Ηow to craft the perfect resume for remote work
Do have any idea how many resumes a Hiring Manager receives for a job ad?
On average, 250.
How many of those 250 get the much anticipated call for an interview?
Roughly about 6!
Like it or not, the competition is fierce. For remote jobs, things are even worse.
The percentage of job ads, open to the possibility of remote work, is quite limited, compared to job ads overall.
At the same time, the number of candidates, interested in a remote job ad, is increasing, because location is not a restriction anymore. Duh!
However, things are getting better and more companies become more accepting of this work arrangement.
But at the same time, the number of remote workers is increasing, so we’re basically back to square one: competition is ruthless! Prepare for a battle. (figuratively speaking, of course)
Are you ready to enter the arena?
You can’t go to a battle without your weapons.
It’s time to get a new job, but this time the job you are going for is different. It’s gotta be remote.
Consequently, your resume needs to reflect your intention to go remote and highlight those qualities that make you the perfect match.
Yeah yeah, you need to give that sad pdf file a revamp. Actually, more than a revamp.
You need to throw that thing away and start over.
The killer resume formula
How do you go about it then?
The bar is already high and the opponents are way too many.
Start from your resume or CV or curriculum, you name it. What you need is to create a kick-ass piece of art work that will make you stand out from the crowd.
You know the drill: first you put your basic info and contact deets, then you list your skills and experience, then your education, and at the end you put any extra stuff like volunteer work, seminars and side projects. Right? Wrong!
That’s exactly what everyone does. There are countless templates on the World Wide Web that steer you to write down exactly that, in that order and with a plain design.
Inevitably, you just follow along and write down a bunch of things, ending up with a dull, dry resume.
If you’re experienced, that can be even trickier and you may have to fill multiple pages…
What Hiring Manager would want to read such a boring book? The answer is none!
If you go with that option, chances are your resume will not even be looked at for more than 3 seconds. *sad face*
We need to talk about Kevin
What you can do instead is to craft an eye-catching, concise, informative and entertaining piece, that will draw Mr Hiring Manager’s attention… let’s call him Kevin.
So, this kind of resume will definitely keep Kevin interested until the final word.
The best thing about this is that the formula is pretty simple and straight-forward. There are plenty of different approaches – just let your creativity and imagination unfold and great results will happen.
This is the biggest mistake you make
Standard resumes follow the same pattern: lists and bullet points highlighting achievements and skills, some neutral grey solid colors here and there and a serif or sans-serif font.
If you use Comic Sans, go see a therapist. I’m serious.
And, of course, pagination. Because you know… Your experience doesn’t fit in an one-pager. And the resume is gonna be printed.
Oh. My. Geez! My eeeyes!
As a former Hiring Manager, I cannot stress enough how easy and quick it is to throw this thing into the trash bin. Yes, I mean the digital trash bin shortcut we all have in our operating systems, because who the hell prints nowadays?! Seriously. Think of the environment.
Nobody cares only for your achievements. I mean well done, congrats and all, but no one is gonna hire you just because you built an amazing app in your last job or because you won a digital marketing award or whatever. It’s all great, but it’s only part of what Kevin is looking for.
You see, in this super-dry resume, you managed to squeeze in all your professional accomplishments, leaving your personality qualities and soft skills completely out of it.
Tell your story
Instead of listing a bunch of things chronologically, try to be a story-teller.
Think of a way to present yourself not just as a hard-working robot but also as a cool, super-fun person that any company would be lucky to have in their payroll.
Be concise. Don’t start narrating your life story from your childhood up until now. No. You don’t have to be an author ready for a New York Times feature, either.
Instead, find a suitable way to highlight your career milestones and narrate stories that got you to each one of those, adding a dash of your personality in.
Think of your accomplishments as case studies. Depending on the nature of the job you’re pursuing, try to approach them accordingly.
Tailor the narrative to your professional slang. In many case, you can even be slightly informal and quirky or sassy. People love sassiness. I do, too.
Talk about problems you solved and what impact they had. Try to think back and retrace the steps you took, your approach, your reactions to blockers and your conversations with colleagues and clients/customers.
