Deciding to start a remote-only occupation can be freeing. You’ve escaped the 9-5, can travel around the world (maybe), and don’t have the dreaded commute that often eats into your personal life.
But, if you are just starting out your career, you might want to think really hard about it. Everything in the remote-work world looks a bit different, including networking opportunities, financial stability to an extent, and the job search.
Full disclosure, too. I do expect the competition to grow for remote-only jobs. This is not just because there is a growing number of people who want to travel and work. Instead, there are a growing number of people who need second jobs to survive in an increasingly expensive world.
So, building a resume is one of the first things you should do when on the job search. . (Or if you have a previous resume, adapting it.) BUT…. remote work often looks different depending if you are actually going to stay at the employer-employee relationship, look at freelancing (You’ve got this!), or something else like independent contracting.
So, today we are going to be talking about how to build a remote-first resume, the words you are going to use to beat the ATS, and where to find templates. This is going to be long, not a lot of pictures, and hopefully filled with information. Let’s get into it.
Table of Contents
Finding a Template
There are going to be thousands upon thousands of different templates for your resume. And if you’re like me, the right one is integral for the job search.
Whenever I am recommending a new resume template, I often recommend people start with Canva. They have free resources, it is a surprisingly easy software to navigate through, and it backs-up in real-time in the cloud if you lose internet connection or if something happens to your laptop
But….. I have some caveats with the Canva Templates. Many of them look gorgeous, simple, and modern…. like these!
But these resumes do not play well with the various online platforms where you upload a resume. (And these resumes actually break a few unofficial rules, in my book.) So, here are the problems, and then we will cover a basic resume template.
#1 You should never put your picture on a resume.
Sadly, you could be thrown out of the pile immediately due to bias and discrimination. Let your performance and actions speak for themselves.
#2 Multiple colors could make your resume difficult to read
Although a simple contrast between something like blue and white is subtle, it’s important to note that everything should be in black and white.
#3 Using different fonts, different sized fonts, and special characters
Most softwares are not going to recognize a difference between different sized fonts, which is why it’s important to keep everything in a hierarchal point of view, and make sure to not include columns. Also, something like the Indeed Resume Reader cannot understand special characters and icons.
Best Resume Templates
The best resume templates are going to be boring, but split up into three basic parts.
#1: All the Same Font
Again, I cannot echo this enough. Even if it Calibri and Calibri Light, recruiters are going to notice. If you fail to fix this, it looks like you did not put in the effort or care.
#2: No longer than two pages
Unless you are applying for a remote-job for a government or INGO agency (UN, IFRC, IOM, etc,), your resume should never exceed 1-2 pages. (You can add 1 additional page for every 10 years of work experience.)
#3: Link Similar Categories Together
Work, Credentials, Education, etc. etc. With the most relevant for the position at the top of your resume
Change the File Name & Type
Speaking from personal experience, please change your file name when you save it.
Instead of calling it “resume,” like everyone else, it will need to be labeled:
First Initial, Last Name_Resume
If I ever see a resume labeled resume, and then I download it, I have no idea whose resume is whose without opening each individual folder. That could take anywhere between 5-8 minutes depending on if I have 100+ resumes to review, and it’s not worth the hassle.
Also, save the file as a PDF when it is complete. I cannot open .docx files as my laptop does not open them, and PDF are a standard file type across all operating systems.
Remote Work Resume Header
The header is one of the most important parts of the resume, as you are going to do something unique with your resume.
Yes, you are going to put your
- Phone Number
However, there are two additional things you should put on your resume. Because of the unique nature of remote work, there are two phrases:
By putting remote-only, this will make your potential employers understand from the beginning they you are a remote-first employee.
Eligible to Work In
Here is something unique according to US Tax Law. Depending on your hiring category, you don’t actually need to have permanent residency in the country.
This is problematic for some countries, and other countries it is not a problem. But you are going to need to make sure you are eligible to work in the country wherever your potential employer is located.
This is going to require a little bit of research on your part, but on a case-by-case basis, make sure you are eligible to work for the company.
