Career Confidence Among Remote Workers: 2021 Survey Results

Does career confidence influence job outlooks or individual perspectives while working remotely? Are remote workers confident enough to ask their employers for a raise or to report workplace harassment? Have the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic altered remote jobseekers’ career confidence? The answers to these questions and more are found in our Career Confidence Among Remote Workers Survey Results for 2021.


The Virtual Vocations 2021 Career Confidence Survey was developed as a component of our annual Remote Work Week campaign celebrating virtual employment and the flexibility it provides professionals who want to take more control over their lives and work. This year, in addition to developing the Career Confidence Survey, we celebrated our sixth annual Remote Work Week event with the launch of our new Remote Career Center—a remote jobseeker hub featuring more than 40 expert resources curated to help jobseekers improve their online job searches, hireability, and career success.

Our Career Confidence Survey was open to all Virtual Vocations members. Over a six-day period we received 1,158 survey responses from adults either currently working from home, actively searching for remote jobs, or at least interested in telecommuting opportunities and flexible employment.

CEO’S Statement on Career Confidence

“In the last year, practically every U.S. employee with the ability to work from home became a remote worker at some point. While millions of U.S. workers telecommute every year, and have consistently done so for more than a decade, the sudden shift to remote work caused by the COVID-19 pandemic also thrust millions of new remote workers and previously on-site businesses into a new operational space.

At Virtual Vocations, we decided on a March 2020 content and jobseeker theme of courage. In thinking about how to be more courageous, bold, and brave as remote jobseekers and remote workers, we started to wonder about how professionals in the remote space rate their career confidence. We also imagined how their career confidence levels may influence their self-perceptions and work decision-making, as well as if the COVID-19 pandemic had altered remote workers’ confidence.

While many of the survey results demonstrated the resiliency of remote workers, we were also surprised by the effects career confidence can have on employees. We hope remote employees, remote-enabled companies, and outlets in the remote work vertical will use these survey results to shape their remote work plans and understand the importance of career confidence among professionals who work from home.”

Laura Spawn, Virtual Vocations CEO and Co-founder

Key Findings from Career Confidence Among Remote Workers Survey

  • 82% are at least pretty confident in themselves on a professional level.
  • 90% believe their co-workers would probably describe them as confident.
  • 67% feel cold calling or networking for potential job openings is the job search activity they are most insecure about performing.
  • 46% desire to learn more about how to apply for and land the job they want.
  • 42% answered that the biggest downside to low career confidence is the prospect of staying too long in the wrong job.
  • 31% say the biggest workplace confidence killer is a micromanager boss.
  • 37% have stayed in a job that was not right for them because they were not confident enough to give their notice.
  • 36% would receive an immediate boost in workplace confidence if they had the ability to work from home more often or have a flexible schedule.
  • 15% would never feel comfortable enough to ask their boss for a raise.
  • 61% would feel confident reporting workplace harassment, abuse, or mistreatment they experienced or witnessed.
  • 41% say their confidence in their job security did not change due to COVID-19.
  • 40% are much less confident now in their job security when compared to their feelings prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • 65% report that the COVID-19 pandemic has given them more courage to pursue a remote job.
  • 27% say COVID-19 has helped them realize it could be time to explore flexible job options.
  • 8% claim the coronavirus outbreak made them realize they miss going to work on-site.

Career Confidence Among Remote Workers

How high is career confidence among remote workers? What is the biggest insecurity among those who work remotely? This section of survey results explores these themes and more topics related to remote workers’ career confidence.

Below, we have included an abstract of key survey findings as well as a complete readout of questions and answers from our survey respondents.

  • 82% are at least pretty confident in themselves on a professional level.
  • 90% believe their co-workers would probably describe them as confident.
  • 67% feel cold calling or networking for potential job openings is the job search activity they are most insecure about performing.
  • 46% desire to learn more about how to apply for and land the job they want.
  • 42% answered that the biggest downside to low career confidence is the prospect of staying too long in the wrong job.

At this point in your life and work, how do you rate your level of career confidence?

