Just when the workforce has achieved a sense of normalcy in the new remote landscape, another change in hiring trends upends the labor market: a decline in remote job hiring. While there may be fewer remote openings available, the desire for remote work remains high, making an already tight labor market that much more competitive.
This piece will examine why remote jobs are becoming rarer, what candidates can expect from increased competition, and what job seekers can do to make a remote job application stand out.
Before exploring ways to set yourself apart from other candidates, let’s look at the stats around remote and hybrid employment in the job market generally. Understanding why there appear to be fewer remote jobs gives professionals an advantage when positioning themselves as the best candidates.
Firstly, the disparaged remote job seeker should remember that while there is a decline in remote job listings, there has also been a decline in job openings nationwide — not an unusual trend for the summer months. Also, the number of remote openings is affected by the types of jobs hiring. Remote-friendly tech companies have fewer openings, given the mass layoffs that recently hit the industry. Compound this with more temporary on-site jobs expected with the holiday season, and the decline in remote work looks less permanent.
Remote and hybrid jobs are more than likely here to stay, even if they prove tricky to find at the moment. After all, the labor force holds more remote jobs now than before the pandemic — a trend unlikely to reverse entirely. In addition, with recession fears waning and a positive outlook for new positions in the remainder of 2023, the labor market will likely see more remote jobs hiring near the end of the year and into 2024 — especially as more workers demand flexibility.
All this to say, there remains reason for optimism for job seekers hunting remote positions. Do not be discouraged — at The Hiring Advisors, we predict an increase in remote positions on the horizon.
However, while there may be clear reasons why fewer remote positions are available, it cannot be ignored that some employers are moving away entirely from remote work.
The debate about the benefits and drawbacks of working remotely has driven a firm wedge between employers and employees, and some companies have claimed significant profit and innovation losses due to poor remote worker productivity. On the other hand, many remote and hybrid employees say they are more productive and prefer working from home at least some of the time. Whether companies and workers can meet in the middle is hard to say.
Unfortunately, some businesses are enacting strict return-to-office policies, not considering how workers’ expectations have changed post-pandemic. Return-to-office policies ignore the multiple studies that have found that workers who can work remotely at least sometimes are happier, more satisfied with work, and enjoy a better work-life balance. Unsurprisingly, 87% of workers still want some flexibility, making flexible openings much more competitive.
With a better understanding of the remote landscape, job seekers need to know they may have to make some concessions when applying for remote work. In the current market, getting a fully remote position is difficult. Even as early as last year, remote job listings saw four times as many applicants than less flexible on-site positions. With this fierce competition, those seeking fully remote roles may have to accept salary decreases and slower career advancement than those willing to return to the office.
Sadly, the National Bureau of Economic Research found that 38% of companies are using remote and hybrid workers’ happiness as leverage to slow pay growth. Remote workers enjoying metropolitan salaries in states with a lower cost of living may also experience a decrease in pay, as 40% of organizations look to implement a location-based pay structure.
Another pay strategy companies are considering is a single-market rate where salaries for remote employees across the country are based on where the company’s headquarters are located, regardless of the employee’s cost of living. Depending on where the remote employees live will determine if they are well compensated or undervalued. If securing a competitive remote job means working for an employer in a state with lower salaries, job seekers will need to accept reduced pay.
Ambitious professionals looking to advance their careers may not be able to grow quickly in remote positions either. Even though remote employees tend to work more hours and are just as productive as their in-office counterparts, workers in fully remote positions and remote team members are 38% less likely to receive bonuses. Remote employees are also more likely to be passed up promotions, with 41% of executives saying they are more likely to promote on-site employees.
If flexibility outweighs the potential downsides of remote jobs, it is vital to become a more competitive candidate, specifically for remote and hybrid positions.
To land a remote or hybrid position, candidates must make themselves uniquely desirable for remote jobs. Job seekers should bear in mind the reality that remote jobs have specific challenges that differ from traditional in-office jobs, and a remote role may come with different applicant expectations.
Becoming a competitive candidate for remote and hybrid work starts even before the application. When selecting companies to apply to, connecting with the mission and culture is fundamental. Fitting in with company culture has always been a priority for hiring managers, but remote and hybrid positions risk disconnecting employees from the company culture and their co-workers.
Being a team player (even remotely) is another key indicator companies look for. Ensuring successful virtual collaboration is a big concern for employers, and hiring managers want to know there will not be delays from remote team members. Building a good rapport with the direct supervisor and other team members during the interviewing process by proactively responding is a way to demonstrate the potential for solid communication, connection, and teamwork.
Although finding ways to stand out in a tight labor market can be a daunting task, we packed a decade of our expertise into two unique guides: Career Advancement Tactics: A Strategy Guide for Mid to Senior-level Professionals and Shifting Perspective: 5 Secret Strategies for Mid and Senior-Level Professionals to Land that Interview.
If you’re looking for a more personalized strategy, our seasoned recruiters are available for consultations, too.
It’s true that there are fewer remote jobs hiring right now, but the future of remote work is uncertain, and there will likely be more positions that will become available in the future. What is undoubtedly true, however, is that the economy remains in the early stages of integrating remote and hybrid teams, so the remote landscape will continue to change as the return-to-office mandates unfold.
It is imperative for professionals who prefer working remotely to make themselves competitive candidates specifically for remote positions. As new technologies, best practices, and positions are created in response to remote work, the skills and experiences needed for remote workers will change, and it’s up to the candidate to keep up.
Skills such as remaining adaptable, keeping up-to-date on the best practices, and knowing how to showcase desirable remote skills will prepare professionals for their applications to competitive remote positions.