Behind-The-Screens Look:
What are other applicants doing?

Every time our team posts a new support role on our careers page, we know to expect at least 400 applications within the first 5 days. Other, more well-known, remote companies like Buffer or Zapier, get even more applications.

With numbers like that, the competition can seem insane for remote jobs.

Hundreds of runners or are they applicants?

And it would be...

If you were actually competing against hundreds of other people.

But you're not.

You're not competing against hundreds.

Or even dozens of people.

Your competition is much smaller than you think.


At least it can be.

You just need to avoid a handful of mistakes (that happen to be easy to avoid).

Step 1: Instantly Cut Down Your Competition By 90%

Of the 400+ applications we receive, somewhere between 25 and 40 applications will meet the bare minimum requirements we're looking for.

That's because the majority of the applications we receive look something like this:

All of that is fantastic news for you!

Because avoiding those mistakes is simple and I'm going to walk you through each of them.

Once you're done with those, your new competition will be a much smaller group of 25-40 folks.

Of course, you don't really want to even be in that group.

I'll show you in step 2 how to make it onto the short list of 5-10 applicants that are your actual competition for the job.

But first, we need to make sure you're skipping past 90% of all applicants.

Mistake #1: You Only Seem to Care That the Job is Remote

 

This is the mistake that will send you straight to rejectionland without passing Go, collecting $200, or giving you a chance to bribe your brother into selling you that last railroad you need.

Don't make it seem like you only want the job because it's remote.

You're not being hired to work remotely. You're being hired to do a job and contribute to a team.

The remote aspect of the job should be only one part of what makes you excited about the job, and it shouldn't the most important. Instead, talk about what's exciting about the job or company for you.

Mistake #2: You're Not Doing Research

Researching the company and role will make every part of the hiring process easier for you.

Need to talk about why you're excited about the job? Research's got you.

Need to answer an interview question about how you'd handle a certain customer situation? Research will turn your answer from "ugh, this again" to "can we keep you? Please?!?"

Plus, you don't want to be the applicant who thinks the company does something with numbers or data or data numbers (???) when the company provides a website-building platform for non-profits.

Yikes

That's an immediate ⛔🙅⛔

Mistake #3: You're Not Excited About the Work

Awesome remote companies want to hire folks who will thrive and make a big impact on their team and their customers. And that starts with passion or enthusiasm.

Yet, so many candidates don't even seem excited about working with customers. Sometimes they make it obvious that they really only want to spend a year in the role before moving on to some other team.

All of that is fantastic news for you!

Because avoiding those mistakes is simple and I'm going to walk you through each of them.

Once you're done with those, your new competition will be a much smaller group of 25-40 folks.

Of course, you don't really want to even be in that group.

I'll show you in step 2 how to make it onto the short list of 5-10 applicants that are your actual competition for the job.

But first, we need to make sure you're skipping past 90% of all applicants.

Mistake #1: You Only Seem to Care That the Job is Remote

 

This is the mistake that will send you straight to rejectionland without passing Go, collecting $200, or giving you a chance to bribe your brother into selling you that last railroad you need.

Don't make it seem like you only want the job because it's remote.

You're not being hired to work remotely. You're being hired to do a job and contribute to a team.

The remote aspect of the job should be only one part of what makes you excited about the job, and it shouldn't the most important. Instead, talk about what's exciting about the job or company for you.

Mistake #2: You're Not Doing Research

Researching the company and role will make every part of the hiring process easier for you.

Need to talk about why you're excited about the job? Research's got you.

Need to answer an interview question about how you'd handle a certain customer situation? Research will turn your answer from "ugh, this again" to "can we keep you? Please?!?"

Plus, you don't want to be the applicant who thinks the company does something with numbers or data or data numbers (???) when the company provides a website-building platform for non-profits.

Yikes

That's an immediate ⛔🙅⛔

Mistake #3: You're Not Excited About the Work

Awesome remote companies want to hire folks who will thrive and make a big impact on their team and their customers. And that starts with passion or enthusiasm.

Yet, so many candidates don't even seem excited about working with customers. Sometimes they make it obvious that they really only want to spend a year in the role before moving on to some other team.

