In college I struggled to choose a major. After constantly switching majors, I nearly dropped out before settling on a degree. Needless to say it wasn’t in anything I was interested in or anything that would impress employers.
After college I worked basic entry-level jobs. It affected my outlook on life and my general happiness. It took me about four years of stress, anxiety, indecisiveness, and constant fear of becoming a nobody until I found a job I love. The job was a simple remote customer support position. But it paid well enough, provided stability, and instilled the confidence I needed to begin building the life and career I wanted.
Now I want to help others do the same.
Why Should You Listen To Me?
You might be wondering what my qualifications are. Why should you listen to me as opposed to all the other resources about applying to jobs, writing resumes, and interviewing? I’m not a credentialed career coach or counselor. I haven’t made millions of dollars and I don’t have “the secret” or a bulletproof formula to sell you.
What I have is my experience of going from working everyday jobs that anyone can get, to getting a remote job that helped develop my career and make a solid income.
I am writing from what I personally have experience with—getting a remote customer service position at a start-up company. But the fundamentals of how to look for positions, how to translate your past experience and skills (or lack thereof), writing your resume, how to apply, and how to interview, will work for any job in any industry.
I don’t promise anything I can’t deliver on. That’s why you won’t see me boasting about jobs that pay $100,000 a year or any get rich (or successful) quick schemes.
What I do know is that getting a remote job that pays well and provides the platform from which you can build a career (or pursue other endeavors) is very realistic.
I assure you that remote work is possible. It’s a reality many people get to live and it’s something anyone can do.
If your goal is to get a remote job that pays a good wage and isn’t mind numbing work like translation or data entry, you’ve come to the right place.
Alright, let’s get started . . . .
Translating Past Experience and Education (or Lack Thereof)
First things first, you need to take stock of where you’re at.
You’re going to write down all the positions, internships, volunteer work, and online courses that you’ve done as well as certificates, degrees, and awards that you’ve received.
Even if you decide you don’t want a remote job (although I can’t imagine why), you will find this step beneficial. It’s something everyone should do before going on the job search, and will make writing your resume, cover letter, and preparing for your interviews much easier. You only ever need to do this activity once, then just add anything new as it happens.
Take inventory of your work-related experiences
First, list out every job you’ve had, the company/organization it was at, and the dates you worked it.
This will provide the material from which you’ll write your resume, cover letter, and prepare stories that will help you answer interview questions. Even though my first job isn’t on my resume I sometimes refer to a story from it in my interviews.
If you don’t have a lot of work experience, you can include internships, gigs, volunteer work, anything you think is relevant. If you have experience feel free to include these anyway. Some things like volunteer work can always be added to your LinkedIn profile, more on this later.
Second, go through each experience and list out what you did: day-to-day responsibilities, projects worked on, skills gained, technologies used, ect.
This step can take a while. It’s okay if this takes you a few sessions over the next week.
To reiterate, this will provide the material that will make writing your resume, cover letter, and preparing for your interview a lot easier. After this you will have done one of the hardest parts—jogging your memory for every job and it’s responsibilities. Like I mentioned above, even if you don’t include a position on your resume, you still might reference a past position in an interview.
You might ask, but what if I didn’t really do much at my past/last/current job?
This is a big hurdle for many people for two main reasons: (1) they downplay their work experience and say they didn’t do much at their last job, especially if it was “menial” work, and (2) they say their work experience is completely unrelated to the jobs they’re applying for.
Let’s address the first issue.
Just because you aren’t being paid well or if you are the lowest on the totem pole doesn’t mean you aren’t learning valuable skills.
Here’s a good example: When I first started applying to start up companies, I was working as a substitute teacher. I had a couple of friends who also did this job and they said it was glorified babysitting. Although my friends thought they were being humble, modest, or “real”, they really just lacked confidence—they were putting themselves down before anyone else could.
When I put substitute teaching on my resume, I explained how I had to quickly prepare and sometimes improvise lesson plans throughout the day. How students truly tested one’s leadership skills and ability to work under pressure, and how I was well-versed in many technologies from the classroom.
How To Make it Look Like You Did a Lot (which you did)
If you’re having trouble thinking of what you did at a position, imagine you were getting paid a 100k salary for the job. This will put what you did in a new light.
