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9 important job skills for remote workers

By University of Phoenix

At a glance

  • Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, working remotely has become commonplace in the U.S.
  • The ability to learn quickly, set healthy boundaries and tap emotional intelligence are just a few helpful skills to have when working from home.
  • For more helpful content, consider subscribing to the weekly Career With Confidence newsletter on LinkedIn. 

Remote work has become commonplace in the U.S. since the COVID-19 pandemic began. According to projections from the career site Ladders, 25% of professional jobs will be remote by the end of 2023. Remote work is ideal for job seekers who want to expand their search across the country and not just within commuting distance. It means you can take your education and apply it to the best company possible, not just one near you. 

However, working remotely comes with its own set of skills. As the workplace changes, employees need to adapt to thrive in their new roles. While a college degree can help you be prepared to enter the workforce, the skills needed for an in-office setting can be different from those when working from home.

If you’re interested in working remotely or just preparing for the inevitable shift to a more remote workforce, it’s important to know which skills are necessary in the remote world that you can improve upon. Here are nine work-from-home skills to consider highlighting on your resumé and in job interviews. 

1. Ability to quickly learn new technology and software

Software developers aren’t the only ones who use online tools and technology anymore. According to 2021 data from SaaS solutions provider Productiv, the average company has a tech stack of 254 internal apps and tools — this bumps up to 364 apps for enterprise businesses. Even employees who don’t work in the technology industry or don’t have a high-tech role spend time working in apps like Slack, Asana, Microsoft Teams and other systems. 

Emphasizing that you can quickly learn new technology is an essential inclusion in your work-from-home resumé. It lets employers know you can adapt to any tools they expect you to use. While there’s often an expected ramp-up period for new employees, learning systems and tools can be more self-service in the remote world than for employees in an office.

How to show this during the hiring process: When highlighting this skill on your resumé, consider listing any tools you used or had proficiency in at your previous or current roles. Be sure to highlight tools that are relevant to the job you’re applying for but that are also used often in a virtual setting. During the interview, make sure to provide detail on these tools and try to learn ahead of time what software you might use in the new role. 

2. Comfort working in fast-paced virtual environments

The modern workplace hasn’t slowed down just because employees have moved to a virtual environment. Teams still collaborate on projects and push to meet client deadlines. One of the top skills for remote work is the ability to keep up with a fast-paced environment and to potentially juggle multiple projects

Employees need to be able to not only keep up with their workload, but they might also need to be ready for change. Managing a changing environment effectively can highlight your adaptability, leadership and problem-solving skills.   

How to show this during the hiring process: When highlighting your previous work or accomplishments, make sure to discuss what your deadlines or workload looked like. Even if you weren’t in a remote role, the ability to effectively hit deadlines and work in a fast-paced environment can translate to a work-from-home setting. You’ll be able to touch on this only briefly in your resumé, so make sure to provide more detail during the interview.

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3. Active participation in company culture 

Company culture is what makes employees want to work for a business and stick around. In a toxic culture, employees are afraid to address issues or speak up when they have ideas. In a positive one, morale is high and employees feel heard.

Company culture looks different in the world of remote work, but it’s still important. It may include participation in video calls or Slack channels. Successful employees will be able to participate in this culture and thrive as valuable team members from wherever they’re located. 

How to show this during the hiring process: Similar to displaying comfort in a fast-paced environment, consider adding information in your skills and accomplishments section about the role you played in creating a positive company culture. As a leader, this can be displayed through success leading to employee growth and improved performance. As an employee, it can be shown through working well with other teams on projects. This skill can be more difficult to show on a resumé, so make sure to provide additional details during the interview.

4. Emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence is frequently listed as one of the most-sought-after soft skills in candidates. It doesn’t matter whether you work in remote healthcare, marketing or accounting, employers need emotionally intelligent workers. 

Emotional intelligence, or EQ, can be defined as “the ability to perceive, evaluate and respond to your emotions and the emotions of others.” It can be broken down into five key characteristics: self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy and social skills. EQ allows you to control how you react to a situation and to understand appropriate responses when working with co-workers, employees and managers. 

Emotional intelligence is one of the hardest skills to teach. Remote employees have to use a bit of finesse to garner useful emotional insights from co-workers and clients across virtual channels, but this makes it all the more important.

How to show this during the hiring process: List your emotional intelligence skills with your other abilities on your resumé. This important transferrable skill works together with many hard skills. Make sure to highlight any that are applicable to remote work, like self-management and self-awareness. If you have anecdotes or examples of how you used EQ in your job, highlight them during the interview. 

