There are so many advantages to working remotely that finding a home-based job may be at the top of your to-do list this year. As you start your job search, you’ll find that many small companies are specifically looking for remote teams. But getting a foot in the door takes a targeted strategy.
When you apply for remote jobs with small companies, different rules apply compared to corporate job applications. Here are the most common mistakes people make and what to do instead so that you can work smarter, not harder, and land your remote job faster.
Using a scattershot job search strategy
When you start a job search, it’s tempting to apply to everything that seems even remotely related to your goals. But, a targeted job search can help you find success sooner. Take a pass on jobs that don’t truly interest you or those where you don’t meet any of the qualifications. It’s not fair to you or the employer to invest time, money, and energy into a job that you see as merely a short-term stepping stone or a chance to put money in the bank while searching for something that’s better suited to your goals.
Instead, consider what type of job you want, the types of employers that interest you, and the work-life balance features that are important to you. Then, limit your applications to jobs and employers that genuinely fit your criteria.
Sticking with a generic cover letter
Applying for jobs can feel like a numbers game—especially if you are making the mistake of applying for too many jobs. When you’re firing off résumés at a breakneck pace, a generic cover letter can seem like a lifeline to an easier path. But, think twice. A generic cover letter shows that you didn’t put much effort into your application.
The smarter move is to show interest by customizing your application materials for each specific job. When doing this, update your materials in ways that may be meaningful to the employer to make you stand out. One easy way to do this is to use the same language that appears in the job post in your cover letter and résumé.
When you apply to a small business, assume the owner or hiring manager is the first person to review your materials and make your pitch directly to them. In most cases, you aren’t fighting to get through automated résumé software, so a direct pitch works well. Do a little research about the company and the role. Be specific about how you can help and why you’re the best fit for the job.
Sending a corporate-style résumé to small businesses
Most job seekers have a base résumé they use for all jobs, and often it’s optimized to get through automated screening processes that search for SEO terms and specific corporate phrases. However, this approach can backfire when applying for jobs with small businesses. Many small businesses hiring online are looking for personality and the right skills. A résumé packed with SEO search terms and corporate jargon is often a red flag. To stand out, consider using an enhanced résumé or a photo to showcase your skills and personality. Canva has a variety of résumé options to consider.
Making mistakes in your application
When applying for a large number of jobs, it’s easy to let the details of the application slide. But, be careful. Small businesses often include precise application directions as a way to test for attention to detail. Read and re-read the post before applying to make sure you have crossed all t’s and dotted all i’s.
Forgetting to follow up
Your resume and cover letter shouldn’t be your only contact with potential employers. Make a plan to follow up with the business. LinkedIn is a great way to do this. Consider sharing a relevant post or extending an invite to the business owner or other key players at the company where you are applying.
Also, remember that an interested employer may follow up on you with an online search. Make sure your LinkedIn profile is complete and up-to-date. Spruce up your overall social media presence. Remove anything that could be questionable or make you look less professional.
Lesley Pyle is the founder of HireMyMom.com. Since launching in 2007, the company helped over 10,000 entrepreneurs and small businesses find the right freelancers or remote employees for their company.