Support can be a great way to gain a birds eye view understanding of internal company processes, product knowledge and the customers we work with. However, I think Support can often times be seen as a "way in" or a foot in the door. While I can understand that CS may not be a long term growth path for some, outright sharing in the hiring process really short timelines/expectations for lateral movements can be frustrating.

-
Why Didn't You Get the Job? Remote Customer Support Edition

But you're not being hired to do high-quality work in some other role in a year (even if that's a real possibility for you at that company). You're being hired to do THIS job and to do it exceptionally well.

So make it clear that you enjoy helping customers, solving tricky issues, and teaching people. Show that you get all the feels from doing that kind of work.

Mistake #4: You Ignore the Importance of Writing Skills

Being a great writer is critical for many remote support jobs, especially the ones where you're providing email or chat support.

Plus, on a remote team, you're writing to collaborate with your teammates and get your ideas clearly across to the whole group.

If you're providing written support to customers, you also need to be able to teach new concepts to new users, communicate solutions to complex issues, and respectfully calm down angry customers while encouraging them to work with you to find a resolution.

And the first place hiring managers start looking at your writing skills is in your application. Sometimes, they'll even ask for a writing sample.

Use spellcheck. Check your grammar. Make sure what you write is easy to understand and isn't rambling.

If you're not sure, have someone else read it or read it out loud to yourself. That will highlight any issues not caught by spelling or grammar checkers.

Mistake #5: You Assume That Your Years of Customer Service Experience Make You "Perfect" For the Role

"I would be a perfect fit for the Customer Success role as I excelled with customer service in my previous job as an insurance agent."
"This job is a perfect match for me because I love customer service."
"I believe I am perfect for this position because I have always worked in the Customer Support field and I love working with people."
These examples all come from real applications.

If you want to land a customer support, customer success, customer experience (or any of the new customer roles popping up every Wednesday the 14th) at an awesome remote company, don't assume that you are perfect for the role just because you've been doing customer service work for 5, 10, or 15+ years.

That's not enough.

Let me explain (before you try throwing pointy things at me).

"Customer service experience" doesn't make it clear what skills or experience you actually have.

You need to be more specific.

Read the job description carefully. You don't need to be able to do everything listed for the role, but you do need to show that you have the experience or the skills to do the core requirements for the job.

For example, let's say you're applying for a typical customer support role at a software company. In that role, you'll spend most of your time responding to customers via email or chat in a queue, troubleshooting technical issues and escalating them to engineers, and becoming an expert in the product.

If you provided customer service over the phone for a bank for 8 years, your experience and skills won't seem like an obvious match for this role. A hiring manager won't assume that you know how to clearly explain technical concepts through writing or how to use creative problem-solving to investigate or fix technical issues.

If you do have that experience, be clear that you do.

If you don't, talk about the transferrable skills you do have.

Maybe there was a software that your team used that some teammates struggled with and you helped them learn it or helped fix the issues they ran into. Or maybe you love photography and design and have taught yourself how to use complex products like Photoshop or Illustrator.

That all counts. For real.

Do not be afraid to talk about the transferable skills you've gained outside of your previous jobs' main duties. Hold up, once more with the (almost undeserved) confidence that comes after three shots of tequila: DO NOT BE AFRAID to share about those skills!

This is one of those areas where awesome remote companies are truly different than your typical companies. The most/best experience isn't as important as finding someone who will thrive and stick around. Your potential for slaying in the role matters a hell of a lot more.

Step 2: Guarantee Your Spot On The Short List

You've now successfully avoided those reject-me-now-please mistakes and made 90% of your competition obsolete.

Nice!

Now you're in the "meets minimum requirements" group of about 25 - 40 applicants.

Not bad.

But that's not the list you want to be on.

You want to compete against the best. You want a real shot at getting the job.

To do that, you need to get on the short list.

The short list is made up of 5-10 applicants or less than 1% of all applicants.

That's who you're really competing against.

The short listers just happen to be storm troopers. Maybe now people will stop underestimating them.
Photo by Saksham Gangwar on Unsplash.

Before you compete with them, you need to make sure you end up on that list.

Luckily, there's just one thing you need to do.

Though it's non-negotiable.

(So just do it!)

You must connect the dots.

