There is no doubt we are living a tech revolution -already being called the Fourth Industrial one- that is changing the way we live and collaborate, including working remotely. As a consequence, we are already seeing certain skills becoming more critical than others when getting hired by remote-based organizations and teams.
In this post, (inspired by the idea given by well known SEO, Rand Fishkin in a last month Whiteboard Friday) we would like to highlight some of these critical skills that are already taken into consideration when hiring a remote based professional, and that can be useful to develop if you’re looking to find a remote based job:
1.- Proactivity: Ongoing learning & independent thinking
When interviewing companies with remote based teams we have seen how proactivity for learning and thinking is one of the most valued characteristics when hiring.
It’s also now more often common that companies incentivize an ongoing learning attitude towards work with programs that allow employees to buy books, go to conferences, get training, etc.
According to the “Global Challenge Insight Report” by the World Economic Forum (WEF), “nearly 50% of subject knowledge acquired during the first year of a four-year technical degree” will be outdated by the time students graduate. This is part of the challenges that companies will have to face, and they are already providing the resources to their team members to be continuously learning.
In the Basecamp Handbook we can also see “independent thought and original thinking” being encouraged. They value and incentivize original thinking, which is usually found in proactive professionals.
You need to be ready to be able to learn proactively, independently and if you can already show a record of it, that can be a plus when thinking about being hired.
A critical point here also as a remote based professional is to be able to use those tools that don’t only allow you to develop your own work but that are also used to work remotely.
2.- Communication and transparency
Working remotely has a big challenge in the sense that people are not sharing in the same room physically and communication might happen across different time zones and even languages, which can be also tricky and therefore an on-going and transparent communication is key.
As Wade Foster, CEO of Zapier puts it, “Communication is a challenge in any organization. Remote amplifies it”. All of them have different ways to make communication among remote workers possible, such as David Darmanin, CEO from Hotjar, who says that “We overcome this by using tools like hangouts and hipchat video… but more importantly we do company retreats”.
In addition to this, self confidence is very much needed as you will encounter that working remotely entails a new communication model and relationships in which feedback is not in real time sometimes.
Very much related to communication is the ability to “document process and be transparent with information. This helps productivity avoid roadblocks when you aren’t able to tap on a shoulder to clear up an issue”, says Zapier CEO in our interview.
On this note, Buffer sets a very clear value of “Bias towards clarity” giving a lot of importance to the fact that you are able to “over-communicate, repeating things more times than you would intuitively”.
3.- Collaborative Mindset
To be a successful remote based professional, especially in a larger remote organization is key to be able to easily collaborate and interact across teams that can be distributed in many countries, time zones with different languages and cultures.
It’s fundamental to have a “team focused” vision and attitude when working and interacting with other team members, having the willingness to listen, choosing positiveness, as well as other principles shared by Buffer in their “The 10 Buffer Values and How We Act on Them Every Day”.
This is also not only important when being part of a larger company, but also when working remotely when interacting with clients.
4.- Data Based Decision Making
Analysing data is becoming one of the most valuable skills that companies are looking for already. We just need to have a look at job offers, remote and non-remote too, to realize that today’s trend is towards data analysis.
This doesn’t mean you need to become a Big Data specialist, but rather that you need to develop a critical thinking, willingness and abilities to navigate across a wealth of data and be able to make decisions based on it for your own job.
5.- Company Culture & Vision Alignment
When joining a company is critical that you also understand and share their values as well as principles and way to understand the organization, from a remote work setting to giving back or working standards.
Preston-Werner from Github in an interview in Fast Company, states that they hire people who match they “taste”, meaning that candidates must have the “same set of values that allows for GitHub’s open autonomy”.
Hotjar in this sense makes it very clear in our interview that they “only want people that really want to work with us to apply”. In order to achieve this, they have a 5 stage recruitment process that that begins with “with a survey, then a short video, next we do an interview and if we feel there is a fit we move to the ‘task stage’” This allows them and the candidate to “see if there is a match or not”.
6.- High organization skills & efficiency
Organization skills go hand-in-hand with being effective and efficient in any business, however is especially critical when working remotely, -whether as part of a larger team or independently-, as you can’t rely on live in-person communication to coordinate things, or to keep you motivated and efficient towards work while seeing others do the same.
It’s then critical to set and follow an organization system, rely on project management programs that allow you to effectively save the relevant information for others to access at the right time, and keep track of your working hours too.
7.- Remote Work Experience & Success
As Rodolphe Dutel from Remotive.io puts it, “You will be expected to be great at your job.” That is something we all take for granted, of course, and all companies will make sure you do.
If we apply it to remote work, we will have to show proven record of something we have accomplished while working remotely. As Rodolphe says “At the end of the day, recruiters don’t want to hear what you do – they want to see what you do!”.
Therefore, make sure you have some proven record of things that you have worked on that are visible, and if possible, with results you have achieved with it. What can that be? Maybe a blog, business that you have started and have had some good results could be great prove of that, as well as your alignment with a “remote or distributed organization” vision that a company might have.
What other skills have you identified to be important when hiring a remote based professional?