Why Is It So Difficult to Get a Remote Job?

Job seeker finding remote jobs challenging.
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Let’s be honest, landing a remote job right now can be pretty difficult. 

The golden years of 2020 to 2022 for remote jobs have long passed. Plus, we basically saw a tech recession right after filled with layoffs and executives calling employees back to the office

Does this mean remote work is dead? Of course not. Remote work has been around longer than the COVID-19 Pandemic, with many great companies thriving remotely today.

Does it mean finding a fully-remote position is impossible? Not at all. But it will require increased effort by jobseekers to have the best chance of getting an offer. 

However, the amount of remote jobs has also been on the slight decline. So what’s going on with remote work? And how can you stand out in order to land a great opportunity to work remotely? Let’s dive in.

Are Remote Jobs Declining?

From the data out there, the amount of fully remote jobs available is on a slight decline. Mostly due to the hype of remote work popularity leveling out, employers taking a hybrid approach, and companies calling for complete back to the office. 

In the Ladders High Paying Jobs Report: Q4 2023, they looked at almost half a million job openings listed on its site from October through December. They found that for high-paying, fully remote jobs, availability fell 12%.  

In a different polling report from Morning Consult, fewer workers are working primarily from home these days and the share of those who are fully remote has been steadily declining.

And it also showed that hybrid work arrangements (some set schedules of a few days at home, some in office) are becoming more common. The amount of workers who say they never work from home has been trending lower. 

The good news:

  • There are more companies than ever with fully remote job opportunities than in previous years. Mostly in tech, but I’ve found job boards and LinkedIn to have more remote positions than when I previously was looking for work.
  • Remote work is here to stay and even if not fully-remote, more companies are encouraging a hybrid approach. It might not be ideal for everyone who wants to only work remotely, but any flexible option is still a win. The traditional 9-5 has evolved and will continue.  
  • Leaders of new companies are changing their approach to growing teams. These are people more open to hiring globally and remotely. So there are still businesses that will be primed to offer remote jobs in the future.

The bad news: 

  • The obvious one from above is that yes, the amount of fully-remote jobs are on the decline. It’s not huge dips, but a consistent and slow decline. 
  • More people value working remotely over the last few years, so now there are more people applying to remote jobs. I’ve seen hundreds to thousands of applicants on fully-remote jobs. It’s wild. 
  • During employer markets, the companies will have much more leverage in the job offerings. That means they may stick to in-office or hybrid, even if most talent is asking for remote. As they know they will still find people to fill those roles when people need work. 

So let me quickly recap as to what I see happening and the data with remote jobs declining:

  • Remote work popularity has steadied since the pandemic.
  • Hybrid work has become an increasing norm instead of fully-remote.
  • There has been an increased call for workers to return to the office.
  • It became an employer market, instead of a candidate market. Companies have more leverage than the jobseekers had in prior years. 
  • The overall job market in tech cooled down, which is a large industry that typically offers the most jobs that are remote. 

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3 Tips to Help You Find a Remote Job

I know, you might be annoyed about the state of the job market and ready to give up on your remote work dreams. 

I absolutely get it, as I had similar feelings when I was looking for fully-remote work way back in 2017. There were fewer opportunities available than today. But I was fortunate that the competition wasn’t as fierce.

Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t easy then with no prior remote experience. But today, I’d say it’s 10x as difficult to get a remote job when you have less availability but more demand. 

So what can you do? Here’s some of my thoughts to help you get noticed and at least get you into the interview stage for a remote job. 

1. Be an early applicant.

Many of the remote jobs on our job board or on others are getting hundreds to thousands of applications. Don’t get discouraged though by that, as a large portion of those applicants are not good fits for the role. It’s the “spray and pray” technique which will not get you the job. 

But you have to be somewhat fast when applying to remote jobs. It doesn’t mean hiring managers won’t reach out to you if you applied a few days later, but the sooner you apply the better. 

I had a recruiter tell me that they were so overwhelmed with applicants for remote jobs, they stopped looking after the first 100 to 150 applications. 

Typically, she said they were able to find good quality candidates out of that first batch. The rest weren’t auto-rejected right away either, but basically those candidates weren’t even reviewed. 

I’m not saying that is a good or bad approach here, but she was a one person team trying to hire efficiently with her time. 

