof wherever possible.
6. Personal touch
If there’s whitespace left, use it to mention volunteering, leadership roles, membership in relevant and/or interesting organizations, as well as hobbies and interests. These sections will humanize you, as well as emphasize your commitment to your profession and/or involvement with causes that matter to you. And you never know - it may just be that an important person in the company is a member of the same organization or loves a certain sport.
Online presence and what it can do to you (or for you!)
With any job today, it’s more than “normal” for companies to perform some sort of a background check. When it comes to remote jobs, it’s quite obvious that they most likely will do research on you. After all, it’s the internet that enables you to work remotely in the first place.
Make sure that you clean up your social media or simply make everything that may not be appropriate for work locked behind privacy settings. It’s really unnecessary to have photos of yourself and friends drinking directly from a barrel at a party available to anyone with an internet connection.
Portfolios are HUGE
As mentioned before, complete and polish your LinkedIn profile because your future employer will almost certainly look at it. On LinkedIn, you can feature links to your portfolios and other profiles. Pro tip: Give and seek skill endorsements from the people you know and who know you.
It isn’t a bad idea to get to work on your GitHub profile either or to make your own website showcasing different projects you worked on. Additionally or alternatively, you can create sample code and show it off on sites like CodePen (frontend only). Scratch that - it’s super important to be able to show your work and prove you can walk the talk.
How to ace that remote interview
You got an interview. Now what?
First things first, familiarize yourself with the technology the company is using to interview you. Some may opt for the standard ones like Zoom or Google Meet, but some may choose other alternatives. Make sure they work on your computer and that you download the app in advance if necessary. Don’t forget to test it beforehand.
Second, dress for success. Just because you’re interviewing remotely doesn’t mean you should show up in a tank top or a dirty T-shirt. Research the company’s team in advance and see whether they dress casually, business-casual, or full on business attire, and dress accordingly.
Third, learn to impress. Snoop around a few online profiles of people who are likely to participate in your interview and see if you can find something about them with which you can connect personally. Maybe they’re a fan of a particular activity you enjoy, or maybe they’re even alumni of your school. This information is a great icebreaker.
Fourth, research the company. This is pretty self-explanatory, but often forgotten. Look at their About, their team, their history, reviews, especially on Glassdoor, worth, products, news, etc.
Fifth, prepare a list of questions for them. These are some examples of good questions to ask:
Can you describe a day in this role, preferably in some detail?
How would you define success in this role and how would you measure it?
Can you tell me how the company arrived at the vision it has?
What is your (the interviewer’s) favorite part of working here?
What do you think could be better?
How much does the company enable professional development?
1. Prepare for technical assessments and interviews
The technical interviews will depend on your field and the job you apply to. Sometimes, technical assessments will also be customized accordingly.
However, you can still prepare or even forgo much of it through matchmaking platforms like Nixa.io. We use HackerRank and Coderbyte to assess problem-solving skills. Instead of just practicing, sign up at Nixa.io and see if you pass the test to be onboarded on the platform and receive fully remote, permanent and full-time job offers from coolest product companies in the market. If you don’t qualify, it’s still great exercise and an eye-opener for the skills you should work on. Look for other ways to test and practice your skills - there are plenty out there. LeetCode and CodeChef are just some among many.
2. Prepare for cliche interview questions
Yes, those are still a thing. They’ll often have a twist here and there as to not make the interviewer seem like they’re stuck in 2005, but they do happen and the outcomes are the same. These are the standard “what are your weaknesses” type of questions, “why should we hire you” and the like. The interviewer isn’t trying to set you up or trick you - they want to know how you cope, and whether you can see yourself realistically. List several of your strengths and weaknesses and practice beforehand. Good examples to make here would be to tie a specific strength to the job description and a weakness to something more general and not super important to the job at hand. Remember to always mention how you addressed your weakness. For example, if you said you struggled with time management, mention that you started working on it through utilization of calendars, sticky notes, etc. Never ever try to disguise a strength as a weakness. For more of these, dig into the topic on places like Youtube where you can actually see how to best address these interview questions.
One of the most used ones, though, but certainly always to be expected, is “Can you tell me a little more about yourself?” This is your opportunity to leave the best first impression.
Do prepare by rehearsing beforehand - in front of a mirror or with a friend
Do stress your highest degree and your work experience in a nutshell
Do keep it under 1.5 minutes
Don’t talk about your entire history from birth to present
Don’t talk about your character at this point
Don’t talk about hobbies and the like
Remember - this is a sales pitch. But do stay modest. You’re not actually selling a dishwasher.
3. Prepare for interview questions you can’t prepare for
Wait what? Did you read that right? You did. Most solid interviewers will try to gauge direct answers from indirect questions. This means that many questions won’t even be questions - they will be situational scenarios you need to solve on the spot. It may seem that you can’t prepare for something like this, but you actually can. Well, at least partially.
First, think about how you would approach different scenarios that may arise from the job you’re interviewing for. Second, think about how you solved different conflicts, problems, or bottlenecks in your previous role. Third, stay calm. Last but most definitely not least, don’t forget that you can absolutely ask for a minute to think about it. That’s much better than rushing into it and bombing.
Red Flag interviews you should probably consider dropping
This has been quite a ride to help prepare you for your new remote career start. But it’s not all about you. It’s also about the company looking to hire you. While getting paid is sweet, trying to thrive in a toxic work environment is bitter. And impossible.
Luckily, you can save yourself the trouble by noticing signs of toxicity early on - as early as before or during your interview. If the company is unorganized when it comes to simply setting up a time to interview you, it’s a red flag. If they ask you about your background to see what religion you are or if you have or are planning a family, it’s a major red flag. But these are pretty obvious. We dug around and found a word or two from experts. Here’s a list of interview questions that scream “Run!”, and here is a list of situations that indirectly tell you this is probably not for you.
You should now have a much clearer idea of how to approach a remote job search, applying, and interviews, but we would still recommend you read up on setting up your salary expectations and negotiating them. If you’re still left with questions or concerns, Nixa.io offers a free coaching session with our seasoned tech recruiters. Drop us a message via the chat function directly on Nixa.io website, or shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know how we can help.
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