FlexJobs.com – A Jobseeker’s Review

When I looked at FlexJobs.com, I got excited.

There were tonnes of remote jobs advertised. Literally thousands. From all over the world. It also didn’t appear to be a scam: since this platform’s been around for a REALLY long time. So I decided to give FlexJobs a good, old-fashioned review from a jobseeker’s perspective.

When I put this site through the Wayback Machine, it told me they’ve been around since 2007. I remember them from when I started freelancing in 2011 (along with something called “All Stay At Home”… which doesn’t seem to exist anymore).

So…

It’s a good sign Flex Jobs has lasted this long.

So let’s get down it, asking the most important questions first.

Is FlexJobs legit?

Lots of people are asking this. It’s understandable why you’d think they’re a scam. Especially since there are so many work from home scams at the moment. Of course, the telecommute job industry is a little savvier nowadays (though you still ought to be careful). But after reviewing them, I’ll say this: FlexJobs is definitely legit.

They’re no different to Indeed.com or Monster. In fact, if you do a quick search you’ll find many of the jobs posted elsewhere. That does take a bit of work, though.

So then, what’s on offer for remote job seekers?

Quite simply: job leads. However, applying for a work at home position through FlexJobs comes at a cost. Literally. The price is usually USD$15.00 per month. Jobs are divided into a rich range of different categories. Here you’ll likely find a remote position for almost every kind of job that you can do from home.

This is the stickler, though.

It’s often the cost that keeps people from using the platform. Which is totally understandable. There are a lot of pros to paying for and using their service, though. First and foremost, you have one, single place from which can apply to all relevant positions.

Seriously, it cuts out a lot of time from your job search. Secondly…

They filter out the work from home scammers.

In fairness, job boards like Remotive and Working Nomads do the same thing (for no subscription fee). But with this particular platform, you know you’re safe.

If you’re still humming and hawing about the cost, here’s a quick breakdown of the pros and cons of FlexJobs:

Pros:

  • Work at home scams are screened out!
  • The categories and number of telecommute positions here is… Amazing. Really, up until this point I haven’t seen a wider selection on any remote job board.
  • Links are posted to the original job advertisement: though, to be fair, a lot of job boards do that.
  • Accredited by the US Better Business Bureau (if that means anything to you… I’m not American so I have no experience of what it’s worth).

Cons

  • The cost! They’re not expensive, really. A lot of people don’t like having to pay for a job board, though. Myself included.
  • Most positions advertised are published elsewhere. Which means you just have to spare a little more time to find them yourself.

Should I use FlexJobs?

Truth be told… That’s completely up to you. If you’re willing to shell out around US$15.00 a month, then go for it. You could consider it an investment. However, more people are willing to pay with time rather than money. Since its free to search for open positions on Flex Jobs, all you have to do is go through their listing. Then, search online to see if there’s another platform you can apply through.

Digital Nomad, Remote Worker… You NEED These Tools!

Digital nomadism and remote working would simply not be possible without the sophisticated tools that everyone carries around in their pockets these days. You cannot work for a company from home without a computer – or even Internet. Hustling for new clients and jobs while on the go as a digital nomad is also impossible, unless you have access to the countless freelancer platforms out there.

But just what are the main tools that digital nomads and remote workers need?

Surprisingly, you can be as minimalistic as you like. You can have as many or as few of them as you want… As long as you get the job done!

SIDE NOTE: I didn’t use a smartphone for YEARS. And it was perfectly fine.

The Bare Essentials for digital nomads and remote workers

A Good Laptop

It goes without saying, really, but a laptop is essential. Of course, if you’re the kind of remote worker who primarily works from a home office – you can easily get by with a desktop. But if you’re a digital nomad or a remote worker who’s fond of changing their physical surroundings regularly… You need a laptop that’s not only reliable, but that can also take a beating.

A Decent Internet Connection

You’ve got to make sure that your Internet connection is fast and reliable… Especially if most (or all) of your meetings are held remotely. AND – you should have an emergency backup. I would suggest getting a good data plan (you can scout for deals… though it may take a bit of time).

