In 2016 I decided to travel the world with a work and travel program similar to Remote Year. At the time I was working in an office but had convinced my manager to let me work remotely and travel with the program. With a remote job promised, I paid a $5,000 down payment for the program that would start in January 2017 and last for 12 months.
But toward the end of 2016 I became painfully bored with my job. I had also started a relationship with someone in my department that went south and it made teamwork uncomfortable. To escape the boredom and discomfort, I made a decision that many thought was irresponsible. I left my job without having another remote job lined up.
Leaving a current job without having a new job lined up is not unlike me. At the time of this writing I recently left another full time (remote) job before securing a new one. But the difference between now and then is that, in 2016, I had an expensive trip planned and didn’t want to abandon it. So I had to get a remote job fast.
This new remote job would have to be interesting enough to inspire me and legitimate enough to fund my trip that would cost an additional $2,000 per month-plus expenses for food, drinks, events, and side trips that were not included in the program. To get a remote job like this as soon as possible I had to rethink my traditional approach to getting jobs.
It usually took me about three months to get a legitimate non-remote job but it was already November. My trip was going to start soon. I couldn’t wait three months to get a full-time remote job. I only had a little money saved up and wanted to avoid a breakdown from financial stress and joblessness during my trip.
To get a remote job before my trip started, I took time to research the remote job market and used my skills as a direct response copywriter to optimize my resume and cover letter for interview conversions. This research and series of optimizations resulted in a simple remote job hunting process that I still use to this day to get remote jobs fast. I’ll show you how to copy that process in this post.
Note: In this Google Sheet you can see that I started my full time remote job search on November 4, 2016 and accepted an offer just 14 days later.
How to Get a Remote Job Fast
Before getting started it’s important to know why you want to work remotely and what kind of remote job you want to get. Having a good reason for wanting to work remotely-such as my reason for wanting to travel while earning a stable income-will motivate you to get a remote job as fast as possible.
An example of a reason that’s not motivating is cutting down on commute time. Working remotely is not for everyone so if you merely want to cut down on commute time you can apply to jobs closer to your home. Or you can find a good podcast to listen to during your commute.
As for knowing what kind of remote job you want, it’s important to only apply to one type of profession. For instance, I’m a content marketer so I only apply to content marketing jobs now. In 2016 I spent hours applying to non-marketing roles and convincing the hiring manager I was a good fit. Despite this effort, I never got an interview for a non-marketing job.
The point is this: pick one job title, be patient, and stick to it.
Action Step: Discover a motivating reason for wanting to get a full-time remote job. Choose a single job title to apply for.
Step 1: Find remote jobs
In order to get a remote job fast you’ll probably have to completely rework your resume and cover letter. You’ll also need to spend hours upon hours applying to remote jobs. To motivate you to do this it helps to see that full time remote jobs are actually available for your line of work. By browsing remote job boards at the start of your job search you can start envisioning yourself working remotely with a cool company.
As for tracking which remote jobs you’re interested in I find it’s best to use a simple Google Sheet. You can also update this Google Sheet with the status of your applications when you begin applying.
Action Step: Make a copy of this job tracking sheet. To make a copy, select File > Make a Copy. Then change the title of the sheet using your name and desired job title.
Where can you find full time remote job opportunities? Below are some of my favorite job boards that I’ve used to land full-time remote jobs.
Important: Don’t apply to jobs yet. Only do this after I show you how to create a compelling resume and cover letter in the following steps.
Action Step: Add at least five remote job opportunities to your job tracking sheet.
Step 2: Create a two-column online resume
To get a full-time remote job as fast as possible I knew I had to change my resume. Before applying to remote jobs in 2016 I was using a single-column resume that I created with Microsoft Word. It followed the best practice of being one page but it was plain and didn’t properly showcase my accomplishments and personality. You can view that resume here.
After moving my resume to an online service called VisualCV, not only did I receive more interviews but I started receiving compliments about the layout of my resume. The two-column template I used made my resume more engaging and easier for hiring managers to scan. The resume I use today is similar to the one I used to land my full time remote job in 2016.
Here is what makes this resume more effective than traditional resumes:
- The two-column format makes it easy for hiring managers to scan.
- It uses testimonials from my previous managers for social proof.
- Employer names link out to pages like this that elaborate on my experience.
- Many accomplishments link out to live projects I’ve completed.
- I add direct links to samples of my work.
- Most importantly, I focus on results rather than soft skills.
This last point is the most important because it was the reason I was able to get a full time remote job so fast in 2016. When I asked the startup founder who hired me why he chose me, he said it’s because my resume focused on results.
Step 3: Create an idea-first cover letter
The type of cover letter that gets me interviews at remote companies is not the type of cover letter I was taught to write in school. Hiring managers, especially those at remote companies, are looking for something different.
Every remote company that has hired me-including the one that hired me in 2016-is a company I sent an “idea-first cover letter” to. This type of cover letter leads with original, specific ideas about how you’d improve the company. It takes more time to create but increases your chances of getting an interview.
This is a show vs tell situation. For instance, an idea-first cover letter shows you are a creative thinker. It’s more powerful than saying “I’m a creative thinker.” It also shows you took time to research the company, which is important.
