How to Position Yourself as a Top Remote Hire

Jenna Rodrigues
August 12, 2020

Prior to COVID, finding a well-paying remote job was like finding a needle in a haystack. Despite the desirability of remote work from the perspective of employees, several leaders were hesitant to transition to a fully remote work environment pre-COVID in fear that they would have less control over employee behavior and it would become difficult to account for employee productivity.

In the midst of the virus, many leaders have been forced to make the transition to a fully remote work environment, which provided a long overdue natural experiment for organizations. The virus served as the exogenous shock that many organizations needed to try their hand at establishing processes for effective remote work within the company. With the shift to remote work turning out better than many leaders had anticipated, many organizations may be looking to maintain remote work processes for the foreseeable future.

As several organizations find themselves looking to ramp up hiring for the first time in a fully remote work environment, individuals on the job market should begin to see a vast array of new remote positions opening up. While the flexibility associated with a fully remote position is a dream come true for many job market candidates, landing a remote position can be more difficult than anticipated and requires nuanced positioning and skill acquisition on behalf of the prospective employee. In order to secure a job in the post-COVID remote environment, it is essential to work to develop the following skills in order to position yourself as a desirable job market candidate who will succeed in the remote work environment.

If you are currently seeking a new position in a predominantly remote work environment, here are a few skills that you should work to acquire to position yourself as an optimal candidate.

Strong Communicator

In a typical office setting, employees can simply walk across the room or look across a table to touch base with others in the office. However, in an online setting, communication looks and feels different. Instead of knocking on your manager’s office door, getting in touch with him or her might entail sending a Slack message or a quick email. As a job market candidate in the current remote work environment, it will be important to demonstrate your capacity to communicate effectively through these online mediums in a way that is detailed enough to clearly convey your main point, yet concise enough to warrant a timely reply.

As a remote job candidate, you should work to be able to communicate in a timely manner, clearly articulate priorities and the work status of different objectives, convey blockers digitally, and obtain the technical skills necessary to thrive in an asynchronous first environment. Given that hiring managers only have a small amount of information to go on when assessing your communication skills, you should work to reply quickly and concisely when emailing back and forth with the internal team at the company to set up your interview. Additionally, you should expose yourself to frequently used communication tools in advance of interviewing and add these tools under the skills section of your resume.

Self Motivated

In order to succeed in a remote work environment, you must be extremely self motivated such that you can set goals that allow you to work towards long run objectives. When given a long run goal, it is important that you are able to map out the micro steps associated with project implementation so that you are not simply sitting around waiting for a manager to give you subsequent tasks. Hiring self motivated remote employees can help organizations to ensure that they are building out a team that will help them work towards long run objectives.

When preparing for interviews for remote positions, you should prepare several examples from prior work experiences that demonstrate your intrinsic motivation and ensure that you have a clear understanding of and capacity to articulate your career goals. You should also research the role responsibilities so that you are able to convey to the hiring team how joining the organization in this capacity will help you to work towards your long-run goals and objectives.

Alignment of Incentives

When you join an organization as a remote hire, you have the freedom to work out of your own home and often won’t have anyone checking in at certain times throughout the day to make sure that you are sitting at your desk ready to work. In order to ensure that you are expending full effort and are remaining accountable for your role responsibilities, it is key to ensure that your incentives as an employee are aligned with business outcomes. When negotiating, you should make sure that you take a position where both the absolute pay and the pay-for-performance structure (if existent) will help align incentives such that you will feel motivated to spend your time working towards the company’s objectives. This alignment of incentives will be crucial to make sure that you are able to sufficiently motivate yourself while working at home to meet and exceed your role responsibilities.

Time Management Skills

Demonstrating your capacity to manage your own time effectively will be crucial to landing a remote position. Building a range of experiences in a startup environment, remote work environment, or taking on a role in a consulting capacity can serve as a strong signal to future employers that you are able to manage your time in a way that allows you to meet objectives. When preparing for the interview process, you should map out examples of prior experiences within other companies you’ve worked for or within your educational experiences that demonstrate your capacity to manage your own time to complete deliverables.

Having strong time management skills and the capacity to schedule out your day to maximize individual productivity while simultaneously communicating with key stakeholders will be crucial to your success when taking on a remote position. As a remote worker, it is key to strike a balance between filling your day with meetings to communicate and collaborate internally and blocking out time slots to work on in-depth projects with no distractions.

Upbeat, Consistent, & Reliable

Given that it is arguably more challenging to shape a defined company culture without a physical space or in-person communication, it is important to demonstrate that you are a reliable and upbeat individual who will show up to digital meetings with a consistent personality, ready to collaborate. Conveying the right energy throughout the interview process alerts the employer that you will be able to contribute to the creation of a digital environment that is welcoming, efficient, and adaptable to change.

Employers want to bring people into the organization who are reliable and consistently follow through on the completion of their deliverables, while simultaneously contributing to the proactive progression of the company’s mission. When interviewing for a remote position through a video call, try to set up a clean background, wear a solid colored shirt and convey position energy through smiling and remaining upbeat throughout the interview process. How you show up for the interview will provide hiring managers with an insight into how you are likely to show up to Zoom calls each day when meeting with clients or internal stakeholders. Employers want to hire individuals with passion, enthusiasm, and drive who will make a consistent effort to get their fellow employees excited about the work they are doing.

Capacity to Troubleshoot

One of the most important contributors to success as a remote hire is that you are willing to make a significant effort to solve problems on your own before always relying on the help of your team members. When working as part of a remote team, it is not as easy to simply turn to the person sitting next to you in the office and ask them a quick question. When a problem arises, it is important that you are able to look through existing documentation and research possible solutions in an attempt to troubleshoot independently before interrupting the workflow of your team members. One of the keys to success when working remotely is to understand which types of problems to invest in resolving independently and which problems are worth reaching out to a team member on email or Slack about so that they can aid in troubleshooting.

Shifting to a fully remote work environment can help organizations to attract and retain top talent without geographic restrictions, decrease overhead costs associated with office space, and increase employee productivity. Given that organizations are now aware of the benefits tied to remote work and are somewhat constrained in the COVID environment, several of the new positions opening up are likely to be fully remote. Therefore, it is important to build the skills necessary to position yourself as a valuable new hire and succeed in the fully remote environment once you get the job.

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