Remote Careers and How to Start One From Scratch

There are many opportunities right now for remote work, but the majority of these are temporary, contract, or freelance roles. While it’s certainly possible to build a career as a freelancer, especially for creative roles such as graphic design or audio/video production, the marketplace for freelance creatives is crowded.  You could end up spending most of your time finding leads, pitching them, negotiating contracts, and juggling multiple client deadlines. And that’s before you can even bill your client!

So how does one build a remote career? The first step is to find a full-time remote job. A full-time job lets you focus on developing skills and personal growth, and gives you the flexibility of working from home with the stability and security of health and retirement benefits.

The pandemic moment we are living through has changed corporate work expectations in a major way. Business leaders now have data that shows that remote workers are as productive (and sometimes more so) as their in-office counterparts. Remote workers benefit from the flexibility to manage their own schedules, workloads, and communication and don’t have to suffer the cost of commuting. But this major shift in how we work is not widespread–industries that involve mainly knowledge work, such as technology and finance, have embraced remote work whereas manufacturing goods or dentistry will still be done in person.

This leads us to Step 1: Pick the right industries

The industries that are embracing the remote work trend and are most likely to continue with remote work going forward are technology, consulting, finance, marketing, and other industries that require knowledge work.

Step 2: Pick fast-growing roles

Once you’ve picked some remote-friendly industries, Step 2 is to explore different types of job roles and decide if you want to pursue a high-growth skilled role. For example, software engineering, UI/UX design, accounting, financial planning and analysis, and data analyst roles are all remote-friendly, high-paying, stable roles but they all require specialization and skills. It can pay off to invest in building these skills (many of these roles pay six figures), but the process of skilling up does take time, effort, and money.

So what if you’re looking for something you can do now, with the skills that you already have? Luckily there are several entry-level roles in the technology industry that are hiring more and more. Even more exciting, these roles can lead to learning some of the skills you need to move up and build a career. So what are these job titles and roles?

Examples of fast-growing remote roles:

Sales:

Sales jobs involve a lot of cold-calling, email outreach, and persistence. The entry-level role is called Sales Development Representative. Sales jobs are often compensated with a combination of base salary and a commission based on sales quotas ($40K base + up to $80K or more in commissions).

Customer Success:

Customer Success involves helping the users of software products troubleshoot and make the most out of the software they are using. The entry-level title is either Customer Success Associate or Customer Success Specialist ($40K-60K). With a little bit of experience and learning the ropes of how software companies run, one can quickly advance to the role of Customer Success Manager, which comes with more responsibilities for account management, but also higher pay ($55-$75K).

Operations:

Entry-level operations roles, such as Operations Associate or Operations Specialists, provide another onramp into technology. These jobs involve project management and running the day-to-day processes within a company ($40K-$60K).

Step 3: Finding job openings and applying

A lot of job search advice on the internet will make claims that the job boards you use matter. They don’t. Google Jobs is good enough, and it aggregates from most of the different job boards. The key to search success is to look for fresh jobs (within the last 7 days) and for the specific title that you’ve decided to pursue. You can also use the filters for remote, full-time work to limit the result set to the best jobs for you.

Applying online is a numbers game. We’ve noticed that only around 7-10% of employers respond with a request to interview. So this means that if you want to interview at 10 different companies, you should expect to send out 100 applications.

In summary, we’ve identified that entry-level knowledge work in high-growth industries such as technology/software is your best chance to find a full-time remote job with a good salary and benefits.

Good luck!