Decoding The Secret Language of Remote Job Descriptions
Learn what those ad buzzwords mean and how to show hiring managers you’ve got what they’re looking for.
While job post jargon may be intended to weed out unqualified candidates, it should also help you weed out positions you ultimately won’t like.
But you can’t do that without first decoding the language used in each and every job ad.
So use this cheatsheet of job keywords to send off your resume with confidence or nope out of that ad and apply elsewhere.
What Common Remote Position Keywords Really Mean (& How to Show You’ve Got Them)
Read between the lines of these common job ad words and learn how to tailor your resume and cover letter to impress hiring managers and ATS resume robots:
Unlike fudging your work history on your resume and hoping you’ll learn the rest on the job, companies looking for remote employees are serious about experience.
Since there’s usually less on-the-job training with a remote position, you’ll need to demonstrate your proficiency working with the specific applications or software mentioned in the ad.
To show you’ll be quick to onboard and mesh with the team, highlight your experience by sharing:
- • A link to your portfolio where your applicable skills will be on display
- • Project achievements demonstrating your experience
- • Awards and certifications related to your skills
If you don’t have a specific skill set reel, you may want to demonstrate how you’re more of a Swiss army knife.
See this keyword and it says employees must be comfortable completing all sorts of work as the company needs it, regardless of whether it’s a big or small ask.
Since anything and everything is on the table, you may be juggling multiple projects or tasks at the same time, or sometimes feel unqualified or overqualified to tackle others.
If you add these keywords to your resume, you’ll want to mention how you’re always willing to help your current company or team achieve greatness using your many assets and abilities.
And that goes along with this next buzzword.
No remote worker is an island.
Most are part of a larger remote workforce or stay connected to an office-based team throughout the day.
So employers specifically looking for team players may show a preference for overall results rather than recognizing individual employees for their hard work.
This means you may have to help out your coworkers at the expense of not completing your own work, which could create added stress if it becomes a habit for your teammates to rely on you.
If you’re truly happy being a cog in a well-functioning machine, convey your ability to brainstorm in a group setting and discuss prior collaborations that went well.
You’ll also want to switch from “I” to “we” to describe your achievements in your resume and cover letter, as in:
- • We earned the coveted 2018 Best In New Design award.
- • Our last email campaign collaboration grossed over $60k in 7 days.
- • Together we identified and fixed a security flaw before a potential data leak.
While team players are sought after, don’t be surprised if most job ads also use these next words to describe the remote employees they’re looking for.
Self-Starter; Able to Work Independently; Shows Initiative;
One of the best perks of working remotely is the autonomy. You’re typically free to set your own schedule and complete your work when you’re most productive.
But it also means remote workers must take the lead on their job duties and be expected to solve problems on their own without having someone hold their hand.
These phrases point out that you’ll need to squeeze out every bit of your available resources before asking for help.
So to nail this one, explain times when you:
- • Were successful working independently
- • Took a proactive approach and it paid off
- • Discovered a solution with few resources or feedback
- • Showed confidence and thought on your feet
- • Excelled in a leadership role
Word of caution: Ask a few follow up questions during your interview to make sure these buzzwords aren’t hiding a lack of corporate leadership, internal direction, or accountability on your employer’s end.
Ninja; Guru; Wizard; Jedi; Rock Star
While these keywords may give the impression of a hip work environment, they’re just HR’s way of placing pressure on new employees to do anything necessary to live up to their all-star titles.
If you’re highly driven to succeed and hungry to prove your worth, you won’t be phased by working long hours and weekends like a superhero whereas others would eventually burn out and retreat to their secret lairs.
So to prove your dedication, you’ll need to show hiring managers you’re not only excited about the position, but also knowledgeable about and committed to:
- • The company itself
- • Your market/niche
- • Both the history of your industry and emerging trends
This next buzzword may seem like a win for you, but you’ll have to dig deeper to know for sure.
Flexibility in the remote job world has many meanings and could indicate your need to take on job duties outside of your role or being on call during unconventional hours.
If you’re envisioning a remote job where you can create your own hours, always remember the word flexible is more about you being flexible with the company’s demands and less about the company bending to your needs.
Fast-Paced Environment; Agile; Works Well Under Pressure
If waiting around to solve problems bores you, a fast-paced remote work environment where you’re constantly knocking out goals will ignite your productivity.
But these common phrases may also signal a company comfortable asking their employees to:
- • Complete rushed, last-minute work
- • Switch gears unexpectedly
- • Clock in 10+ hours each day (and weekends!)
- • Meet multiple deadlines simultaneously
Even though you may not physically be in a high-pressure office as a remote employee, this frantic pace can cross over to your remote work environment in the form of dozens of urgently marked emails and nonstop messages in Slack.
To show hiring managers you thrive under pressure, add a few examples of projects you managed well despite their last-minute updates and ever-changing demands.
Now Practice Reading Remote Job Descriptions
We’ve covered the most common job description keywords in remote positions so you know which ones to pay extra attention to.
Now comes your homework and practice time.
Go ahead and browse remote job positions today at We Work Remotely, where over 2,500,000 visitors search for jobs that aren’t restricted by commutes or a specific location every month.
Check out the keywords employers use when they’re looking for designers, developers, programmers, managers, marketers, etc. and you’ll be better prepared to submit an application or move on to something you’ll like better.