Why would someone delivering fast food make 100k a year? Maybe the difficulty of working with a constantly changing schedule, coordinating orders with the restaurants, dealing with customer’s changing requests, and the fast-paced nature of the job. All of the sudden doing Door Dash sounds like it’s not for the faint of heart.
Why would I get paid 100k a year by working as a medical scribe? (I was getting minimum wage for this job btw). Well, I had to accurately document patient illnesses and history, pull up any relevant information for the physician so that they could properly diagnose the patient, stay calm in a high-stress environment (a busy emergency room), and see about 20 patients a day.
The lesson here, do not be humble. If you need permission, I’m giving it to you now. Don’t downplay what you did at your last job. Don’t just say “it was menial work, nothing I did mattered”. At least for this exercise, be that person you hate who is always bragging, and you can go back to normal afterwards.
Now list out all the skills you have. You just want to get everything written down so you know what you’re working with.
Think of everything from writing, copywriting, project management, social media marketing, paid advertising, drawing. Remember, you don’t have to put all these on your resume, you just need to get it all written down.
I’m no expert in HTML/CSS, but I know enough to play around with it, so I include it on my resume.
Now write out any degrees or certificates you’ve received. Even an associates degree or a certificate from a free online course will do.
If you only partly finished college and left without a degree, you can still include it. Just write out the major if you had one and the years you were there. Again, we’re not committing to put this on the resume just yet, you just need to know where you’re at.
Any online courses that gave you a certificate? I’ve taken a couple courses on Coursera that I always include.
Courses That Make Anyone’s Resume Look Good
If you don’t have any sort of degree, taking an online course is a good idea. I really like Coursera and I list a couple of the courses I’ve taken on my LinkedIn and resume.
In order to get a certificate from the course you take, you do have to have the premium version which costs $39. But Coursera offers a 7-day trial where you could finish one course in that time, and it also offers financial aid where they waive the fee.
Another thing you can do is get a certification in a specific domain like project management or digital marketing. This might be a good idea if you don’t have any education beyond high school. This route does take longer, 3-6 months to get the certificate.But while you’re working towards the certification, you can list each course you complete on your resume.
Here’s a few courses that are a good addition to anyone’s resume. Feel free to explore the site further for anything that peaks your interest.
- Foundations of Project Management – In one respect, everyone is a project manager. It says this course takes about 14 hours to complete. So if you did 2 hours a day for 7 days, you’d be done! You can also do a 7 day trial on Coursera and get this certificate for free.
- Google Project Management Certificate – I just wanted to throw this one in there because it’s one I’m considering taking, only caveat is that it takes about 6 months to complete. But it looks like a great certificate to have.
- Introduction to Web Development
- Digital Media and Marketing Strategies
Linkedin also is a great place for making your resume more attractive (you’ll need to create a LinkedIn, super easy to get started and I’ll talk about it in the next section). What’s great is you can take very short courses that are specific to customer service. I believe you also need LinkedIn Premium for these which is about $30. LinkedIn also offers a free trial where you can get a lot of courses done in that time.
Here’s a good list:
- Develop Your Customer Service Skills (4h 46m)
- This is a “learning path”, which means there are a series of courses (in this case 7) where at the end you’ll receive a certificate. Worried that this would take too long? Well this one is only 4h 46m of content in totalL—you can finish this one in a day and list it on your resume and LinkedIn.
- Writing Customer Service Emails (1h 6m)
These courses are really short and are a huge plus for your resume. Just think about it, you’re applying for a customer service job, and the recruiter sees that you took a course called “Develop Your Customer Service Skills”. This is a huge competitive advantage.
What Type of Remote Job Should I Look For?
When it comes to remote work, you’ll often hear people recommend jobs like transcription, data entry, or teaching English. These are perfectly fine positions if you are having trouble getting a job, you’re okay with something part-time, or you just really need the money (and these are all good reasons—remember to keep your personal situation in mind).
I got my start in customer support and since this is what I have the most experience with, and since there’s a lot of these jobs that don’t require hard skills or degrees, it’s what I’ll focus on.
Here are a few reasons I lean towards customer support:
Low Barrier to Entry
Most customer support positions don’t require a degree or years of experience. Even if you see something that says “Required 2 years of customer facing role”, if you feel like the position was made for you, I say apply.
