When I quit my job in NYC, the first thing I did was pack a book bag and travel for three months wandering state to state until I ended up on the opposite side of the country in Los Angeles.
Leaving New York City that June, I knew I had two options, burn through my savings while looking for a new job in a new city or find an alternative means of making money. As much as my friends think of me as a free bird with a carefree spirit, I’m a woman of strategy and I'm pretty cut throat when it comes to my career goals.
Prior to my travels, I didn’t know much about working from home except for the fact that when I was nineteen I freelanced for a local company after my internship ended. The gig was super easy, allowed me to work from home and added an additional $500 income each week.
After working in retail and for startups, I started to believe that working remote full-time was a luxury held exclusively for computer engineers, graphic designers, and executive types. I wanted to learn how to code, build, and design so that I could create my dream life. I wanted to learn any skill that would free me of this 9-5pm trapped in an office schedule I once longed for.
I started to think of the job I had quit in software sales and how I could leverage the skills that I already had to find remote work.
The reality was, as long as I had access to the internet, my job as a SaaS Sales Development Representative was fully capable of being completed from anywhere in the world. Whether it be grinding calls, responding to emails, or even meeting clients for scheduled calls, my job was completely web based and I was determined to transition these skills into a paying remote gig stat.
That summer, I scored my first remote job in less than 30 days… actually, in about two weeks. Here’s how!
Utilize the skill set you already have
I started to think about the skills I had currently and started researching the demand in the job market. The reality was, as much as I wanted to learn a new skill set and was dedicated to mastering it for the sake of getting a remote job, it actually wasn’t necessary.
So on I went into my first website of choice, Linkedin, and typed in remote Sales Development Representative. A few job opportunities popped up. I ignored anything spammy looking or commission only and applied to five remote jobs.
Start freelancing in an area you're already familiar with
One of the easiest ways to start making money using the skills you already have outside of a traditional office is to freelance! It's easy to fall into the trap of thinking you have to be a programmer or social media specialist to find freelance opportunities. I was surprised to discover that there are many areas and industries in which you can find freelance work. Sometimes it's less about needing to know a new skill and more about learning what language to search for online to find these opportunities.
- Administrative assistants
- Travel nurse
- Freelance writer
- Customer service representative
- Sales representative
- Social media manager
- Proofreader or editor
- IT consultant
Consider using a test project to test whether or not remote work is right for you
I understand that it's important for you to find a remote job, but think about how this job will affect your next role, the next year, and your overall career goals. Remote jobs are super beneficial, but just like any job, it can be easy to get swept up in the day to day and forget about the bigger picture.
The reality is, remote work isn’t for everyone. It’s not the kind of work for someone who needs to be followed up on or can’t navigate themselves without their hand being held the entire time. It’s for strong communicators both written and verbally and those who don’t get lost in the midst of project management and scheduling.
A piece of advice I often give to friends or clients looking to transition into remote work is to use a part-time gig as a test to see if you enjoy working remote and if it's a good fit for you while still maintaining your full-time job.
Create a remote resume
Just like there are skills and qualities employers look for in a retail, service, or office job, there are many key skills that can help you stand out as a potential remote employee.
The ability to write well and communicate effectively are two of the most important skills to have if you're looking to work on a distributed team. Consider highlighting the technology and tools you use to communicate with your teammates effectively. Some popular communication apps are Slack, Skype, Gchat, and Gmail.
Use your resourcefulness to research which websites, apps, and tools are being used in your line of work. Take the time to learn how to use technology that you're not familiar with and don't forget to add your level of competency on your resume.
If you work for a small company or a startup as I did, there's a high probability that you already use some of these products at work. Identify and highlight them in your resume as you see fit.
Build an online presence
Regardless of whether you work in an office or not, it should come to no surprise to you that future and potential employers Google search candidate names online. Keep in mind, that they're not always looking for dirt.
When your future remote employer Googles your name, what will they find? If you're applying for a social media job, are you even active on social media?
If you're applying to be a freelance writer, where have you been published in the past?
One of the quickest and effective ways people are building their online empires is through social media. If you're looking to land a remote job, your credibility goes up by simply having an online footprint.
Here are a few tips to get you inspired and started:
- Start a blog and publish regularly. Publishing 2-4x a month is more than enough.
- Be active on Linkedin and consider publishing on their platform.
- Have a simple about me page explaining who you are, what you do and how to reach you
- Add clips to your work and portfolio on your resume. Make sure this is easily accessible online as potential employers will ask to see this.
- Use Instagram and learn Instagram marketing
- Google yourself and remove shady results from web and image searches
Create systems that will keep you organized and productive
Decide how many remote gigs you want to apply for a day and stick to it. If you have a full-time job, schedule your week in advance so that you can find the time to apply for work from home opportunities around your busy schedule.
Try this exercise inspired by Stephen Covey's "7 Habits of Highly Effective People". Take a horizontal piece of paper and draw 8 columns. Dedicate the first column to your goals and the rest of the days of the week. Fill in the left column with your personal and professional goals and on the right highlight a time and day where you will work towards that goal. Set milestones for each week so that you can hit your goal of landing a remote job in 30 days.
It's easy to become overwhelmed when thinking about applying for a new type of job while maintaining your current one along with your sanity. By breaking down the application process into smaller easily achievable steps, you'll be inspired to take action more and avoid feeling paralyzed by the feeling of burnout.
Additionally, discover new and creative ways to organize your computer, documents, and job application materials. I like to keep a simple Excel sheet with the job I applied for, a link to their site, and the date that I applied so that I can easily follow up on applications without feeling super unorganized. Every morning, I would skim through application listings, add relevant listings onto this list, and apply to a few relevant posts each day.
Apply to relevant work from home opportunities daily
This may sound silly, but I know too many people that spend weeks editing their Linkedin, resume, and cover letter without actually taking that step to apply for the job in the first place. If you see an opportunity online that seems like a good fit for you, apply today. Apply right now. You never know when that opportunity will be filled.
Some of my favorite websites to find remote work are:
- Hubstaff Talent
- Linkedin Pro Finder
- The Muse
- We Work Remotely
- Working Nomads
Distributed teams currently hiring: