Nearly a year after the coronavirus pandemic caused offices to shut down and employees to work remotely, many have come to enjoy the arrangement that was once considered an exclusive perk. If you're looking for a new office job now, it's likely the position may allow you to work remotely for the duration of the pandemic, and potentially as a permanent fixture of your arrangement.
According to a fall 2020 survey from the freelancing platform Upwork, among a sampling of 1,000 small business owners, HR managers and CEOs, leaders expect nearly 27% of workers will remain fully remote through the end of 2021.
What's more, FlexJobs, a career resource that helps people find remote work, saw a 50% jump in people visiting the site and 19% uptick in employers posting job openings in the last year, says FlexJobs career development manager and coach Brie Reynolds.
Reynolds tells CNBC Make It that in addition to an uptick in the sheer volume of remote-friendly jobs being posted to the site, she's also seeing a wider variety of industries posting opportunities, such as in computer and IT; medical and health; project management; sales; accounting and finance; customer service and marketing fields. Some of the most common job titles posted to the remote-work site throughout the year were accountant, customer service representative, project manager, nurse and writer positions.
"The story for the year is that it's both volume and variety," Reynolds says of opportunities for remote work.
Though it's estimated just 3.6% of the U.S. workforce worked primarily remotely prior to the coronavirus pandemic, the Upwork report found that nearly 42% of employees were still working remotely as of late fall of last year.
Though Reynolds expect the share of remote workers to go down and fluctuate throughout 2021, as vaccination efforts continue nationwide, she does expect the larger remote workforce to remain a fixture of the working world for the next five to 10 years, citing companies coming around to remote work's benefits (including lower office costs and the ability to hire a more diverse set of employees) as well as some workers' satisfaction with the flexible arrangement.
If you're hoping to land a remote-friendly job right now, here are Reynolds' top tips to stand out in the hiring process.
Highlight your previous remote work experience
If you have any remote work experience, make sure it's noted multiple times in your resume, says Reynolds, like in an executive summary and under each job description where it applies.
Of course, if you've already been working remotely during the pandemic, experts say to make sure you explain how you've succeeded in the transition. Note how you've managed to keep operations running as if you were in an office, as well as where you've had to overhaul things to make things work in a new arrangement. If you've remained a solid performer while taking on the added urgencies of living through a pandemic, count those wins toward your ability to work well remotely, too.
Don't forget about accomplishments that go above and beyond your normal duties, like if you hired new team members and onboarded them virtually.
Additionally, if you completed your degree online, took remote classes or got certified for a skill through e-learning, mention that as well.
Mention the technical and soft skills that help you excel while remote
Even if you've never technically held a work-from-home job, Reynolds says you likely have a number of skills and experiences from an office job that translate. For example, while you may have technically worked from an office building in your previous job, your role may have involved collaborating closely with a team in a different location. What skills did you draw on to succeed in cross-location working?
Reynolds suggests highlighting skills such as communication, working well independently, doing deep focused work on tasks, and being comfortable with digital collaboration tools. Check the keywords in the job description of what tasks and responsibilities the employer is looking for, and make sure to mirror that language throughout your resume, cover letter and other application materials.
Gauge the company's history with flexible work
It's easier than ever to find a remote job, Reynolds says, whether it's with a company that's always been accommodating, or if they're slowly opening up to it as a result of the pandemic. "Even if they only did so during the pandemic, at least you know they gave it a try," Reynolds says.
So as you job search, don't limit yourself to just remote-only companies. Brainstorm a list of companies you want to work for, and then look at their press releases or company announcements to see what they've done around supporting employees working from home in the past year.
Have they continued to hire and start new colleagues remotely? Did they make the news for announcing plans to continue remote work forever? Or maybe the company CEO has said they want to roll out a hybrid arrangement, where workers spend part of the week in an office and the rest of the week elsewhere.
If an employer has hinted at offering flexibility, you may be able to apply for a role and bring up the potential for a remote arrangement throughout interviews and negotiations. You'll likely be able to tell early on if a company has warmed to the idea of working remotely in the future.
"Companies doing it well want to tell people about it and announce, 'We've had success here, and we want to keep doing it,'" Reynolds says.