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Virtual Career Launchpad: A Guide to Working Remotely

Check out the Virtual Career Launchpad video made by the Fall 2020 Specialists!

2020 has forever changed the expectations for how and where we can work. Companies both big and small have spent the year adjusting their operations while their employees are working remotely—and it looks like remote and hybrid office environments are here to stay. While current working professionals have spent months settling into remote working routines, new hires and job seekers may have a more difficult time navigating this new environment.

If you’re wondering how you can succeed in the remote work era, you’re not alone— that’s why we’ve collected our best tips for starting a new career during the remote work era. Whether you have questions about the best camera angles for video interviews, or need tips for setting up your home office, we’ve got you covered. 

Nailing the Remote Interview

Traditional interviews ask you to head into the office for an afternoon of shaking hands and answering tough questions. Now, you’re firing up Zoom and trying to avoid staring at your phone or petting your dog. Here are a few tips to get you through a virtual interview and land the job:

Lights, Camera, Action! 

Cameras can make a virtual interview seem even more stressful than a face-to-face one. Here are a few elements to consider when preparing your interview space for the spotlight:

  • Camera Angles: Pay attention to where and how your webcam is pointed. Make sure that your face is in the center of the screen and that the camera is level with your face. Watch those angles, too: a camera tilted too far upward can distort your appearance. 
  • Lighting: When picking your interview space, avoid rooms with fluorescent bulbs. Ideally, you’ll want soft, warm light that illuminates your face (and the space) but doesn’t wash you out. Additionally, avoid backlighting: make sure you’re lit from overhead and from the sides (and not from behind the camera) to avoid weird shadows.
  • Sound: Test your sound and microphone ahead of the interview. If you’ll be using headphones, make sure any appropriate switches and plugs are set exactly where they need to be for the interviewer to hear you. This will help you avoid any and all mentions of the dreaded phrase, “You’re muted,” during your big moment.
  • Facial Expressions: One of the hardest parts of working (and interviewing) remotely is the constant monitoring of your facial expression on video calls. Our best advice is to keep your face muscles relaxed, keep your eyes on the interviewer, and practice your Tyra Banks smize! Trust us: smiling with your teeth for 30 minutes will only hurt your jaw, and will communicate discomfort rather than attentive listening.
  • Outfit: While your whole outfit will not be seen on camera, you still want to set a professional tone in a video interview. Dress how you usually would for an in-person interview, but don’t be afraid to wear your best cozy socks if that will ease your nerves. 

Ask the Important Questions

An intriguing job post or company website won’t tell you everything about a company’s culture or its remote work practices. You may want to ask the interviewer open-ended questions about the company’s remote work practices and culture, such as:

  • Has [Company] been able to provide technical resources to remote employees?
  • How has your workplace culture changed since going remote? How do your employees maintain contact and stay in-touch?
  • Remote work has greatly impacted the balance between work and home life. How does [Company] help its employees maintain that balance?
  • Does [Company] have a policy about mental health days? How does [Company] address employee burnout among remote workers?

Adapting to Working Remotely

Congrats: you’re hired! Here are a few tips that can help you adjust to working remotely:

Get Dolled Up

Getting dressed for work can signal to your brain that it’s time to focus and do more than scroll through Instagram for the tenth time today. If more casual wear is appropriate for your job, at least make sure to change out of your pajamas before logging on. 

Keep In Touch 

Good communication is an important skill in any professional setting, but especially as a remote employee. Here are three ways to maintain healthy communication with your team while onboarding and working remotely. 

  • Be thorough during your onboarding process. During onboarding, ask as many questions as you feel you need to and then some. Since your training will likely be held virtually, you may need to spend additional time reviewing your onboarding materials and learning the ins and outs of your new role. Take notes that you can easily refer back to later, and spend time comparing your notes to any onboarding documents you receive. 
  • Advocate for yourself. The old adage, “A closed mouth doesn’t get fed,” rings true here. Feel comfortable asking for the materials or knowledge you need to make your work-from-home experience more seamless. Many companies can provide you with better tech equipment or other resources to make working remotely easier, but you must first communicate these needs to your employer.
  • Learn to build relationships with coworkers while online. Connections are the backbone of every great working relationship. While in-person meetings may be tricky right now, virtual happy hours, meeting icebreakers, or workplace messaging platforms like Slack are great ways to start learning about the team you’re working with. 

Have a Designated Work Space

If you’re working from home, it can be hard to differentiate between “doing work” on the couch and “taking Buzzfeed quizzes” on the couch. The key is to set up a single area of your home as your workspace, preferably one where you can sit upright and at a table. If you need some ideas on how to do so, check out this blog post.

Curate Your Work Playlist

Music makes a difference: studies have shown that listening to music while you work boosts your mood and can increase your productivity. Make a playlist that gets your brain moving and helps you plug into the tasks at hand. Try to limit the playlist to songs that will keep you productive, rather than ones that will encourage you to have a solo dance party.

Make a Schedule

When working remotely, create a distinct start and end-time to your work day to help you separate your work tasks from your home and personal tasks. Try a morning routine to help get your mind going before logging into work. Whether you do morning meditations, cook a nice, hearty breakfast, read, or even exercise, start your day off right and not by rolling out of bed and into your desk chair. 

Remember to Take Breaks

Working remotely can make breaktime a little difficult. But taking breaks can actually improve your work performance and generally keep you more positive and productive. Schedule short breaks into your workday and take your fully-allotted lunch break to actually eat a good meal. And don’t forget the importance of getting out of the house: taking a walk or even sitting on your front steps can ease the stress that comes with working from home. 

Making the Most of Working Remotely

Working remotely has presented some amazing challenges for employees and companies around the world this year. Getting started in a remote career is tough, but with constant optimization, communication, and bravery, anyone can effectively make the transition to working remotely. Visit our full blog to see more helpful tips and resources for remote workers, digital marketing professionals, and more.

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  • While our Specialist opportunities are remote at the moment due to COVID-19, we do seek those in cities where our clients are based, as part of our goal to Better Our Community (and improve our client's results.)
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