A first-hand account of scouting for a remote job during a pandemic
Over 12.2 crore Indians lost their jobs this April, according to a report by the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE). From corporate giants like IBM and Accenture to well-funded startups like Swiggy and Curefit, businesses across industries laid off thousands of employees in a matter of weeks. In effect, the very definition of “job security” changed overnight.
As an entrepreneur that’s actively hiring, however, I just see opportunity. Despite the economic slowdown precipitated by lockdown measures, many businesses are still hiring and struggling to find the right candidates. A good number of these companies are now looking past geographical constraints and expanding into remote hiring, too.
Over 500 new jobs are posted online each day, and this pandemic has actually gifted every single one of us a chance to go global. You can work for fast-growing startups around the world from the comfort of your home or even get hired directly by tech leaders and earn well as an international freelancer.
As Aleyda Solis, co-founder of Remoters.net, points out—fluency in English is the only skill one truly needs to find a remote job.
I stepped into the world of “remote work” by accident, back in 2015. In the past 5 years, I have changed workplaces thrice, building my career up from being an Online Marketing Specialist to now a Country Marketing Head.
It hasn’t been smooth sailing throughout, navigating the ups and downs of working remotely—from adapting to life within the four walls of my home and handling internet disruptions to managing housework and delivering projects on time—and I am delighted to share my experience with YourStory readers.
How to find a remote job during a global pandemic
Analyse your job profile, achievements, and soft skills
Before you start job hunting (or even ask your boss for a salary hike), it’s important to have a deep understanding of your work, achievements, and soft skills. In my case, whenever I want to make a move, I make a checklist of everything I have achieved and things I do much better than others.
Here’s how to get started: Write down key responsibilities at your job (or previous jobs), the business goals you contributed to, and the results that you achieved. Read through your notes a few times to better understand your own hiring profile.
Analyse what you do well—identify your essential qualities (soft skills) and strengths that contribute to the better results at work.
Here’s an example: Let’s say, you previously worked as a customer support specialist.
What are your key responsibilities?
You attract potential customers by answering product and service queries and suggesting related products/services. You open customer accounts by recording account information and maintain customer records by updating account information.
How do you contribute to business growth?
Your work helps the company acquire and retain customers, establish brand recognition, and upsell related products.
What essential qualities helped you deliver a better result?
You stay calm and polite in any situation, you are a confident communicator with multilingual fluency, and your ability to find quick solutions gives you fantastic customer ratings.
Once you have a checklist like this, jot down professions that are a good match for your skills and previous achievements. Then, write down job titles that you think are ideal for your next career move (one that you will be able to deliver on).
For example, a customer support specialist can become an excellent sales manager, too. Both jobs require soft skills like being an excellent communicator, staying calm under pressure, and the ability to find quick solutions. Think out of “your box”.
Top soft skills needed to drive a successful remote career:
1. A “get it done” attitude
I consider this a must-have quality for any remote worker. Always remember that in a remote world, you do not sell hours of work; you sell outcomes and results, and a guarantee that tasks will be completed on time.
2. Effective communication
Obvious, but bears repetition. As a remote worker, you need to be an effective communicator. Without meeting colleagues, clients, or your boss in-person, you need to ensure that expectations are clear, and be an easy person to work with on a personal level. Proactive response (text, email, or phone calls) is crucial in any remote job.
3. Time management
If you don’t know how to manage your time, you will struggle to meet deadlines, end up working overtime, and burnout one day. Establishing a daily routine with ample breaks, time for family and friends, etc. is a simple way to enhance your time management skills, and pace yourself through the day so you can get things done on time, every time.
4. Problem-solving attitude
The ability to find practical solutions to daily problems proactively. Most people rely on outside help to fix an issue. But, when you are working remotely, you don’t have the constant supervision of an office, so you need to show that you can work independently.
5. Critical thinking
You need to have a strong logic behind your priorities and work roadmap, so you can break down problems to their core aspects, critically isolate and analyse them, and devise effective solutions.
List companies you want to work with, analyse their competitors
Maybe your dream company is not hiring now, but the small growing competitor is probably searching for you. This logic applies to industries, too.
