Remote work is highly desirable for the flexibility it offers employees. But if freelancing or running a business isn’t for you, what’s a smart way to find a full-time job, with a salary and benefits, that lets you work from home or wherever you want?
The short answer: find your next boss’ blog, Twitter account, or other online profile before they’re ready to hire.
As the popularity of remote work has shot up, job sites specializing in remote or telecommute opportunities — like Jobspresso, Pangian, and Ditch the Office — provide a more customized experience for employees seeking work-from-wherever roles. But as with any online job board posting, standing out from the flood of applicants can be a challenge.
Popular bloggers and business owners with a strong online presence often look to their own networks (sometimes exclusively) to find the next addition to their team. Comfortable with working and creating online, many internet entrepreneurs run at least partly virtual teams that offer good salaries along with the other benefits you’d expect from a more traditional full-time job.
Since these companies tend to be small operations and have less frequent turnover, being a part of a business influencer’s personal or professional online network is a great way to get your foot in the door with a virtual team. Simply being on the email list or connected on social media is helpful for two reasons:
- It can give you a leg up on learning about full-time remote gigs (because you’re hearing about it straight from the source); and
- It can help you in the hiring process because you already have a relationship with the person and/or their brand since you’re consuming their content. And people generally prefer to hire based on referrals or to source a new employee from their network.
Dream virtual teams
Ramit Sethi’s I Will Teach You To Be Rich (IWT) is a good example. Sethi famously started the personal finance blog from his dorm room at Stanford. Today, he employs 35 full-time people to run IWT, which has a range of offerings to help its audience optimize finances, become more productive, and more.
The company hires about three to five times per year and depending on the role, Sethi says they’ll find candidates by posting open roles to specialized job boards. But a key part of finding new employees is to include new job openings in subscriber emails.
“A newsletter is the easiest and best source of quality candidates,” Sethi said. “We love hiring fans of our company when they’re the right fit for the role. We’ve done it several times in the past.”
One of those past hires was Christopher Ming. In 2012, he was waiting tables at a Thai restaurant and trying to get his career on track. He’d been consuming Sethi’s personal finance advice for a while when he decided to dig into his savings and purchase Sethi’s course, Find Your Dream Job.
Though he initially used the strategies in the course to land a writer’s assistant job in Hollywood, his aspirations changed over time. He applied for a product development job after seeing the posting in one of Sethi’s emails. He started as a part-time independent contractor in February 2014 and was brought on full-time about seven months later.
There are tons of other examples of bloggers-cum-entrepreneurs and others who, like Sethi, will look to their online following for their next virtual hire. Derek Halpern, a marketer who founded the website Social Triggers, will frequently email his list and post new jobs with his company to his social media accounts (here’s an older example). Marie Forleo, the entrepreneur who hosts MarieTV, also has a remote team and makes hiring announcements in her emails.
Andrew Warner, founder of the podcast and online learning website Mixergy, does this too. Just a few weeks ago, Warner emailed his community when he created a virtual operations manager role. He also shared a video from a coaching session that helped him clarify the job — killer information if you actually wanted to apply for the position.
Mark Manson, the blogger who wrote the hit book The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F-ck, has taken a similarly transparent approach. In 2014, he posted two virtual full-time positions on his blog and asked readers to apply. He wrote two follow-up posts detailing how he made his hiring decisions and referenced the possibility of future hires. “This business continues to grow. And as it grows it has become clear that I need to look no further than my own readership for the team I need,” he wrote at the time.
Freelancer to remote Full-timer
But how do you go from passive reader/follower to remote member of the team? In Ryan Robinson’s case, he made the first move. Robinson reached out to 60 entrepreneurs to create an advice listicle for his own blog. One of those entrepreneurs was Steli Efti, the CEO of Close.io, who Robinson had been following on Twitter. After Robinson published and promoted the article, he got back in touch with all the entrepreneurs he’d connected with to show that the article was getting traction.
At the time, Robinson was freelancing and set up a call with Efti to see if he might be interested in some content marketing work. Efti asked Robinson to write an article for the company blog. That piece quickly became the most shared of all time and soon, Robinson began writing regularly for Close.io. After a few months, Efti suggested he join the remote team in a full-time capacity.
At the end of the day, securing a remote job isn’t really all that different from landing one where you need to be physically present. “It’s all about relationship building,” Robinson said. “Create something simple, small and easy” to get a foot in the door, Robinson advises.
Jaclyn Schiff’s writing has been published at NPR, NBC News, HuffPost, The Muse, Thought Catalog, and others.