Two coworkers I started my remote customer service job with were promoted within a year of starting. One became a data analyst and the other a project manager. I was promoted into quality assurance (basically reviewing our customer interactions to make sure our service was up to standard) and I also got to work on a lot of other projects. Another person went into the marketing team.
This type of career mobility occurs mostly at a new company that is starting to grow. When they need to hire people, they’ll often look at the customer service department since it’s easy to replace someone they promote from there and since people in customer support tend to be the jack-of-all-trade type. And why not promote from within since the person already knows the ins and outs of the company?
Doing something like teaching English online or data entry wouldn’t really allow this career mobility. Again, I don’t want to discourage anyone, if you seriously are having trouble getting a customer service job or if you aren’t looking to move up in a company (maybe you have other priorities), by all means, get what you can. You can work one of these other jobs for a while just to gain the job experience and beef up your resume.
The first customer service job I got paid $16. My first remote customer service job paid $20. I’ll admit that $20 an hour is pretty rare and that I got lucky there (a couple years later the company lowered their offering wage to $17 per hour).
What I’m trying to say is that customer service is an important part of any company, so they know they have to pay at least a living wage. This isn’t the type of job companies want to low ball because they need quality workers who won’t quit in 2 months. The way they do this is by offering competitive pay.
When I got my first remote customer service position, the company didn’t have health insurance until a year later. This was okay with me, and expected since it was a really new company. But if health insurance is a requirement, you won’t have trouble finding a company that offers it.
Customer Service and Anxiety
This is something I want to address since many people hear horror stories about customer service and find the whole prospect of talking to people on the phone anxiety provoking. I personally know the struggle of anxiety after my first start up job where I had to constantly take phone calls from irate small business owners. I already had a bit of social anxiety and this experience traumatized me from answering phone calls and even created an anxiety response anytime I even hear a phone ring.
I got lucky with the next job, and I’m going to explain what questions you need to ask yourself (or the employer) about the job to gauge how stressful it might be.
What communication channels does the company offer?
Check the website of the company you’re applying at. If they offer a phone number to call and it looks like that’s their main line of communication, but you are 100% certain you can’t take phone calls, then you know you don’t need to apply. In your case you’ll want to find companies that don’t really offer phone support and mainly do email or chat.
Another thing you can do is interview for a job that does offer phone support in addition to email and chat. Then in the interview you can explain how your strength is writing, and the position you’d be most successful in is where you are engaging in written communication with the customer. Managers always want to put employees in the position where they’ll be most successful, so explaining that you do best with written communication is better than saying you hate the idea of being on the phone.
What type of product are they selling?
If you are applying to a company that provides tech support on websites aimed at beginners, then you might very well have some angry customers who are having website issues.
But if the company sells bidets and has a 1 year return policy, you can be sure it’ll be an easy gig.
Also, if the customer of the company is another company (what they call B2B or business-to-business), then these customers tend to be more civil since there’s a camaraderie between business people.
D2C, or direct-to-consumer, companies deal with the everyday consumer (think Apple, Forever21, Comcast). With this type of company, the chances are higher that you’ll have angry customers.
My first remote job was a D2C mattress company, so we had our fair share of angry customers. But anytime a customer didn’t like the product, we had the jurisdiction to process a return or give them a discount. This made it much less stressful since we had tools to “destress” the customer.
So remember that there are no hard and fast rules here. If it’s a D2C company that gives its employees the power to satisfy the customer, there isn’t as much anxiety.
How big is the company and are they growing?
In my experience, smaller companies (less than ~100 employees), tend to be better workplaces. When companies get big that’s when there’s too much oversight, rules, and things that just rob the individual of a sense of autonomy.
At smaller companies, there’s generally less bureaucratic oversight and more trust put into the individual.
If you have a customer service job at a small company with a great culture, you might have more autonomy than someone working in middle management at a large corporation.
If the company is growing this is a good thing, because there will be more opportunity for you to take on more responsibility, try things you’re interested in, and ultimately get promoted.
Generally, I like companies that are <100 people and being on a team that is <15 people. My first customer service job was at a company with around 250 people. We were only allowed to refund the customer a very small amount, take our breaks at specific times, and rarely could have any say in our schedule. Terrible!