A Smartphone

For the first few years of my remote career, I eschewed smartphones and preferred to do my work ONLY when I was at the computer. These days, they’re pretty much essential: you can access work files and communicate from anywhere. Running late and won’t be in a meeting? You can keep up communication with a quick message.

And even if you use it for nothing else… Smartphones are simply miniature, mobile routers that can help you setup a quick hotspot if you’re caught somewhere without wi-fi. Sorted!

VPNs, or virtual private networks

There are plenty of ads online trying to sell different VPNs… Some of them are good, others not so much. Not only do they encrypt your data, but they also give you full access to the Internet. What? That’s right: your Internet access is restricted based on your location. If you live in the UK and use Google, your search results will be tailored to Britain. For digital marketers (especially SEOs), a VPN has become essential.

For everyone else… It just makes sense to encrypt your data as much as possible.

4 Things to Keep in Mind During Your Job Search

Hey, do you know what’s not fun?

Job searches.

I’m sure there’s a small percentage of people out there who enjoy it. I mean, perusing job ads for new challenges and exciting opportunities is fun. The real reason most people hate looking for a new position is because they are forced too. Depending on the circumstances, many take jobs that they know they will absolutely detest. Just to pay the bills.

For those of us with substantial savings and/or lucky enough to live in a country with decent social security (thanks, Germany!), the day-in, day-out process of applying and getting rejected gets tedious. Really tedious. It’s discouraging. Of course, the same can be said for those who need to find a job now or starve. Except, of course, with added existential terror.

I’m currently at my wit’s end. Last month, I applied to over a 100 companies.

Over 100 companies.

Let that sink in. Now, let me tell you how many positive responses (i.e., interviews) I got.

Just under ten.

I got plenty of rejections. A significant number of firms didn’t even bother to do that. Automated emails aside, that’s not only discouraging. It’s plain rude.

man with flowers
Flowers don’t work either… Not that some companies even deserve them.
“I’m clearly doing something wrong,” I thought. “Maybe my cover letters sounded too braggy. Maybe they weren’t bragging enough! Perhaps I should’ve included my entire job history – not just that relevant to digital marketing. Perhaps employers scoffed at the fact I don’t have a Bachelor’s degree – or maybe (in the case of German companies) my German was just too “foreign”.”

Maybe, I’m just not good enough.

The above musings are nonsense. I did everything right. If you’re applying for jobs in a professional manner, you’re doing everything right as well!

We’re taking all the right steps yet we get very little in return. It just doesn’t seem very fruitful.

lots of fruit
Neither does fruit…

The thing is, this is totally normal in a job search. Things may seem bleak while you’re in the thick of it, throwing CVs left, right and center. Despite that, you’ve got to remember that it also seems worse because you want a job. I’ve found that interviews come in waves: I’ll hear nothing for a week or two and then suddenly I’ll have an interview every single day.

All the while, just keep the job search running. And remember…

…you’re doing fine!

That’s why I threw the following points together. For anyone who needs a bit of encouragement and perspective, read on!

Job Search Tips: Rejections are normal, if not standard

Go into your job search fully expecting to be rejected. Companies received hundreds of applications daily. I’ve been on the other side, watching the poor HR person weep sorry tears at the amount they had to sift through. Okay, they weren’t full-on weeping, but the sheer volume of responses meant that most applications were not even properly read. And someone ended up traumatized.

UPDATE: No, forget the “poor” HR person. Their department put out an ad, they have a responsibility to get back to you. So what if it’s loads of applications? Get over it and do your damn job. Companies that ghost you or ignore candidates are disrespectful and unprofessional.

So remember: rejections are normal. They don’t mean you suck.

Job Search Tips: Auto-responses suck, but they’re better than nothing

Even if it takes months, a company should eventually follow-up on your application. Even if it’s to reject you. Auto-responses don’t replace that, however receiving a confirmation is a sign that at least you know it landed in their pile. While they certainly suck, they’re better than getting nothing at all.

Which is what a lot of companies do, to a surprising degree. If that’s the case, revaluate why you’d even want to work with that company.

It could take a few months

Keyword here is “could”. If you’re picky about the position you want and have the time to search, this may not be so much of an issue. You will hear of people who get job offers and interviews before things before they’ve even started to properly look. These people are lucky. Remember that: they are lucky and in the minority. Factors that contribute to this are usually their connections, how desperate/entranced by a particular candidate a company is and, again, pure luck.

