The COVID-19 pandemic is changing the U.S. job market and the way Americans look at work. In the first five weeks of this national emergency, more than 26 million people have filed new claims for unemployment benefits, and the nonessential workers who remain employed have mostly shifted to telecommuting due to states’ stay-at-home mandates. “It’s definitely changed how many people are looking for remote work,” says Brie Reynolds, career development manager for online job market FlexJobs, which specializes in flexible and remote work. “Lots more people are in search of that right now.”
Employers, too, are looking more favorably on the idea of a telecommuting workforce. “There often was a very big hurdle for some business owners to hire individuals who worked remotely, and that stigma has really been suppressed right now,” says Stacy Francis, president of Manhattan-based wealth-management firm Francis Financial. “It’s opening the eyes of business owners to a new possibility.”
Indeed, Reynolds notes that FlexJobs saw a 4 percent increase in remote job listings in March, compared with February. “It’s nothing huge, but a bit of positive news, a hopeful sign that the remote job market is holding pretty strong right now,” she says.
Even without a global pandemic, working remotely can be a great option for people who are looking to ease out of a traditional full-time job but aren’t ready to give up work altogether. “For individuals who are looking at retirement, it’s a great way to stay busy, to earn an income and still have that accountability in their life with some type of work,” says Francis, who has a number of clients who have recently retired from demanding full-time jobs but continue to work as part-time consultants. “They love it because they can do it anywhere in the world, and they’ve really meshed it into their retirement.”
How can you compete for in-demand remote work opportunities? Here are some tips to help you rise to the top of the applicant pool.
1. Know where to look.
First, tap your network. Having an insider’s support can boost your odds at winning the role, especially when you’re competing for more senior-level jobs.
Next, search online. Most major job-search sites give you the option to limit your options to remote jobs only. You can also try sites that specialize in remote work, such as FlexJobs and Remote.com. Note, though, that you must subscribe to FlexJobs for full access to the site. Subscription packages start at $14.95 for one month.