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5. Ability to focus for long periods 

The remote workplace comes with a variety of benefits. You can skip the arduous commute to the office and work with your dog or cat curled up next to you all day. However, it also comes with distractions. It can be nice to catch up on household chores or run a few errands during work hours, but you could miss important notifications or fall behind on your work.

Remote work isn’t for everyone — and it’s especially not for people who cannot focus on specific tasks and projects. Make sure you have a home office or other environment where you can stay on task throughout the day.  

How to show this during the hiring process: If you’ve been working in an office, you may have had many examples of avoiding distractions. Instead, provide examples of large or detail-oriented projects you completed and how you were able to effectively complete your tasks. When interviewing, don’t focus on the distractors, but instead provide examples that show you’re efficient at your job.   

6. Healthy boundary-setting

Another potential drawback of remote work is that it can be hard to clock out when your office is also your house. Some people overwork themselves because it’s easy to log in during nights and weekends. As a remote employee, you need to set healthy boundaries between work and your personal life to prevent burnout

Work-life balance is important for both the employees and the company. Leaders should specifically set the tone for work-life balance, which may lead to a positive work environment as a whole.

How to show this during the hiring process: Once again, this is a skill that can be difficult to show on your resumé. You don’t want to highlight the hours you worked or overtime you put in. Instead, focus on your ability to hit deadlines. Ask the hiring manager about work hours and how the new company handles working from home when interviewing. 

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7. Small- and large-group collaboration 

Just because you work remotely doesn’t mean you work alone. Collaboration is more important than ever as teams share information and divide large projects into manageable tasks. Effective collaboration involves identifying the right people for a project, gaining buy-in, communicating objectives and tracking progress. Collaborators are problem-solvers and team players. 

As a remote worker, you will likely collaborate on both large and small projects. Stay abreast of updates via online project management tools your remote company uses.

How to show this during the hiring process: When highlighting accomplishments, mention any cross-functional teams or projects you were a part of. Such information can signal to hiring managers that you can work well with others. When interviewing, provide additional detail about how you specifically worked with other teams to complete tasks and projects. 

8. Social responsibility

Today’s consumers value companies that have their interests in mind, give back and share their values. As a remote worker, you’re an extension of the company, representing the brand no matter how physically close or far away you may be. Social responsibility is the idea that “businesses, in addition to maximizing shareholder value, must act in a manner benefiting society, not just the bottom line.” Effective remote employees work ethically throughout the day but also guide their companies to help others when possible. 

Any remote worker — even the most inexperienced intern — can do their work with social responsibility in mind. Work with your company to find ways to cut back on energy use or join a local initiative that helps the environment. Just because you’re not in the office doesn’t mean you can’t add to the social responsibility of your team.

How to show this during the hiring process: If you have a section for extracurricular activities, highlight volunteering you did or non-work-related functions you participated in, such as mentorship programs. This can highlight your ability to represent the brand in a positive light. Be sure to highlight these when interviewing.

 

9. Strong written and verbal communication skills

When you have a conversation in person, you can pick up on body language, tone and other nonverbal cues. You can see when someone is upset or understand when they’re making a joke. It’s much harder to communicate in a virtual environment because you don’t have these nonverbal cues as often — and video can do only so much to facilitate this. This is why clear communication across all mediums is so important. 

Remote employees need clear oral and written communication skills. Things can be easily misunderstood when not talking face-to-face. Much of the communication in the remote workplace happens through email, instant messaging or virtual meetings. Efficiency is key. It takes a delicate balance and skill set to clearly communicate with remote team members. 

How to show this during the hiring process: First and foremost, the ability to clearly communicate will be on full display in your resumé and any communication you have with a hiring manager. Check for spelling and grammar mistakes. You can highlight communication skills by providing examples of your work or sharing anecdotes when interviewing. To give a good first impression, take time to prepare for the interview and learn about the company.

Evaluate your work-from-home skills

Every person is unique, which means you might have some remote work skills but not others. Evaluate which strengths you can highlight — like clear communication and adaptability — and which weaknesses you need to improve on. This will help you build your skills and make you a more desirable candidate in your remote job search. 

If you need additional help preparing for work in the remote world, check out the job tools and resources offered by University of Phoenix. Browse a collection of downloadable resources, including interview prep guides, resumé templates, cover letter examples and more. Learn more at www.phoenix.edu/blog/career-support/tools-resources.

For more helpful content, consider subscribing to the weekly Career With Confidence newsletter on LinkedIn®

 

 

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