Not Into Tech or IT? You Can Still Have a Remote Job (Part 1)

In bygone days, the most common remote jobs were in tech and IT.

By and large, that often meant you had to be a developer in order to work remotely.

The reason? I’m willing to bet it’s because programming is damn hard to do. Many business owners lack the expertise. Unable to find suitable talent to fill certain positions, they had literally no choice but to hire experts from a distance. And good for those experts, too: they had a powerful skill that they could leverage.

As a result, remote working culture has become an incredibly powerful force within the tech and IT community. You can see this in the open source community: the majority of projects are carried out and executed remotely. Contributors come from all over the world. The likes of GitHub and various project management philosophies (such as Kanban) contribute to creating smoother, more efficient workflows.

For many of us who prefer to work remotely (i.e., not put up with petty office politics and other pointless bullshit) – things are a little harder. For the most part, jobseekers will stumble across plenty of job boards which unfortunately simply direct to the same few non-tech remote job postings. That is, unless you’re looking for a job specifically in tech.

fish in microwave
Let us not forget the most unforgivable of office sins…

Of course, I’m mainly talking from my experience. Other jobseekers I’ve spoken to have told me the same. There seem to be countless software engineering and web development roles that are willing to hire from everywhere. To an extent, there are many design jobs available as well. Often, they require the designers to have a good knowledge of Markup (HTML, CSS) and other frontend languages, like JavaScript.

If you’ve got experience in this field and love it – then great! Use that to your advantage. Having a set of highly in-demand skills will help you land a job you can do from anywhere. So, that’s one type of person sorted.

However, many of us still ask…

…is it possible to have a non-tech job that is also a remote role?

The simple answer is: of course.

However, there’s a big BUT:

Regardless of what job you’re going for, you still need relatively good computer literacy. Hell, every single office-based job requires it. Thankfully though, you don’t have to be a tech wizard.

Sure, any job that can be done remotely requires a certain level of computer literacy. This still doesn’t mean you should have to jam tonnes of PHP and JavaScript into your brain just to be able to work from your kitchen table. Hell, even if you can program it doesn’t necessarily mean you may want to do it for a career.

That’s why I decided to whip up a list of some of the most common non-tech remote jobs out there. I’ve included a broad list of expected tasks and even salaries. Bear in mind, though: salaries are present in US dollars, because that appears to be the most common currency roles provide their information in.

Please Note: Although finding a remote job these days is still a challenge (less so if you’re in the United States), it is getting easier. Statistics show that remote work is on the rise.

 

Non-Tech Remote Jobs: Administrative

You’ll be surprised to learn that a lot of administrative roles these days don’t necessarily require a “hands on” approach (at least in the physical sense). Administration is keeping things organized. These days, it often means keeping files in order and making sure that an organization ticks along smoothly.

Which is why the following jobs can easily be worked from anywhere…

Project Managers

“Project manager” is quite literally someone who manages projects. It’s pretty self-descriptive. However, many tend to sit in offices by themselves and communicate with others at a distance. You may be required to go to meetings or at least attend one via Skype. However, it is quite possible to land a project management role without having to spend too much time in the office.

Pay: Most project managers’ salaries are calculated on a yearly basis. You can expect USD$60,000/year.

Schedule Setup: It depends on the project, but for the most part you can expect 9-to-5. However, it also depends on the company you’re working for.

Accounting

I don’t know much about accounting as a career. But I do know that the majority of roles can be performed pretty much anywhere. Traditionally, many companies want their accountants onsite. However, they often tend to sit in a room by themselves. Sometimes they travel to meet clients. In theory, it can be pretty easy to find an accounting job. You could even be self-employed with several clients, and only occasionally travelling for face-to-face meetings.

Pay: On average, accountants tend to earn around USD$45,000. As with project managers, it depends on the company and the country you or the company is based in.

Schedule Setup: As an accountant who mostly works alone, it is entirely possible to have a very flexible schedule. Many tend to follow a 9-to-5 routine.

Managerial Roles

Managerial roles vary, but plenty of office-based roles can and are worked remotely. Since many companies have distributed, worldwide teams – higher-ups can often demand flexible schedules and location independence. Travel for meetings and events may be necessary.

Regarding pay and schedule setup – it depends heavily on the specific company and the role.

Virtual Assistant

Many offices have closed, many have downsized. But in spite of this, administrative assistants are still necessary. The only difference is that files are now stored on a cloud.

