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How to list and evaluate remote work on a resume

As the great resignation presses onward with people leaving the office for remote positions, knowledge workers are in high demand. Tech companies are competing hard for the best remote talent. The upside to workers is obvious: people are quitting their jobs for higher-paying remote jobs with better benefits and a more meaningful mission. 
While remote companies may have to do and pay more to attract their own talent, there’s also an upside from the hiring end. Statistically speaking, your dream candidate is probably out there thinking about finding a new job (if not searching already). In August of 2021, 65% of Americans were looking for a new job. Candidates that have experience with working remotely have the upper hand but might be wondering - how to actually put remote work on a resume in a way that makes you stand out?  
It’s getting harder for workers to stand out. It’s also more difficult for companies to sift through the haystack to find their golden team member. The answer to both of these things is being able to fully understand how to list and evaluate remote work on a resume. This allows workers to create an effective and authentic online personality to share. On the flip side, hiring managers use this knowledge to effectively filter applicants (which can often get into the hundreds for many job posts). 

How are remote work resumes different from traditional ones?

The definition of a resume has broadened

Even in the pre-remote work days, potential employees would send in their resumes remotely. So in theory, one might think that not much would change. But remember, remote work shifted almost everything about how we work. Remote companies have learned there is an advantage to ditching a “because we’ve always done it this way” mentality. Instead, companies that are now remote have learned to do things the most effective way. 

What does a great remote work resume consist of? 

  1. Your work experience 
  2. Your personality 
  3. That you are good at remote communication. 
This is what companies want to be confident in when evaluating a candidate to set them up for an interview. They need to primarily make sure the person can do the job (experience). Then, they need to ensure the person will be a good culture/mission fit, and have good enough communication to be an effective remote worker. 

Figure out what you want and where you’ll belong 

A little thought here will go a long way for both remote workers and companies hiring them. Have detailed and documented answers to the following: 
  1. What culture do you want / what is your company culture? 
  2. What lifestyle do you want / what lifestyle can you offer? 
  3. What are your strengths and weaknesses
  4. What kind of personality do you have, and what kind of personalities do you work well with? 

How to put remote work on a resume

Side Projects > Website > Portfolio > Resume
The best remote work resume may not be a resume. If you’re sending in a standard cover letter and resume, you’re going to have a hard time standing out. This is the minimum that you can do, no matter how good your resume is. For that reason, we aren’t going to go into an actual resume. Don't be constrained by the standard resume format. It is just a list of your past experiences. It’s better than nothing certainly, but it still just says where you’ve been. It doesn’t show what you’ve done and where you are now.
One step up from a resume is a Portfolio. A portfolio is slightly better because it does show what you’ve accomplished. It’s a highlight trailer for your work. Portfolios are particularly important for designers and developers, but really everyone should have a basic one-page portfolio. Make it something you can quickly link to. A designer might include past graphic designs and illustrations. A developer might have past things they’ve built. A marketer might have growth graphs or product launches. Get creative! 
The best place to put your portfolio of (remote) work experience is on a personal website. Make it a unique landing page that you can link to. This is a benefit in that linking to a personal website is a window to who you are. It shows that you care about an online presence. It should contain a window to both your work life and your personal life. We’ll go into more detail in the personality section. 
The ultimate pinnacle of showing experience is a side project (or even better, a full-blown company). Side projects show so many things. They show that someone can actually build something. They show someone is brave enough to launch it to the public. It shows that they have a diverse range of skills. They’re also guaranteed to be resourceful and ambitious. 

Working remotely is a skill

Make sure to mention if your previous roles were remote. Even if you are applying for an in-office job, having worked in a remote team means your communication skills and ability to keep yourself motivated and productive are excellent. Every employer can appreciate that.
Remote workers are usually naturally great at:
  • Deep focus work
  • Clearly communicating their thoughts and ideas
  • Having a routine that maximizes productivity
  • Collaboration
  • Time management and optimizing for efficiency.

Building your remote presence online 

There is no set rule for what works best when it comes to conveying your online personality to a company (and vice versa). The idea profile for an engineer will greatly differ from that of a copywriter. A company may not even know what a perfect applicant looks like until it hits them. That’s why it’s always important to be both your authentic self, and get creative.

