So much for earning six-figure salaries, buying big houses, and starting families: What millennials really want is to ditch the traditional nine-to-five culture and work from home, or, rather, from the road. This adventurous cohort has an insatiable thirst for travel, which has given rise to the concept of location-independent jobs. Being a digital nomad is the new version of the American Dream, and while working from beachside coffee shops and faraway Airbnbs seems like the stuff of Instagram fantasy, it doesn’t have to be. There are countless opportunities for location-independent work out there — some for which you could be qualified already — if you know where to look for it. Here’s a guide to getting a remote job and tips for transitioning out of office life.
1. Know where to look.
First step: Scour remote job boards such as Flexjobs, Upwork, Working Nomads, Jobspresso, and Remote.co. Even if you don’t have an adequate portfolio built up yet, you’ll get a feel for what kind of jobs employers are looking to hire remote workers for. According to FlexJobs, positions in accounting, engineering, teaching, IT, and sales are among the most abundant. Freelance marketing, writing, and photography may better satisfy your creative side, alternatively. Then again, you may already love your job — just not the part of it that keeps you chained to a desk all day. In that case, consider pursuing a location-independent position within the company. Major corporations such as Amazon, Apple, American Express, Humana, and Dell allow their employees to work from home.
2. Enhance your digital presence.
Hiring processes differ from company to company, but many don’t hold in-person or even video interviews for remote positions, so employers rely on the internet to show them who you are. You must not only have a professional online presence but a robust one, too. The more, the better — and, yes, social media counts. Follow Twitter accounts that are relevant to the career path you’re interested in pursuing and engage in the conversation constantly — a modern-day form of networking, one might say. If you’re a graphic designer, showcase your art on a professional Instagram account. A writer? Start a niche blog.
3. Build up an emergency fund.
Although some work-from-home positions can pay oodles — among them iOS developers, user experience researchers, and digital marketers — don’t expect to earn much in the beginning. Freelancers may even be limited to part-time work while building up a clientele, so prepare for an initial pay cut and put some extra cash in the savings account.
4. Be willing to take calculated risks.
Pursuing remote work means rejecting what no longer suits you, whether it be long days at the office, a permanent address, or a boss, even. In other words, you’re going to need to let go of some things, and that’s risky — but also rewarding. There could be weeks when you won’t know where your next check will come from, and it will be invigorating when you finally do get paid.
5. Learn a new trade.
There are countless vocations that offer location-independent positions, but not everyone has the proper skills or experience to pursue a remote job. In that case, you may have to pay a little to make a profit in the long run. Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) is a common online job, and there are dozens of training programs that offer the necessary certification for it. Enroll in a digital marketing course, shadow a local photographer, take a design class, or try something else you’re passionate about. You don’t always need a college degree, either.
6. Do a trial run.
Discovering that you actually prefer teamwork, breakroom banter, and going on coffee breaks with coworkers is not the kind of realization you want to have after you’ve signed your resignation papers and prepared your home office for full-time work. Try out the lifestyle before committing to it. Working from home can be cripplingly lonely and lead some people to depression. Take the remainder of your vacation time to trial the lifestyle before you put in that two weeks notice.
7. Tips for transitioning:
Get the proper equipment: Not many people have a full work setup at home. Make sure your computer and any software you need are up to date. Invest in top-of-the-line WiFi to ensure that you’re working efficiently. These purchases can be written off as business expenses on your taxes if you’re self-employed.
Stay social: Working from home is inherently isolating, so nip loneliness in the bud before it gets to you. If you’re working in a team, converse with your colleagues daily (hourly, if necessary). Otherwise, join groups and arrange meetings with people in your line of work. Take your laptop to a coworking space a couple of times a week, at the very least.
Treat workdays like workdays: Work-from-homers have said it time and again: Dressing for a day of work is a key factor in professional performance. Your clothing (and comfort level) can contribute to your mindset, so don’t spend the whole day in your pajamas. Turn off the TV and keep other distractions at bay. Don’t work from bed all day either.
Switch up the scenery now and again: Take advantage of your location-independent status by changing workspaces regularly — a change in scenery can boost creativity and productivity.
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