Industries that are actively hiring right now:
- Corporate services
- Legal services
- Public safety
- Software & IT services
Track updates on startup funding news in India (Yourstory and AngelList) and globally (TechCrunch) to stay on top of what's happening in the space.
If you have experience in the IT industry, then websites such as ProductHunt and G2Crowd can also be helpful to identify both the company you want to work with and their competitors.
Boost your network and connect with the right people
Sending connection requests to strangers on LinkedIn is neither effective nor smart networking. Always have a goal. Why do you need a person in your network? How do you add value to him/her and what do you expect back?
Here are my rules for effective networking:
- Search for current employees in companies that you want to work with. Ask them if they have any openings and could connect you to or share your CV with HR.
- Attend virtual events in the industry of your choice, particularly events organised by the companies that you want to work with.
- Join relevant Telegram/WhatsApp groups and stay active in them to be one of the first to hear of new work opportunities.
- Find communities that will support your professional growth and volunteer to exchange skills with likeminded people.
- Connect with influencers. It’s easier to connect with industry thought leaders on social media than you imagine. I was able to reach top startup founders on social media and even host an interview with Kris Gopalakrishnan (Infosys co-founder).
Where to find remote work opportunities?
I am sure this was your primary question while reading this article. But believe me, without prior preparation as we discussed above, you might end up getting a job that would work “remotely” until the pandemic is over and then request you to shift back to the office and 9-6 grind.
If that temporary remote job idea works for you, go ahead. But from a long-term perspective, your focus should be to find companies with a 100% remote work policy and building a strong personal brand so you can work on the best freelance projects or generate high-quality leads for your own business.
FlexJobs, a jobs portal, publishes a list of top 100 remote companies each year and that is a great starting point for your search. 20 of these companies have been on that list every year since 2014, with brands such as Dell, Amazon, SAP, and Philips among them.
Top 5 companies with remote jobs in 2020:
- Appen (AI)
- Lionbridge (telecom)
- VIPKID (English-language learning services)
- Liveops (cloud contact center)
- Working Solutions (provider of on-demand customer service and sales agents)
Top 5 remote job portals I recommend:
Daily newsletter and very broad job openings from all over the world!
You need to purchase a paid membership (USD 6.95 per week and up to USD 49.95 per year) but FlexJobs has the largest database of well-established remote companies. If you want to work as a full-time employee, then this is the portal for you.
Well-known freelancing platform and a great way to start earning quickly. If you’re looking for a job urgently and ready to take projects, I strongly recommend Upwork.
4. REMOTE CO
Another remote job site covering a variety of fields. It's good, especially if you are coming from a background that isn't so popular on other remote job websites such as accounting, editing, content writing, marketing, or legal.
5. REMOTE OK
Billed as the #1 digital nomad jobs board across the internet. Jobs listed on their site are sent out via email or through their live job feeds on Twitter and Facebook.
Last but not least, beware of scammers
Unfortunately, the work from home/remote work/online jobs niche tends to attract scammers. For every legitimate work-from-home job, there are dozens of work-from-home scams. In other words, less than 3% of all work-from-home job listings are for legitimate employment.
Some of the common scams include, but are not limited to secret shopping, product testing, or reshipping and rebate processing.
When searching for a remote job, keep an eye out for the following red flags:
- Job ad says things like “unlimited earning potential,” “investment opportunities and seminars,” or “quick money.”
- You are asked for personal financial information like your social security number or birth date very early in the interview process or as part of your application.
- The job requires up-front expenses from you or you need to pay in advance to be hired
- You are offered a job without anyone contacting—or even asking for—your reference.
Does the job description or recruitment pitch sound fishy? Please do your homework. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Check out all information about the company on LinkedIn, Google, and even social media. Don’t hesitate to include keywords as “scam + company name” in your search and see what comes.
Life is full of ups and downs, and it’s up to us how we adapt. The ongoing pandemic is not the end of the word. I want to virtually hug all who lost their jobs because of COVID-19. Things will get better, we will all make it so and together. But to adapt to the new normal, you need to be flexible and discover new opportunities.
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)