If you work in tech you already know that finding remote work can be difficult. Even though remote working is on the rise, there are still more people interested in working from home than positions to do so.
But, if you adjust your job search techniques, you’ll find that there are quite a few companies willing to work with remote people, even if they don’t seem to be looking for help, or they aren’t advertising their openings.
In this post, I’m going to give you my hacks for finding remote work. These are strategies I’ve used for almost a dozen years to make a full-time living in digital marketing. Let’s get started.Finding remote work - there's a hack for that! Check out the 4 @marygreenim has to share Click To Tweet
Before You Start Hacking the Job Hunt
Decide If You Are Looking for Jobs or Freelancing Work
To get started you’ll need to decide whether you want to take a freelancing/contract position, that might include everything from doing a few hours once, to doing 40 hours (or more) a week for the long term, vs taking an employee position.
In most cases, you are going to find it easier to secure freelancing work, but remote employee positions are increasing daily.
Do You Need Benefits?
Some positions include benefits and some do not regardless of W2 or contract. Many companies in the SaaS/startup world will have information on working with them on their sites.
In the tech world, there are loads of additional benefits. Home office budgets, personal development budgets, additional vacation funds, book funds, Starbucks gift cards, and team retreats.
Tech companies, in particular, try to offer unique perks to entice new applicants. Decide what is important to you and if you need all of the additional perks, then keep them in mind as you find places to apply.
For example, here are some of the benefits to working with Buffer:
Know The Title You Want
Now, you’ll need to know what you want to do. Do you want to write content? Be a content manager or marketer? Are you more interested in SEO positions or Email marketing? Once you know what you want, come up with a list of terms to use in your search.
Here are mine:
- VP Marketing
- Director Marketing
- Demand Generation
- Senior Marketing
It’s important to point out that the more specific you are, the easier it will be to find positions. While it seems that you could do several tasks, being a generalist doesn’t necessarily help you find work, as there are only so many of these jobs posted. Companies want T-shaped experts.
Get Training If You Need It
There are many free courses you can take online to help you find work. Two that I recommend for anyone interested in social media, or marketing are:
Perfect Your Resume
Your resume should include work related to the positions you’d like to accept. For instance, if you want to be a marketer, your resume doesn’t need to include working at a grocery store, as a cashier.
Since you’ve made a list of positions you want to apply for, I recommend making a version of your resume for each position. You can use Google Docs, then export as a PDF and name each resume file based on the position, for instance: John-Smith-Senior-Marketing.pdf
I Will Teach You To Be Rich is a great site that has a lot of tips for finding work. While Ramit (the owner) focuses on helping people find their dream jobs, he doesn’t focus on remote work. But there is a lot of cross-over here, so check it out.
You’ll have to write a cover letter every time you send an application. Here’s a great blog post on writing cover letters that CEOs want to read.
In your browser start a folder for bookmarks. You’ll use it to save quick links to the searches you’ve already done. For instance, in Chrome I had a link to https://remoteok.io/remote-marketing-jobs since it was the results page of positions marked for marketing.
This is my jobs bookmark folder.
As you find new search engine or social media searches, you’ll add these links. You might want to edit the links based on better results pages, just right-click for that option.
Every day or two you can quickly run through all of the links in your bookmark folder without having to invest the time to customize each search again.
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Hack #1: Networking To Find Work
Everyone says to tap your network to find open positions, it’s all in who you know. It’s true, but no one really tells you how to do this, and many of us have a lot of anxiety around it. So let me help you get started.
Who Should You Contact?
You’ll want to connect with anyone in your network that you have a comfortable relationship with. These are people you’ve had casual conversations with, you’ve either emailed multiple times, direct messaged, or connected with in some other way.
Please don’t try to connect with people who don’t know you or will be annoyed, it’s a waste of time and you’ll burn bridges before they were even standing. But if you feel you can make a decent approach with someone, go for it.
This is business, not personal. If you get nervous thinking about reaching out to people remember that this is business, you aren’t bothering them, in most cases, they will appreciate hearing from you.
Sometimes you are helping them fill a void, and making them look good by having someone to refer to a position. There are jobs out there, people want to fill them, help them do it by connecting with them.
Where to Find People to Contact:
- Linkedin connections
- Email contact list: in Gmail, emails you respond to are saved as contacts, so you have a lot of possible connections.
- Slack channels (especially Private messages)
- Twitter and direct messages
- Facebook groups or private messages
- Community sites: Inbound, GrowthHackers, HackerNews
Here is a message I would send:
Once you get a lead, send them your resume. In your cover letter be sure to mention the person who referred you to the position.
Here are a few more tips for your messages:
- Ask about their business, projects or position.
- Refer to an earlier discussion.
- Think of how you can help them and talk about it.
- Make it easy for them to refer you to another company.
- Be short, always err on the side of too short. No one has time to read long emails.
Hack #2: Search For Unadvertised Positions
There are several companies that help businesses manage hiring through an online dashboard that captures applicant information, and makes it much easier for hiring managers to handle applications.
