You may have heard the phrase tossed around in the workplace: some jobs you just can’t do from home. Even 10 years ago, it was thought that many information technology jobs fell into this category. But, having a large-scale remote workforce has many organizations and individuals re-evaluating what it looks like to do IT jobs from home.
A Changing Perspective on Remote IT Jobs
The cloud hasn’t just impacted how we do business, it’s also had a huge influence on our ability to work from a remote physical location. The COVID-19 pandemic was an eye opener for many businesses and it was surprising to see just how many IT workers could successfully do their jobs from home.
Stetson Blake, founder of Helios IT Services, knows the challenges of doing remote IT work and has seen many companies make the shift to hiring remote IT workers.
“Companies are now looking around and realizing they don’t need all those bodies in a physical space,” Blake said. “You can accomplish just as much without the same bills that come with an office building.”
IT Jobs Suited for Remote Working
Some careers are better suited for a remote working environment than others. When it comes to IT, these are the jobs that are most likely to offer remote-working possibilities:
- Help desk
- Cloud-based jobs
- Software development
- System administration
This list is by no means comprehensive. With a little creativity and a flexible employer, the options could certainly span other IT fields. The ability to perform IT work remotely is primarily driven by the need to interact with hardware. With so many software tools available, the need for the on-premise IT worker has certainly been reduced.
The cloud has made life far easier for the remote IT worker. Gabrielle Hempel is a cloud security engineer, and she sees increased remote opportunities for cloud-based jobs.
“The cloud field is definitely growing,” she said. “Anything you can do with cloud technology is going to be very valuable moving forward.”
4 Tips for the Remote IT Job Search
For many, full-time remote work is incredibly appealing. Blake set his sights on remote IT work several years ago and intentionally directed his career path to enable that working environment for himself. However, he recalls not knowing exactly how to go about getting a remote IT job.
“I really wanted to work remote,” Blake said. “The commute and constricting environment of an office job just wasn’t for me. I saw people doing it full time, and I just asked, how does this work?”
Hempel is also a full-time remote employee, but this did not start out being her goal. When COVID-19 hit, her on-premise job transitioned to a remote working environment.
Blake and Hempel offer the following tips for others seeking a remote IT job:
1. Check Out Job Boards Specific to Remote Working.
Hempel recommended LinkedIn for the job search. She used it primarily because it’s easy to filter by job role and connect with other IT pros. And CompTIA has recently partnered with ZipRecruiter, so you can get job alerts about opportunities that meet your needs.
2. Design Your Interview Space
A remote interview is still your opportunity for a first impression. Blake recommended that you choose a setting that provides good lighting, is in a quiet space and has an appropriate background. Showing you have a dedicated workspace that is already provisioned for IT work may also be enticing for employers.
3. Be Ready for a Technical Interview
Most IT jobs include a technical interview, which is the optimal time to showcase your expertise. Take the time to practice any technical skills that you may need to demonstrate during this portion of the interview process. Blake mentioned that this can be difficult during a remote interview.
“It can be difficult to showcase your skills without a white board. There’s a creative element to the technical interview, and you lose the tactile part of it when you interview remote,” he said. He recommended anticipating that and preparing yourself with any specific examples of your work ahead of time.
4. Engage Friends and Colleagues for Mock Remote Interviews
Hempel suggested that mock interviewing is especially important for remote IT interviews. Mock interviews can help you prepare to answer IT-specific questions and become familiar with the process prior to trying it in a real-life situation.
“Mock interviews help you think through an IT process from start to finish so you can anticipate any unknowns in the remote interview process,” she said.
The great thing about being a remote worker is that physical location is no longer a barrier to finding your ideal career fit.
“Working remote really expands options for businesses,” Blake said. “They’re no longer limited by geography and can find the right talent for the job.”
7 Tips for Working a Remote IT Job
Doing IT from home takes some discipline. After Blake landed his job, he needed to figure out how best to make it happen.
“It really kind of sunk in,” he commented. “I had to get my footing. How does this working-remote thing work? I ended up figuring it out.”
Follow these tips from experienced remote IT pros to help you be more successful.
1. Make Sure You Have Remote Access to Systems
Connectivity is key when working an IT job remotely. You can only be successful if you have the right access and a solid internet connection.
2. Choose a Great Project Management Tool
Hempel suggested that remote IT jobs require task management and focus. She recommended Trello to manage daily to-dos.
3. Develop Documentation for Processes
Hempel spends much of her time developing documentation to suit the remote working environment.
“So many of our processes are new with the company being entirely remote,” she said. “I spend a lot of my time on documentation and doing demos of the processes we’ve developed.”
She recommended tools, such as LucidChart and Stickies.io, to help with visualization.
4. Automate Redundant Tasks for Users and Yourself
“I spend lots of time on engineering tasks, setting up automations and then showing others how to use them,” Hempel stated. Automate recurring tasks to help simplify life for you and the end user.
5. Log Your Work
Blake noticed a significant difference with output expectations in remote IT jobs.
“When you’re in the office, your presence almost validates your work,” he said. “Most companies seem to scrutinize your output much more than before, because your input isn’t as visible.” He suggested keeping an ongoing log of work so that your tasks are transparent for employers and recommended G-Suite for easy sharing.
The best IT solutions often arise from a team approach. With remote working, it becomes even more important to collaborate. Blake uses GitHub to collaborate on code and Slack for easy communication.
7. Keep Learning
If you have downtime, continue your learning journey. Hempel recommended choosing IT certifications to showcase knowledge, which she said are especially beneficial if you have limited job experience or want to provide additional value. Any CompTIA certifications or additional skills you can add to your toolkit will only set you apart from the competition.
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