Virtual Vocations - Career Confidence Among Remote Workers Survey Results 2021 - At this point in your life and work, how do you rate your level of career confidence?

I ROCK! I could not be more confident in myself at a professional level.

11%

I am pretty confident in my professional life, but there’s always room to build more professional self-esteem.

71%

I have very little professional confidence and don’t know how to be more courageous.

15%

I have zero confidence in myself on a professional level.

3%

Would your co-workers (current or former) describe you as confident?

Virtual Vocations - Career Confidence Among Remote Workers Survey Results 2021 - Would your co-workers (current or former) describe you as confident?

Definitely, yes! — I love to work a room (virtual meeting or otherwise!) and they know I am a go-getter.

41%

Probably — I convey confidence in my work but I also admit I enjoy keeping to myself when I can.

49%

Maybe? — I think it would depend on which co-worker you ask; plus, work is work.

8%

No — I fly under the radar and am not concerned with impressing co-workers.

2%

Which of these common job search activities would you feel least confident doing?

Virtual Vocations - Career Confidence Among Remote Workers Survey Results 2021 - Which of these common job search activities would you feel least confident doing?

Searching for a new job.

6%

Filling out employment documents (i.e. job application, cover letter, resume, etc.)

10%

Cold calling or networking for potential job openings.

67%

Interviewing for a job.

11%

Following up after a job interview.

6%

Complete the statement. “When it comes to career confidence, I would like to learn more about…”

Virtual Vocations - Career Confidence Among Remote Workers Survey Results 2021 - Complete the statement. “When it comes to career confidence, I would like to learn more about…”

How to take more risks, which could lead to achieving more goals.

16%

How to better connect with my job and workplace.

5%

How to improve my work-life balance.

14%

How to apply for and land the job I want.

46%

How to assert myself and earn more respect from colleagues.

8%

How to take on more responsibility or earn a promotion.

5%

How to talk to my employer about needed company improvements.

6%

What do you feel is the most detrimental consequence of having poor career confidence?

Virtual Vocations - Career Confidence Among Remote Workers Survey Results 2021 - What do you feel is the most detrimental consequence of having poor career confidence?

The fear of receiving constructive feedback.

2%

Staying too long in the wrong job.

42%

Diminished self-confidence and decision-making skills.

25%

Developing low self-esteem which could lead to poor mental and physical health.

31%

3 Tips to Boost Boldness and Attract Employers

Read the complete list of tips on the Virtual Vocations blog: Bold Ways to Stand Out as a Remote Jobseeker to Potential Employers

1

Leverage LinkedIn

Research and politely message executives or managers at remote-enabled businesses of interest to you. Talk about your eagerness to work for their company or comment on their relevant LinkedIn posts in a thoughtful way, such as linking to related resources or articles you have written or sharing a personal anecdote about the same subject. These bold social media strategies could move you to the head of the line of potential job candidates by keeping your name fresh in the employer’s mind and demonstrating your expertise.

2

Rethink Your Cover Letter

A resume is a vital employment document that requires jobseekers adhere to specific formatting guidelines, especially when writing a resume that will be read by ATS software. Cover letters, however, provide space to get creative. Consider submitting a video cover letter to visually introduce yourself to a prospective employer. Or, if you feel like taking a risk, you could also roll the dice on a “pain letter” that describes a researched organizational issue within the company you want to work for and outlines how you would work to resolve it.

3

Creatively Follow Up

Skip following up via a standard letter or email by upgrading your follow-up strategy using a little creativity. You could make a lasting, confident impression by boldly sending along a piece of personalized memorabilia to accompany your follow-up message. No, we do not mean mailing an autographed headshot to a hiring manager, but sending along an office tool, like a notepad or pen with your name and contact information on it, could wow a potential employer.

Career Confidence in the Workplace

Could job benefits boost career confidence? Does low career confidence lessen the likelihood that a remote employee would report wrongdoing? This section of survey results examines these subjects and others related to career confidence in the workplace.