Virtual assistants provide administrative services and support. They may also have other duties. Typically though, a VA will…

  • Maintain calendars, set up meetings.
  • Carry out (virtual) administrative tasks.
  • Make travel arrangements.
  • Handle correspondence.
  • Handle accounting and billing.
  • Send emails.
  • Deal with customers/clients.

Pay: Virtual assistants can earn around USD$15.00 per hour. USD$2,400 a month. Or, USD$28,800 a year.

Schedule Setup: This is highly dependent on your boss.

You may be given completely flexible hours, and simply have to perform administrative tasks by a set deadline. Or you may have to follow a strict 9-to-5 schedule. Some employers require their assistants to be available to talk for at least a few hours a day. Therefore, this job can depend on time zone.

Non-Tech Remote Jobs: Creative

“Creative” is a very broad description but it does help describe the following roles. Remote and flexible setups often suit the more “creative” roles. Coming up with new ideas doesn’t always happen in the strict time slot between 9 and 5. While it works for some people, this isn’t always the case for others. Many of these roles are also outsourced, so finding freelance positions is a lot easier.

Video Editor

This job title is pretty self-explanatory. You’re given raw, recorded material and it’s your job to edit it into something suitable according to specific guidelines. It can be anything – camera footage, sound effects, graphics, special effects. While there is a higher demand for video editing professionals in the world of online media, this job goes far beyond that.

Pay: Video editors can earn US$44,357 on average per year.

Schedule Setup: Once again, this is highly dependent on who you work for. Like a lot of creative jobs, video editing can be done freelance affording you more flexibility.

UX Designer

This is arguably also a tech job (I mean for God’s sake, you are designing websites so why wouldn’t it be?) but it’s also a highly creative position. In addition, there’s little to no coding involved (having a basic understanding of HTML and CSS will help, but for the most part you’ll have a developer for that!). UX Design is an up-and-coming field with demand rising across the world. Simply put, it involves designing websites, software and other pieces of technology in accordance with the needs of users. You’re designing machines for humans.

Pay: UX designers can earn US$83,000 on average per year.

Schedule Setup: Once again, this is highly dependent on who you work for. Many professionals in the field will also freelance.

We Work Remotely – A Jobseeker’s Review

We Work Remotely is a pretty well-curated list of remote and telecommute jobs. They were definitely on my list when looking for a remote position – and will be if I have to again.

They claim to be the largest online community for work at home job seekers (150,000 monthly, or so the site says).

And of course, you can get jobs of all kinds. Full-time freelance, subcontractor, full time and part-time positions.

First impression – We Work Remotely is quite professional

WeWorkRemotely.com is part of a new wave of telecommute job boards. They’re also linked to a few others like Unicorn Hunt (for start ups) and Fresh Gigs (for anyone interested in marketing). There’s also Future Jobs (AI, data science and machine learning). So, not a bad resource for any potential remote worker.

I definitely kept them on my watchlist and you should too. Especially if you’re into online marketing or software engineering (and let’s face it, currently the majority of remote jobs are in software).

What are the most common industries found on this platform?

Anything new and cutting edge. We’ve already mentioned software engineering (web dev positions are available here as well). I also saw a significant number of design jobs that were regularly posted. These included careers like product designer, marketing designer and jobs in the UI/UX field.

There’s also a boatload of customer support jobs. If you like customer service (or don’t mind it…) and want to work from home, then you’ve got a bunch to choose from. I was also happy to see the sales and marketing section, which was also quite large. These included telecommute jobs in the area of content marketing, project management and even public relations. Not bad.

When it came specifically to copywriting jobs… There were a few, but it was slim pickings. Unfortunately.

So are they worth it?

For me, anyway, they were. If you’re a techie, designer or a marketer then you should keep your eye on We Work Remotely. But like all remote job boards, it’s really important to expand your search and cast your net as wide as possible!

 

Working Nomads – A Jobseeker’s Review

Working Nomads only offers remote and telecommute jobs – with a focus on digital nomads. Of course it’s not restricted to digital nomads only – remote job seekers will find a wealth of different advertisements here as well.

Remember, though:

Like most remote-only job boards and sites, those applying through Working Nomads will face a lot of competition.

This platform is pretty simple. A lot of the jobs posted can also be found on other job sites. However, very occasionally you may find something here that’s no posted anywhere else.