You’ve probably seen these sites:
The problem (for you) is, none of these sites let you search their sites for positions, yet they are full of great jobs that need to be filled. So this is what you do:
Use Google To Find Hidden Remote Positions
Go to google.com and type this in for your search:
More Tips For Success:
- Do this with every site listed above. The search results will not be perfect, you might find one that doesn’t fit, but most will be fine.
- Use the Search Tools option, in Google, to filter results to show the last month. Then check back regularly (weekly) and select results only from the last week.
- Search on Google for recruitment platform to find more sites like those listed above.
- Some of these sites have a directory of their site where all of the positions are held, for instance, app.jobvite.com or boards.greenhouse.io – figure these out by locating any of their available jobs and you’ll have the formula for their listings.
- Plug it into Google for a more accurate search.
- Save these searches to your bookmark folder for easy access.
Finding Remote Positions On Twitter
Take any of the domains above and search for them on Twitter, you can include keywords such as remote, marketing, or location, to help you narrow the results. Here is the link to Twitter advanced search.
Choose Live from the results to see all of the most recent tweets. Save the results page in your Job search bookmark folder.
Hack #3: Cold Emailing or Job Outreach
By far, my most favorite way to find work is cold emailing. But for some reason cold emailing scares people. They closely relate it to cold calling, when it is more like sending out your resume. For that reason, I’ll also refer to this as job outreach.
Now please keep in mind: I refuse to wait around for opportunities to find me. Not because they don’t come along, but because when I want or need something, I think it’s up to me to get it. Along the lines of: I’m in control of my destiny.
By using the fine art of sending an email I’ve been able to work as a digital marketer with dozens of companies, agencies and business people over the last 12 years.
Step 1: Select a Target Audience
Seems simple enough, but I get selective about this because I want a decent amount of response, and a good opportunity to make money. I think to myself: who needs my service? What sector or industry are they in? What kind of companies would I enjoy working with?
Say my service is blog writing. Anyone who already has a blog would be able to use the service, but that would be millions of companies. So I’m going to pick something I enjoy writing about – SaaS tools.
Now I know what I’m looking for – SaaS startups.
Step 2: Find a Directory
For this particular industry Angellist.co, GetApp.com, or ProductHunt.com would do. They offer tags and decent search options to narrow the results to the specific types of companies you might want to approach.
Keep in mind, you can do this for ANY business sector. B2C works even better than B2B because there is significantly less competition and the topics might be far more interesting for you.
For B2C products, I like to search Google for brand names that I would work for, many will have a list on their site of places to purchase products. This list is your directory.
Additionally, these sources work as directories:
- Chamber of Commerce (when you are looking for local businesses)
- Trade Associations (for instance: Associated Builders & Contractors)
- Trade Magazines Advertisement Area (Kiwi for green/all natural parenting)
- Software partners such as Microsoft, Salesforce or HubSpot
Here is a link to the Association of National Advertisers. These are all companies that can afford to advertise, and could possibly send you work if you write them.
Step 3: The Pitch
Unfortunately, this is where you can get somewhat gray hat. Do you want to be completely honest, or make it sound legit even if it isn’t, when getting your foot in the door? I try to be legitimate, some won’t.
The email cannot sound like too much of a pitch and it also cannot be all about YOU. The email must be beneficial for them and sound personal. Most importantly it must be short!
Here’s what I would say:
Step 4: Build a Spreadsheet
Once you have the pitch written, and the directory found, it’s time to get to work. Visit each company’s site and see if they have a blog. You’ll have a hard enough time selling your service if they don’t already believe in what you do, so ignore those who don’t have blogs, you don’t need to sell that idea.
In the spreadsheet you want to mark down:
- Name: company name
- Website: link to site
- Have blog? The websites that have blogs
- Last Post: A column for their last post date (contact those who haven’t posted in a month or two)
- First Contact: A column for the first date you’ll contact them
- Response? A response column
- Contact: email address or link to form on their site (I prefer filling out forms, you can skip some email spam filters this way).
Step 5: Send Your Pitch
I usually send a hundred or so emails at a time. For some reason, even though it is just email, I would get nervous about it, and get cold feet before sending. I was afraid people would get mad that I was wasting their time, or that they would respond that they hated me. But this was all in my head, just send, this works, don’t let your emotions take over and fool you.
I only received a few responses saying not to spam them anymore and I made sure never to contact those companies again (I would mark them in my spreadsheets).
A tool that makes this super easy is Quickmail.io. It isn’t free but it makes personalizing and sending these emails quick and painless.
Step 6: Include a Link to Your Profiles
This might be more difficult, but if you have a site to send them to, where they can learn more about your writing or service, especially costs, they’ll appreciate it.
Otherwise talk to the people who respond, thank them for their time, and try to build a relationship for the future if they cannot hire you now. This is a great way to get more work down the road (see networking above).
It takes time to get good at cold emailing, but it almost always provides work. You don’t want to sound like a robot or automated message, though, so try to add a bit of personalization to each email if you can, especially the name of the site.
My last tip would be to use a new Gmail account, just for this purpose, so you don’t get listed as spam.