Set up remote job alerts for yourself, so you get notices ASAP. You can do this on most remote job boards (like Remote Work Junkie), LinkedIn, Google, or even set up your criteria on a site like Otta.com

2. Go beyond just applying. 

Yes, you can still get a remote job by just following the job description requests and applying. If you have a strong resume, cover letter, and deep experiences – that can certainly be enough to land an interview. 

But in an employer market, where the available remote jobs are low – you’ll need to put in the extra effort. I know, employers already often ask for a lot. Plus, finding jobs is a full-time job itself. I’m with you in that thinking. 

However, in these competitive markets it means you’ll need to put in the extra effort. What does this mean exactly? Well…

  • Tailoring your resume more to each individual role you apply to. It’s good practice to do that regardless, but it will become more necessary today. You can use AI tools to assist, as many are very good. Teal is one worth trying out for free or you can upgrade. But it’s not the only AI jobseeker tool out there. Just remember to add your personal edits to any AI assisted content as needed, so it doesn’t sound robotic. 
  • Highlight skills and achievements that allude to you being effective at remote work. Things related to communication, managing people, technology skills, being proactive vs. reactive, etc. Anything that highlights you can thrive in remote work, even if you have no experience working fully-remote. 
  • Niche your job applications down. It might seem like a numbers game to get a remote job –  the more you apply then the more chances at interviews. But from my own experiences and countless insights from others, it rarely works out well. Instead, that will actually take these folks longer to find work and more agony in the process. Focus down on key industries, specific titles, certain benefits, etc. – and go the extra mile to show you the best fit for those specific roles. 
  • Utilize your networking skills and personal brand. Start to network with people that you are connected with on LinkedIn, in online communities, in past roles, etc. Start having convos or sending messages, see how you can help each other, and get active with your personal brand. You never know who’s paying attention, where a referral, or job opportunity will appear. It is more work, but find your rhythm and reap the rewards. 

3. Find the best use of your remote job search time.

There is plenty to do in your job search strategy, which increases dramatically for remote jobs in tough markets. This means you need to be very protective of your time. 

And you do not want to burnout either during this process.

So you need to ruthlessly prioritize your time on job activities, where you spend time applying and interviewing, as well as taking breaks for your mental health. 

I can’t give you all the exact answers, but I can break down how I’d focus my time:

  • Clean up your LinkedIn profile. Be detailed in your past experiences, fill out every section, update picture or banner if it’s outdated, continue following and engaging others, use the “open to work” option etc. During my remote job search I got many compliments from recruiters on interviews and direct opportunities sent my way because my profile showed up in their searches and had details about my skills. 
  • Narrow down the companies you’d want to work for that hire remotely. Then set up alerts for your specific job field at those organizations. You can check out this list of tech companies hiring currently, many of which have remote jobs.
  • Pick trusted remote job boards to monitor daily and set up alerts for my specific job field. Some good ones are WeWorkRemotely, RemoteOk, Remote Work Junkie, Otta.com. 
  • Avoid larger job sites like Indeed, Monster, ZipRecruiter, etc. These aren’t bad platforms for in-person jobs, but not the best for remote or work from home opportunities. You’ll waste your time and often I spot work from home scams in these platforms. 
  • Sign up for any free AI job search or resume tools. I mentioned Teal as a solid one, but there are others too. These can save more time when it comes to tailoring your resume and cover letters. 
  • Be vigilant about what you want out of your remote job and potential employer. What are the must-haves about the role, culture, benefits, etc. Keep focused on those remote jobs only and ignore the rest. One caveat is this works if you can afford to be patient or take longer in your search. Everyone has different financial situations, so you might need to find work ASAP. 
  • Give yourself a set schedule to spend time on remote job search activities. And take frequent breaks. As much as you want to be on top of everything, you can’t be glued to your computer or phone 24/7 on jobs. You’ll burn out. 

Much of the above can be applied to any job search, but I found these things matter way more when finding that perfect remote opportunity. 

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About Todd Kunsman

Todd is the founder of Remote Work Junkie and has been featured in numerous publications like Business Insider, HuffPost, CNBC, and more. He’s been a remote work advocate for close to a decade and has been working remotely full-time for 5+ years. He’s also a marketing, personal finance, and music nerd 🤓

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