Find the appropriate platform and most effective tool

Look at things from the hiring manager's perspective. What would give you the most confidence in someone’s experience? Chances are, it’s not a resume. Let’s go through some examples. 
A company hiring a growth marketer wants to see they’ve successfully grown a company before. A portfolio containing stats from your past growth projects, or even better, your own project you’ve grown, is a great way to prove your worth. Here's what I included in my portfolio as the current Head of Growth at SafetyWing.
An engineer or designer will also benefit from a simple list of past things they’ve built, and their exact contribution. Our Head of Creative has a fantastic mix of personal, side projects and branding for SafetyWing presented as an immersive viewing experience on her personal website. On the other hand, you can use existing creative communities as your portfolio - check out our Graphic Designer's Behance page, and the Dribbble Playbook from our Product Designer.
A social media person can simply display their own social media accounts. A copywriter might not need anything except writing samples. We knew our Head of Socials would be the perfect fit as soon as we saw her personal twitter where she talks about social media strategies and running her social media agency, the Z link. It goes by saying that you don't have to work in marketing to use social media as your portfolio - Anna from our design team has a wonderfully curated Instagram profile showcasing her work.
A customer support role should focus primarily on their communications with the company since that makes up 90% of such a role. Apart from a great email intro, don't be afraid to put your own twist on it! Our Customer Care Specialist sent a video introduction along with his resume. For the last two hiring rounds, we tried requesting a video intro which greatly helped us narrow down the applicants!
Regardless of what category you're in, you should probably have a LinkedIn profile that is up to date. But don’t worry, you don’t have to be active on LinkedIn. It’s simply the place people usually go to in order to see someone’s resume. If you do this correctly, you can just use it in place of a resume and focus on other more important parts. 

Your authentic online personality 

Experience is only part of what makes a perfect match between a remote employee and a remote worker. The (debatably more difficult) part is making sure it’s a good culture fit. Sure, much of this is done on the call. But your profile needs to stand out enough to catch their attention to get the interview. 
The first thing you should do is Google yourself to see what the top results are. Even if you haven’t used Twitter since high school, if it’s the first thing that comes up, companies will evaluate your personality off of it. Next, decide what platforms you thrive on and direct people there. If you are your most authentic self in your writing, link to a blog or personal website. If you convey yourself best over Instagram, send that! 
Whether you are communicating over email, social media or anything else, remember to always be authentic. Even if you get a job by pretending to be someone you are not, it won't last long or turn out well. It’s best to be yourself and find a company you truly are a perfect fit for. 
Similarly, as a company, you need to be aware of what potential new team members see. People don’t just go to a careers page. They look at your blog, your social media. They search on Glassdoor to see what current and past team members are saying. They will stalk your company's LinkedIn and everyone listed on it. Research your company from a 3rd perspective. How appealing does it seem to work at? 

Test your system 

Like any operational system, you need to evaluate whether what you’ve built is working or not. This will be easy for employees that list remote work on their resumes, they simply won't get a lot of responses if it's not working. In this case, you may need to get clever in making improvements to your remote work resume. If no one is opening your emails, change the subject line. If they open your message but don’t click on the links, maybe you have too much text in the email, or the copy is unappealing. If they are clicking on your links but not scheduling a call, it means your portfolio, resume, or website is not doing the trick. Revisit! 
(Note, you can use email tracking tools to see how people are interacting with your emails) 
On the flip side, it can be a bit more tricky for companies to figure out what in their system isn’t working. What frequently happens is that a company will get a lot of applicants that are obviously a bad fit. The most common reason for this is a poorly written job ad. But if you find people who are applying aren’t a good culture fit or mission-driven, it might be because you haven’t documented your culture or mission much. Ask your team and recent hires to help you. They probably noticed missing information in the process.
Are you working remotely and looking for the ideal place to work remotely from?
Check out this article we wrote recently about the best places for remote work in 2022!

About the author

Sam Claassen

Head of Growth
Sam Claassen is the Head of Growth at SafetyWing and a serial advocate for remote work. A longtime nomad himself, he has been to 65 countries while doing growth and remote work consulting for startups and accelerators. Through his work at SafetyWing, he is working with a team to create – a podcast, online resource and soon to be book on building a thriving remote company.