Working remotely is a dream for many and an essential for a great number of digital nomads but how do you get a remote job when you have no experience? Particularly, when more and more employers expect you to have experience?
Well, we’ve got some good news for you – you can get remote work without experience. This is fairly obvious when you think about it, all those experienced employees have to come from somewhere, right?
The trick is all in how you market yourself. You do have skills, even if you’ve never had a remote job before and, in fact, assuming you’re an adult, you have skills even if you’ve never had a job before – the trick is to demonstrate those to potential employers and let them decide to take a risk on you.
So, let’s take a look at how you can get your dream remote job without any experience.
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What Skills Do Remote Workers Need To Have?
Firstly, it’s important to understand that every remote worker will need some unique skills. The remote coder’s skills will differ markedly from the remote writer’s. These are the “tools of your trade” and if you don’t have them – you’re going to need to learn or gain them from somewhere.
However, there are a bunch of skills that employers are looking for in remote workers which are common to all remote work jobs and, in my experience, nearly everyone has these skills if they have a think about their background.
- Excellent communication skills. When you don’t work in an office, you have to be able to communicate on video chat, by e-mail, over the phone and using communication tools like Slack and Trello. If there’s something on this list you haven’t experienced – you can work out how to do it for free, right now. Get Googling.
- A keen ability to solve problems. All employers since the dawn of mankind have needed these skills. It’s not that they’re abandoning you in the middle of nowhere with no support, but they do need confidence that you can think a problem through and try to solve it yourself before you scream for help. There are a ton of problem-solving methodologies you can adopt online, again a Google search can help you formalize your approach.
- Self-motivation. When you’re working on your own, there are a whole host of temptations that come along not to work. In an office, your manager and peers can help you “resist” the call of distractions, but remote workers need to be able to do this for themselves. Think of examples of when you kept your focus when you were tempted to do otherwise, write them down – this will help you draft your application and in your interviews.
- Responsibility and accountability. This can be translated into “employers want to know that when you say you’ll do something, that you will do it”. Some might call this “results focus”. You need to be able to demonstrate that you get things done, hit targets and enjoy doing so.
- A genuine interest in the work. You can’t go into this process with “any old remote work will do” floating around your head. Employers need employees to add value to their business and they want to see the potential for you to grow with them rather than disappearing when the first opportunity appears in your line of sight. Do some research about them and show why you’re the right fit for them.
How To Make Your Application For Remote Work Sparkle To Employers
OK, pull out your resume and cover letter. It’s time to get to work and illustrate the characteristics above that these employers are looking for:
Excellent Communication Skills:
- In the skills section list any Instant Messaging, Video Conferencing and Project Communication tools you’ve used – Skype, Slack, Zoom, Trello, Google Chat, etc.
- If you’ve used databases for managing work online they need to get mentioned here too – think Salesforce, Zendesk, WordPress, etc.
- List any other communications tools you’ve used too – Gmail, Hotmail, Outlook, etc.
- In the experience section – highlight how you’ve communicated with your colleagues, managers and customers in the past (even if this has been face-to-face) and if you’re just out of college focus on fellow students and your professors
- In your personal statement, it’s a good idea to show that you have organizational and project management experience (if you do) and mentioned that you’re self-motivated
- In the experience section talk about occasions where you went over and above to meet expectations
- If you’ve spent any time working in a startup in the past – make sure to highlight that, startups are always full of problem solvers
- Talk about any initiatives or projects that you’ve led or a situation in which you solved a particular issue
- In the cover letter come back to self-motivation and describe a situation which demonstrates that you’re capable of getting yourself motivated no matter what
- Also, describe how you would minimize distractions in the day-to-day environment
Responsibility And Accountability:
- In the experience section detail specific targets that you’ve been asked to meet and how you’ve met them or exceeded them
- Be specific and put things into numbers – you sold 100 chocolate bars by phone one summer, you didn’t sell lots of chocolate bars – numbers allow employers to evaluate your competence more than empty boasts do
One Thing To Avoid:
- While it’s fine to talk about how suited you are to the remote work being advertised, it’s a really bad idea to get enthusiastic about the fact that the work is remote. Employers are hiring you to do a job and not doing you a favor so you can slack off at home (or abroad if you’re going full digital nomad) – so keep your mouth tightly closed on this.
Where To Find Work As A Remote Worker Without Experience?
When you have very little work experience, you need to cast your net far and wide to find work. Not all of the sources listed below are ideal places to find work, but they can get you started. Once you have a year or two of experience then you can start job hunting again for something better.
- Upwork – it’s famous for being a freelance platform but, in truth, there are plenty of long-term permanent opportunities on there. Wages are likely to be pretty poor, but you can compensate for this by living near a beach in Vietnam while you get experience.
- Freelancer – same as Upwork but even worse money terms usually. But, it’s a start, right?
- Guru – if you’ve got mad technical skills then Guru is a great place to find long-term remote contracts but if you’re looking for something more generic then this is probably a waste of time
- VIPKid – One of the most popular remote work companies. Basically, if you’re a graduate and you fancy teaching kids to speak English over the phone and you’ve got a decent manner – you’re probably not going to struggle to get hired. A word of warning: their staff turnover is pretty high, it’s not a great job for a long-term digital nomad life
- Flexjobs – there are a lot of jobs on this platform, but you have to pay a fee to access the application process of about $15 a month. No biggie if you consider it an investment in your future and it massively reduces the competition for each job.
- We Work Remotely – a platform with a decent number of opportunities and it’s free to use, we thought that this might really take off at one point but it’s just ticking along. Worth a look though.
- Remote – I’ve never been impressed with this site, but it does have some remote work, I find the registration process annoying and while they have almost certainly had some success with placing people, I’ve not met anyone who has been placed through it either. A back up plan.
- Jobspresso – I’ve no personal experience with this – that one of the first jobs advertised when I land is “work from home transcriptionist” is a bit worrying but there are a lot of jobs and big companies seem to trust them. Can’t hurt to try, right?
- AngelList – brags a lot of jobs in startups. Be careful when working for startups, you want to examine them very closely for the amount of cash they have on hand. Wages can evaporate or be substantially delayed by broke startup management.
- Hubstaff Talent – I am always loathe to go near anything associated with Hubspot and the first result I see when I open this up is a CTO (Chief Technology Officer) Job in San Francisco paying $30 an hour and the next is an English teaching position paying $6 an hour. If you’re really desperate knock yourself out.
- Lionbridge – a friend of mine says this is OK, I’ve never looked at it and their sign up process seems more complicated than necessary. Your results may differ.
One final source: if you can think of a startup that you really want to work for, try contacting them directly, send them a letter on LinkedIn telling them why you think they’re awesome and why you want to work for them and why they need you. This is an incredibly effective way to land an opportunity and often there’s no competition for the job when you go in this way.
It may not be easy to find remote work with no experience, but it is possible. You’re going to need to work hard using our tips to find opportunities and then sell yourself into them, but you can do it.
Work out what you have to sell, show employers that you have it and then start applying for work that you’re suited to. Somebody will give you a chance in the end.