Maintain your professionalism when hunting for remote work and really stand out from other candidates. Here’s some advice on how to do it, and why it’s so important, not only for the job right now, but also the future.
Is there a massive difference between hunting for remote work and location-centric work? That’s a great question, especially if you’re ready to move to a remote-first role from your current hybrid or in office role. With fully-remote roles you need to present yourself even more professionally than you would with location-centric roles (it’s not a case of ‘out of sight - out of mind)..
We’ve pulled together some advice on how to remain professional (and respectful) for every stage of the remote job application process: applications, interviews, and job offers. Read on to find out how you can shine and get the edge on other candidates for remote jobs - now and in the future.
Why Is It Important To Remain Professional When Looking For Remote Work?
There are a lot of reasons why candidates should remain professional when applying for remote jobs.
It Shows If You Can Really Work Remote-First
When working remote-first, the onus is on employees to be professional, accountable, self-motivated and independent to deliver in their roles. According to Hiring Managers, the main way they determine whether a candidate will be able to work independently and professionally is through interactions throughout the hiring process. To give you a helping hand, we have detailed these further below.
The Difference Between Two Candidates
With many roles, candidates' skills, experience and assessment results are almost exactly the same and both could do the role successfully.
Most Hiring Managers say the determining factor between candidates can be how they have presented themselves through the application and interview process. Being professional and respectful of the Hiring Manager can literally be the difference between getting the job and not.
Don’t Burn Bridges
Hiring Managers have long memories, especially now with the help of recruitment software programs. You never know where and when the Hiring Manager will turn up down the track. What you think is not a major issue today could have you automatically blacklisted for your dream role in the future. So it definitely pays not to burn your bridges by acting in an unprofessional manner.
A Chance To Grow Your Network
You may not get the job you interviewed for, but you never know what opportunities will come up. By being respectful and professional during the interview process (even if you’re not successful), it gives you the chance to grow your network. It can even put you at the top of the list for a similar remote job opportunity. As we mentioned above, you can’t predict when the Hiring Manager you’re dealing with could pop up in the future.
Research The Remote Role and Company Before You Apply
How does professionalism fit with researching the company and the role? Everything. Imagine going through the application process, reaching the interview stage then finding the role requires a specific location visa (even though it’s classed as remote). Some roles are still remote location specific (i.e. working remotely in a specific country like the USA). You’ve wasted both your time and the Hiring Manager’s time and doesn’t show great attention to detail - a definite aptitude you need when working remote-first.
You should also research the company and role you’re applying for and make sure it’s what you really want (Google even recommends that you “reflect on you” prior to starting their application process). Even though you’re working remotely, you still need to be connected to the company and role, and doing something you’re passionate about. This will leave you feeling satisfied in your role and life, increase productivity, and reduce ‘job hopping’. A win-win.
Quality, Not Quantity
When you’re looking for location-centric jobs you're naturally confined to roles within a specific postcode. However remote work can open up some awesome global opportunities. Before you start gleefully applying for every remote role you see, take five minutes and use the research you’ve done to tailor your applications to those jobs and companies you really want to work for.
Many candidates do want the best job in the shortest time, and applying for lots of jobs at once can give you access to everything they’re qualified for. But, there is no point wasting your time applying, and then everyone’s time with interviews you don't REALLY want to be in (for whatever reason). As we mentioned above, you don’t want to burn your bridges for the future and this is a great way to do that.
One Hiring Manager told us, “It’s the biggest way to put a black mark against yourself for the future. We have literally just spent two weeks and had four interviews with a candidate, and submitted a job offer. The candidate declined the offer saying she had ‘reviewed the role and duties and doesn’t think it would suit her’. Why apply for the role in the first place, or even confirm it was a good fit after the first interview rather than waste so many people’s time? Needless to say we won’t be revisiting her for any opportunities in the future!”
Show Your Remote Experience
If you have experience working remote-first already, definitely highlight this on your cover letter or resume. It indicates to the Hiring Manager you have the capabilities to work independently. Putting the work-mode next to your title or organization is all you need. For example: Software Team Leader (remote-first) or XYZ Corporation Ltd (remote-first).
As many organizations now work globally, asynchronously and in different time zones, you may receive an interview request email as opposed to a phone call. This means keeping an eye out on emails and junk folders so you don’t miss it. Confirm you have received the request, even if you don’t want to proceed with the interview.
Be on the front foot with Hiring Managers and demonstrate your async remote prowess. If they’ve requested a range of times to meet, send them a link to your calendar booking page rather than going backwards and forwards with ‘are you free?’ This automatically sends a meeting request and zoom details, and books details directly in everyone’s calendars. We recommend Calendy, which has some great integrations with all major calendar programs.
You’ve moved forward to the interview stage. Kudos to you! This is an opportunity to shine and show how you can work remotely. The majority of us are used to video conferencing and zoom meetings, however you’re probably also used to being a little more relaxed since the pandemic. You still need to present your best throughout the interview stage to make a great impression and stand out from the crowd (especially when doing it through a video camera).
Let The Hiring Manager Know If You Won’t Attend
Candidates not having the courtesy to let interviewers know they won’t be attending is a massive black mark and very unprofessional. You know how frustrating it is when people don’t show up to your zoom meetings without a word or apology? While remote can sometimes feel like ‘out of sight, out of mind’, this certainly shouldn’t be the case. Not only will the Hiring Manager be wasting their time preparing for the interview and waiting, but this could automatically black list you from other opportunities now or in the future.