Here’s an example of messages you can expect to receive in response to idea-first cover letters:
I received this email from Austin, the CEO of a cool remote software startup, during a different remote job search.
You can view the email (i.e. cover letter) I sent to Austin here. However, the cover letter I sent to Austin is a bit long. Austin should have only needed to read it once. The cover letters I send now are shorter and more direct. They usually consist of two ideas for how I’d grow the company.
Here is the custom cover letter template I use now for jobs I’m really interested in:
I love what you’re doing at COMPANY!
Instead of writing a traditional cover letter I’d like to use this as an opportunity to share some ideas I have for helping COMPANY as the JOB TITLE. These are not refined ideas but should help get the conversation started about how we can work together. I came up with these ideas after doing a quick review of COMPANY’s website.
Do either of these ideas stick out to you? If so I’d love to chat about them and discuss the JOB TITLE opening. I can make myself available any day and time so just let me know what works for you.
I recommend spending ten minutes on each cover letter. This should give you enough time to come up with two ideas. Maybe not great ideas, but that’s okay. What matters is that you’re differentiating yourself from other applicants.
Action Step: Apply to some remote jobs you added to your job tracking sheet using this idea-first cover letter template.
Note: I recommend writing your cover letters in Google Drive. Simply copy the cover letter template each time you write a new cover letter by clicking File > Make a copy. Then rename it the following way: “Cover Letter — [Company Name]”.
Another Note: Write custom cover letters for jobs you’re really interested in. For jobs you’re only somewhat interested in you can use a generic cover letter. I’ll show you how to create this in the next step.
Step 4: Quickly apply to remote jobs
With these platforms you create a profile and then apply to remote jobs using your profile instead of your resume, usually in one or two clicks. Unlike job listings on remote-only job boards that take you to external application sites when you click on them, Indeed and LinkedIn let you find and apply to remote jobs on a single platform. This saved me a lot of time in 2016 and still does to this day.
To find remote jobs on Indeed, enter “Remote” in the location field. Then, in the search results, look for jobs with the snippet that says Apply with your Indeed Resume.
Click on the job listing, then click Apply Now.
Some job listings will require you to add a cover letter. Depending on your level of interest in the opportunity, create an idea-first cover letter or use a generic cover letter. If a job listing gives you the option to add a cover letter but does not require it, simply upload a generic cover letter.
For my generic cover letter I like to create a short bulleted list of my key accomplishments instead of five boring paragraphs. You can use this generic cover letter of mine as inspiration.
Action Step: Create a generic cover letter using mine as inspiration.
Action Step: Create an Indeed resume (i.e. Indeed profile) and apply to remote jobs that allow you to quick-apply with your Indeed resume.
To find remote jobs on LinkedIn, enter “Remote” in the location field on the Jobs page. Then, in the search results, look for jobs with the snippet that says Easy Apply. You can also use the filter so you only see remote jobs with the Easy Apply feature.
Select the remote job listing you’re interested in, then click Easy Apply to apply to the job. It’s really that easy.
Action Step: Complete your LinkedIn profile ( here is mine) and apply to jobs with the Easy Apply option.
Important: Don’t add jobs you quick-apply to to your tracking sheet unless you 1) create a custom cover letter and/or 2) receive an interview request from the hiring manager. Not adding every job you quick-apply to to your tracking will save you some time.
Step 5: Apply to remote startup jobs on AngelList
AngelList is where remote-friendly startups list open jobs and information about their funding rounds. Because working remotely is more accepted in the startup world, there are hundreds of remote opportunities on AngelList.
Below I’ll show you how to use this job board and introduce yourself to founders, CEOs, and other hiring managers on the platform. I used AngelList to land a different full time remote job while traveling in 2017 and I’m confident it can work for you too.
To get started, sign up for a free account on AngelList and complete everything you possibly can in your profile. Use the same text you use in your resume when possible to save time. Here is my AngelList profile.
When you complete your profile, go to the Jobs page. In the left-hand sidebar of that page, select Actively Interviewing from the list of job search options under your name. This will let hiring managers at startups know that you’re open to talking about new opportunities.
In the job search bar at the top of the Jobs page, select a job title from the first dropdown menu that most closely matches your desired job title. Then select Remote Only from the other dropdown.
You can use additional search features to find remote work that matches your job requirements (e.g. minimum salary). You can also filter results by newest so you can be one of the first people to apply to new remote job listings. Applying early will increase your chances of getting an interview.
As for applying to remote jobs on AngelList, simply click the Apply button on the jobs results page and use the ideas-first cover letter template we used in Step 3.
Action Step: Create a free AngelList account and complete your profile using the same text you did for your resume. Then, find and apply to some remote jobs!
Start Your Remote Job Search with Me
If you’ve made it this far you have a solid foundation for a successful remote job search. But you can still do a lot more.
In addition to applying to a handful of remote jobs every day using the tactics outlined in this post, you can join my free remote job coaching service called Flexers. When you join you’ll get access to my full remote job course, weekly group coaching, and a private forum to connect with me and aspiring remote workers.
I hope to see you there and connect with you. Happy remote job hunting!