Applying to a Remote (Marketing) Job?
Remote work changed my life. I’ve been working remotely, or from home, since high school. My only “real” job was at a clothing store in my teens.
Over the years I’ve applied and interviewed successfully (and not) to different remote jobs. Now, as the Marketing Director at a remote startup, I spend a significant amount of time hiring and managing marketers.
Below you’ll find a few thoughts I’ve gathered over the past 12 months that will help you understand the process of getting a remote (marketing) job.
You have a few seconds
I want you to pause for a moment, take a step back, and imagine you are in my shoes: looking to hire someone for your team.
You just had lunch, and the post-food slump hit ins. You still have a lot of emails to respond to, yet you have 200 job applications to go through. You know how important it is to make that hire but… come on… it’s a gigantic pile of applicants.
You know what’s going to happen, right?
You are going to disqualify anyone who, in a few seconds span, didn’t give you the right impression. Even goldfish have better attention span than we do.
As an applicant, you will have 30 seconds at most to catch my attention and get yourself moved to the ‘Maybe’ pile. You aren’t in a room with me so you don’t have 10 or 20 minutes to present yourself.
“Oh, but that’s so cruel!”
I’m fine with it. I’m not a pattern matching, soulless sociopath. I’m fine because it’s a win-win situation.
I can filter out people who aren’t great communicators and marketers. Coincidentally, those are the top two skills you’ll need in any remote marketing position.
If you can’t market yourself to get a job, why should I hire you? As I said, win-win.
Do your homework
As with everything in life, it’s best to come in prepared.
The approach I recommend is to only apply to a handful of companies. Spend a considerable time doing your research, and tailoring your application for each one.
I hire marketers. I can’t overstate how important it is to have a unique application for the company and position you are applying for. Nothing puts me off in a major way like an email that starts with “Dear Hiring Manager,.”
On the contrary, if you know who I am, you’ll be able to communicate and resonate a lot better with me as a person. After all, companies are formed by these things called “humans.”
At any small or medium startup, the founder or a team leader will be the one who is going through applications. Usually, you can find at least some background information online. LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram makes light stalking painless.
A well researched application signals three things. First, that you do your homework. Second, that you are thoughtful, meticulous and thorough. And third, that you actually care.
These are all valuable skills in a remote marketing position.
And whether you’re up against only a few candidates or hundreds, this matters. An applicant who puts in the effort to understand who they’re talking to, and adjusts accordingly has a higher chance of landing the job.
What value will you bring me?
If I’m hiring, it’s because I’m looking to solve a specific pain point in my organization. In fact, if I’m not, I’m not doing it right.
So the question becomes… Can YOU help ME? How can your skills help me grow our company?
This is perhaps the most relevant point, but most people never seem to communicate this right.
I want to know you, and your background. But first, I want to know how your specific set of skills can help my business grow.
Let’s imagine you are an SEO marketer looking for a full time job at a new SaaS startup. A high level overview of your application should be:
“Hey, my name is John, and I’ve worked for the past 3 years as an SEO Manager for small and medium teams. I can increase organic qualified traffic for your startup. That’s what I’ve done for XYZ Inc. in the past 12 months.
In fact, I already went ahead and prepared this 30 day plan. It describes how we can go from A to Z. I’d be happy to walk you through it if you have a minute.”
Let’s review the structure:
- First, you introduce yourself — who you are, and your background.
- Second, you explain what you can do for them.
- Third, you tie in why your background and experience is relevant, and can help you do it.
- Finally, you do your homework. You show them something concrete and specific you can do for them.
Emphasizing your past experience and what you’ve learned is fantastic. It’s necessary; it shows me you have what it takes to play at the table. But in the end, it’s not about the past, it’s about your future. More specifically, your future at our company.
Be Data Driven
Numbers are scary. You can’t bullshit numbers. They tell the truth — and they shine light on whether something worked or not.
I’m not saying EVERYTHING must be measured. Not everything can. But it’s important to be aware of that, and communicate things appropriately.
The best way of doing it is by telling a story with numbers. “This was the challenge. This is what we did, and why we did it. This is what happened, and these are the numbers.”
Human beings are suckers for a good story. Before the Sumerians invented writing, human beings passed knowledge from one generation to another by telling stories.
According to the Harvard Business Review, a well-constructed narrative can consistently cause oxytocin synthesis. Our body produces this chemical when we are trusted or shown a kindness. As a result, it motivates cooperation with others by enhancing the sense of empathy. Or, our ability to “experience others” emotions.
Also, a story structured into a narrative of cause and effect will have the most impact. We are wired to think that way.
The problem is few applicants have this epiphany. They throw out generic mumbo jumbo that think describes them. “I’m an experienced marketer and team player looking for the next challenge.”
As a marketer, you can show me that you are the real deal — craft a story around your background, and use numbers to justify it.
“I helped XYZ Inc. grow” is good.
“After graduating college and having one of the best summers of my life (I can tell you all about it on the phone!), I started working for XYZ Inc. During those 18 months I had direct influence on our 15% MoM growth for 12 straight months”
Well, that is an order of magnitude more compelling.
An important human trait that shows strength is, paradoxically, vulnerability.
Being vulnerable not only means you recognize you aren’t Bruce Almighty. It means you are self-aware, and capable of recognizing what you excel at, and what you don’t. This will allow you to correct mistakes (or not) and focus on what matters.
In any application, I tend to favor people who can show that they are vulnerable. They know what they excel at (and they show it by telling a story), but they also recognize where they are lacking.
Know your weak points, and know when you’ve messed up, and don’t be afraid to talk about it.
You don’t need to work on those weaknesses. If you can explain why it makes more sense to focus on other things, then you’ll impress the crap out of me.
That’s a vital sign of self awareness and laser focus. Points for you.
I’m not saying your application should be covered with your errors, mistakes, and weaknesses. That’s a huge turn off. But as long as you safely convey that you know where there is room for improvement, it’s all good.
If you have twenty minutes, don’t miss this TEDx presentation on the power of vulnerability.
Thanks for reading! I genuinely 😍 ️feedback and great conversation, so feel free to tweet me, or comment below.