How to Job Hunt (and Find Remote Work) During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Remote Job Hunting

Last updated: March 26, 2020

Last week, The Washington Post reported that the first layoffs related to COVID-19 hit the job market, but don’t fret -- not every profession and industry will be affected in the same way.

Don’t assume that nobody is hiring. Companies in travel, food services, hospitality, and event planning have been impacted, but the healthcare field is hiring, and so are grocery stores and other lines of businesses that are relying on e-commerce.

And don’t forget, hundreds of companies have been remote for years.

If you’ve lost your job because of COVID-19 or were in the midst of job hunting when the pandemic hit, you may be wondering what to do next.

One thing’s for sure: don’t give up on job searching! 

As challenging as these times may be, there are more successful ways than one to look for work and today’s guide will help you with that. Here are some job hunting strategies to use over the next few months:

First Things First, Check Your Benefits

If you’ve lost your job because of COVID-19, you may be eligible for unemployment benefits. The federal government, state governments, and some employers are providing additional unemployment compensation for affected employees. Check with your state and/or country unemployment office website for eligibility and benefit guidelines.

Prepare For Your Job Search

Get clarity on how you work best
Before you begin browsing, a little self-introspection is needed. Take a moment to pause, breathe, and get clarity. Determine your working style, which time zones you work best in, and the specific hours you’re able to work. 

Create a list of what you’re looking for in a remote position and highlight your strengths
This will help you pair them with the companies that need those exact skills when it comes to updating your resume.

Update your online presence
Revise your resume, polish your portfolio, and don’t skip out on the cover letter. Create an impeccable CV because you’ll be competing with talent from all over the world. Use a resume builder like CVStep to make this easier.

Pro tip: Highlight your remote skills by making them front and center on both your resume and cover letter. Keep in mind, you should never include skills you don’t have experience in just because you discovered that’s what the job posting is looking for. Do this and you’ll be wasting your time and the hiring manager’s.

Be sure to join our Slack community where there’s a dedicated channel to get feedback on your CV.

Lastly, update your LinkedIn profile and let recruiters know you’re open to opportunities.

Browse the Best Remote Job Sites

Know where to look
Major job boards like LinkedIn, Monster, and Indeed aren't focused on remote jobs. You'll be wasting time weeding through hundreds of in-office positions just to find the one or two remote jobs on there. Work at home jobs found on Craigslist and Facebook are no better; they're more likely to be total scams.

That's why you need to get in the habit of browsing employment sites just for remote work opportunities. Sites like We Work Remotely not only connect you with established companies and new startups but also with a large community of remote workers -- in fact, we’re the largest remote community in the world! We’ve been promoting jobs in Programming, Customer Support, Marketing, Sales, Contract work, and a whole lot more since 2013. Plus, it’s free for job seekers to use!

Use the right keywords when searching
Companies use different words to describe the remote workers they're hiring.

So one smart trick is to use your normal job title for the search (such as Engineer or Marketer) and then add a remote keyword, such as:
  • Remote
  • Virtual
  • Telecommute
  • Work from home / work-at-home
  • Completely distributed or 100% distributed (which means a company doesn't have a main office and all employees work remotely)

Apply to positions that match your skills
Rather than “blind-applying” to 100+ jobs, be intentional with your search. You won’t regret it because you’ll be saving yourself time and will get hired faster in the long-run.

Focus on industries that aren’t as affected by COVID-19
Travel, tourism, transportation, and events have taken the biggest hits, but positions in these categories are on the rise:

Read job postings carefully
98% of job applicants get eliminated at the initial resume screening phase. And that means only the top 2% of candidates move on for an interview[*].

One of the biggest reasons for this bummer is because most candidates don't take the time to follow the job posting’s instructions for applying or to decode remote job keywords.

When you literally copy and paste the keywords used in the job ad -- which explicitly state what the company is looking for -- it shows hiring managers, decision-makers, and resume parsing software you have what it takes.

You should always have an updated resume on hand so you only have to make minor tweaks when you want to send one out to companies you're interested in.

Keep applying
Companies are currently re-evaluating their business strategies and as a result, their hiring processes. But that doesn’t mean you should stop applying. 

In an interview with The Muse, Danielle Beauparlant Moser, managing director and executive coach with bltCareers said, “Companies might not be hiring today, because they’re trying to figure out how to do business virtually, but they will be hiring. The people who continue to relationship-build and share their ideas will be in a better position when companies start hiring.”

Certain jobs may be on pause, but that doesn’t mean they won’t open up again in a few months. Keep searching, keep applying, and don’t give up.

Be prepared for virtual interviews
If employers are asking for in-person interviews, politely ask to switch to a phone or video interview. Almost all interviews for remote positions happen over a video conferencing app like Zoom.

You'll definitely want to prepare for a remote interview well in advance and not wing it. Some organizations will need more remote workers than they’ve ever had and may need to get them onboarded quickly. A remote interviewer will ask questions about your remote work history, work style, communication preferences, and more.

So prepare a few well-thought-out responses for common remote job interview questions like these:
  • Have you ever worked remotely?
  • Why do you want to work remotely?
  • What makes you a good fit for a remote position?
  • What's your communication style?
  • What's a secret you use to avoid distractions?
  • What hours do you normally work?

Check out this guide on how to ace a virtual interview for more details.

After your interview, always send a thank you to your interviewer -- this goes a long way when you consider how many people don't do this.

Be patient and follow up
Be thoughtful and considerate. Hiring managers and recruiters already juggle busy schedules, so it’s always important to be considerate of their time. But because of the uncertainty that many leaders are currently facing, your thoughtfulness and consideration will be especially appreciated. Follow up a few times - maybe more than you normally would - but with patience, deliberation, and courtesy.

Establish a Schedule and Routine

Job hunting can feel like a full-time job. It can be hard, challenging, and can lead to depression, overwhelm or burnout. Take care during these precious times. Establishing a routine will help bring some focus and structure to your day. One of our awesome community members, Bricelyn Jones suggests, “Take a break or a few days off if you’re feeling burned out and do something you enjoy (sometimes it’s good to give your efforts time to marinate). Eliminate other areas of noise that cause stress (constant news updates, social media, emails/subscriptions that don’t add value...etc.) Continually remind yourself and/or spend time with others who can remind you that you have value to offer and that it will eventually be recognized.”

Participate in Various Online Communities

The best thing about online networking is that it’s easier and faster to meet people -- plus, you can steer clear of awkward conversation and bad food. There are a plethora of awesome remote work communities:

We Work Remotely Community - The biggest remote work community in the world

Work From - An online watercooler for those who work from home

Creative Tribes - Startup marketers, entrepreneurs, and creatives

Online Geniuses - Over 7,000 digital marketers

#devchat - ver 14,000 developers helping each other learn and grow

Skill Up

Time is a gift! The amount of organizations that have come forward offering free resources has been astonishing. Seize the opportunity and upgrade your skills through sites like Coursera, LinkedIn Learning, Khan Academy, edX, and many more.

Sign Up For Daily Digests On We Work Remotely

Get daily remote job listings sent straight to your Inbox. On either our Homepage or any of the Category pages, click on the categories you’d like to receive notifications for.

Repeat the Process and Help Others Learn How to Find Remote Jobs

By uniting our efforts and offering a helping hand, we’ll all get through this together. Share your experiences and connect with other job seekers to get and give feedback on your CVs. Know that you’re not alone on your journey -- our team is here for you. Reach out anytime you have any questions and don’t forget to join our Slack community. You’ll be in good company.

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