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From Unemployment to Remote Work: How to Bounce Back

Going from unemployment to remote work during COVID-19 takes some effort, but it is attainable.

As the third month of the COVID-19 pandemic comes to a close, over 40 million Americans have filed for unemployment claims. Exacerbating the problem, the jobless rate—which includes Americans not actively seeking work—has jumped to 23.9% Therefore, there’s a one-in-four chance you fall into this category. But as bleak as things seem, the situation will get better. As more companies go virtual, going from unemployment to remote work becomes a realistic career path.

The Current Transition from Traditional Settings to Remote Work

Remote work has many benefits, and companies around the country are finally beginning to notice. In the past two months, Square, Twitter, and Nationwide Insurance headline a list of organizations that have gone fully remote for the foreseeable future. As these companies continue to cut overhead and enjoy more focused and happier employees, many other companies will continue to follow suit. This bodes well for your future from unemployment to remote work.

While no statistics exist regarding the number of firms switching from traditional settings to remote work, the number was already increasing prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Virtual Vocations experienced exponential growth in 2019, pushing new job postings to over 300,000, as well as marked growth in employer partners and remote companies hiring remote workers.

Although unemployment is a scary prospect, you may have hit the job market at a time that suits the aspiring remote worker. With that in mind, now is the time to apply yourself so you don’t end up back in the cubicle.

How to Decide What Type of Remote Work Suits You

Some traditional jobs don’t translate well into remote work. That’s why so many people have filed unemployment claims. If you were a restaurant manager or public transit driver, the daunting task of finding a remote job seems overwhelming. You might not realize how your current skills transfer to another job. But rest assured, you have abilities that you didn’t even consider that may lead to a remote job.

Here are some ideas that may push you toward the type of job or industry that permits you to succeed.

Know your Strengths and Weaknesses

Make a list of your greatest strengths and weaknesses in your mind. And for good measure, ask your friends or family for your strengths and weaknesses. Once you’ve compiled this list, consider remote jobs that suit your best qualities. For example, if you’re good at listening to people, you may be a great choice for a remote customer service associate/manager. Or if you’re strong at social media, you might try to find an entry-level position as a social media assistant. The possibilities are seemingly endless.

Take a Career Test

If you’re having trouble matching your strengths to a remote career, a career test is a solution. Designed to assess your strengths and weaknesses, career tests provide some insight into what types of jobs you’d excel at. In addition, career tests offer tips or actual job titles to give you a clearer path toward the ideal remote position.

Network or Get Career Advice from Others

Another way to figure out what type of remote job you’d be good at is to network or get career advice. Given, networking during COVID-19 is tricky. But you can often use your social and professional connections to replace traditional networking events. LinkedIn is an amazing tool for making connections, allowing you to reconnect with friends and acquaintances on a professional level. But before you start sending out friend requests, make sure you have a professional LinkedIn profile that highlights your skills and experience.

To build upon your online presence, network with friends and family. Do you have a softball teammate who works from home or a brother-in-law who telecommutes? These people can provide invaluable insight into the world of remote work. In addition, they can answer any questions you may have about what remote work is like, where to look for a job, or if anyone is hiring.

Find Your Personality Type

Have you ever heard of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI)? It’s a test that determines which one of 16 personalities you have. By discovering your personality type, you can figure out whether you’re cut out for the remote world and what type of job you’d shine at. While the internet has dozens of personality tests, remember that the MBTI is the worldwide standard used by many employers during the hiring process.

Skills to Earn to Boost Your Online Profile

Once you’ve done a bit of legwork, you can see what types of remote jobs would suit your expertise. From there, use remote job listings and see what employers are searching for in each position. If you lack some of the skills and experience needed to gain employment, you shouldn’t give up hope. The internet is rife with websites, certifications, and other credentials that can get you up to speed. Some basic skills you should possess to garner consideration for a remote job might include:

  • Basic computer proficiency
  • Attention to detail
  • Problem solving and critical thinking
  • Written communication

You can also earn bonus points if you’re familiar with online remote tools such as:

  • Team collaboration software
  • File-sharing programs
  • Google Suite

Even more beneficial, most tools and software for remote teams have help desks and tutorials that can get you up to speed in a few hours or a few days. When you’re going from unemployment to a remote team, you’re not wasting any extra effort by learning new skills, programs, or credentials. The more you know, the better your chances of finding a job.

Tweak Your Resume and Explain Yourself in a Cover Letter

Have you been at the same job for years? If so, you might need to knock some dust off your resume. In a general sense, resumes need your experience, your role in each position, your education, and some of your extra skills. But modern resumes have a bit more flash and some added rules to overcome applicant tracking systems.

Applicant tracking systems (ATS) are computer programs that analyze your resume and search it for keywords. If your resume doesn’t contain these keywords and phrases, it’s immediately rejected. Therefore, you should search each job description to find recurring words and phrases. Then, apply these words and phrases in your resume.

Keep in mind that even if a company doesn’t use ATS software, you still have only six seconds to impress a recruiter or hiring manager. That’s why you should put your most relevant experience and keywords at the top of your resume. You may have to tweak your resume for each individual application, but the results should become more successful.

In your cover letter—which is something that you should include with each application—explain how your prior work experience translates to your role in your potential position. But avoid any sob story. Plenty of people are without work, so this approach may come off as insincere. Instead, show what you can do for the company, and how your experiences can create a more profitable enterprise.

When to Settle and When Not to Settle on a Remote Job

As an unemployed person, you may feel that you should take the first remote job that comes your way. In some cases, this might be true. But you shouldn’t necessarily settle on the first employer that offers you a position. In the long run, it’s not the ideal way to go from unemployment to remote work. Sometimes, this can result in unhappiness and unfulfillment, especially if you take a job that’s nothing like the job you want.

Conversely, taking the first job that’s offered to you is an intelligent decision. Even if you aren’t keen on the job, you can take away vital skills while earning some money on the side. If you’ve never worked remotely, this is even more important. Undertaking remote employment for the first time can help you decide several things:

  • Whether or not you have the skills for remote work
  • If you can withstand the loneliness and isolation that sometimes accompany remote work
  • If you have the technical knowledge to conduct remote work
  • Whether you have the discipline and drive to succeed without constant supervision
  • If you can embrace work-life balance and adhere to it
  • If you’re working longer hours than necessary because you’re always around your job

By assessing how you react to your remote job, you can decide if a remote job is indeed a good fit.

Join Relevant Social Media Groups

Have you always wanted to become a remote content writer? A full stack developer? A salesperson? There’s a group on social media for that. Just type the job you want into the search bar of Facebook or LinkedIn, and you can typically find an open community to join.

The reason you should join these communities is that they’re invaluable sources of information. If you’re just starting to write content, these individuals can offer professional feedback. When you’re building your first website and employing principles of design, these groups can offer some advice on how to improve it.

In addition, most of these groups are free of toxic individuals thanks to a mix of concerned members and considerate moderators. Therefore, you don’t have to be shy and can get the most out of your inclusion into the group. You might even find a connection that can help you out on your journey to remote employment.

Bouncing Back

Unemployment causes seemingly endless amounts of stress and strife. But by putting together a proper plan and making yourself a more hireable candidate, you can go from unemployment to remote work faster than you may have thought. Trust yourself and trust your abilities. You’re close to the flexibility, satisfaction, and work-life balance you can only get with a remote job.


Have you gone from unemployment to remote work since the start of COVID-19Connect with Virtual Vocations on FacebookTwitter, and LinkedIn to share your advice. We’d love to hear your story! 

iStock Image: Kanawa_Studio


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