A normal job search usually takes a month or two, sometimes longer. With the rejections you receive and the time you spend on applications, it may seem as if you’re being personally singled out. Believe me, you are not.

Hiring processes are horrifically outdated

Sadly, this is working against quite a lot of people – not just you. You could have the best profile in the world, an amazing skill set and be a real money-machine like I was for my last company. Yet, if your cover letter/CV combination isn’t laid out just how the HR person likes it, it may be looking at the bin. Most people hate writing cover letters and I am one of them. It feels fake and ingenuine.

Maybe this particular method is useful for some professions. However, for my particular field (digital marketing/copywriting) it is a woeful way of picking candidates. Any digital marketer worth their salt these days will have a website/blog and some kind of online presence. The same, I assume, goes for software engineers, graphic designers and a whole host of other jobs that can be done online. Our portfolios are there to see – a small introductory email should ideally suffice.

Working Remotely: An Employee’s Perspective

You could say I was a working remotely long before I knew what that really meant. I wasn’t fully remote, though: when I started freelancing, I taught English as a second language – mainly in big, boring German companies. Becoming a copywriter happened by accident. I discovered that I could write for money with many of the “content mills” that were trawling the Internet back in the day. I quickly learned to get out of that habit.

When I got hired to work at a company in Cologne, Germany, I was over the moon. It was what some of my friends called a “real job”. There was an office, a telephone, my own desk… It was new, varied, interesting and of course, came with a stable salary. Probably the most delicious temptation after spending years carefully tracking how much money is coming in every month.

cologne cathedral working remotely
Plus, Cologne is an amazing city.

That was all well and good. Until I started to dread getting up in the morning. Full trams were never the problem though. It dawned on me that for the rest of my time at that company, I would (probably) be sitting in the same chair, in the same room… Eight hours a day, five days a week.

I nearly went crazy although I managed to hold out for two years.

Arrangements for Working Remotely: Are they possible?

If you want to start working remotely, the general advice is this: instead of quitting your job and going after any freelance gig you can find, you should speak to your boss first. Remote working arrangements are available at a surprising number of companies these days: from Canonical to Dell to various start-ups such as Hotjar and Buffer (the latter of which operate entirely remotely).

It also depends on your company culture. Do you have team members based in offices in other countries? How much of your work involves meeting people? All must be taken into consideration. For those of us who SEOs, online marketers and programmers, pretty much all of the work can be done with a laptop and an Internet connection.

There are naturally countless arguments against it: employees may slack off, are less visible etc. However, this post isn’t about that. It’s about remote working from the perspective of an employee who started it.

Remote Working as an Employee: The benefits

The benefits were obvious to me. Since I spent most of my time in front of a computer anyway, it made sense to work where I was most comfortable and could concentrate. That usually means a bean bag or my sofa (not a fan of chairs in general). Once I started working remotely, things generally got easier. I did sometimes work longer, though I noticed just how much more effective I was. My boss remarked on it as well.

During my office days, I used to dread getting up in the morning, getting ready and going out somewhere. While I like a bit of fresh air and social interaction, it’s usually the last thing I want to do at 8 AM. When working in the office, I was usually one of the later ones (my company isn’t too strict on hours, being an online marketing firm). When working at home… Suddenly, I was up and working at 7. I had plenty of time to do shopping, washing, household chores and still get my work done.

I even noticed another benefit: I had more social energy. I’m not someone who likes spending all my time around people. I like to choose with whom I can do it. My work involves very little social interaction to begin with and, although my colleagues are nice people, we don’t get much of a chance to really spend quality time. It made sense to concentrate during the day on my work, and then get out in the evening.

Yep, I still really like working remotely

In conclusion, I would say that at least on a personal level working remotely is my absolute preferred method of getting things done. Spending time getting bits and pieces done in cafes also helps, though it’s not mandatory. Of course, some people cannot concentrate without being in an office environment. I have full sympathy. I’m not one of those people who advocate the abolition of offices completely, however offering employees a much more flexible system of work could make a huge difference on their general happiness and well-being – as well as that of the company.