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How to Decipher a Remote Job Description

4 Tricks for Finding the Perfect Remote Job

Jennifer Parris is the Career Writer for FlexJobs, an award-winning service that helps job-seekers find professional opportunities that offer work flexibility, such as telecommuting, freelance, part-time or alternative schedules.

When you’ve spent most of your career living the cubicle life, it can be a tricky transition when you decide that you want to work remotely. For starters, how do you even find a job that allows you to work from home in yoga pants (or let’s face it, pajama pants) all day long and still get paid for it? Finding the remote job that’s right for you can be simple—just follow these four steps and you’ll be saying ahhh to work-life balance in no time.

The Anatomy of a Remote Job Description

Let’s take a look at the description for a remote job posting for a Senior Software Developer:

“Experienced senior software developer is needed for a full-time, work from home opportunity. Candidate must have five years’ experience in Microsoft .Net 4 and C# programming languages. Familiarity with HTML, CSS, RESP, and JavaScript is required. Experience, interest and adaptability to working in a lean/agile delivery environment. Exceptional collaboration, listening, presentation, written and verbal communication skills required.”

Now, here’s how to decipher the job description:

Find the flex.

Some job listings can be downright cryptic when it comes to letting job seekers know if the position is telecommuting-friendly or not. Luckily, this posting states it in the first sentence. (Other terms that are often used to describe work at home jobs include “telecommute,” “remote work,” “flexible schedule,” and “virtual.”)

But another clue can be found in the line “lean/agile delivery environment.” In the tech world, and the remote work world in general, the term “agile” is being used more frequently as a way to describe a remote work environment that is heavy on collaboration, testing, and experimentation with products and services.

So when you’re on the hunt for telecommute positions, look for keywords like “lean” and “agile” to find tech companies with remote work options. And keep in mind that if a posting makes no mention of being remote, chances are that it isn’t.

Understand what it takes to telecommute.

Working from home takes a lot more than setting up your home office and having a lightning fast Internet connection. There are many soft skills that come into play when working remotely—and these same skills are the ones that can make or break your life as a telecommuter.

From our Software Developer example, you’ll see, “exceptional…communication skills required,” which are a must for any remote worker.

Why? Without an office to pop into to ask your boss a question regarding an upcoming project, you need to be particularly proactive about addressing issues, whether it’s clarifying a question, alerting your boss about a potential pitfall, or even a conflict between you and another colleague.

Additionally, having strong collaboration skills means that although you will be working from the peace and quiet of your home office, you are still not working in a bubble by yourself—you still need to be in touch with—and more importantly, work well with—your virtual coworkers. So you’ll need to be confident (and comfortable) communicating with your colleagues using tools like email, phone, videoconferencing, and instant messaging.

Once you understand how to read a remote job listing, it’s time to find a telecommuting job. But you might discover that despite the growing number of remote jobs out there, it’s not always easy to find listings for those jobs. Here’s how you can expedite your remote job search:

How to Find the Jobs

Be specific in your job search.

Looking for a remote job is different than looking for a regular in-office job. While you might find a few tech telecommuting jobs on traditional job boards, you’ll be able to locate work-at-home jobs more quickly if you target niche job boards that specialize in remote work. Many times, companies will post specifically to those boards when they’re looking to hire a remote worker, simply because they know that’s where the job candidates who are serious about telecommuting are.

Research companies.

Let’s say that you’ve been in the throes of your job search for quite some time now—and well, nada. You’ve had your eye on a few companies that you’d like to work for but they haven’t posted any job listings that are designed to be done from home. That doesn’t mean that they don’t exist, though. Make a list of five to 10 companies that you’d potentially like to work for. (Maybe you like their casual style, or the fact that they’re a Fortune 500 company.) Then, reach out directly to the company via human resources or a hiring manager. You can find out if there are any prospective positions coming down the pipeline that you could be a match for, and then ask if you can submit your resume. You never know—being proactive about a soon-to-be position might land your resume at the top of the pile and help you beat out the rest of the competition! And if you’re not sure where to start, check out this list of 50 companies that hire remote workers.

Remote work options are growing in the tech sector, just as they are in pretty much every industry. Use these tips to spot and decipher remote job listings, and you’ll find a work-from-home job that’s right for you in no time.

And once you find the perfect job listing for you, make sure you nail the interview. Prepare with our FREE Remote Job Interview Prep Worksheet (below), complete with the top 18 questions you’ll get in interviews for remote jobs, sourced from real remote teams.

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