It’s also very cool to talk about your failures and learnings, explaining how they shaped you.
Remember: when you tell a story, you give a little bit of yourself, your personality and your attitude. Don’t wait until the interview to show this off. Do start now and up your game later, when the interview comes.
Show your story
Sometimes, a picture can tell a million words.
Take advantage of that and try to support your stories with images, videos and graphs. Whenever it’s possible, show and don’t tell. Let the (moving or static) images do the talking for you.
I’ve always thought that a video resume is much more powerful than any other kind of resume. It’s for the bolder candidates who are not afraid to expose themselves and show off their communication skills.
First of all, Kevin will be able to put a face on the candidate, hear your voice and tone, and get less distracted.
Video resumes are usually more informal, unless you suit up and hire a professional videographer. I suggest you dress simply smart and stick to your laptop camera.
Talk to the camera in a friendly tone, as if you’re talking to Kevin. He’ll watch and appreciate. Just make sure you include your email address and phone number in the shot or in a supporting doc that’s sent bundled with your video link. That’s because Kevin will certainly get in touch. *wink*
Let others tell a story about you for you
This, my friend, is what we call a testimonial.
Testimonials are powerful, because they add credibility to your narrative.
It’s good to share so many awesome stories that make you a perfect candidate for the job. It’s better if others can confirm your stories.
Generally, testimonials work as references. It’s pretty much the same deal: the person who offers it (the referee) confirms how awesome you are, only the testimonial is usually more enthusiastic and more positive than a dry reference, which can be a bunch of answers to specific questions.
Also, a testimonial can highlight qualities of your personality, as well as your soft skills, in a much more effective way.
Design out of the box
Noticed that I’ve been calling this resume a piece (of work) and not a document or a pdf file?
I’ve being doing that intentionally, because it doesn’t have to be a plain doc.
A downloadable pdf file is nice, but you know what’s even nicer? A whole web page! An online presence of your resume (besides your LinkedIn profile), that you can fully control, in terms of content and design.
Web development skills are optional; there are a whole lot of tools that can help you create a website, by simply dragging and dropping elements around, populating fields and adding some nice images and other media.
FYI – I’m using the terms web page and website interchangeably.
Of course, a highly customized website looks a lot better and definitely more unique. If you have the skills or capacity to invest in something like that or if you’re a Web Developer after all, then go for it.
You only need a single page to dazzle Kevin. A nicely designed page that tells your story in a consistent way and keeps him focused and hungry to learn more about you.
Transitions from point A to point B to point C support your narrative and make the whole experience more fun.
Symbolism is also a great way to narrate. Draw paths from one milestone to another, put buttons that unlock content, or use arrows to enable easy navigation. Make your design intuitive.
Be careful, when you choose your color palette and fonts. Don’t be afraid to be bold, but don’t go overboard either. Keep it simple, do use too much stuff together.
If it’s an option, get someone else’s opinion of the final result. Ideally, pick people who don’t know you well enough to sugarcoat their feedback.
Personalize your resume
Whether you go with the website idea or stick to a more traditional approach, try to tailor your content to the requirements of the job you’re applying for and the culture of the company that offers it.
If Kevin is asking about a specific requirement in the job ad, then try to highlight how you meet that requirement early on.
If your resume has an informal touch, then you can even address the company directly in your resume. Something nice like “Hello Kevin…” or fun like “I built this resume to show the awesome folks of HardWorkers Inc what I can do”… Okay that was a bit ass-kissing. But you get the point.
When you make it personal, you grab the recipient’s attention more easily. It’s like you start a conversation with Kevin and keep it open as if he’s responsive.
Well, he kinda can be responsive without saying anything. For example, if your resume is a web page and he interacts with it by clicking around to jump from one section to another, then it’s like he’s saying “tell me more”.
So, tell him more.
Answer questions before they’re asked
Since you already have the job ad, you also have the first basic questions Kevin wants to ask you.
Answer all of them in your resume. Even those you don’t know how to answer because you lack experience.
