More and more work can be done remotely these days and veterans are able to capitalize on this potential as they seek work in the civilian sector. But what do they need to know about evaluating these opportunities? Which are legit? Which may not be? What best practices should veterans use to find and land a remote job?
Growth in Remote Work Opportunities
According to FlexJobs, growth in remote work has grown 159% since 2005—over the past five years alone the growth rate has been 44%. Remote work tends to be most common for positions that represent knowledge work and that pay higher salaries. They point to software engineering and accounting as two examples. IT-related work and graphic design and other creative development roles also often gravitate to remote workers in part because the talent pool can be competitive on a local basis.
The ability to recruit top talent from a wider geographic range is a big benefit to employers and something that veteran job seekers can leverage to their advantage.
Is Remote Work Right for You?
Andrew Meadows is senior vice president of HR, brand and culture at Ubiquity Retirement + Savings. At Ubiquity, 80% of the employees work remotely in locations around the country. He’s a long-time proponent of remote work and says: “With the advancements in technology, almost any job could potentially be remote unless otherwise stated. If not listed, but sure to ask if that is a possibility should you get that first interview,” he says. At Ubiquity, he says, there are three rules for working remotely:
- Be available throughout the day
- Get the job done
Just as not every job will lend itself to remote work (retail clerks, for instance), not every individual will find remote work to be satisfying or right for them. Business Insider has identified “11 traits you need to be an effective remote worker.” They include the ability to:
- Communicate clearly regardless of the medium they’re using (e.g. email, phone, video conferencing)
- Keep to a routine
- Make maximum use of organizational and productivity tools
- Create a space to focus on work
- Develop a sense of structure outside of a traditional work environment
- Avoid over-analyzing social cues when communicating with team members
- Separate themselves from distractions or other people while working
- Welcome new methods of working and communicating
- Remain focused on task and project completion even when dealing with differences in time zones or schedules
- Connect with colleagues on a personal level
- Build a network beyond the remote workspace
“Reliability is of the utmost importance for remote roles,” says Meadows. “The best way to demonstrate reliability is to know the mechanics of the required work and have as much experience as possible related to the role.”
It can be particularly helpful to share examples of past remote roles that you’ve held and how you’ve been able to succeed in them, Meadows advises. “Stating that you have an in-home office and that you’ve worked remotely in the past is important,” he says. “Describing an impressive project you’ve completed where the team wasn’t centrally located is a great way to illustrate proficiency.”
Make Sure the Company is Legit
These days it’s relatively easy to do a background search to determine whether a company is legitimate or not. Visit the company’s website as a starting point. While it’s relatively easy for just about anyone to put up a credible-looking site, there are some signs to watch out for that might indicate that a site—and the company it represents—may not be credible.
Gargi Rajan is head of HR for Mercer|Mettl, an HR technology and talent measurement firm. “A lot of websites you find for remote working or freelancing could be fake,” says Rajan. To minimize the odds that you get drawn into a non-legitimate opportunity, Rajan suggests checking the company out on “review websites, social media websites or LinkedIn.”
Glassdoor is an example of one very popular site where you can find reviews left by current and former employers. While negative reviews may simply be a factor of “sour grapes” among former employees, browsing through comments will give you a sense of consistency and help you identify any trends that may stand out—either positively or negatively.
Consider Tax Implications
Some remote workers are considered to be full-time employees of a company; others are not. Full-time employees will have withholding and other taxes taken out of their paychecks. Non-employees, or contractors, will not—but they will be personally responsible for paying those taxes. Be sure to clarify with any potential employer—or client—whether you will be considered an employee or contractor and, if a contractor, take steps to ensure that you are setting aside money to pay for taxes you may owe at the end of the year.
In today’s technology-enabled environment there are ample opportunities to pursue work in non-traditional ways—including working remotely for companies that could literally be located anywhere in the world.
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