Last week I shared a few thoughts about remote salaries, and the company salary policies you should be aware of when negotiating in your next interview.
As we discussed last week, remote job openings can receive hundreds of applicants in a short amount of time, especially the ones paying higher salaries.
This week, we'll discuss how to stand out from such a crowded pool of applicants. I've interviewed and hired hundreds of people for my remote teams and for my clients.
Today I'll tell you 3 red flags you should avoid and 3 best practises that will make you standout.
Let's start with the 3 red flags to avoid:
1) Unclear work history
The first thing I want to see in your application is how you can possibly fit the role I'm interviewing for. Given the large number of applicants, the attention span to review each one of them is short.
Sadly, in those short seconds I spend reviewing an application, many candidates fail to show me:
• What companies they worked at
• What roles they worked at
• For how long they worked on each one
Their CVs are just too verbose, or too confusing, or have weird formatting.
Key takeaway to avoid this: Just follow a standard CV format, and be concise. Do not make your interviewer search for key info that should stand out.
2) No relation between the application and the open role
It's understandable that candidates use a "spray and pray" approach, and simply apply to many companies using the exact same CV and cover letter.
However, this optimization for quantity certainly hinders quality. From the perspective of the hiring manager who reviews an individual application, many times it looks disconnected from the role it is applying for.
Key takeaway to avoid this: Spend a bit of time adapting your CV and cover letter to each company. A simple tactic is to look at the job requirements, find one or two that resonate with your experience, and mentioning those in your cover letter.
3) Unavailable for video interviews
This is an instant red flag for me, and for many other interviewers. Some candidates refuse to show on camera, but others simply lack proper equipment. Some are even sidetracked by local internet infrastructure limitations.
Regardless of the case, it's a red flag. If it's a situational case of a power cut, or internet issue, or camera doesn't work. We rescheduled and it's ok. But if it's recurring, or if you refuse to show on camera, then it's sketchy.
When applying to a remote role, make sure to have proper video and audio equipment. Doesn't need to be the best in the market, of course. But must make your audible and visible to your interviewer.
Now, with the red flags out of the way, let me tell you how you can standout with these 3 simple tips:
1) Relevancy to my open role
If I publish a job description, it's because I have a gap in my team. As such, I want to fill that gap ASAP. Simple!
I'll fill it with a candidate that can solve the problems I have at hand. So, what you need to do to standout is to show me why you're that candidate. If you do that in your application, it's likely I'll invite you for interview. If in the interview you support that with evidence, then you're closer to getting an offer.
Eg: If you're applying to a backend role that focuses on API integrations with payments providers, and if you actually participated in a Stripe integration at some point (even on a personal project). Make sure to mention that early in your cover letter and/or CV. That will capture attention for sure.
2) Remote work readiness
Explicitly mention your experience with remote work if any. Knowing that you'll be easy to onboard into a remote team, makes me want you to succeed already.
In case you don't have remote work experience, highlight your communications skills, especially written.
A nice way to show good written communication skills is to have a well-written CV and cover letter. Make sure those are concise and don't have typos. Also, in case you get a reply, make sure to have a positive and concise interview booking flow.
You'd be surprised how many candidates I reject based on terrible communication skills at the actual moment I'm trying to book an interview with them.
3) Experience in the core part of my job requirements
As you probably know, any job description lists way too many requirements. No candidate will ever fit them all.
In fact, hiring managers and CTOs who write the JD don't expect a candidate that matches them all. Most of them are actually nice to haves.
Your task as an applicant is to infer which requirements are core, and optimise your applications around those. A good heuristic is that the first requirements are the most important, and as the list goes on everything is more like a nice to have.
Optimise your CV/cover letter to those requirements, instead of trying to talk about all of them. Your applications will be more concise, and will touch what's actually important. Make sure to bring up the parts of your past experience that index to the first requirements in my list.
These all sound very obvious once you read them, but now I challenge you to review your CV and cover letter templates and see how you're doing for each of them.
I hope these actionable advice can increase your odds of landing a remote job. In case you're actively searching for a remote job at the moment, have a look at this list of 1000+ companies hiring remote roles right now.
I'm also launching soon my first ever cohort based course and private community, where I'll be breaking down my knowledge into modules, and will help a batch of remote job seekers find an international remote job. The launch will be private, join the waitlist and stay tuned.
Thanks for reading this newsletter until the end. You can read all past editions here. Make sure to share the link with your friends and colleagues so they can read it too.
See you next Friday,
Startup CTO & Remote Work Lover