Below, we have included an abstract of key survey findings as well as a complete readout of questions and answers from our survey respondents.

  • 31% say the biggest workplace confidence killer is a micromanager boss.
  • 37% have stayed in a job that was not right for them because they were not confident enough to give their notice.
  • 36% would receive an immediate boost in workplace confidence if they had the ability to work from home more often or have a flexible schedule.
  • 15% would never feel comfortable enough to ask their boss for a raise.
  • 61% would feel confident reporting workplace harassment, abuse, or mistreatment they experienced or witnessed.

What is the biggest confidence killer in the workplace?

Virtual Vocations - Career Confidence Among Remote Workers Survey Results 2021 - What is the biggest confidence killer in the workplace?

A micromanager boss.

31%

Poor company culture.

21%

Unrealistic expectations of perfection.

10%

Failure to acknowledge employee accomplishments.

17%

A lack of upward mobility.

7%

Performing work that doesn’t utilize your skills or education.

14%

Have you ever stayed in a good job, but one you knew was not right for you, because you didn’t feel confident enough to give your notice?

Virtual Vocations - Career Confidence Among Remote Workers Survey Results 2021 - Have you ever stayed in a good job, but one you knew was not right for you, because you didn’t feel confident enough to give your notice?

Yes.

37%

No.

53%

This isn’t a consideration for me. If I have a job, that’s all that matters.

10%

Examine this list of common work benefits and perks. If you could immediately earn any of them, which one would provide you with the greatest boost to your professional confidence?

Virtual Vocations - Career Confidence Among Remote Workers Survey Results 2021 - Examine this list of common work benefits and perks. If you could immediately earn any of them, which one would provide you with the greatest boost to your professional confidence?

An elevated job title.

4%

The ability to work from home more often or have a flexible schedule.

36%

A boost in income, whether through wage increases or scheduled bonuses.

31%

Retirement savings account with employer matching.

7%

An employee recognition program.

3%

A contract extension to guarantee more job security.

9%

Healthcare benefits for myself and/or my family.

9%

Access to a wellness program.

1%

Would you feel confident asking an employer for a raise?

Virtual Vocations - Career Confidence Among Remote Workers Survey Results 2021 - Would you feel confident asking an employer for a raise?

Yes — I know my worth and would feel confident asking for a raise.

29%

Probably — I would feel more confident asking for a raise if I recently demonstrated my value within the company or completed a major work achievement.

45%

Maybe — If I asked my employer for a raise, it would take a lot of outside encouragement from my family and colleagues.

11%

No — I feel awkward discussing money matters, especially with my employer.

15%

If you were the victim of or witness to workplace harassment, abuse, or mistreatment, would you feel confident reporting the offense within your current or most recent workplace?

Virtual Vocations - Career Confidence Among Remote Workers Survey Results 2021 - If you were the victim of or witness to workplace harassment, abuse, or mistreatment, would you feel confident reporting the offense within your current or most recent workplace?

Yes.

61%

Maybe, depending on the situation.

23%

No.

7%

I’d rather not answer this one.

5%

My current/most recent employer has no system in place to report these offenses.

4%

3 Ideas to Project Confidence in Your Resume

Read the complete list of tips on the Virtual Vocations blog: Show Don’t Tell: Brave Words to Use on Your Resume

1

Use Active Voice

Opting for active voice, like utilizing active verbs throughout your resume, rather than passive voice, projects resume confidence by presenting you as a doer. Meanwhile, passive voice conveys that you are receiving action instead of conducting it yourself. When crafting a resume, remember that passive voice is wordy and often confusing. In most cases, wordiness equals vagueness and, in turn, a pass from a hiring manager.

2

Be Brave with Your Word Choices

Making brave resume word choices is all about showing rather than telling. Injecting your resume with words like focused, skilled, strategic, expert, and passionate will command the right attention from potential employers and inspire them to spend more than a handful of seconds examining your qualifications rather than skipping straight to the next applicant’s resume.