Here’s an example of everything I mentioned above: Ten Percent Happier (a company of less than 100) is hiring for a customer support rep. Ten Percent Happier is a meditation app . . . your customers would be meditators! Obviously they’re still humans, chances are that this is a less stressful workplace. Also this position is entry level, provides full benefits, and comes with a $1000 stipend to get your remote workstation set up!
Where To Look For Remote Jobs
I’m going to try to keep this list short since there are tons of websites where you can find remote jobs.
If you find this is not enough, you can spend some time googling and you’ll find more than enough websites that have remote jobs. Just find job listings that are recent.
I’ve tried to provide a list of lesser known sites (you probably don’t need me to tell you about Indeed). The popular job sites have more traffic and thus more competition. That being said, my mom recently got a remote job through Indeed, so again, no hard and fast rules here.
Planted.com – This is where I got my first remote job. You make an account and set up your profile and job preferences, and Planted will recommend you positions. They don’t have a ton of job listings, but the ones they do recommend are good jobs and you have a higher chance of getting an interview.
Remoteleaf.com – I haven’t tried this one but the creator of it posted on Reddit and by the testimonials, it seems like a good resource. It is a paid service but you can sign up for a 7-day trial and get a good list of jobs to apply for just from the trial. You’ll just need to check a box that says you only want to be notified of customer support positions since a lot of the jobs are developer positions.
AngelList: This is where startups hang out and post jobs or find investors. A great place to apply for new companies.
Company websites: I’m surprised more people don’t think of this. If you hear about any company, you can simply go to the website and see if they’re hiring. Think of companies you like, new start-up, services, and products you’re interested in. Nearly all companies have a “Career” page.
Here’s a list of some other sites that have remote jobs:
- Dynamite Jobs (this is where I found that Ten Percent Happier job I listed above)
- If you really want a long list, here’s an article with a comprehensive list of sites
Getting Your Resume and Cover Letter Right
The process of writing your resume and preparing for an interview is not fun. You have to sit there and think about everything you did, jog your memory, and write hundreds of words.
But what is even more painful is what life might look like three years from now if you DON”T do this. Take some time to think about this first:
What will life look like three years from now if I don’t pursue work that is well-paid, steady, and challenges me? Step away from your screen, sit on the edge of your bed, and take just 2 minutes to seriously think about this, then continue.
Writing an initial draft of your resume actually shouldn’t take too long, particularly since you’ve done the previous activity of taking inventory of your work life.
This will be what I call your default resume, the resume that isn’t yet tailored to the specific job you’re applying for.
You can use this template to start with and it’s what I’ve used to get my last three jobs, so it seems to work. If the template isn’t your style, there is an endless amount of resume templates online, or the current template of your resume might work just fine.
Most resume templates will do fine as long as they’re simple, modern, and clean. Don’t turn it into an art project, but also don’t let it look like it’s from 1995. Simple, modern, and clean is perfect.
Side Note: Your resume doesn’t need an Objective Statement. This is only useful if there’s something you need to explain (huge career field change, not having worked for years, ect.)
Don’t Ever Submit Your Default Resume
A lot of people make the mistake of sending out the same resume to a bunch of places. I often hear people say “I applied to 100 jobs last week and didn’t receive any responses.” This is because they quickly submitted the same resume to different jobs without tailoring it to the specific job. Even if it’s two different customer service jobs! Different companies look for different things, so the resume you used for one company won’t apply to the other.
When you are tailoring your resume, it will generally take a couple hours to tailor both the resume and cover letter. Yes, this means you might only apply to a few jobs per week. This is fine and expected. Even though you’re applying to less jobs, your chances of getting an interview are much higher.
I’ve only ever needed to apply to about ~5 jobs until I get an interview, but that’s because I’ve been selective about the jobs I apply for and always craft the resume and cover letter to that specific job and company.
But to get started, you just need a quick default resume, a resume as a starting point for when you want to apply to a job.
I’m not going to instruct you too much on the default resume, since the template I linked will guide you. What I’m going to go in-depth for is the tailored resume.
How to Write a Tailored Resume
The only way to write your resume toward a specific job is to find an actual job ad. When you find a job you want to apply for, you’ll write a tailored resume which I’ll talk about in a bit.
To set the expectation properly, remember that this method is slower than how you normally apply to jobs. You aren’t going to be applying to a bunch of jobs a week. So take your time, read through the job descriptions and company website to get a better idea of whether it’s a place you’d like to work. In the end you won’t know until you actually have the job, but just pay attention to your gut feeling.
