In today’s gig economy, working part-time from home as an employee or as an independent contractor has become a way of life for many, including Single parents, Full-time students, Stay-at-home parents and retirees.
Whether people need schedule flexibility, the “extra” income or to do something personally and professionally fulfilling with their spare time, working remotely is the solution.
Luckily there is plenty of remote work out there – one recent survey indicates that remote work opportunities have increased over 91% over the last 10 years and over 159% over the last 12 years. More than 50% of the workforce in the U.S. reports that working remotely is a standard operating procedure.
Much remote work requires little technical expertise beyond turning your computer on, being able to access email, and being able to access the web. For those with a bit of technical knowledge or willing to learn, there are even more opportunities. And for those with some other expertise, such as SEO, medical coding, or law, there are plenty of opportunities – just ask Philadelphia appeals attorney Todd Mosser, Esq., who frequently makes use of remote SEO services for his firm.
If you are interested in obtaining remote work, here are five essential tips on the best way to market yourself as a remote employee.
- Know Yourself
Make a list of the things you are confident in doing. Then cross off the things you don’t want to do anymore. Don’t worry about crossing things off and letting them go – especially if you are not exactly new to the job market, you may have done some things for a living that you just don’t want to do anymore. No problem.
Of the things you are confident doing, what appeals to you most? Technical or creative writing? Customer service? Following up with clients with a survey? Data entry? Web services, such as web design and SEO? Legal transcription? Medical coding?
All of these are readily available as remote work. And if your interests lie outside what is mentioned above, google it – you never know what sorts of tasks employers are looking to be completed remotely. Look on your local craigslist, too – sometimes jobs are offered that wouldn’t even occur to you to be a job!
- Know Your Audience
Once you’ve decided on what type of remote work you want to do, google that and search online for opportunities. Craigslist is a great resource and there are so many websites offering to connect employers with remote workers.
When an opportunity interests you take a good look at the ad. You only get one time to make an initial impression so be sure to know all you can about your potential employer. Google the business, find out who they are and what they do and where your position fits in the overall scheme. You will prepare your introductory submission and for your interview keeping these things in mind.
In the course of “knowing your audience,” you will come across some ads for remote work that are scams – beware. Do not share any personal information unless and until you can verify that the business is a true going concern because ads for remote work have been known to be phishing expeditions collecting personal information for illicit marketing schemes or even identity theft. Also, you should not have to pay an application fee or a referral fee – this is a huge red flag that there is not a job opportunity waiting for you on the other side.
- Craft Your Cover Letter or Email and Resume Accordingly, and with Care
Again, your initial email and attachments will make the first impression upon your future employer. Make sure they look good structurally and convey the message you intend to convey. For example, if you intend to convey that you are a single mom who has been out of the workforce for a while but did some copywriting and editing and who wants to get back into it seriously, and you email the prospective employer from “email@example.com”, nothing about that email address conveys your message.
Once you’ve identified a bona fide remote job opportunity, prepare your initial submission in the application for the job. Let your resume speak to your education and employment history, and supplement that with your cover email which should tell the employer how and why you’d be perfect for the job. Keep it simple, short, and sweet – no, not sweet. Professional!
Convey the appropriate tone and emphasize skills sought, and it is more likely a potential employer will offer an interview.
- Offer Something That is Unique to You
The thing about remote work is, there is probably a slew of people who could get the job done. What is it about you that will make the employer’s product or service that much better?
Don’t be afraid to tout life experience in your resume and your interview. Be a person, not a worker. Let’s say you work as a professional musician at night but need a web design gig in the afternoons. Make that clear, and your night job will make you stand out from your competition.
What if you are the oldest of nine siblings? If you are applying for a remote customer service job, make sure to mention that – one simply must develop people skills in that situation!
Be creative in marketing yourself – you are much more valuable than you think you are.
- Convey That You Are Open to Learning New Skills
Commit to being a life-long learner, because this will open doors that will be closed to those who rely upon their current skill-set and simply calcify there. In remote IT, technology, and web services especially, there are developments almost daily. Stay on top of them and remain willing to push the boundaries of your comfort zone. No matter what your age, an employer will value your flexibility.
How do you convey that? Your resume will convey it on your behalf if you’ve had a variety of different work experiences. Often, travel indicates flexibility. Earning more than one college degree in different subjects does too. Put evidence of your flexibility and thirst for knowledge out there.
Veronica Baxter is a writer, blogger and legal assistant operating out of the greater Philadelphia area.