Demand for remote work is strong. And it is only getting stronger. One study showed a 32 percent year-over-year increase of job seekers searching terms like "remote" and "work from home" between 2016 and 2017.
This means one thing: more competition for remote job openings.
I have seen the benefits of remote work first-hand as the Aha! co-founder and CEO. We are one of the fastest-growing software companies in the U.S. and we are doing it all with an entirely remote global team of more than 70.
I have also seen what is needed to work remotely. It takes a particular mix of abilities and qualities to succeed on a remote team. You need more than just a desire to work from home because you think it will be more convenient -- you need the right mindset and skills.
Working virtually with teammates spread out across the country (and the world) is no simple task. Throw in technology hiccups and a reliance on written communication? It is easy to see why not everybody can thrive in this type of environment.
Add to the equation that hiring managers are getting savvier about what to look for when hiring for these teams. So, do you have what they are after?
Here are six skills and traits that will get you hired on a remote team:
Everyone appreciates a prompt reply, but responsiveness is at the core of effective distributed teams. People hiring for remote positions want to know how quickly you address requests and turn around work. That is because they know they will not be able to walk down the hall and find you when they need something. They need to know that you have the discipline to be present for your colleagues. You can talk about how responsive you are all you want -- but you really need to display it when corresponding with potential employers for a remote job. You want the job, so show it with quickly returned emails and phone calls.
Yes, speed is critical for remote team communication, but clarity and openness are equally important. Direct and transparent communication builds trust even when remote teams are far-flung. You can begin building this trust before you are even hired -- when you apply, correspond, and interview for a remote job. By being forthcoming with interviewers, you show you understand the expectations for transparency on a distributed team.
It is easy to plow ahead in solitude -- especially when you work remotely. But if you do so, you will miss out on the information you need to do your job well. You also risk wasting time on unimportant work. Hiring managers know how to vet for this. The best remote workers ask lots of questions -- starting in the interview process. Curiosity shows you want to know what it takes to succeed. You want to understand the team's goals and how you can help your potential new colleagues succeed.
Without face-to-face communication, the typical remote worker is bombarded with an exceptional amount of information -- instant messages, emails, and video meetings. Being able to filter and prioritize all those inputs requires awareness and organization. Make sure your resume conveys these qualities. During interviews, be sure to share your ability to focus and process information quickly.
A resume full of individual accomplishments might look impressive on the surface, but smart hiring managers know that solo superstars can be costly. Distributed workforces are no place for people who only look out for their own careers, leaving their colleagues waiting for the information and answers they need to do their jobs. If you work remotely, you must be willing to share knowledge and expertise while working towards the common goal. Is this you? Show it in your resume and during your interviews by stressing how you contributed to a larger effort and vision.
True meaning can get lost in translation. All that written communication on remote teams can lead to misunderstandings. Make a habit of scanning your emails and instant messages for anything that could be misinterpreted, and add considerate and clarifying language where necessary. Bring this humble kindness to every interview -- especially since they will likely be via video. This will serve you well in all of your communications with hiring managers. (And you will probably feel better about yourself too).
People do not like to think of themselves as being absent or unresponsive teammates. But you need to be honest with yourself to figure out if a remote job is really right for you.
While working on a distributed team might appear to be less work than going to an office -- the reality is that you will work really hard. Maybe harder than you ever have before.
What other qualities do you need to successfully work remotely?