One of the most significant changes to come from the COVID-19 pandemic was how we worked. Long gone were the days of commuting or squeezing into a pair of uncomfortable pumps. Talk around the water cooler was exchanged for virtual meetings that more often than not, showcased the personalities of every worker’s cat.
The need for remote employment was born out of necessity, but recent polls have shown the exponential popularity of these working environments. In fact, 44% of American workers would prefer to work from home after the restrictions are lifted. However, finding a remote position may be more challenging than you think.
Without spaces to physically network, the job hunt can be more difficult. When you combine this with the rising number of Delta cases, it can feel like finding a job is an unbeatable hurdle — especially when more and more American workers are preferring to apply to remote roles due to rising COVID-19 concerns.
Fortunately, you can combat these challenges with a little strategy. Here are three things you should emphasize on your application materials to get the best results from myself, a former recruiter.
1. Emphasize your ability to communicate
If you want numerical proof of how much communication has changed over the past year, just look at Zoom’s usage report that saw a 317% increase over the course of 2020. Today’s working landscape is forever changed. Instead of walking into your boss’s office to ask a question, you now have to rely on various platforms such as Zoom, Basecamp, and Google Drive.
To win over a hiring manager, you have to emphasize your skill in utilizing these platforms. If you don’t have experience with a specific communication platform, you must demonstrate your willingness to learn about them. As a former recruiter, there is a lot to be said about hiring someone who demonstrates a desire and motivation to learn, especially when managers are looking for people who can adapt to the evolving environments and be a team player. Anyone can be taught how to use a new system, but not everyone possesses that innate motivation.
While you can jot your experience with these platforms down on your resume, take the time to expand on them in your cover letter. Your cover letter is an opportunity to provide some background information on who you are as an employee and what you bring to the table. If you use proofreading checkers like Grammarly before you send an email to clients, this is the place to indicate it. Even the smallest acts have the biggest impact.
2. Demonstrate your proactiveness
Being self-sufficient in the workplace has always been important, but it’s become even more crucial in today’s climate. The fortunate part of this is that you’ve already adapted to a new environment without realizing it. Whether you’ve had to spend some extra time learning a new communication tool like Basecamp or spent an afternoon organizing Google Drive to make it easier for the team to access important documents, you’ve already demonstrated proactiveness in several ways. Even deciding to email your clients with personalized messaging affirming your commitment to them in uncertain times is a type of proactiveness hiring managers appreciate because it shows genuine concern for business relationships.
Provide examples like this on your resume and cover letter, but don’t forget to take it a step further. One of the best examples of proactiveness is taking time to learn about the company you’re applying for. Instead of saying “Dear Hiring Manager,” find out who your direct contact at the company is and address it to them. Provide actionable suggestions based on the position you're applying for. For example, if you’re applying for a writing position, send in a few topic ideas you think would benefit their audience.
While it wouldn’t always be a deciding factor, the applicants who took the time to discuss facts about the company with me during the interview process always stuck out more, because it showed that they were willing to go the extra mile. And, if they were willing to go the extra mile in an interview, they would probably do so after they were hired.
3. Demonstrate your ability to work in a remote environment.
It may sound silly, but you need to demonstrate your ability to work in a remote environment to a recruiter simply because it’s not for everyone. While employees may have enjoyed it for a short period until their offices re-opened, there is a stark difference between working remotely for a temporary time and permanently. A lot of this has to do with isolation.
Levels of anxiety and depression skyrocketed during the pandemic, with nearly 50% of American workers citing a decline in their mental health. Poor mental health can cause cognitive disruptions, which can negatively impact an employee’s productivity. If you’re applying for a remote job, it’s important to discuss what strategies you use to stay motivated and focused. It’s also a good idea to include how you protect your mental health while working remotely. Maybe you do volunteer work or you take a morning walk each day to get rejuvenated. Providing examples of how you protect your mental health during the pandemic is a soft skill that’s just as important as your ability to communicate and be a team player.
Recruiters want to hire someone they know they can trust to get the job done. At the end of the day, you need to emphasize the skills that coincide with that goal. Hopefully, these three tips can help!