- Make a copy of your default resume. This is what you’ll edit based on the specific job you’re applying for.
- List only the 3-5 roles that are most relevant to the job you are applying for. If you know you’re applying for only customer support jobs, you can do this for your default resume. That way you only need to do this step once. Back when I was applying for substitute teaching jobs, I had a default teaching resume that I would further tailor for specific teaching jobs.
If you have jobs that were in between the relevant ones, you can simply leave them out or dedicate one line to each and list the position, company, and timeline. Either way, your LinkedIn is where you can list everything.
- Edit your resume in order to reflect the job description.
Pull up the job you’re applying for alongside your resume.
In the job ad, read through the job description and figure out how you can mirror it in your resume.
A job description might say “Apply your knowledge to analyze, diagnose, troubleshoot, and resolve complex customer issues.”
On your resume, find a position where you did something like this and write something like “Resolved complicated issues by first gathering data, diagnosing, and finally troubleshooting issues.”
See how we’re using the job description to tailor the resume? I know this sounds overly simplistic, but it works. When the recruiter reads it they’ll think “This person gets it!” They won’t think you copied them, instead they will feel understood.
Now, what if you didn’t have a job troubleshooting customer issues? Let’s say you’ve been working at a fast food joint. You can express the same idea in a different context. Maybe you improved how they packaged the food or dealt with the drive thru, in which case you could put “Improved manner of taking orders by diagnosing the issue and documenting a new procedure. Resulted in being able to serve 5 more customers per hour.”
Notice how I included an actual outcome there.
This is the part most people have issues with. I’ve always been against lying and am terrible at it. So did you really increase the amount of customers you were able to serve by 5? Maybe not. But did you make it faster, meaning you could serve more customers? Yes.
Let me show you a before and after. Here’s is the default customer service version of my resume:
Now here is the tailored resume alongside the job description it was tailored to. I removed some parts because I want you to focus on how I wrote the job descriptions of my past roles:
It’s even better if you can give actual outcomes and numbers. For example, instead of putting “Collected customer feedback and reported on internally to drive continuous improvement” I might put “Using customer feedback, improved returns process by allowing customer to submit a form rather than having to call in.” This example might seem dumb, but this is literally the kind of stuff companies deal with.
Also, you can’t see it in the screenshot, but the job ad said that a “Nice to have” was experience in Intercom (a chat platform). This reminded me that I do have experience with this, so I listed it under my Skills section.
You don’t need to address every line in the job description. Just do what comes to mind as you read it. You shouldn’t ever have to blatantly lie, but use your imagination and creativity, and don’t ever undersell yourself.
How I Updated My Resume from Entry Level to Professional
In September of 2020, a former boss of mine, Dan, reached out to me about an opening at the company he was working for. I worked for Dan at a previous company, so he knew exactly what I had done there.
Below is an exact portion of the resume I sent him. This was the position I was working at the time:
Dan was astonished. He said I was selling myself way too short. He knew all the things I did working for him at that company, and said I was leaving a lot out.
He gave me a pep talk and reminded me of everything I had done. He told me to go back and rewrite my resume before he shared it with his colleagues.
Here is what I came up with after:
See the drastic difference? These look like two completely different jobs!
The change happened when my mindset changed. When Dan started explaining all the things I had done from his perspective, I realized just how much I undersold myself.
The 2nd version is what you want to come with. If you find it hard, just write down what you can then return to it later and dig deeper. If you can attach numbers or other tangible outcomes to what you did like process changes or any sort of improvements, even better.
Create a LinkedIn
Once you have your resume written, creating a LinkedIn will be a matter of simply copying and pasting from your resume. I’m not going to go through how to set up a LinkedIn profile since there’s hundreds of perfectly good articles that do this. What I will say is that it’s important that you have one and you’ll link to it from your resume.
When people I work with don’t have a LinkedIn it feels as though they don’t know what’s going on in the modern-day professional world. Having a LinkedIn shows that you’re with the times, and it allows you to include more than you ever could in a resume.
Fill out your LinkedIn with the things you have above, your past few positions, any education, and skills, and be sure to include a photo. It doesn’t have to be professional—the profile photo of the CEO of the last company I was at used a selfie he took while kayaking. Just make sure it’s a clear shot of you.
