13 Remote Job Search Mistakes You Can Fix Today

job search mistakes

Does searching for a job leave you reeling with stress and anxiety? Have you endured more career rejection than any one jobseeker should? You could be making common remote job search mistakes. 

13 Remote Job Search Mistakes You Can Fix Today

job search mistakes


By now, you probably know all the standard job search tips like proofread your resumé, practice interview questions, and send follow-up emails. But when the housekeeping is done, what else can you do to increase your chances of landing a job?

Here are 13 common remote job search mistakes that telecommuting jobseekers make and how you can fix them today.

1. Overexaggerating the Competition

Are you afraid that other job seekers outrank or outperform you? Don’t be. The Washington Post recently reported that U.S. businesses have more jobs than qualified candidates. Apparently, businesses can’t find the skilled workers they need to fill a variety of positions. This is good news for telecommuters because companies are more open to hiring remote staff to increase their talent pool.

So, don’t let the number of applicants intimidate you. Instead, leverage your cover letter and resumé to show busy recruiters that you’re one in a million (in a good way).

2. Applying Only to Posted Jobs

Remote job postings like those in the Virtual Vocations Job Database make job searching easy. However, applying only to posted jobs can limit your potential. New companies, developing teams, and recruiters who are detached from the nature of the jobs may not fully know what kind of candidate they need or what specific job duties they require.

For example, an enthusiastic startup company may seek technical professionals and overlook the importance of project management. If your technical skills align with the job and you have project management experience, reach out to the company and offer to lead and organize the team to ensure successful delivery of services to clients. Use a published job post to connect with the company, then prospect to show how you can add value and ultimately increase productivity, client satisfaction, and revenue.

Related: How to Write a Prospecting Cover Letter

3. Searching for Only One Job Title

In the artful words of William Shakespeare: “What’s in a [job title]? That which we call a [call center representative] by any other name would [support our customers].”

Companies are free to assign job titles as they please, which makes it challenging to discover exciting opportunities. Would you explicitly search for “In-House Philosopher” jobs at Google or new “Happiness Hero” positions at Buffer? Doubtful.

Use your current or desired job title as a starting point, but browse through related titles within a job category to increase your search results. For example, customer service representatives go by various names, such as call center specialists, customer care managers, and client success specialists. The same goes for sales representatives, who may be called account executives, account managers, and business developers. By searching broadly for “customer service” or “sales,” you access more job listings that you may otherwise miss.

4. Searching for Jobs Only Within Your State

Many telecommuters can work from anywhere in the world. However, some employers place geographic restrictions on certain types of jobs. Employment laws, state income taxes, professional licensure, and onsite travel requirements may influence employers’ decisions to hire in-state telecommuters.

However, don’t let geography limit your job search. Look for job descriptions that include phrases like “100% Virtual,” “Full Telecommute,” “Completely Remote,” and “Work from Anywhere.” Pay no attention to company headquarters or where the jobs originate. Global companies are especially open to telecommuters in different states since their employees often work in different time zones.

5. Submitting Supercool Resumés

Is your resumé too cool for school? Although your intention is to impress potential employers, super flashy resumés can turn off some recruiters. Even executives in creative fields prefer a traditional resumé over a fancy one, according to a survey by The Creative Group.

There are ways to make your resumé stand out without looking lavish. Go for a clean, well-organized design that helps the eye flow naturally to the essential elements. Align paragraphs and bullet points, use thin horizontal and vertical lines to separate sections, and use a crisp font that looks good on computer screens and printer paper.

Keep in mind that many companies use online applicant tracking systems (ATSs), which require minimal formatting. Thus, it’s a good idea to keep a stylized resumé and ATS resumé on hand. If you really want to showcase your document creations skills, sometimes you can upload your stylized version as an attachment to your ATS application. Otherwise, email the recruiter or human resources department with your pretty resumé to supplement the ATS. (It’s always good to make personal contact with recruiters anyways.)

6. Being Bland and Boring

Though you may want to avoid lavish resumés, you still want to stand out from your peers. So, how do you show employers you’ve got that extra special something they need? Use action verbs, success statistics, and current industry terminology. Write concisely and confidently. Avoid the passive voice and overused phrases like “detail-oriented” and “excellent communication skills.” Instead, describe how your attention to detail improved product quality and how you were able to simplify technical information to increase employee productivity. Specific examples are more impactful that vaguely applicable statements.

Also, get to know the company by visiting their website, researching their products, clients, and culture, and checking out their social media feeds. Tailor your resumé to the job description and company, and include strategic keywords naturally throughout your bullet points.

If you need help finding that sweet spot between conventional and unique, take advantage of the Virtual Vocations’ Professional Resumé Review Service. Upload your current version, and our experts will provide custom guidance on how to craft a winning resumé for your industry.

7. Overgeneralizing or Hyperspecifying Your Qualifications

Professionals are more specialized than ever these days. Although being a jack- or jane-of-all-trades is valuable in startups, small businesses, and life in general, large companies tend to prefer hyperspecialized candidates. Thus, you may need to filter your job search by skills, not just by job title or category. For example, an information technology (IT) employer may seek a Telecommute Network Administrator and Remote System Administrator. Though these positions may require similar education backgrounds, they involve different responsibilities and work tasks.