All those requirements and nice-to-have skills follow the same question pattern: can you do this?
Answer if you can do this, if you’ve done this before, how you can do this. Give examples, again tell stories, own them.
Alternatively, show willingness to learn the things you don’t know and show off similar things you do know.
If you are able to give good answers to all those questions, then it’s like you practically passed stage 1 of the interview already. You’d be making Kevin’s job a lot easier and you’d be one step closer to that phone call.
Gamify your resume
If you’ve already tried the website resume option and it’s not working out for you, 2 things may be happening here:
- Your design is not very attractive and intuitive — redesign it
- The content is not presented very well — redesign it
In the 2nd case though, what you can do, to dramatically up your game, is to gamify the whole experience! Make it look and work like a fun game.
I don’t mean that you should build an app and load it to the app store and share it with Kevin and the world, no. That would be awesome, though.
No, what I mean is that it’s still gonna be a web page, but the structure of the whole narrative will be different.
Similar to the fancy web page I was talking about before, the game version of your resume will involve Kevin’s participation a lot more.
The whole purpose of the game is to enable the user – in our case, Kevin – to engage by interacting with several elements on the screen.
It could be as simple as a series of chapters where Kevin needs to click on a button to unlock the next one (not so much of a game) or slightly more complex like a poll asking questions and showing different content based on the answer (classic scenario-based game).
Or it could be a lot more gamey-looking (is that a word?) like a shooting game that unlocks a chunk of info when you complete a level. Okay that may be a stretch and there’s a chance it’ll backfire, if Kevin is not good at playing.
The whole point here is to keep Kevin intrigued and focused until the end of the game.
Boost your social presence
That’s a rookie mistake and I can’t believe I’m mentioning it here.
But here we are; make sure you don’t have any skeletons in your online social closet.
If you have extreme views, like vulgar content or troll people online (seriously? not cool!), that can cost you an interview and a lot of discouragement.
On the other hand, if you have a strong social presence, try to boost it further.
One way to do this is by sharing content relevant to the job you’re applying for. This way if Kevin snoops into your Facebook public profile, he’ll see that you’re really into your job.
Also, it’s very good and super-valuable to connect with accomplished, like-minded professionals.
Careful, though: don’t start sending invitations and friend requests to staff of the company you’re hoping to join. Especially Kevin! Let him make the first step. Otherwise, it’s just creepy.
Go ahead. Do it. See what comes up.
Well, if your name is John Smith or the same as a celebrity, don’t expect to show up in the 1st page.
In any other case, go through search results that mention any kind of information about you and assess whether it would look good or bad in Kevin’s eyes.
I guarantee you, he’s going to google your name and/or email address, too. He’ll probably get results similar to the ones you’ll get.
So, be ready to do some damage control, if need be.
The most likely results, that will show high in the rankings of your name search, are your social profiles. So, go to my previous point and tidy them up.
In some more rare cases, there may be other kinds of results in there, like comments linked to your name or email or your criminal record (if it’s not sealed).
Anything is possible, and you won’t know unless you google yourself.
Highlight qualities related to remote work
Now let’s focus on remote work in particular.
You’re aiming to score a remote position, so your entire resume must reflect that.
Once you shape your resume into a format that makes sense and is engaging, the next step is to revisit and edit it.
Review every section from a remote worker’s point of view. Try to get into Kevin’s shoes and understand what kind of answers he’s looking for, with respect to the remote nature of the job.
Mention processes, techniques, communication styles and specific tools. Explain how you nail those things and highlight your level of your experience so far.
One thing to keep in mind, (for this job and any remote job) it’s important to highlight how much you value certain principles that only apply to remote work and express how important this kind of arrangement (remote work, duh!) is to you.
You need to communicate that you’re aware that this job is remote and it comes with certain challenges, that traditional jobs don’t face. Again, try to answer some basic questions related to remote work and why you prefer it, before they’re asked.
Employers like those candidate who dare to stand out. Even trying 1% of all the above can have a significantly positive impact on the impression you make. Don’t be afraid to be bold and show your amazing self off!