Also, don’t take a photo in the hallway or bathroom of your house. I’m no photographer, but when I see these photos the lighting always seems dim. Photos taken outside seem better due to the natural light.
Having a LinkedIn gives the person reviewing your application a way to be further acquainted with you which increases your chances of getting the interview.
Always Write a Cover Letter
People often ask “Should I write a cover letter?”
The answer: Always write a cover letter.
Imagine you are hiring for a job and you get two identical resumes. One resume comes with a cover letter where the applicant provides a narrative about their experience, why they applied to the job, and how they plan on benefiting the company they’re applying for. The other resume is just the resume, no personality or voice from the applicant.
Which applicant would you be interested in hearing more from?
A cover letter always helps. Even when I applied for my current job, for which I was internally recommended for so I knew I’d get an interview, I still included a cover letter.
There are some recruiters who don’t care about cover letters and some who do. The problem is that you don’t know which one you’re dealing with, so it’s better to be on the safe side and always write a cover letter.
Only if there is truly no way for you to attach a cover letter should you not provide one. But if there is a field for it, always provide. This is because if there’s a field for a cover letter, some applicants will submit one, and you don’t want to be one of the applicants that doesn’t.
Here is a template of a cover letter that I have used.
You can see that the letter is broken up into three main sections: (1) the intro where you explain why you applied to the position and company, (2) the middle where, based on the job description, you tell stories or examples as to why you’re a good fit, and (3) a basic closing statement where you reiterate your desire for the position.
A basic cover letter like this will work fine. You don’t need to rack your brain or spend hours on it. Simply read the job responsibilities and think about an example from one of your past positions that overlaps. This is the part where you have to get creative and sell yourself.
Also take a look at the company’s website and get a feel for their culture. If they advertise that they’re big on learning, mention how much you love taking online courses. Things like this do matter.
Preparing for The Interview
You wrote your resume, you applied, and now they want to interview you. Let the stress and anxiety flow!
Okay just kidding . . . . well not really. Personally I have always had stress around interviewing, but this is a common experience. It’s totally natural to feel nervous about the interview.
Knowing that you’ve done your homework and you’re ready to just have a conversation is a huge help towards preventing this stress. Also it helps to remember that worst case scenario, you don’t get the job. I promise you that your interviewer isn’t going to yell at you for answering “wrong”. There are no wrong answers, they just want to learn about you.
Another thing is to make sure you are paying attention to the interviewer and listening to what they’re saying. I’ve always had the terrible habit of planning what I’m going to say next or thinking about how I look, which means I’m not listening. This results in not the best conversations since one side isn’t present.
My advice is don’t try not to think or be too self-conscious. Instead try to focus on the other person and listen closely to what they’re saying. This is also a good strategy for social anxiety in general—focus on others, not yourself. This is because a big factor of social anxiety is being overly focused on yourself (this is why social anxiety can make one a bad listener). So the solution is to move that focus from the self to your counterpart in the conversation.
Go Through Your Resume and Explain Every Line
You don’t want to be asked about a part of your resume and have to say “Where does it say that?” or be stuck without an example or explanation for something. Go through each line of your resume, and under it, write a real-life example backing up the statement.
This will help you feel prepared for the interview and more able to improvise if you get asked a question you didn’t prepare for—you’ll have a bunch of real examples that will be top of mind.
Here’s what it will look like after you’re done:
What Questions To Prepare For
It’s difficult to know the exact questions they’ll ask in the interview.
One thing you should always do is look at the Glassdoor profile of the company and read through the reviews. You’ll find some people will have posted about the company’s interview process, which will uncover some unknowns.
Here are the questions to prepare for. These cover 80% of what the interview will be about. Some of them might be asked not in the exact words, but
- Tell me about yourself: Talk about your past work experiences, how they related to the current position, and end with why you applied.
- Ex. For the past few years I’ve worked in diverse work settings from teaching to the medical field to customer service. What’s been consistent throughout has been working with and helping others. And when I saw this position at X Company and the responsibilities, it resonated with me because of the focus on helping customers and becoming an expert in the product.
- What about this position made you want to apply? Similar to the ending of the last question but more in-depth. Talk about the responsibilities of the job and how they align with your career goals, as well as the company’s mission and culture.