Proof in the Pudding
I’ve helped multiple people find their first work from home positions or gigs using this method. I get very creative by helping them find highly specific groups of people to email, such as:
Companies who use GrooveHQ for customer service: We used google to search for the knowledge base option Groove offers. At the bottom of every one of these knowledge bases, there was a link to Groove.
We went back to Google and searched for sites that had this link. Then, we emailed the companies to see if they needed additional help – Bam, within 20 emails my friend had 3 phone calls and got a part time position doing customer service from home.
Another friend was looking for a way to use her inbound certification through HubSpot. She cold emailed several HubSpot partner agencies telling them she was looking for a paid internship. She now works at one of the top partners as a paid intern, 20 hours a week.
When my small social media agency got low on work, I would email inbound marketing companies who had low engagement or small fan bases on social media. It was a simple way to show them my website, offer to help, and pick up new contracts. I worked with at least 2 dozen digital marketing agencies and other companies over 4 years of offering social media services. Literally, more work was just a few emails away.
Tip: There’s a 7-day email course that shows you to land a remote job, created by someone who’s landed three remote jobs in their career. Two of the emails show you how to scale the process of sending cold emails to hiring managers at remote companies. If you like this idea of cold email outreach, it’s worth checking out.
Hack #4: Be First to Apply & Make It Awesome
The last two positions I’ve held came to me because I was fast and made an impact. At inbound.org I was one of the first to send in an application for Content and Community Manager in September of 2014. I was nervous but determined to show I would be the perfect person for the job.
I wrote a cover letter detailing every requirement, responding to every question, and including links to my past work. It took me over an hour to write the cover letter alone, not to mention updating my resume to send that along as well.
I was interviewed multiple times, told what an impressive application I sent, and given a test project that I knocked out of the park before being offered the position. I couldn’t have been happier to get a job working with Dharmesh Shah of HubSpot among several other marketing experts.
Secrets to Success:
- Show you really want the position. In a recent update on social media Marcus Sheridan from The Sales Lion wrote about a position he posted that received several applications, yet very few followed up, put a lot of care into their application, or submitted an application that seemed relevant.
- Be proactive. Connect with people on Linkedin, send InMail, follow them on Twitter. Ask them if you can ask them questions about the position and then follow through with it.
- Put it all out there. Tell them how you will bring results to the position, and then follow up with them. Push until you get an interview.
- Stay tuned for more on this topic as I’m preparing a post for Hubstaff on exactly how to do this without spending hours on every application you find.
Make Sure You Know About New Positions:
To make this hack successful you have to stay on top of new opportunities. This requires setting up alerts on emails, SMS (text), app notifications, etc. You want to be one of the very first to apply before they get so inundated with applications that they just start throwing them in the trash (yes, this happens).
Set up Alerts:
You can use any of the following services to set up alerts.
- Google Alerts
I did this the manual way. I left tabs open for Twitter, RemoteOK.io, Jobspresso, and Remotely Awesome Jobs. I would visit them several times a day, refresh and scan. When I saw something I would apply ASAP (within hours, or at max the first day).
Mini Hacks That Help You Find Remote Work
Bookmark with Pocket: If I couldn’t immediately apply for a position, I would Pocket it, then get back to it that night. When I finished an application I would give it the tag ‘applied’ and I could easily go back and follow up with these positions after a week.
Linkedin Profile Tweak: One weekend I changed my profile headline on Linkedin to ‘Looking for Digital Marketing position’ then searched for founders and visited a hundred profiles. It actually turned into several connections and a couple freelance opportunities.
Save Application Answers: In tech and marketing there are always creative questions to answer. I use a Google doc that was bookmarked in my browser to save these answers. I could cut and paste when I saw the question come up again.
Would You Consider Me For Remote?: Several positions are explicit that an in office person is needed, but sometimes you can convince them otherwise. There’s nothing wrong with sending a short email asking if they would consider you for remote based on your skills.
When companies are not explicit but don’t post the position as remote, this is another opportunity to apply and ask them to consider you. This works because local positions are difficult to fill and have few applicants. You can easily stand out.
Low Traffic Job Boards: While sites like Jobspresso have a lot of traffic, others do not. Inbound.org, Growthhackers.com, and ProductHunt.com all have job positions listed yet don’t get as much traffic to this portion of their site.
Google Your Position: Similar to an above hack, search Google for the position you want, with remote (ie: digital marketing remote). Filter the results based on the last month.
Visit Company Websites: If you are interested in working with a company go to their site and look at their careers page. Many are hiring but don’t market it well.
I would use a directory like Angel.co to find loads of sites, then look at the menu on each site for Careers. If you don’t see a page in their navigation, look at the footer of the site, or google ‘company name jobs’.
Use Upwork: With proper filters, you can narrow the type of work you are seeking on Upwork and other freelance sites. By carefully considering the results, you see who hires, pays well, and needs someone full-time. You might also find related listings and connect with those people about other possible openings.
Even as technology is making it a lot easier for companies to collaborate remotely, it’s still a challenge to find remote work. There is no shortage of the number of people who want to apply so you have to either narrow the pool of applicants by finding unadvertised positions or make sure you stand out above everyone else. Use some of the hacks above and you should be able to secure some interviews.
How do you find remote positions? Tell us about them below.