Even on the best of days, being a working parent is tough—especially if you’re the captain of your family, which is my way of saying you’re the go-to, primary caregiver. Doesn’t “captain” sound better? One way to remove some of the peripheral junk that makes being a working mom feel so hectic is to work from home.
There’s a constant juggle between work priorities, home priorities and all the obstacles in between. What to wear to work? How will the commute be this morning? When was the last time I exercised? Did I catch a cold from Coughing Susan in the next cubicle? And those are just the concerns we have about our days. Our brains are also flooded with thoughts about our kids, spouses and partners, parents, neighbors, friends. It’s a lot.
Luckily, working from home is more of a possibility than ever before. Between 2005 and 2015, regular remote work in the U.S. grew 115 percent. And as of 2017, 43 percent of U.S. workers now work remotely at least occasionally, up from only 9 percent in 2007.
If you’re wondering whether you could work remotely, the answer is absolutely yes. The stereotype of a fresh college grad working from his parent’s basement for a start-up company couldn’t be further from the truth. The average remote worker is 46 years or older, has at least a bachelor’s degree, earns a higher median salary than an in-office worker and works for a company with more than 100 employees. And slightly more women (52 percent) than men (48 percent) work from home.
As a working mom, a career coach for remote job seekers and a remote worker myself, I want to help you work this way! Landing a remote job involves many elements of a traditional job search, but with a few key things to know as you search for jobs.
Let’s get you started searching for your own work-from-home job with these six smart steps.
1. Use the right keywords when you’re searching online.
Don’t use work-from-home or work-at-home when you’re searching job listings online (reading articles like this, about working from home, is okay). Scammers use those phrases to attract unsuspecting job seekers into employment scams. Instead, stick with keywords like telecommute job, remote job and virtual job because legitimate companies tend to use those most often.
2. Research remote-friendly companies.
Some companies are much better at hiring and utilizing remote workers than others. Check out FlexJobs’ annual list of the 100 Top Companies for Remote Jobs which features the companies that hire the most remote workers each year. And Remote.co features interviews with over 100 mostly or fully remote companies, including their most common job interview questions!
3. Play up your previous remote experience.
Have you ever worked from home? Even occasionally or casually? Maybe your kids were home sick from school. Or you were waiting for the cable to be installed. Or the weather was terrible so you skipped the commute. Maybe you worked from home at a regular interval. Or perhaps you completed volunteer projects, classes or certifications from home. All of this counts as remote work experience–and that’s exactly what remote-friendly employers want to see.
Update your resume and cover letters with any previous remote work experience you have, even occasional. Use phrases like “experience working remotely” or “five years of regular remote work” to tell employers you’ve got what it takes.
4. Play up the skills you have that would make you a good remote worker.
Even if you don’t have previous remote experience, you likely have many of the skills it takes to be an effective remote worker. Being able to focus and work independently, comfort with technology and troubleshooting, time and task management and communicating through email, phone, IM or chat are all important. These skills should be listed on your resume, mentioned in your LinkedIn profile and discussed during your job interviews.
5. Put a Technology Skills section on your resume.
Companies that hire remote workers also want to know that you’re quick with technology, but many of the job seekers I coach don’t have any mention of this on their resumes!
Include a list of remote-specific tech you’re familiar with, such as IM programs (Slack, Google Chat), file sharing (Dropbox), document collaboration (Google Drive), video conferencing (join.me, GoToMeeting, Skype) and other remote collaboration tools. A note about your ability to learn new programs quickly is a nice touch.
6. Use your network.
Whether you’re searching on job boards, LinkedIn or pitching clients so you can work remotely as a freelancer, it’s vital to involve the people you know in your search. One of the simplest ways to do this is to check LinkedIn before you apply to each job.
See who you might know at the company (strong ties) or who your connections know at the company (weak ties). Leverage those strong and weak ties to help get your application referred to a human being with hiring power within the company.
Remember these tips as you start your search for a remote job and you’ll soon be dropping your commute and professional wardrobe to work from home in your fuzziest slippers