You've spent time preparing your resume, updating your LinkedIn profile, and seeking the perfect roles…
Remote work has increased in popularity over the last few decades. Almost 40 percent of employees have telecommuted at some point in their careers; the average worker telecommutes about two days per month. Full-time telecommuting is not the norm, especially not in the education sector, and employees fiercely compete for these roles.
A survey revealed that job applicants sometimes rank the option to work from home higher than health benefits with regard to their desired position. The arrival of COVID-19 in 2020 has changed the education sector’s landscape, making telecommuting jobs more plentiful because some organizations have transformed their operations so employees can work at home during the pandemic. With the right preparation, you can find a remote job with an organization that allows you to serve students and the sector in a way that aligns with your career goals.
Organizations offering remote positions want trustworthy employees who are passionate about their work. Suppose you want a remote job with an educational organization. In that case, you have to position yourself to show organizations that you are a dedicated self-starter who knows how to get things done and can handle the autonomy that comes with working from home. Securing a remote job is no more difficult than getting a regular job, but it is different and requires more than simply updating your resume.
The way you share information with your potential employer will vary based on where you are in your remote job search. Your resume should showcase your best qualities and experience, but your cover letter also serves as a tool to explain why you are a good fit for a remote job in the education sector. If you land an interview for a remote position in education, you will have the opportunity to expand on what you can bring to the organization while working remotely. Below, we provide a broad overview of the qualities and experience you need to highlight in order to position yourself for a remote job in the education sector.
Qualities and Skills of Successful Remote Employees in the Education Sector
As you search for a remote job in the education sector, you will find that hiring managers include many of the following desired qualities. Providing examples of past work experience that demonstrates you hold these qualities and skills will give you a better chance of getting an interview for a remote job. Keep in mind that you do not always need experience in the education sector to land a non-teaching role. The skills and qualities discussed below transfer across many industries. You do, however, need to convey how your experience in “X” industry prepares you for remote work in the education sector.
Working remotely provides a degree of autonomy that some employees cannot handle. Non-teaching employees in the education sector are responsible for valuable behind-the-scenes tasks. Sometimes the failure to complete those tasks trickles down to students and impairs one or more aspects of their learning experience. Hiring managers not only want, but need, self-starters who know how to collect information, when to take the lead, and ways to connect with colleagues to get things done.
Self-motivation is a broad concept that speaks to a person’s attitude and ability to turn thoughts and words into action. Ultimately, self-motivation is about taking the initiative. This might mean conducting needed research, sharing information with colleagues, and gathering and processing feedback without supervision. You do not need to have remote work experience to get a remote position, but you should highlight the times you worked with little or no supervision. If you have any quantifiable results associated with your experience, make sure to include them on your resume.
Remote organizations fail without employees who have impeccable communication skills. If you want a remote position in the education sector, you need to provide examples of how you currently succeed at communicating via email, video, or online chat. Although you will be working remotely, you will still need to communicate with peers, management, and other colleagues. The majority of your communication will be written, so you must be able to articulate simple and complex ideas accurately and concisely.
Demonstrating your communication skills is inherent in the job search and interview process. Your resume and cover letter should be professional, clear, and without errors. The same goes for any email communication between you and the hiring manager. You should also be able to communicate ideas tactfully without coming across as curt. In fact, some organizations might choose to interview you through chats or text so that they can evaluate your written communication skills.
Working remotely requires you to be at least a little tech-savvy because you will spend much of your workday online. You do not have to be a computer or software expert, but basic knowledge about computers, internet connectivity, and standard tools and resources is necessary. You should also be open to learning new programs and skills. Ultimately, your comfort with technology is an extension of your communication skills.
Organizations rely on the latest technology to communicate, collaborate, and complete job-related tasks. Your resume should indicate your familiarity with any of the most common remote tools, including:
- Zoom, Skype, Google Meet, GoToMeeting, Slack, and other video conferencing apps
- Basecamp, Salesforce, Trello, and other work management systems
- Schoology, Canvas, Moodle, Google Classroom, iSpring Learn, and other learning management systems commonly used in schools and other educational organizations.
Additionally, you should have a broad understanding of cybersecurity and its relation to the specific role you want. Whether you have access to student data, employee data, or organizational data, keeping it safe from security breaches is a must. Most organizations that hire remote employees provide guidelines to ensure security. Communicating that you understand the importance of best practices concerning cybersecurity, especially as it relates to student data, adds to your appeal as a job candidate.