Most people have emails and calendars on their cell phones. A short email or just declining the calendar meeting with a reason (for example, you’ve accepted another role) takes one minute and shows you can remain professional in communications and business. It shows respect for how valuable everyone’s time is and reflects on how you will operate as an employee.
It’s the same if you will be late to your interview (which honestly shouldn’t happen). It's common courtesy to send a quick message and again shows your professionalism and respect for everyone's time.
One interviewer we spoke to recently had four no-shows from four scheduled interviews for the same role. Those candidates were automatically excluded from future job applications (some actually reapplied for the same role when it was advertised again!)
Set Up Any IT Prior
This should be standard. Working remotely, you will be expected to have a good home office, including wifi and hardware. By not being ready to commence with everything working, it reflects on how you will conduct yourself and show you more than likely be able to work independently. Some tips to make sure your remote IT skills show through are:
- Download and test any new programs the day prior (not just right before the interview). Leaving everything to the last minute shows how you’ll organize yourself in your remote role.
- Don’t use an iPhone for the interview. Try to use the same computer or laptop you will be using. This could tell the Hiring Manager you don’t have the required IT for remote work.
- If you have to use an iPhone then use a stand to stop any movement. There is nothing more distracting (and causing seasickness) than being on the other end of a moving video.
In addition to your IT, be prepared for your interview. This can be the difference between getting the job and running second - we’re being honest here. This is an open dialogue to see if you’re both a fit for each other (ie employee and employer). Not preparing for your interview and showing an interest in the role and company and your own skills will be an immediate turnoff to Hiring Managers. The four Ps come into play: Preparation Prevents Poor Performance.
Do more research into what a similar (or same) role in the company actually entails, then tailor your experiences and achievements against those with set examples and metrics. LinkedIn is a great start for similar roles and achievements within companies.
If this will be your first remote-first role, prepare some questions about the remote culture and expectations on employees. It shows interest in how the company operates and then you can see how you could fit in.
You wouldn’t wear active wear to a face to face interview would you, so why wear it to a zoom interview? Taking a little care in your appearance will reflect upon your professionalism as a future employee, and how you will conduct yourself when you work. Even if the interview and role is remote, still use the old adage you used for physical interviews - dress for the role you want. Save the active wear for when you need to be focused and comfortable for your deep work (unless you’re going for a job at Nike).
Also remember the golden rule of zoom interview etiquette - turning your camera on and silence all notifications. Having your camera on helps your interviewer engage with you and can be awkward for the Hiring Manager to be talking to a blank screen. It also allows the interviewer to assess your non-verbal communication.
Your appearance extends to your surroundings. Make sure your background area is clean and looks professional. If you’re using the kitchen bench instead of a study or home office then make sure it is tidy, use a background filter or even consider doing it from a friend’s house. If you have children or pets, have them looked after for your interview. There is nothing more unprofessional than having to leave an interview to yell at a child (and yes, this does regularly happen with zoom interviews). Finally, don’t forget about a more flattering camera angle - if you’re using a laptop lift up the camera to eye level so the interviewer isn’t talking to your nose. You can use books if you have to.
For many remote roles, a real-world skills assessment is required before you even reach the interview stage. This is to show the Hiring Managers you have the skills to actually do the job, rather than taking a chance you can do the job after interviews.
Again - “attention to detail” comes into play here. Read through the tasks thoroughly and make sure you're completing it correctly. Finish any tasks quickly, and submit as per the submission requirements. Candidates not submitting skills assessments correctly are a quick way to quickly reduce candidate lists to a more manageable number.
Be Open and Honest
This goes without saying. In our digital environment, most things can quickly be confirmed. If you’re stating you’ve got a particular skill and don’t, this will be discovered in a skills assessment and then you’ve wasted everyone’s time in the interview process.
Be honest about other work experiences, salaries and achievements as well. You never know who has worked where, and starting your new career with a lie being uncovered will not sit well with your new employer. We have lots of examples of candidates stretching the truths, being uncovered and either not getting the job (despite being the lead candidate), or even losing their job.
If you can’t truthfully answer something, be honest with your interviewer. For example if you’re asked an experience question, say you don’t haven’t been in that situation before but this is how you would handle it. Alternatively ask to have some more time to really think over your answer to a particular question, and then revert back at the end of the interview.
Congratulations if you receive a job offer! This will normally be confirmed by email. Be professional with your Hiring Managers, thank them and give them a time frame for when they can expect a response if you don’t want to accept it straight away. Try to keep this within a short time-frame - 24 hours is ideal, otherwise you look disinterested and are potentially waiting for a better offer. Having researched the company and being open throughout your interviews should make this decision relatively easy.
If you’re reviewing multiple offers, communicate this to the Hiring Managers as quickly as possible. If you turn down their offer, be open and honest with your reason. This will enable them to address any potential concerns or negotiate with a counter offer if it’s remuneration based. There’s nothing worse for an organization to have a candidate commence then quit a couple of weeks later because ‘they got a better offer’.
It’s Time To Find Remote Work!
So hopefully your future remote work application processes will be a little easier with the above tips. We think you’re ready to put the above into action! Explore the great remote job opportunities Crossover has available here.