Hannah Wright is a guest contributor and FormAssembly alumna. She is the founder of the online course How to Find a Remote Job.

There’s a lot of content about remote work and what it’s like working remotely, yet there’s not much discussion around how to properly apply for remote jobs.

Pull Quotes - Hannah Remote PostFinding remote job listings is just one small part of the process.The hard work starts during the application process.

Why? Well, for starters, employers are bombarded with job applications as is. So you can imagine what happens when they add “Remote OK” to the job listing.

Yep, they’re swamped. On average, corporate job listings pull in around 250 applicants. That isn’t limited to work from home positions, either — and as you can imagine, many people want the flexibility of working from home.

For many remote companies, it’s not unusual to receive hundreds, or even thousands, of applications for each job listing.

I know, I know—you’re probably thinking, “OK, so I’ll have a lot of competition. How is that supposed to motivate me?”

Drumroll…

Many online applications submitted are riddled with mistakes or don’t match up with the skills and experience required. Yep, that’s it. Believe it or not, many applicants choose to do the bare minimum, which creates a huge opportunity for someone willing to put in the work up front.

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You can (and should) use this to your advantage by going the extra mile.

You’re not an average person, so why on Earth would you submit an average resume and call it a day?

If you’ve been on the hunt for a remote job (like one of these openings at FormAssembly) then read on for the top ways you can stand out from the crowd:

Reach out to companies before they’ve listed jobs — and be the first to know when a new role opens up.

You don’t have to be psychic to know that even if a company hasn’t listed your dream job yet, they might have an opening in the future.

And wouldn’t you want to be one of the first to know?

It’s been found that a whopping 80% of jobs go unlisted. That’s why you shouldn’t necessarily give up on your dream company just because your dream job isn’t listed on their website.

Even if a company isn’t advertising the fact that they’re hiring, a cold email or call might reach them at just the right time and help you start a conversation that could lead to a job. Some people may worry about coming across as annoying by doing this, but experts say that it’s possible to snag a great job without applying to an open listing.

Plus, you might notice that on many “Careers” pages on company websites, you’ll find some sort of blurb at the bottom of the page with a message that says something like, “Can’t find a position that matches your skill set? Drop us an email and we’ll keep you in mind if something opens up in the future.”

So, drop the head of HR an email with a message discussing what you can do for the company, along with your background and experience, so that they’ll think of you if something opens up. What do you have to lose?

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And if you really want to get ahead, here’s another tactic: If you want to be the absolute first to know when a new job listing is posted to a company’s career page, you can use a tool like VisualPing (they have a free plan) to get email alerts whenever someone updates a particular page.

For example, you would just type in a company’s career page URL and it will automatically monitor that page for updates. That way when a new job is posted, you’ll be notified immediately and can get a head start on your competition.

Build a strong digital presence (Really. Don’t skimp on this.)

I know it can be easy to shrug off, but applying for a telecommuting job without any sort of digital presence is like walking into a bank and asking for a loan without having built any personal credit.

Sure, a potential employer might take a chance on you by scheduling an interview after viewing only your resume.

Emphasis on “might.”

But when they have to choose a handful of candidates to interview (out of hundreds), who do you think they’d rather schedule an interview with?

  1. The candidate who has established authority in their industry online and has taken the time to develop their personal brand by blogging and posting about their niche on social media.

Or…

  1. The candidate who seems to be a total mystery and has no digital presence?

It’s a no-brainer. Employers have limited time, so the easier you make it for them, the better.

Not only will developing your personal brand help answer any questions potential employers might have, but it will also show them how dedicated you are to your craft.

Get on social media and share and comment on industry news. Create an online portfolio with examples of your work. Show them why you’re awesome!

While it may sound like a lot of work, it will really help you stand out from other candidates. Plus, you won’t be left wondering if that extra effort could have landed you an amazing remote job.

Research the company you’re applying for.

You’d be surprised how far just a little bit of research can go.

Knowing more than just the name of the company you’re applying for will help you out in many ways.

Not only will it help you figure out whether or not you’re a good fit for the company, but it’ll also communicate to potential employers that you care about the job in question.remote job pull quote 3

Before you apply for a remote job, work your Google magic and find out everything you can about the company’s mission, culture, and values.

Use sites like Glassdoor and Crunchbase to research the company’s history, reviews, and latest news.

The better you understand the company, the easier it’ll be for you throughout the job application (and interview) process.

Personalize your application.

Sure, there’s a time and a place for automation.

But I can tell you one thing: Most of the time, automation won’t work in your favor during the job search.

What I mean is that if you send the same message to every employer and copy and paste the day away, they’ll know.

It’s painfully obvious when a candidate does this.

Sometimes it can be tough to take a step back and ask ourselves, “If I were the hiring manager, would I want to reply to this message?”

When was the last time you opened up an email in your inbox that looked completely robotic and impersonal? Did you feel inspired to reply, or did you simply delete it?

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When you’re applying for a remote job online, don’t forget that you’re essentially sending out a cold email with no prior contact.

You’ve got to make every word count, and you have to convince them within the first sentence that what you’re sending isn’t spam (and hasn’t been sent to 100 other companies!).

It really does help to take the time to write a personalized message to each company. Keep it light. Write something that will inspire a response (and won’t end up in the trash folder).

Check your email regularly.

Even if you’ve listed a phone number, remember to check your email frequently.

If a potential employer has a question about your application or they want to schedule an interview, they’ll likely shoot you a quick email.

If you’re hired for a remote job, it goes without saying that you’ll be communicating online quite a bit. You have to be good with communication when you’re interacting with people from other areas of the world on a regular basis.

So, you’ll want to show potential employers that you’re responsive and easy to reach by responding quickly if they get in touch with you after viewing your application.

Conclusion

You’re all set! Go get ‘em. Remember that quality is more important than quantity when it comes to the job search.

When you’re applying for a remote job, your digital first impression is especially important. So, make it count! Rather than worry about the number of applications you want to submit, instead focus on improving the way you apply by fine-tuning your process using the tips above.

Do you have something else to add? We’d love to hear from you. Continue the discussion with us @FormAssembly and while you’re at it, don’t forget to check out FormAssembly’s job listings!

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