Main image of article 7 Critical Mistakes to Avoid When Applying for Remote Tech Jobs

With thousands of global companies now operating as fully remote, there are more postings for remote tech positions than ever, but that doesn’t mean you’ll land one. The competition for remote jobs is intense now that technology professionals can apply from all over the world. 

Unless you adapt your approach and content, your application may get lost in the “noise” of the crowded screening process. Are you inadvertently sabotaging your chances? Here are seven key mistakes to avoid when applying for remote jobs and optimizing remote tech work.

When Applying for a Remote Job, It’s Not All About You

Focusing on the desire to work remotely is the biggest mistake candidates make when applying to Doist, a fully remote company for over 12 years, according to people operations generalist Andrew Gobran. With hundreds of candidates for every position, presenting a one-sided personal value proposition that doesn't align with the needs and values of the employer won’t help you stand out.

“Where’s the motivation?” Gobran asked. “Why do you want to work here? How will you fit in with the team?” Explaining why you’re qualified and what you can bring to the role with clarity and enthusiasm is a baseline for moving ahead when companies receive copious applications for every remote position.

Always keep in mind that applying for a remote job is the same as an in-office or hybrid one: you must tailor your resume, cover letter, and other application materials to show how your skills and experience can benefit the specific needs and goals of the business. You’ll earn bonus points (and stand out in a crowded field of applicants) if you can show how you’ve done this while working remotely in your previous positions. Hiring managers and recruiters want the assurance that you’ll prove just as effective from your home office as a corporate headquarters.

Assuming that All Remote Jobs Are the Same

Conveying that you are willing to accept any job as long as it’s remote shows a lack of clarity about what you want and that you only care about yourself, not about what you can offer to the company, explained Juliana Rabbi, a former recruiter turned career coach.

Don’t assume that all remote tech jobs are the same, she warned. During the interview process, ask questions about how the company manages its remote workflows, and assure the hiring manager that you’ll know how to effectively utilize your technical and soft skills even if you’re hundreds of miles away from your other team members. Come prepared with stories about your previous experiences working remotely; emphasize your flexibility.

Not Cleaning Up Your Social Media and Job Board Presence

Some 98 percent of employers research candidates online or solicit feedback from connections before deciding to grant an interview, advised Barbie Brewer, chief people officer for ClickUp. 

Since 79 percent have rejected a candidate based on what they found, clean up and enhance your online profiles and contributions to code-sharing sites, and make sure the members of your network know to expect a call before you start a search. You may want to adjust your profiles on job boards to emphasize your remote experience. 

Prioritizing Quantity over Quality

Given the intense level of scrutiny, a “spray and pray” approach to job hunting won’t work, Rabbi noted. For remote jobs, every little detail counts during the screening process.

For example, remote work, particularly in asynchronous environments, requires excellent written communication skills. If your responses to application questions are incomplete, uninspiring or peppered with typos and grammatical errors, it can be a deal-breaker. To make yourself stand out, Brewer suggests that you consider submitting a cover letter, even if it's optional. When it comes to your resume, go through each bullet point; for any mentions of remote tech work, make sure to show how you generated results.

It’s better to focus on a few companies and put the time into tailoring your application’s content and key words toward the job description, the company’s business goals and priorities than submitting a cookie-cutter package to hundreds of jobs.

Care more about the content and less about the appearance of résumés and application responses, Rabbi added. Also, don’t be shy about highlighting your achievements and ability to bond with distributed teammates over the past 18 months. It’s not bragging to show hiring managers what you are capable of achieving. 

Saving Your Best Stuff for the Interview

Don’t assume that you’ll get a chance to overcome your lackluster writing skills by bonding with the manager and prospective teammates during video or face-to-face interviews. 

Given the difficulty, time and cost of arranging multiple interviews, companies are being more selective about who they interview. Plus, with remote work, succinct written communication is critical: let your application do a lot of the heavy lifting, and your chances of landing an interview will rise.

Being Lackadaisical and Too Informal

Working from home has blurred the lines between professionalism and familiarity, and is further reflected in the way candidates approach the hiring process. In fact, first impressions and professional etiquette matter even more when you’re looking for someone who “jumps out on paper,” Gobran noted.

The way you compose an email, whether you confirm a phone screen or assessment in advance, how you present yourself and follow up—all these things (and more) are a reflection of how you work and whether you have the self-discipline and motivation to do the job remotely.

Don’t make the mistake of being too familiar, too fast. Make sure the flow of communication between you and everyone involved in the hiring process is controlled, deliberate and professional.

Giving Up Too Soon

In most cases, the hiring process for remote jobs is longer and involves more people than on-site tech positions. Expect delays, be patient, and continue to follow up.

If you really want to work for a company, don’t give up with the first “no.” Ask for feedback, use it to improve your application content and résumé, and try again.