Time Management Skills
Working remotely requires a mastery of time management. Many people telecommute from their homes, which can come with multiple distractions, including kids, pets, partners, neighbors, and more. When you have a remote job, your boss will not be strolling by your desk or looking over your shoulder to ensure you are doing your job. You need to keep yourself on track and find your focus, even when you are having a bad day.
Self-motivation drives excellent time management skills, but remote workers need to be proactive about managing distractions that squeeze time from their workday and about creating a schedule that prioritizes tasks. When you create a schedule for your workday in advance, it’s easier to stick to that schedule and remain productive. Project management tools like Airtable and Trello, as well as simple tools like Google Calendar, can also help you stay organized. The most important thing is that you find what works for you and stick to it. Failure to complete your tasks isn’t a life-or-death situation, but it can have an impact on students, teachers, and others who depend on your organization.
You can demonstrate that you have good time management skills by promptly responding to the hiring manager, even when they might be slow contacting or responding to you. This also shows him or her where your priorities lie. In your resume, cover letter, and job interview, highlight projects and jobs you’ve completed that required you to coordinate multiple moving pieces.
As mentioned above, working remotely means you have little to no supervision. You will have to report to your boss, but he or she won’t be watching your every move. Instead, educational organizations put trust in remote employees to take ownership of their work, meet deadlines, and promptly complete other tasks.
If you have previous experience working remotely, even if it was not in the education sector, highlight this experience on your resume. It can go a long way toward showing a hiring manager that you are a good fit for remote work. Maybe COVID-19 has forced you to work from home in your current position. Even a few months of experience shows your potential employer that you are trustworthy and independent enough to handle the responsibility of telecommuting.
If you have no telecommuting experience, try to get some as you search for remote jobs in the education sector. In his popular book, The 4-Hour Workweek, author Timothy Ferriss provides steps to get your boss to let you work from home. They include:
- Use inclement weather days or other days that force you to stay home to showcase your productivity.
- Create a short presentation to highlight the benefits of your organization allowing you to work remotely.
- Suggest that your employer give you a trial period for working from home and document your productivity during that trial.
When you have the opportunity to prove to your employer that you are as productive or more productive at home, you will likely have the opportunity to build your telecommuting experience. In turn, potential future employers hiring remote employees will notice your experience and be more likely to put their trust in you.
Alignment With Organizational Values
The majority of organizations that employ remote workers look for two main characteristics: trustworthiness and passion. We covered trustworthiness above. If you are a good fit for the role, it’s not uncommon for an organization to trust you out of the gate and let you prove that you can handle remote work. However, you need to have a passion for your work, which in the education sector translates into alignment with organizational values and impact.
Educational organizations want employees who are committed to the job specifics and take pride in their work, as well as those who are deeply passionate about the power of a great education. Whether or not you come from outside the education sector, your cover letter should include a few sentences about why you are passionate about the role for which you are applying. If you already have experience in a non-teaching education sector role, your resume should include quantifiable results from previous work and community activities that demonstrate your dedication to education. Even adjacent volunteer activities such as coaching or mentoring students, teaching English abroad, or other forms of community outreach demonstrate that you have a passion for teaching, education, and helping students succeed, which is at the top of the list of organizational values for most educational organizations.
You’ve Landed an Interview for a Remote Job in the Education Sector. Now What?
The qualities and skills listed above will position you for remote work in the education sector. Whether you are still searching for the right non-teaching role or have already been invited for an interview, consider the following tips to help you prepare:
- Clean up your social media. Organizations that hire remote workers are especially tuned in to how people present themselves on their social media accounts, especially in the education sector. Your social media posts send your employer signals on the type of cultural contribution you will bring to their organization. Keep your social media posts positive and avoid photos that show you doing anything that would reflect poorly upon the organization if you were an employee.
- Create an online portfolio. Depending on your current and previous job roles, you might have worked on innovative projects. If applicable, create an online portfolio that you can share with the hiring manager before or during your interview.
- Don’t forget about location. Working remotely is not always location-specific, but some employers want remote employees to live close by, or at least in the same state or region. During your correspondence and before your interview, make sure to discuss location with the hiring manager.
- Ask about onboarding. Even though you are working remotely, it doesn’t mean that you won’t have to go through the same paperwork, training, and adjustment period as others who work in the office. Find out if you need to train in person, or if everything will be completed remotely.