What kind of jobs can I find on Working Nomads?

Like all remote job boards, you’ll definitely find plenty of open positions in the software/IT/tech industry. They’ve even got separate categories for Systems Administration, Design and Development.

Beyond that, you’ll find other categories like…

  • Consulting: Tech-related consulting at that. Which shouldn’t be a surprise.
  • Writing: Another broad field hard to pin down. Writing positions vary from journalism to content marketing and technical writing.
  • Finance jobs are sometimes posted here (tax advisors, bookkeepers, underwriters etc.)
  • Human resources although there weren’t quite a lot of them.
  • General administration such as case managers, online scheduling, broker assistant etc.
  • Heathcare jobs like medical coding and scheduling.
  • …and even a few legal jobs.

There’s also a few education jobs for online tutors and online teachers.

Sadly, like most of these platforms, the remote jobs available on Working Nomads lean heavily towards tech or maybe online marketing/general digital media. If you’re not looking for a job in these areas, then don’t rely solely on this board!

Overall, is it worth it or should I pass?

No matter what kind of remote job you’re looking for, I would highly recommend at least singing up for their job alerts. When looking for a new job, it’s important to pull out all the stops and keep your eyes open. You may have a very slim chance of getting something here – but you never know.

 

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.

Freelance Job Boards: Why They Should (Never) Be Your Only Option

When I began writing online for money, I knew I had to branch out.

I started off with one or two content mills. When I wasn’t fervently writing to clock up a survivable hourly wage, I did more research into freelancing. More specifically, online freelancing.

At the time, I had just moved to Essen, Germany. A few of my friends were freelance English teachers. They taught English at various companies, mostly on a contract basis. When I discovered a thriving freelance writing business online, I was overjoyed. “Great,” I thought, “I can sit at home all day, sip wine and write for cash!”

I sipped a lot of wine. I wrote for (not so much) cash. So I knew that I’d better get serious. That’s when I discovered freelance job boards.

Upwork, oDesk, eLance, Guru… whatever. There was a plethora: some went defunct days after I signed up. Others I stuck around on long enough. I managed to snag quite a few decent-paying clients and even forged one or two long-term (business) relationships. I kept the content mills for “slow” times and, overall, still had an okay living for someone who was in their early twenties, living in an affordable city.

That’s the abridged version, anyway.

One thing that struck me was just how much work freelance job boards are. They provided me with a good education in just how difficult it is to actually run your own business in the first place. The searching, the bidding, working on projects just to get an interview… I spent hours of work without even a guarantee of getting a job.

For the few months, it sucked. I hated it.

The sad truth is that a lot of freelance gigs are just as competitive and difficult to get as part-time and full-time jobs. The same can be said for remote and telecommute jobs: this is work we’re talking about, and prospective employers/clients receive hundreds (if not thousands) of applications a day.

That’s why it’s important to evaluate these job boards and determine whether they’re right for you. I’m not saying that these platforms are worthless: they definitely have value. Many people successfully find steady clients, gigs and full-time work on them. However, they are not the only avenue of success. You should definitely put some effort into crafting an application and a profile, but always remember…

Freelance job boards are PRIMARILY to be used as a means of visibility.

This has a lot to do with creating a personal brand. You should be growing your network online through social media. Applying to as many companies as possible – and you should definitely make your job application process as efficient as possible. Remember, freelance job boards are just a tool. One of many.

Increasing your chances of success on freelance job boards

Since freelance job boards are only one method of getting work, you need to take a look at the platforms that are relevant to your industry. There are a lot of them around these days. In order to maximize your reach, simply do the following:

  • Define just what you are (copywriter, digital marketer, software engineer, virtual assistant, etc.).
  • Craft the “perfect” profile for yourself: describe who you are and what you do, detail your experience and have a (small) portfolio of your best work (if relevant – VAs, for example, can list the clients they’ve worked with).
  • Remember to be creative: Forget about any one particular platform for a moment and simply craft a unique, “online resume” that you think accurately describes your work experience and what you offer.
  • Then, find job boards/platforms relevant to your industry. There are bound to be quite a few.
  • When you create your account on these platforms, simply fill them in with information from the “perfect” profile you’ve created. Sometimes, you’ll be able to tell your whole story: however, many sites will restrict what you can display about yourself. So, make sure only to display the best!

