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    I Asked A Remote CEO For Tips On Getting A WFH Job, And Here's What He Said

    Goodbye commuting, hello sweatpants!

    If you're hoping to land a remote job in 2022, the beginning of the year may be one of the best times to do it. According to data from Indeed, companies tend to do the most hiring in January and February after new year hiring budgets go into effect.

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    To learn more about the remote job market going into 2022, I emailed with Kevin Kirkpatrick, CEO of the job posting site We Work Remotely. Here's what he had to say:

    1. First, remote teams can work in many different ways, and you might see employers using terms like "distributed" or "telecommute" to describe remote jobs.

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    Kirkpatrick says that there are different kinds of remote jobs, and each company might define certain remote work terms in their own ways. "For example, there are hybrid companies that allow people to work from home or from the office. Other companies encourage working from home, but they need you to collaborate synchronously, so they require for people to be connected at the same time. Other companies have employees all around the world and communicate asynchronously."

    So how can you make sense of what these job postings mean to you as a candidate? "Instead of focusing on definitions, job seekers should look for companies that align with how they want to work. Some people like going from time to time to an office, and that's great! Others prefer to be traveling so they need a job that aligns with that. Some parents need very flexible schedules so they need to work at a place that provides that."

    2. Communication skills (especially in writing) are among the top attributes remote employers are looking for.

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    No matter what kind of remote job you're hoping to land, Kirkpatrick says that having excellent written communication skills will serve you well. "One skill everyone should work on if they want to get a remote job is written communication. A lot of what happens in the remote world is written, so being a good communicator is key." And as someone who's been working remotely and basically living on Slack and email, let me tell you, this checks out. 

    Looking to improve your writing skills? Adding some time to read and practice writing to your daily routine can help, and I'd also recommend trying a tool like Grammarly. It's not a human editor, so its suggestions aren't always 100% right, but it can help you spot those pesky spelling errors, missing words, or punctuation issues before you hit send. 

    3. It's also a good idea to show remote employers that you can be resourceful and work well independently.

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    After communication, creative problem-solving skills and independence also rank among the most sought-after skills for remote work. "Resourcefulness is another attribute remote companies look for. Teams need people that are able to come up with creative solutions no matter the context," Kirkpatrick explains. "People that are able to solve problems on their own and take ownership of what they do are always attractive for remote companies."

    So think about your work or education experiences that you can draw on to demonstrate these skills. Maybe in your current job you had to think up a pandemic-related solution on the fly, or perhaps you're a new grad who completed part of your degree from home. Experiences like these can be great to include in your remote work résumé and cover letter.

    4. Make sure you include the right keywords in your résumé so that an actual human will read it.

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    Lots of companies use Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) to help sort through résumés before a recruiter or hiring manager takes a look. When it comes to getting human eyeballs on your résumé, using the right keywords is everything. Kirkpatrick says, "If you don't add relevant keywords in your résumé, your application won't even get to a human. We have a great guide on beating the ATS here. If you don't want to read it, just know that you have to find keywords in the job listings and sprinkle them in your résumé." 

    For example, if a job posting says, "Previous experience with outside sales required," and your résumé just says, "Sales," you might not get past the ATS. But using the same language you see in the job posting should help you beat the ATS for that employer. Bottom line: You're gonna want to tweak the keywords in your résumé just a bit for each new job you apply for.

    5. And while we're on the subject of résumés, adding specific and measurable details to yours will help you stand out.

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    "Another good practice is to add specific examples of how you've used certain tools or how you've helped your past companies reach goals and solve problems," says Kirkpatrick. Anyone can write on their résumé that they've used software X or done task Y, but getting specific gives employers a better idea of your skill-level and real-world experience.

    For example, if you work in customer service, you might be able to see how many support tickets you close in the average month. Or if you work in retail, perhaps you can access your daily, weekly, or monthly sales numbers through your register. Any numbers that your work performance gets judged on in your current role can be used on your résumé to show off what you do.

    6. If you're new to the workplace or in the first couple years of your career, that doesn't necessarily mean you have no experience.

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    "Being early in your career doesn't mean you don't have relevant experience," Kirkpatrick explains. "The secret is to frame your experience in a useful way. Did you do volunteering work? Add it to your résumé along with what you accomplished there. Did you lead a student group? That's also relevant. Still struggling to come up with examples? Start your own project and document your approach."

    7. And if you're more established in your career, you don't necessarily need to have remote experience already to snag a WFH job.

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    Kirkpatrick says this is another case where it's all about how you frame your work experience in your application materials. "Many remote companies hiring don't look for 'remote experience' but for skills that can be useful in a remote context. Be sure to add those to your CV and cover letter. Talk about how good you are at communicating in a remote context, the tools you know how to use, and how you've been able to reach goals and solve problems autonomously."

    8. When you have a remote interview coming up, do your homework on the company to be prepared.

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    If you're interviewing remotely, making sure you're set up for a video call and dressed appropriately (at least from the waist up) are obvious tips. But it's also a really good idea to look into the company. This can give you a better sense of what they're looking for in a candidate and what it might be like to work there.

    "Research the company, learn about their culture, what they do, and everything you might think is important. There are many review sites you can visit like Glassdoor, for example, that can help you learn about the company culture," Kirkpatrick says.

    9. And be authentic and as honest as possible in your interview.

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    During a job interview, you might feel pressure to have the best, most-correct answer to every question. But sometimes the best answer is, "I don't know, but here's how I'd find out..." 

    As Kirkpatrick puts it, "Don't try to be something you're not. Especially in the remote world, it's important to recognize that we all have different ways of working and that our way of working could not be the one they're looking for in a company. That's OK. Be truthful about your skills, the tools you know how to use (recruiters know right away when you're lying), and what you expect from the job."

    10. And finally, make sure you know how to spot and avoid fake and scammy job listings.

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    Unfortunately, online job scams have been on the rise since the beginning of the pandemic. Kirkpatrick says that these four things are big, bright red flags that a remote job listing is a scam:

    "1. They're asking you for confidential information (don't ever share this information!).

    2. They offer a very high salary and ask for very little qualifications.

    3. They want to charge you to apply.

    4. You can't find reliable information about the company online."

    While you're job searching, practice good cyberhygiene and don't give out information like your Social Security number unless you know for certain that you're dealing with a legitimate company.

    Do you know of another great tip for getting a remote job? Tell us all about it in the comments!

    And for more stories about work and money, check out the rest of our personal finance posts.