How to Tailor Your Resume and Cover Letter to a Remote Job
If you’re using the same resume and cover letter you’d use for in-house positions, it’s no wonder you’re not hearing back from the remote job you applied for. Fix that now with this guide.
Are you tired of applying for remote jobs and never hearing back?
Bad news: There’s a good chance your resume and cover letter are to blame.
You’ll be able to fix your resume and cover letter with the help of this guide and turn around your bad luck ASAP.
We’ll show you exactly how to tailor your application so you can land the remote job you’ve been eyeing in just five simple steps.
But before you get to all the editing, you have to begin with careful reading.
Step 1: Spend Time Actually Understanding the Job Description
Finding a job can be a tedious process, especially when you’re on the hunt for a remote one.
But that doesn’t always have to be the case.
As we talked about in this guide, when you follow a specific process, you can quickly weed out positions that don’t work instead of wasting time applying to hundreds of remote job postings you’re not that into.
Many candidates are so eager to find a position that sort of works that they blow through the specific requirements and only find out later during the interview process that the job isn’t really the best fit.
Rather than wasting your time and your interviewer’s, slow down and completely read each and every job description.
This may mean re-reading the job description at least half a dozen times to truly understand what your future remote employer is looking for.
While it seems like just another added step, it also works well for another reason: you can (and should) use the information in these descriptions to craft the perfect resume and cover letter to match.
This is one of the best steps to ensure a hiring manager or recruiter calls you first out of the stack of applicants they receive. It also helps your resume pass the automatic parsing round.
So many candidates fail to do this and then never receive a call for an interview.
To remedy this situation, pull out the following key pieces of information from each job description:
#1: A list of the top qualities the employer is looking for in their job ad. You may see phrases like “excellent verbal and written communication skills” or “detail-oriented” and “organized” sprinkled throughout the posting.
Pull these specific traits out and we’ll come back to them shortly.
#2: The tools you need to be proficient in or have working knowledge of. Did the ad mention Photoshop or the Adobe suite of tools? Or do they need their potential candidates to know how to use remote project management tools like Trello and Basecamp?
Jot down all the tools or software mentioned in the posting and add a dash that includes your skill level as it relates to them.
When it comes time to put everything together, you’ll be able to quickly highlight your strengths here.
#3. The ad’s instructions. If you fail to follow the quirks and instructions in certain job postings, you’ll get weeded out before your resume is even glanced at for something as silly as not adding the word “panda” to your subject line.
These seemingly arbitrary measures are there for a reason; it’s an easy way for employers to find out which candidates will pay attention and follow instructions as an employee.
Before moving on to the next step, write down specifics like these to make sure you’re following the ad’s instructions to the letter.
All these notes make the best starting point for building your resume.
Step 2: Tailor Your Resume to Highlight Your Remote Skills
You may not need to completely rewrite your existing resume but you’ll probably need to make a few adjustments to highlight the skills you uncovered in the first step.
So think about the top traits recruiters and hiring managers are looking for in a remote position (hint: these are usually mentioned early in the ad or they’re repeated more than once).
Now make sure these are front and center on both your resume and cover letter.
Consider adding a bulleted list to the first part of your resume so potential employers see these first and foremost.
Keep in mind, you should never include skills you don’t have experience in just because you discovered that’s what the job posting is looking for.
Do this and you’ll once again waste your time and the hiring manager’s.
It’s also a good idea to include these in that section too:
Step 3: Highlight the Specific Tools You Have Proficiency In
Since it’s harder to train employees who work remotely, candidates who already have experience working with remote platforms are going to be considered over those who don’t.
So if you have proficiency in working with remote tools, it’s smart to highlight the specific ones you’ve used to show you don’t need much training.
While each potential employer may use a different tool, they’ll appreciate your experience using something similar, which can still help you stand out.
On top of mentioning your proficiency, you’ll also want to showcase your past performance.
Step 4: Create a Portfolio that Stands Out
Your cover letter and resume are necessary for hiring managers, but your digital presence, or portfolio, is what’s really going to help you get noticed in a crowded market.
When you spend time on each of these equally, you’ll create the total package employers will fight over.
Your online portfolio can be as simple as a one-page highlight per skill or as robust as a full digital portfolio of all your work and achievements.
Try out a free portfolio site or invest the time in creating your own website to show off your value and experience.
And when you do, mention specific project details — including your role and how you handled the situation, along with the outcome.
Even if the end result wasn’t so great, you can still mention what you learned and how you’d handle things differently next time.
Don’t get discouraged or overwhelmed by making this portfolio perfect. Just getting the information out there may be enough to show employers you’ve put in the effort before and you’ll do it again.
Plus, by creating this visual representation of your experience, hiring managers will be more drawn to your application, which is also what happens when you:
Step 5: Craft the Perfect Cover Letter
Before potential employers even check out your portfolio or resume, they’re going to read your cover letter first.
This is where you have to tie everything you’ve done so far together to briefly explain why you’re the perfect fit for the position.
It’s also where you can display your written communication skills and show you can think through situations with ease.
Your cover letter should be short and sweet and get right to the meat of your important facts early on.
When it comes to content, think about the absolute best highlights only and use your cover letter time wisely to showcase these.
Here’s how your cover letter should flow:
- Introduce where you found the position and mention the specific job you’re applying for.
- Jump right into making the connection between your past experience and this new role.
- Weave in the skills and your proficiency in job-specific tools you wrote down earlier.
Sum up all this information in three to five small paragraphs instead of one big chunky letter.
Remember, your cover letter is the gatekeeper: if it doesn’t pique a hiring manager’s interest, they may never make it to your resume or portfolio.
So figure out the most important trait or quality a hiring manager for each position would want to see and make sure to point this out as it relates to your experience.
Do this and you’ll make it to the next round where your resume and portfolio will tell more of your story.
If these are on point, you should receive a call for an interview shortly thereafter (fingers crossed!).
Time to Update Your Resume and Cover Letter Today
Now that you know how to tailor your resume and cover letter for a remote position, you’re ready to revisit your virtual job search with a fresh set of eyes.
Work on creating a digital portfolio today and follow the steps in this guide each time you come across a new remote position you want to apply for.
You’ll be a dream candidate any hiring manager will want to check out and snatch up in no time.
For more help on finding a remote job, be sure to check out this guide next.