Research & Alignment

Alignment Questions

Below is a checklist of questions to help you:

  1. Figure out how you might align with a job and company you’re interested in.
  2. Avoid the huge mistake of making it seem like the only reason you want the job is because it’s remote.

Note: Keep track of your alignment notes in your favorite note-taking app.

Read through the questions below and keep them in mind while you’re researching the role and company using the Research Checklist.

Career Growth

In this role, will you get to:

  • Work in an industry or space that you've been interested in or have experience in? Like moving into the tech space or joining a non-profit.
  • Develop or grow skills and experience that you want? Looking to grow into a leadership position or develop technical troubleshooting skills?
  • Continue doing the work you already know you love doing but doing it for a new product or business type? You love front-line customer support over email and screenshares, and you want to keep doing that but at a B2C this time.
  • Eventually move into a position on a different team? Is your dream to become a junior product manager or dedicated technical writer, and this company supports that kind of growth?

Company Values & Culture

In this role, will you get to:

  • Work for a company with a mission you wholeheartedly believe in? Does the company feel as strongly as you do about low-code software or education for low-income schools?
  • Work on a team that you'd enjoy being on? Maybe they seem fun, goofy, or your kind of weird.
  • Work for a company that values what you value? That could be diversity and inclusion, radical candor, or no office politics.
  • Work for a company that's smaller or bigger, a startup or more established company? You might be done with startups or be after a small, close-knit team.
  • Work for a company that’s bootstrapped or VC-funded?

Research Checklist

This checklist will walk you through how to research a company to find those potential areas of alignment. If you haven’t already, make sure to read through the Alignment Questions first, so you know what to be on the lookout for.

Note: Be sure to store your research notes in your fave note-taking app.

The Research Checklist

🔲 Job Description

Read through the job description carefully. It's the first place where alignment points and red flags pop up. If you catch red flags there, then save yourself some time and pick another job to apply to. Make a note of anything popping out at you. You can dig into those later in your research if you’re not sure whether something is a good fit for you or not.

The job post below has lots of red flags that show you that this isn't going to be a great remote support job. Too many bullet points are not specific to a support job, and they start with "high school diploma" and "basic PC" skills before getting to anything related to support skills or experience. Run away from these like they're zombie-bears who haven't eaten delectable brains in weeks!

🔲 Website

Check out their website to get a better idea of what the company does. (So many applicants have no idea what a company does and it‘s obvious in their applications and during interviews). You'll also start getting a sense of what the company culture is like. Look at their About page and any links at the top or bottom of their website for more intel.

Below is the "Life at Litmus" page on the Litmus website, a good sign about their culture. They not only mention their remote culture and building face-to-face relationships, but they also list a few of the articles they’ve written on working remotely.

🔲 Careers or Jobs page

In their careers or jobs page, you'll learn more about how they talk about their employees, their culture, and how they operate. I'd give bonus points to any company that talks about remote work, their culture, or their values without the usual corporate jargony nonsense. That can mean that they care about those things and want to make sure to attract people who also care about those things.

Here's a company that provides a public team manual for applicants to review and puts their Glassdoor rating right on their Careers page. That's a lot more than most companies do and shows they care about who they hire.

🔲 Glassdoor

At this point, you should be getting an idea of their vibe, so it's a good time to check out their Glassdoor reviews.

Not all companies will have reviews, especially if they're smaller or younger. But it can be a solid resource for reviews, salary info, and even details on the interview process and the questions that get asked.

Here's a detailed review of a potentially great company and another detailed review for a company where some people are likely to be unhappy.

Review #1

Review #2

🔲 Blog

If you're still feeling good about this job, check out the company’s blog. Most companies post blog articles to help their customers or that are industry-related. If you’re interested in their industry, check to see if their views are in line with yours. Also, you'll want to seek out any blog posts that talk about what's going on internally at their company so you can get some more insights.

This company has a post on their blog about their latest retreat, which means they're happy to share with their customers about their culture and being remote. Good sign.

🔲 Social Media

You can also check out their social media to see if they have any internally-focused posts that you can add to your dossier on them. (Ha, love having a legit reason to use the word dossier. Though don't judge me on my use of "legit." It just sort of snuck in there.)

This company posted on Instagram about having daily check-ins with their team during the coronavirus pandemic. Not every company would do that or share about it.

Research Video

Watch this 5-minute video to see the whole research process in action while researching a real job post.

Or as I like to think of it, enjoy this game of: 🎮 How Much Do I Like You? 🎮

We Work Remotely Remote Customer Support Jobs

Go Behind Friendly Lines

If you want a job at a specific company, now or in the future, connecting with someone who works there can help you with more than just a referral. Now save the reflexive cringe. Because, luckily, connecting with someone doesn't mean sending awkward LinkedIn messages to everyone who works there. There's a way to make this as simple as sending a quick Slack message.

Lots of remote job boards have Slack communities specifically to help people looking for remote jobs talk to hiring managers and other remote peeps. If the job you want is posted to one of the job boards below, then there’s a chance the hiring manager or someone else at the company is part of their Slack community. Most are free to join but, because of their high value, some communities are starting to charge a fee to join.

Remote Job Board Slack Communities

What to Ask

If the hiring manager is in one of the communities you joined and you’re not sure what to ask them, here’s a list for that. Ask them:

  • For clarification on things that weren't included in the job description or on the company website.
  • If you’re not clear on what experience they are looking for or whether your experience is the right fit, ask them about that. (Important tip on this one below.)
  • If their values aren’t public or their team page doesn’t show how big the support team is, ask them about that.
  • If you want to know if they’re looking for someone more junior or senior, ask them about that.
  • About the things that matter to you when it comes to choosing a job.
    • If you care about transparency in communication or access to leadership, then ask about that.
    • If you care about if the support team is divided into shifts or not, then ask about that.
    • Whatever is going to help you decide if this is the right place and job for you, ask about it.

Tips: Ignore at Your Own Risk

If you’re going to ask if your experience is a good fit, DO NOT send the hiring manager your resume and expect them to tell you based on that. Give them a short overview of your support background and explain why you’re not sure if that experience is a good fit. Make it as easy as possible for them to answer your questions.

Please, please don’t ask them about things that are covered in the job description or are easily available on their company website/careers page. This is like when a customer asks you a question that’s clearly covered in the knowledge base (verbatim), you share the link to the article, and they come back and ask you the same question.

I can’t tell you how many times people have emailed me to ask me to give them more information about a job (that’s it, just the general question) or asked where they can apply for the job when the job description and application are publicly available on our jobs page. Nope. Delete.