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How To Prepare for the Work from Home Job Market

2020 signaled a seismic shift in the job market as companies began planning for long-term work from home arrangements. Since the pandemic began, 55 percent of businesses globally now offer some capacity for remote work, and nearly 20 percent of the US workforce is telecommuting on a full-time basis.

This shift in workplace dynamic also means changes to the job interviewing and hiring process, as hiring and HR teams have had to adjust to a growing demand for virtual procedures in an effort to keep everyone safe.

But what does the ability to work from anywhere mean for candidates in the application or interviewing phase of an imminent job search?

“There has been a marked increase in demand for preparation services that help job seekers with digital and virtual aspects of the job search process,” said Ryan Miller, Client Success Manager at Employment BOOST. “Job seekers are realizing that interviewing for a remote job is different than a traditional office job, and hiring managers are expecting different things nowadays.”

This shift in hiring expectations means job seekers need to tailor their resumes, too. Since hiring managers can’t meet candidates in person, they’re relying more and more on applicant tracking systems (ATS) and digital tools to parse through all of the resumes they receive. And when you throw virtual interviews into the equation, it becomes even clearer that today’s hiring game looks nothing like it did in the beginning of 2020.

In order to stand out in today’s digital world, job seekers first need to focus on making sure that their resumes are optimized for search. Even the best candidates will not have success getting callbacks for interviews if their resumes are poorly executed. The key to having success on this front is by strategically and appropriately using keywords. Since ATS software filters out resumes that don’t contain certain keywords, candidates need to make sure that their resumes reflect job descriptions. Otherwise, they don’t stand a chance.

In addition to using the right keywords, candidates should highlight any soft skills and professional attributes they have that make them successful in a remote work environment. Since hiring managers will increasingly lean on hiring candidates who are independent as they work remotely, it’s important to show skills like punctuality, responsibility, and proactiveness.

“An interesting trend we’ve noticed since the start of the pandemic is hiring teams paying more attention to behavioral aspects of a candidate's background,” says Kristen Fowler, Practice Lead at Clarke Caniff Strategic Search. “In many ways, the current job market is more competitive because organizations are no longer restricted by geography when finding a new hire, they can look across the entire country and choose the best person for the job.”

For individuals who have nailed the resume and are asked to interview for an open position, they’ll notice that virtual interviewing has become the norm. When interviewing virtually, candidates need to ensure that they have an appropriate location in their homes to conduct an interview—such as a clean background, natural lighting, and a solid internet connection. All these things are crucial in order to control the first impression you give when you’re interviewing at home.

Virtual interviews also require more poise as any hiccup could mean that the two parties start talking over each other, such as delays or buffering. Having verbal cues to start and stop a conversation politely or to re-engage the interviewer are important to know and practice prior to the actual interview.

Overall, the key for job seekers looking for work in this remote world is to showcase professionalism and responsibility. This starts with the amount of effort that is placed in crafting a strong resume and continues throughout the interviewing process. Hiring managers want to know that they are bringing someone reliable into their organization. Granted, work from home makes all aspects of the job search process more tricky, but the best candidates will step up to the challenge as there is ample opportunity to make a great career move within the volatility.

Want to learn more about what you can expect with this year's job market? Check out our recent blog post on 2021 Workplace Trends.

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