On the flip side, some companies want candidates with a broader range of knowledge. For example, Work-at-Home Full-Stack Web Developers are in high demand because they understand both front-end and back-end web development concepts and code. They may be more skilled in one end, but their full-stack knowledge helps streamline problem-solving, debugging, updating, and communicating with specialists.

The bottom line is: Know your audience and tailor your resumé to the level of specificity that a company needs. Look closely at each job description for guidance.

Related: How to Tailor Your Resume to a Job Offer and Land Your Dream Job

8. Revealing Too Much

Think of your resumé like a movie trailer – you want to give recruiters a few exciting highlights, but you don’t want to show them the whole film. The goal is to whet recruiters’ appetites enough that they want to know more about you. There’s no need to share your life story and describe every responsibility you ever had at work. Instead, share your most relevant work experience, education, and skills, as well as specific examples of how you added value, overcame a challenge, or achieved a goal.

A word of caution: Be enticing, but be clear. You never want to make recruiters guess, fill in gaps, or think critically while reading your resumé. Tell a comprehensive story without any plot twists or MacGuffins.

9. Thinking You’re Not Qualified

Here’s a dirty little secret: you don’t have to exhibit all the qualifications in a job listing to get hired. If you don’t think you qualify for a couple of items in the post, it doesn’t mean you’re not right for the job. Though recruiters look for competency and experience, they also seek candidates whose personalities and work styles match that of the company.

Of course, some requirements are non-negotiable. For example, Virtual K-8 Teacher jobs often require state or national certification; Work-at-Home Web Developer jobs require knowledge and proficiency with HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and various frameworks; and Remote Scientific Paper Editor jobs often require a master’s degree or Ph.D. in a particular field of study. As long as you have the right education, certifications, and knowledge for the job, go ahead and assume that you’re just as qualified as any other applicant.

job search mistakes

10. Getting Down in the Dumps

Job searching isn’t easy, and it can tax your self-confidence and motivation. Whenever you get rejected or never receive a response, avoid feeling discouraged. Such outcomes just mean that you need to keep looking. Actively seek career inspiration and remember your primary reasons for making a change. You may also need to evaluate your overall professional brand and how you market yourself. It’s possible that a few minor tweaks to deliver a more consistent message will clear the air and open new channels of possibility.

In fact, according to The U.S. ManpowerGroup Employment Outlook Survey, 11,500 U.S. employers expect to hire new workers in the first quarter of 2018. It’s clear that the job market is expanding, and companies need more people to ensure their continued success. Thus, there’s bound to be a position out there that’s right for you.

11. Saving, but Never Applying

Sometimes job searching can feel like browsing through a Facebook news feed, where you “like” other people’s posts without ever engaging with the posts again. During your job search, it’s easy to read descriptions, get all excited, save jobs for later, then never actually apply. Sometimes the act of searching becomes more of a distraction or productivity inhibitor than a vehicle for a better life. However, to land a job and live the lifestyle you desire, you need to email recruiters and fill out online applications.

So, commit to yourself, and anyone you’re supporting, to apply for jobs as you discover them instead of waiting around for “the right time.” The worst that will happen is you won’t get the job, in which case, please revert to Job Search Mistake #10.

12. Going at it Alone

Whether you tap into your professional network, family and friends, or work with an employment agency, there’s no shame in getting help. Let people know you’re in the market for a job and give them a quick overview of your skills and interests. Talk to employment agencies about the types of jobs they usually have and what skills they typically seek. Keep in touch with important contacts so that you stay on their radar when an opportunity arises.

Related: 17 Tips for Staying Connected While Working from Home

13. Not Setting Goals

It’s fun to live life as a free spirit and let the wind take you wherever it blows. However, if you’re serious about making a living and supporting your family, you’ll need to create some structure to guide your career path. It’s okay to be open-minded and experiment with different possibilities, but at least set overall goals so that you can filter out jobs that align with what you want in life.

For example, set a weekly or monthly income goal, then apply to jobs that can offer a corresponding wage. If you want to work a flexible schedule or travel up to 50% of the time, apply to jobs that offer such perks. Your job search will become more efficient the more you declare what you want and need.

Supercharge Your Telecommute Job Search with Virtual Vocations

Check out the Virtual Vocations Job Database for telecommuting job ideas and the latest work-at-home opportunities. When you’re ready to dig in, sign up as a free or premium member to access more top-notch positions and telecommuting resources.

Most of all, never lose sight of your goals and the reason behind your job search. Avoid common pitfalls and commit to improving your job search techniques so that you can earn the job and lifestyle of your dreams.

Have you made any of these remote job search mistakes? Share your story when you connect with Virtual Vocations on Facebook and Twitter. We’d love to hear from you! 

Photo Credits: 1. iStock.com/grinvalds; 2. iStock.com/Nastco

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