It might surprise you to know that you don’t need a ton of extra skills to enter the remote workforce. Companies are still hiring against the skills they need for the specific role they want to file, and they are prepared to train people to work remotely if they don’t have experience as a remote worker just yet.
So just as you apply for a co-located role you apply based on the skills and experience you currently have, and what you want to learn. Changing jobs is a way of growing, learning and moving our career forward after all.
That said, there is ONE skill they’re actively looking for during the application process and can make the difference between being shortlisted for the first interview or not. In this episode we talk about:
- Why you don’t need loads of additional skills to become a remote worker
- Why you can apply for a role without having all the skills listed
- The ONE most important skill remote companies are actively looking for
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What Additional Skills & Experience Do You Need for Remote Work?
When I was researching for this podcast I asked in a couple of my business groups: What would you like to know about remote work? And one question that cropped up a lot was:
“Are there any ‘additional’ skills/experiences one should have or cultivate to make themselves more hire-able?”
Like any job, the skills and experience a remote company is looking for are bespoke to the role they’re hiring for. And like any job application, you would present your skills and experience in a way that shows what you personally could bring to the role.
People also ask if there are any specific characteristics you need too, and these two are often confused. In the next 2 episodes we’re going to cover both skills & characteristics, so what’s the difference?
Well, a skill is what you can DO. It’s an ability that comes from knowledge, practice or talent. Like copy writing, or hula hooping.
A characteristic is more like a quality, trait or attribute you possess, which often affects how you practice your skill, as well as the people around you! Like confidence, or being a self-starter. Your combination of skills & characteristics is what makes you unique.
So today we’re talking about skills.
Even if you don’t have all the experience or skills listed in a remote job spec — which BTW very few people do! — you can still apply based on:
- the transferable skills and experience you do have
- a passion for the mission, vision & values of the company
- and the ability to demonstrate that you can & want to learn
No Candidate Ticks Every Single Box. Apply Anyway.
Companies know that it’s unlikely they’ll find some who ticks every single box, which is why many of them add a list of desirables or preferred experience to their job spec.
Interestingly enough, women tend to feel reluctant to apply for a role unless they can tick every box, and men tend to apply when they meet 60% of the requirements. I’m in the men’s camp on this one: I tend to apply when I meet 50% of the requirements, Because I know I can learn new skills, systems, tools and ways of working quickly.
And that’s why I have 19 years of experience rather than what John Demartini describes as: one year of experience repeated 19 times!
… because I keep doing new things and adding more skills to my skill set.
For example: In my second to last role a social enterprise was looking for a community strategist, something I’d never done before. But since I believe I’m a brilliant strategist, I knew I could apply my strategic thinking to the challenge of: “How do we create community to maximise communication, collaboration and innovation in the social enterprise space?”.
So I applied without delay, emphasising my strategy skills, my interest and alignment with their vision, mission and values, and I ended up getting the role. When I asked about the competition, my COO said there was none, even though there were other people with bonafide community strategy experience.
Demonstrate Your Ability Ahead Of Time
One of my tricks — which I’ll share with you when we talk more about the application process in later episodes — is that I prepared a one-page strategy doc for the first interview. This impressed them, so I was able to stand head and shoulders above the rest by doing the work ahead of time. I borrow this approach from my marketing approach, where I believe good marketing is helping people ahead of time. By telling them what I would do for them ahead of time, they want to hire me to actually do it!
So now I can add community strategy to my tool belt, as well as platform and digital strategy, because I have a habit of proactively getting involved in other areas of the business where I know I can help out, or where I see a gap that no one is filling. That experience was critical to getting my next remote role, so every role is also a stepping stone to the next, which is why it’s important that you DO learn new skills as you go. IT just opens up more opportunities to you.
So what skills do you need:
- The skills you have
- And the desire to learn new ones!
- The ability to learn new skills is a skill in itself
So don’t think just because you don’t have the specific skill or experience that you can apply for and succeed in the role. Where you have passion and a thirst for learning and helping your client succeed, then you can succeed, too, if you’re able to demonstrate that effectively in advance. I have you covered we’ll talk about that in more detail later in a few weeks on the podcast.
So bear that in mind when you’re looking through the skills & experience, and think how:
- How transferable your skills are
- How experience in other areas will actually make you a stronger candidate
- How easy it can be to learn new skills
In the worksheet #8 you’re going to do a massive brainstorm of your skills and experience so you have a master sheet to refer to every time you’re applying to a new role and thinking about which skills and experience might help you stand out from the crowd.
Know Your Skills
It’s good to deconstruct every single job you’ve had and think about it in terms of learnings, outcomes and experience. You’ll realise how brilliant you are, and your next job to to fully own that brilliance! Any company would be lucky to have you!
It’s such a great exercise, and guess what, you only have 20 mins to do it, so there’s no excuses like: I don’t have time to do this or, I can’t do this right now. Yes, you can! And once you do you have the most extraordinary proof of your awesomeness, because you’ll realise how much you really do know, and therefore how much you have to offer. This alone generates the confidence you need to get a role, one of the key characteristics I talk about in the next episode!
You have to think of it this way: remote companies get thousands of applications. But just think: how many are individually written versus copy/pasted templates? How many really exude the passion, purpose and vision that aligns with the company? How many have personality, make them laugh, or are so interesting they want to reply to you right away?
It’s not just about your skills.
But, know your skills, know what you want to learn, and use that confidence and passion to present yourself as a no-brainer addition to their team!
So why is this episode called the most important skill of a remote worker?
The Most Important Remote Work Skill
Well there is ONE specific skill that remote-first companies consistently agree is becoming critical.
You must be able to write.
Some agree that being able to write clearly and concisely is the most important skill a remote worker needs:
“Writing is a skill that most of us struggle with, even if it makes up the bulk of our job as knowledge workers. Whether it’s a timely Slack message, a sensitive email, or an article for the blog, being able to communicate our thoughts via the written word is a must.” — yonder.io
“Hire people who can write,” says Wade Foster of Zapier:
“In a co-located office, a lot of information is shared in person. In a remote situation, almost everything is shared via written communication. Communication is one of the most important parts of remote team. Therefore, good writers are critical to a team’s success.”
Companies will be assessing you for this from the first sentence of your cover letter, the first line of your CV, and the first email you write. It’s that important! The trick is to be clear, concise AND have a bit of personality, which is NOT easy to do!
A Trick For Writing Well
Here’s my trick:
- Write your first draft. Don’t dwell, don’t perfect, don’t procrastinate, just write!
- Then strip out all adverbs – the words that describe how a verb is done like : ‘quickly’
- Then strip out the ‘passive voice’
- Then simplify what’s left.
I use Hemmingway App which does all this for me! Just paste your text into the Hemmingway Editor and it will do it all for you!
As you practice, it will become more natural for you, and then when using your company’s communication and collaboration tools — or talking on video calls — you’ll be clear, concise and effective, and hopefully without sounding like a robot!
So crack open worksheet 8 in the podcast pack 3 and do the Skills worksheet. It will help you feel highly skilled and very awesome when you can SEE many things you can do, and all your amazing experience. Then you can more confidently apply to new areas or industries, and shift your career in a new direction if you want to.
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