Have I mentioned how much I love working remotely? (Spoiler alert: I have, repeatedly). If it were up to me, we’d all have amazing remote jobs and have all the flexibility and freedom we could possibly need.
Remote jobs require a particular set of skills, though, regardless of what kind of job it is. One thing to keep in mind is that the tech industry tends to have the best remote job openings and the most variety. Learning tech skills makes you more qualified for more of those job openings, though there are some that you can get with only basic tech skills.
If you’ve been dreaming of a remote job but aren’t sure if you’re qualified, check out this list of skills you need to be a successful remote worker. Then make sure you highlight them on your resume when you apply for your next job.
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General Remote-Friendly Skills
If you’ve ever browsed remote job boards, you’ve probably noticed that there’s a wide variety of positions out there that can be done remotely. Marketing, web development, design, data analysis, mobile development, customer support…it’s all there.
Yes, virtually every job out there requires “good communication skills.” But digital communication skills are more specialized. It’s not just being able to talk to people.
Digital communication skills mean being able to manage your email and respond to things in a timely fashion. It also means being able to effectively communicate with email and not end up misinterpreted (which is so easy when you’re talking to someone purely through email).
It’s being willing and able to jump on video calls to chat with your team. It’s being able to create reports that share important information with the people who need that info (and also to read reports that others have created for you).
Knowing how to keep in touch with your team and others at your company, as well as any customers or clients you need to work with when you’re not seeing people face-to-face every day isn’t an optional skill when you work remotely. It’s vital for being successful.
When you clock in every morning at 9 and clock out at 5, managing your time is sort of automatic. You know that you’re at your desk for 8 hours and that’s the time you have allotted to finish your to-do list for the day. And people will notice if you’re still sitting at your desk past 5 regularly.
But when you work remotely, you won’t necessarily have anyone notice if you’re still sitting at your desk at midnight because you went down the Facebook click-hole of cute cat videos, wasting an entire afternoon.
One of the biggest perks of a ton of remote jobs is that you have flexibility about when you work. You might have meetings at specific times, but if you need to run out for the afternoon or prefer to take a long lunch on Wednesdays to go to your favorite yoga class, you can.
You just have to figure out how to manage your time around those other engagements so that you can get your work done.
Some remote jobs have tons of checks to make sure you’re getting your work done when you should. But other remote jobs are more like “here’s what you need to get done in the next two weeks” and you don’t get another check until that work is due.
If you can’t motivate yourself to work when you need to to stay on track, then you’re going to have a hard time with a lot of remote jobs.
One of the best ways to self-motivate if it doesn’t come naturally is to gamify your workday. Gamification basically breaks down to rewarding yourself for checking things off your to-do list and establishing good habits. My favorite app for gamifying your productivity is Habitica.
If you want to be a successful remote worker, you have to learn to be proactive about the projects you take on. You’re not going to have a boss who suddenly notices you don’t have a project to work on.
Being proactive about taking on new projects that are proposed, or coming up with ideas yourself, are appreciated in any work environment, but even more so in a remote job.
You probably saw this one coming, right?
Remote work revolves around technology. Without tech, you won’t be able to stay connected to your team.
That doesn’t necessarily mean you have to be an expert coder. But it does mean you need to be proficient with things like email, project management software (like Trello, JIRA, or Asana), video call software (like Google Hangouts or Skype), and chat apps (like HipChat or Slack).
You have to familiarize yourself with these tools and become comfortable with them if you want to land a remote job you love, let alone be successful as a remote worker.
6. BEING ABLE TO PRIORITIZE
Organization is important, but being able to prioritize your tasks is even more vital as a remote worker. Knowing which projects are the most important, and which things to work on first, is really important when you’re doing more solo work.
A lot of remote jobs will have you working as part of a team, and being able to prioritize the work you have so that you can get solo projects done as well as not become a blocker for others on your team, holding up their work.
That brings me to another vital skill for remote workers: being a team player. You’ll be working with people on a daily basis who may be spread all over the world. Here at Skillcrush, just on the marketing team, we have members who are located in almost every time zone in the US, plus at least a couple in Europe. That means even things like coordinating meetings can require some compromise on the part of many team members (who either get up early for meetings or work late).
But at the same time, because you’re not face-to-face with your team in an office all the time, it can take longer to find your “groove” as a team. It takes a bit more effort to make sure that your team is actually functioning like a team, and actually feels like a team.
Skills That Give You More Remote Job Possibilities
The first seven skills above are all important to have for every remote worker. But there are specific skills you can learn that will qualify you for a lot more in-demand remote jobs. Yes, you can find a remote job without them, but having them will give you options.
HTML & CSS are the basic building blocks of the web. Every website you see is built with HTML, and every modern website uses CSS both for styling and to improve user experience. In the simplest terms, HTML contains the content, while CSS contains the way it’s presented to the world.
Every development job and the vast majority of web design jobs will require you to know HTML & CSS. And even jobs like marketing and some customer support positions will benefit from a basic knowledge of HTML & CSS.
WordPress is the most popular content management system in the world, and PHP is the language that it’s built on. There are two distinct skill sets that are useful when it comes to WordPress.
Knowing how to use WordPress, including how to set up websites and do basic theme customization, is important for people in marketing positions, as well as a useful skill for designers.
Knowing how to code WordPress is also useful for designers and can become the basis of a development career for a lot of people. Whether you spend your days working on WP themes or coding plugins from scratch, understanding PHP and the way it works with WordPress is vital.
User experience (UX) design is one of the best-paid tech jobs out there (average salary is around $90,000 per year), and it’s growing at a crazy rate (up to 30% according to some estimates). If you want a high-paid job with some security, then UX skills will never serve you wrong.
But even if you don’t want to become a dedicated UX designer, understanding the basics of how users experience a website, how design and interaction impact their experience, and how to use those things to create the best user experience possible will help both designers and developers to create better sites.
Knowing how to analyze data available to you comes in handy for a variety of jobs, including marketing, web development, and (duh) data analysis and strategy jobs.
The web revolves around data. Everything is built on it, and it’s constantly being collected about everything we do online. Learning how to use basic programs like Google Analytics is a good place to start.
Beyond that, learning how to work with large data sets and interpret that information makes you a very valuable employee across a ton of departments.
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