- Ex. I really liked that the position involves becoming an expert in the product and value proposition because in addition to customer service, I’ve always liked marketing. Also, being the customer’s voice internally and working with other teams resonates with what I’ve done in past roles whether it was improving processes in the emergency room I worked at or documenting customer feedback at the restaurant I served at. Lastly, the company’s value of “always be learning” is something that personally is really important to me, so it’s exciting to know that this is a priority.
- What is your greatest strength? A good tip is to read through the job responsibilities and find one that aligns with your strengths.
- Ex. I’d say it’s communicating complex things in a simple way. Having substitute taught, this really tested that ability. I also just love to write.
- Why are you leaving your current job? Always make it positive, see the example.
- Ex. I’ve really enjoyed my current position, but now I’m looking for a new challenge, somewhere where I can push myself, grow, and contribute. Something long-term. I’m not in a rush but for the right position and company I have no hesitations.
These questions usually start with “Tell me about a time when….”
The purpose is they want to see how you deal with situations. What do you do when there’s a challenge? What do you do when you have a difficult person to deal with?
All you need are a few stories that will apply to many situations. For example, you might be asked “Tell me about a time you saved the day” or “Tell me about a big problem you had to solve” which is basically the same.
Or “A time when you worked with a difficult person and how you handled it” and “Tell me about a time you had to deliver a piece of tough feedback” can also be covered with the same example, since if you had to deal with a difficult person you also probably had to deliver tough feedback.
The way you want to answer these is the PAR method: Explain the problem, then the action you took, then the result.
I got this method from one of Self Made Millennials videos. I highly recommend her videos for preparing for interviews or writing resumes and cover letters as well. She’s geared towards mid-career professionals, but the principles still apply for entry-level jobs.
- A time when you saved the day / solved a big problem
- A time when you collaborated on a team and was able to help others
- Tell me about a time you had to deliver a piece of tough feedback
- A time you went above and beyond for a customer
- What don’t you like to do at work? What do you like?
- A time you messed up or failed
Know The Company and The Position
Believe it or not, many people go into the interview not having really studied the company or the position. If you do this, you’ll have an edge over many other the other people interviewing for the job.
Take 30 minutes to just browse around the company’s website. Look through their team page, culture, mission, products, everything. Just explore and be sure to note anything that jumps out at you—anything you like, find interesting, have questions about, ect.
This will help you have a better understanding of the company as a whole and better prepared for the interview in general.
Spend another 30 minutes really reading the job description. Read each line and try to imagine what the responsibility will look like in the field. The description might say “Handle and promptly resolve support request from clients via chat, email, and phone.” How does one get chosen for these? If I have a preference for a certain channel, can I choose? These are great question to ask during the interview.
Questions To Ask
- What does it take to be successful in this role and company? What does success look like internally?
- What are the biggest pain points for your customers?
- Do you have any hesitations about my qualifications?
If for some reason you get to the end of the interview and you panic and disregard all your questions, you can say something like “I did have some questions but I think you answered them all. I was curious about how the role interacts with other departments, and you explained how we’d work closely with the training team as well as operations, which is something I always enjoy, particularly the training side. But yea I think you covered everything.
You don’t have to interview perfectly. You might stumble over your words, or draw a blank, or need to refer to your notes. This is okay. The person interviewing you is a human and understands that you are a human too. As long as you’re genuine and you’re trying, they will see this and
I know this is cliche, but be yourself. Be who you are. As humans, we can see right through someone who is putting on a show. We might not be aware of it consciously, but somewhere in our gut we know something is off.
People at start-up companies are fun people. They like their dark humor and jokes, and are great people to work with. Remember you’re not applying to a law firm that was established in 1870 (at least I hope you’re not). If you applied to the types of companies I mentioned then the people there will be understanding and down to earth.
The best way to prepare is know your own professional biography and style and understand the position and company.
I hope this guide has helped you in some way.
For me, my first remote job was more than just a job. The company put trust in me to do more than what was described on the job description. This instilled confidence in me and gave me the gusto to try more things which led to a more fulfilling job. Being at a good job in a great company was the situation that provided the stability I needed so I could focus on personal issues as well.
This is why remote work, particularly in a great company with a great culture, can be life changing.
When you do get a remote job, I hope you have the same life changing experience I had.
All the best,