Connecting the dots plant

You can't assume that the experience on your resume is going to explain to a hiring manager why you'd be a great choice for the role.

You need to make it crystal clear. Explicit.

You need to answer the question:

You've now successfully avoided those reject-me-now mistakes and made 90% of your competition obsolete.

Look at you!

Now you're in the "meets minimum requirements" group of about 25 - 40 applicants.

Not bad.

But that's not the list you want to be on.

You want to compete against the best. You want a real shot at getting the job.

To do that, you need to get on the short list.

The short list is made up of 5-10 applicants or less than 1% of all applicants.

That's who you're really competing against.

The short listers just happen to be storm troopers. Maybe now people will stop underestimating them.
Photo by Saksham Gangwar on Unsplash.

Before you compete with them, you need to make sure you end up on that list.

Luckily, there's just one thing you need to do.

It's non-negotiable.

(So just do it!)

You must connect the dots.

Connecting the dots plant

You can't assume that the experience on your resume is going to explain to a hiring manager why you'd be a great choice for the role.

You need to make it crystal clear. Explicit.

You need to answer the question:

Why are you a great fit for THIS job at THIS company?


Not all support jobs are the same. Not all remote companies are the same.

So how are you uniquely set up to thrive in this role at this company? How is it uniquely a dream job for you?

There are two places in the application where you typically get the chance to answer that question:

  1. The application will include a question that asks about that.
  2. The cover letter or application video.

If you're wondering how to come up with the answer to that question, go back and look at your research. Then consider what matters to you, what interests you. Because the answer is going to be unique to you.

And get personal.

Worthy remote companies see you as a human, an entire person with a life filled with experiences, most of them not on the job. So don't just focus on where your "work" experience meets the requirements for the job. Find the areas where your experience, your values, and your interests line up with the job AND the company.

For example, if the company sells snacks that are made only with all-natural ingredients and you're passionate about healthy eating, tell them about your Paleo blog. If the role requires you to keep your cool while you handle urgent customer issues and you used to work as a dispatcher at a fire and rescue station, highlight that. It's not technically customer service, but it is 1000% relevant to that specific role.

Answer that question well and you'll claim your spot on the short list.

Step 3: The Best of the Best

You made it!

You dodged those reject-me-immediately mistakes and answered the most important question for a hiring manager.

Now you're ready to battle it out for the ultimate prize:

Kamala Harris celebrating having gotten one of her dream jobs

(🎶 You're the best! Around! Nothing's gonna ever keep you down 🎶)

This is where knowing what others are doing, especially those floating up to the short list, will give you another advantage.

You see, they really do just one thing.

And it's not what you think it is.

It's not that they:

  • Have the most experience (or even the "best" experience)
  • Have remote work experience
  • Worked for Google or Facebook or Apple

Nope.

The best candidates do one thing.

It's shows up in different ways with different "tactics."

But they all lead to the same place.

They Show That They Are Serious About The Job
& Will Do It—Well.


I mentioned earlier that having years of customer service experience doesn't show that you're perfect for the job. It's not enough.

Because it doesn't truly show anything.

Not every customer service or support role is the same. And not every person leaves the exact same job with the same experience or skills.

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Think about the team at your most recent job, customer-related or not.

I bet there was that one person who was clearly awesome. That seemed to find time for all the little things that turn good work into fantastic work. That was always there to help out anyone who needed it. That kept learning and pushing to be better.

Now flip it.

Think about the person on the team that just seemed like they were showing up for the paycheck and wasn't going to do a single thing more than the bare minimum expected. They probably weren't a bad person or a terrible teammate. They just didn't really seem to care about wowing anyone or doing more than they were asked to do.

They can both list the same job title on a resume.

But do you think they will leave that job with the same skill sets and experiences?

Will they have the same stories to share during an interview?

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To stand out, to make it clear that you should get the job over every single other person who applied, you need to prove that you really want this job.

That you're excited about both the work and the company.

And that you have the potential to do an incredible job.

Show, not tell.

So how do you prove that?

How are others showing that?

How are others showing that they'd be the best for the job even when they don't have the most experience, best experience, a fancy degree, or a previous job at a well-known company?

Click here to continue and find out.