The most important part of any resume is going to be your experience, as this is what qualifies you for the job. But in the 2020’s and 2030’s, the key to the job experience is going to be key to beat the ATS.
ATS (the Applicant Tracking System) is one of the largest difficulties for job applicants, as it is artificial intelligence that sometimes even hiring managers don’t understand. ATS will reject your resume, if you don’t hit specific key words that either the job post contains or what the ATS expects you to do.
On Indeed, this is what the ATS looks like from the employer’s side.
If you don’t beat the ATS, you are going to land in the all candidates page (or even worse), it actually automatically rejects you. (Rather than sending you to the next step, which is the hiring manager phase.)
Thankfully, you’ve started reading this post, which means you will be further ahead than other candidates. (Seriously)
But within the job experience category, you are going to want to put the:
- Company Name
- Job Title
- Dates Worked
- Job Description
The Job Description is going to be the most important part of your resume. For each job, you are going to put between three to five different bullet points that are the following:
- Explain how you are using soft skills
- Explain the hard skills
- And finally define the results
A great example of this would look like:
- Lead, re-design, and implement an existing email campaign using C# that improved the KPI performance by 31%.
- Monitor key customer accounts using GAAP accounting and FASB principles while maintaining and updating 35 trackers and spreadsheets
Finally, as you both write these job descriptions and update the job titles, make sure you are going in reverse, chronological order.
At the end of this first time, your resume should look like this.
Certifications, Languages, and Other
The Certifications, Languages, and Other section is one of the most-important on your remote-only resume. This will showcase your knowledge and expertise, but view this section as what you bring to the table (and employers will expect you to know this stuff from Day 1).
For the sake of brevity and to keep your resume at one page, I am going to recommend you complete all three sections within one general category, rather than separate entities.
For the certification section on your resume, you will want to highlight your professional growth within your sphere. Certifications often signify expertise and dedicated time spent outside of core working hours. And from the employer’s perspective, most importantly, this will show initiative. (Which they like)
If any of your certificates are industry-leading, feel free to chase those and complete them. Some are recognized and even more important than a college degree. (Seriously.)
Finally, if they expire, be honest. Employers will ask for these documents, sometimes.
Certain industries (Tech) are going to require numerous languages, and this is going to be one of the most important sections of your resume.
This is the primary section that will set you apart, as this is what employers will expect you to have learned before starting.
This information is integral for ATS, and you are going to want to spend some time to research and spend-time on the things job descriptions say. For example, if you do not put C++ on a resume, and the job description says C++, you are not going to even get looked at.
Typically, this section is going to show what you achieved personally, and it also shows growth from where you are at now. Feel free to showcase awards or other recognitions.
If you are just starting out your post-graduate career, this should be the top category. But if you are not, this section is much lower in importance than both the Certifications and Experience sections on your resume.
There are some few basic rules on your resume:
- Degree Type
- GPA (If it was above a 3.2, put it here).
- Research Interests (If they are important)
Other Section (If Necessary)
- Professional Organizations
- Special Interests (If they correlate with the job)
In Summary (Remote Job Resume Example)
As I finish up this remote-worker resume building session, I think it’s important to note that you are going to spend a lot of time on your resume, and they should vary from job to job. (I find that process extremely annoying, as the same thing will happen when you build the cover letter.)
But each job application is going to have a different keyword list within the ATS, and it will be important to tailor each resume to that specific job post. You’re already entering the job market at a strategic disadvantage, as you may not know anyone within the company and cannot get a referral from potential peers. But often a little bit of time spent on the research phase will save hours of the spray-and-pray approach of applying to 100+ jobs.
As always, let me know if you have any questions!
More Remote Worker Posts
So, you’ve decided to start working remotely… but you need a new job. In this step-by-step process, I am going to help you build a remote-first resume.
Although the idea of remote work is appealing for new college graduates, it might be a horrible idea. It’s more expensive, you aren’t a SME, and the networking!
If you’re becoming a freelancing, whether it be a writer or something else, there is a lot to know.