Build a Successful and Flexible Career that Allows You to Work from Home

Jobs that allow you to work from home are increasingly popular in 2021. According to Indeed’s Hiring Lab, remote job postings have doubled during the coronavirus pandemic and keep rising.

At Pathstream, we speak with many students who are eager to find a new job they can do from home. Yet, finding the right remote position can still be challenging. It can also be daunting to successfully navigate a remote role once you get hired. Many students ask us how to adjust if you can’t meet your colleagues in person and if you can’t walk down the hall to speak to your boss when you have a question. To help with these situations, we’ve put together a quick guide to help you find and succeed in a remote job.

How to Find a Remote Job

Tip 1: Choose a career path where remote work is possible — and prevalent. For better or worse, COVID-19 helped employers realize that many jobs could successfully be done remotely. Indeed’s Hiring Lab found that job postings mentioning remote work rose significantly in the tech, legal, finance, arts, education and even therapy fields in 2020. In particular, roles that require knowledge of digital skills and tools lend themselves to remote, flexible work. These include professions like digital marketing, data analytics, Salelsforce administration, project management, UX design and IT helpdesk administration — all of which pay well and can often be done from anywhere in the country. If you’re eager to gain the skills needed for some of these roles, you can check out Pathstream’s training programs here.

Tip 2: Look for job boards that specialize in posting remote roles. Once you have the skills needed for remote roles, the next step is finding relevant and exciting opportunities. Many job boards including Indeed, ZipRecruiter and LinkedIn have added special tags and filters allowing you to search for positions. However, you also might want to monitor a few job boards the specialize in posting remote opportunities. These include FlexJobs, and We Work Remotely.

Tip 3: Don’t be afraid to ask an employer if they are open to remote employees — even if the job posting doesn’t specifically mention it. Some job postings won’t specify that they are open to remote candidates. Our advice? If the role feels like a good fit and one where technology would enable it to be performed remotely, do some more research. See if there are any other employees at the company who appear to work remotely. You can either send a note to the recruiter/hiring manager before applying to inquire whether they are open to remote candidates or just go ahead and apply. Once a company decides you have the skills needed for the job, they are sometimes open to negotiating for the opportunity to work remotely, if they are convinced you are the right fit. It never hurts to ask! However, keep in mind that companies will sometimes expect you to be within driving distance or the same timezone so that you can work during the same business hours and come to the office as needed.

Tip 4: Be open to freelance jobs you can combine into a remote career. If you are having a hard time finding a full-time remote job that excites you, keep in mind that you could pursue contract or freelance work that can be done remotely. Sites like UpWork, Rise and Fiverr offer the chance to find gig or project work that you can do from virtually anywhere in the world. Once you build your ratings and reputations on these platforms, you can often attract many reliable clients, These sites can also provide a great way to get your foot in the door with a company or test out a new career path and build your portfolio.

Tip 5: Ask about the mix of remote employees vs. in-person employees to get a sense of the company culture and team composition. Once you find a remote opportunity and start interviewing, it can be helpful to ask about how many others in the company work from home. It can be challenging if everyone plans to be in the office everyday except you. Although you can make it work, it is often easier to work at a place where a significant percentage of other full time employees are remote — or the entire company. This will ensure that you aren’t the only one trying to dial in from a video conference line while the rest of the team builds relationships in the office.

How to Succeed in a Remote Job

Tip 6: Establish a consistent work schedule and home office. Once you’ve gotten hired for a remote role, it can be tempting to sleep in and envision leisurely lunch hours sitting on your back porch. Although these might be occasional perks you can enjoy, we recommend that you stick to a firm schedule to set yourself up for success. Establish a clean and quiet office space where you can work. Make sure you have a well-lit and professional place where you can take video calls from (or use a Zoom background) and test out your internet connection to ensure it is stable. Consider blocking your calendar so that your colleagues can clearly see the hours you are available for work — and then make sure you are consistently available during those time periods! Getting into a routine can make working remotely feel a lot more structured and manageable, especially in the early days.

Tip 7: Get oriented to your company’s preferred communications platform and then communicate proactively with your boss and your colleagues. Communication is always important in the workplace, but when you are collaborating with a distributed team, sending proactive updates to your coworkers and manager is even more important to establish your reliability. During your onboarding sessions, ask your boss about his or her communication preferences. Additionally, when you begin to have 1:1 meetings with other teammates, ask them about their communication styles as well. Do they prefer to receive messages by email or do they use a platform like Slack or Microsoft Teams for internal chat? When do people typically schedule Zoom calls? When do they prefer you just pick up the phone and dial them directly with a question? In your first week on the job, take time to observe communication norms within the company. Then, make sure you begin communicating proactive status updates to your boss and team. This may take the form of an email summary you send at the end of every day or week to your boss. It could be a Slack message where you keep your team posted on updates on a key project. Just remember, when you are working remotely, it can be very hard to communicate too much. Keep your messages organized and clear and be mindful of team norms, but keep your team posted on your progress and status.

Tip 8: Make time to connect informally with colleagues to build relationships. It can be easy to forget that forming warm personal connections with coworkers can help make your job both easier and more efficient — and enjoyable! Yet, when you don’t have more informal social interactions in a shared office, it can be easy to neglect these relationships. Make an effort to reach out and schedule virtual coffee chats with coworkers or organize a virtual happy hour. Although these events might be less fun than their in-person counterparts, they can still be helpful for giving you and your coworkers an opportunity to get to know each other on a personal level. Believe it or not, these things can also help make you a better employee. When you need help with a project or need to coordinate with another team, people are often more likely to pitch in if they have an existing warm relationship with you. So invest in those connections!

Building a rewarding remote career is increasingly possible in today’s economy. By approaching your job search, onboarding, and eventual role with intentionality, you can ensure you are set up to succeed — no matter where in the world you plug in your laptop.

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