3

Know What to Exclude

Your resume is valuable jobseeker real estate. Do not waste space on your resume by fluffing it with empty adjectives or worse, lies. Exchange clichés and shallow accolades for demonstrable accomplishments you can support with data touting your troubleshooting record or conversions from your latest email marketing campaign. And, while writing your resume, also exclude tired phrases like hard worker, wheelhouse, and outside the box.

Career Confidence During COVID-19

Has the COVID-19 pandemic affected feelings of job security among remote workers? Are more professionals now considering the merits of working remotely? This section of survey results highlights answers to questions of career confidence during COVID-19.

Below, we have included an abstract of key survey findings as well as a complete readout of questions and answers from our survey respondents.

  • 41% say their confidence in their job security did not change due to COVID-19.
  • 40% are much less confident now in their job security when compared to their feelings prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • 65% report that the COVID-19 pandemic has given them more courage to pursue a remote job.
  • 27% say COVID-19 has helped them realize it could be time to explore flexible job options.
  • 8% claim the coronavirus outbreak made them realize they miss going to work on-site.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been present in the U.S. for one year. Thinking of your feeling of job security before the pandemic to now, has your confidence level changed?

Virtual Vocations - Career Confidence Among Remote Workers Survey Results 2021 - The COVID-19 pandemic has been present in the U.S. for one year. Thinking of your feeling of job security before the pandemic to now, has your confidence level changed?

I am much more confident now than prior to the pandemic.

7%

I am slightly more confident now than prior to the pandemic.

12%

My job security confidence level is unchanged.

41%

I am much less confident now than prior to the pandemic.

40%

Has your experience living and working during the COVID-19 pandemic given you more courage to pursue a remote job?

Virtual Vocations - Career Confidence Among Remote Workers Survey Results 2021 - Has your experience living and working during the COVID-19 pandemic given you more courage to pursue a remote job?

Yes — Now, more than ever, I realize I need the flexibility of a remote job.

65%

Somewhat — Living during the pandemic has helped me see that it could be time to explore my remote job options.

27%

No — The pandemic has shown me that I miss working in a traditional office.

8%

3 Ways to Be More Confident in Remote Work, No Matter the Circumstances

Read the complete list of tips on the Virtual Vocations blog: 8 Things Confident Remote Professionals Do Every Day

1

Learn New Technology

Technology is to remote work as water is to human beings: essential. And learning new technologies within relevant industries is equally integral if remote workers want to remain valuable and respected within their fields. While the vastness of the tech landscape and emerging trends can inspire technological overload, remote workers can keep their heads above water by remembering to refresh their knowledge of the basics, research and read tech trends news within their verticals, and train to use and embrace new hardware and software as they become available within their companies.

2

Stick to a Realistic Schedule

Although the scheduling flexibility of most remote jobs is an attractive aspect of telecommuting, remote workers should still follow a realistic, adaptable version of a daily or weekly schedule that fits within their lifestyles and career goals. The good thing is, creating a schedule as a remote worker can be just a flexible as the work itself. In fact, we created scheduling blueprints for remote workers like homeschooling parents, single parents, coworking parents, and professionals with alternative scheduling needs for this post: Remote Work Schedule Templates Blueprint for Specific Lifestyles.

3

Take a Holistic Approach to Remote Work

The sedentary nature of remote work can be detrimental to the overall health and confidence of remote workers. By taking a holistic approach to remote work, telecommuting professionals nurture their minds and bodies through exercise, meditation, eating healthy, and building positive relationships within their homes and jobs. Remote workers who prioritize their wellness are more confident and productive while on the proverbial clock.

Contact Information for the 2021 Career Confidence Survey Results Report

Inquiries about the results of the Virtual Vocations 2021 Career Confidence Survey can be made to Michelle Rawlings, Public Relations Specialist, at michelle (at) virtualvocations (dot) com or via phone at 1-800-379-5092 EXT. 703.

Please visit Virtual Vocations social media profiles on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Instagram, and Pinterest for additional remote work content and conversations.

Image credits: Canva; Virtual Vocations images by Kimberly Back

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