It can be frustrating applying to a job and not hearing back. We’ve all been there. But remember: Having a strong presence on as many freelance job boards as possible will increase your reach and your chances of being “found”!

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.

A Few Insights on Finding Remote Work (Part 1)

I’m in the middle of a job search right now. My current focus is on finding remote work. As a digital marketer and copywriter, I have a job that can be done from anywhere with a laptop and an Internet connection. My current job is semi-remote, however instead of searching in my current city I’ve decided to expand my horizons and see how long it could take me to find a remote job. In that time, I have gained a few interesting insights which I think may benefit others…

Finding Remote Work: What is a remote job?

Remote jobs, telecommuting positions, work from home… They are pretty much self-explanatory. Essentially, you carry out the tasks of whatever job you do from a remote location. There’s no need to go to an office and everything you do can be done from your laptop and phone (or devices that the company provides for you).

The amount of remote jobs out there is increasing. According to Remote.co, 23% of employees in 2015 did at least some of their work remotely. How much of this is simply employees taking their work home or being given at least one day a week to avoid the commute is unclear, but it certainly shows that it is a possibility. Remote.co also states that the telecommuting phenomenon is on the rise globally (which makes sense… considering the scope it can cover).

The New York Times also reported on the remote working phenomenon: on average, the typical telecommuter is someone in their late forties, earns an average of USD$58,000 and is part of a company that has more than 100 employees.

So, if you are determined to find a job that can be done efficiently from your sofa (or the park, or the moon if there’s wifi…) then you may just stand a decent chance of finding one.

The Remote Job Search: Things to know about the work application process

The remote job search may seem daunting to those who are used to the traditional method finding work. In reality, it’s not all that different. For most companies, you still have to apply with the usual CV, cover letter and references. The difference is usually in the interview process, as I have discovered.

Very recently, I was shortlisted for the role of Digital PR Specialist for a company in Sydney, Australia. I was given a small PR exercise to test out my skills in the area: afterwards, I was told that I would be contacted successfully for an interview. I have yet to be contacted, and perhaps they chose someone else and I won’t, but it did teach me something: companies offering remote work usually have longer application process and applicants are often asked to prove their knowledge before an actual interview.

I experienced the exact same kind of process with the time-tracking software company, Harvest. After stating that they enjoyed my application, I was invited to do an exercise about podcast advertising. Several other remote companies I have applied for use a similar system. When it comes to your search for remote work, be aware of these differences.

Finding Remote Work: Things to keep in mind

The application process for finding remote work is not the only thing you should keep in mind. Aside from being aware of the possible differences in the application process, my job search has also given me to mention the following tips and points to keep in mind:

  • Location is still important: Perhaps not as important as a “regular” job, but it still plays a role. A lot of distributed teams need members that can speak to one another in real-time, at least for a couple of hours a day. Some companies will therefore advertise remote roles for specific time zones (NOTE: I’d advise noting your current time zone on your CV). Some companies may only advertise remote positions in specific countries, or globally. You will see tags like “Remote – US Only”, “Remote – US or Canada”, or “Remote – Anywhere”.
  • Emphasize your cross-cultural work experience: A lot of remote and distributed teams have members living in and hailing from different countries. If you have experience of working in other countries or with other cultures (such as working on projects with overseas clients), don’t hesitate to mention it in your CV or cover letter.
  • Mention the languages you speak: In an international working environment, the more languages you speak, the better. This is especially true if you speak German, Spanish or Chinese. However, you have nothing to lose by highlighting your multilingual skills.
  • Have a significant online presence: You don’t have to be a master of Twitter or even a social media whiz (unless you’re going for a social media job… in which case I would be worried if you weren’t). As a remote worker though, you must have an online point of reference. This could just be a basic CV website linked to your LinkedIn account and an online portfolio of work. And don’t forget to add working links to your CV! You want to make your presence as easy as possible to find!
  • Show multiple possibilities for contact: Regardless of what country the company is in, include your phone number (and don’t forget to add the international dialing code…)! Get a Skype/Slack/Rocket account and put those contact details there, too. If you have multiple email addresses, put at least two down (and don’t forget to check them). You are literally exposing yourself as much as possible and making it easy for companies to contact you.

We’ll see how far this takes me. Regardless of the outcome, I have already gained a wealth of knowledge which will be useful in further searches for remote work.