5 tips for remote job seekers

Tips based on experience evaluating hundreds of remote work job applications daily.

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It’s super exciting to be working on a rapidly growing company, Contra. I am actively hiring talent using Contra’s community and popular remote job boards to scout for the best of the best for very specific skills. Every day we receive 100+ applications and I read through all of them. However, only about 2–3 applicants are picked for the next interview. Here are a few tips of how to stand out (and how not to stand out).

Apply for relevant jobs

Our candidate sourcing starts with a self-assessment form. It is designed to introduce you to the role and give you confidence that you are the right candidate for the job. However, you still need to sell yourself.

Whoever is going to be reading your answers is going to search for keywords that show relevant experience. Therefore, regardless of what the question is, give answers that show your relevant experience for the job in which you are applying to. e.g. If the question is “What is the most challenging project you’ve ever worked on?” and the job for which you are applying is “Node.js/ GraphQL architect”, then describe the most challenging project that utilised Node.js and GrapQL. Unfortunately, a lot of applicants describe projects that have nothing to do with the job for which they are applying and miss out on some relevance points.

However, do not oversell yourself. You should not apply to jobs that you are not a great match for. Even if the company ends up hiring you, this is likely not a company that you want to work for (it shows that their hiring process is broken). A well designed self-assessment form will give you gentle hints, e.g. we include a variation of the following question:

Rank yourself on a scale from 1–5 for each of these technologies (1 — I know nothing or just basics; 5 — I will answer anything that you may ask me):

* Node.js
* TypeScript/ Flow
* GraphQL
* React
* Relay
* PostgreSQL
* Docker
* Kubernetes

If the job title is “Node.js/ GraphQL architect” and you answer that your Node.js is 2 and GraphQL 2, then you should weigh if it is worth your time to continue with the application.

Follow the instructions

If you are applying for a position that mentions hot skills and advertises a good pay, then you better be sure that you are competing against hundreds of other applicants.For this reason, you should try to adhere to all (however trivial) requirements that the job application asks. If you do not, then it shows that you cannot follow simple instructions and it makes it more difficult to assess your application fairly.

Using the previous example (“Rank yourself on a scale from 1–5 [..]”) you can make the reviewer’s job easier by copy-pasting the list of skills and just adding 1–5 score to each. Conversely, ranking yourself 6 is not going to increase your chances of getting the job.

Put care in your application

Your application is a mirror of your work ethic. If your application is full of grammatical errors that could be easily avoided with a spellchecker, then so will the work we ask you to do. One of the simplest ways to improve your chances of standing out is simply by being pedantic with grammar and formatting.

Be respectful of the process

It is important to stand out when applying for a job, and the best way to do that is by demonstrating relevant experience and eagerness. That being said, if the job ad outlines a process, you should stick to it. Remember: great jobs attract hundreds of candidates and there would be chaos without a process. Therefore, if the job ad asks you to fill a self-assessment form and wait for us to follow up, then you shouldn’t send an email, a LinkedIn message and/or a Twitter DM. At best, your other messages will be ignored, and at worst they will deduct points on your application.

Make a copy of your application

It is highly likely that whatever you put down in the self-assessment form is going to be brought up in the following interview stages. Therefore, make a note of questions and your answers. Having these notes will help you better prepare for the interview.

At the end of the day, what gets you hired is your network, your personality, your attitude and your experience. But following these 5 tips will increase your odds of standing out among many great applicants.

Written by

Software architect, startup adviser. Editor of https://medium.com/applaudience. Founder of https://go2cinema.com.

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