tips for standing out as a remote job seeker (from a non-US country)

Here's some of my best advice for standing out as a job seeker, especially if you're from not-the-West.

As someone who has somehow managed to land not one but two remote jobs, there are many tips I wish I had handy while I was searching. The blog posts I did find, especially when I first started searching in 2020 were great, but they didn't address one major problem - I'm from Nigeria.

When you're not from what I like to call the Big 4 (even though there's more than four), it can be difficult to grab the attention of recruiters simply because of your location. For context, the Big 4 are: the US, UK, Canada, Australia (and their surrounding regions).

So what can you do to stand out in your remote job search? How can you give yourself an inch/leg up/other appropriate metaphor? Here are some of the things that have worked for me.

Don't be afraid to ask questions

If you don't want to have your hopes raised and swiftly dashed, you need to learn to reach out about your questions quickly. And not even questions about the role itself. If a company hasn't made it clear that a role is 'Global-Remote', your first question needs to be if the role is open to people outside of the Big 4.

This might seem presumptuous, but it can really save you time and heartache. You can do this by looking for the role you've applied to on LinkedIn and asking the person who posted the role (shown at the bottom of a job posting) in a DM.

Engage with recruiters and employees at companies that interest you

It might be oversaturated with thought leadership-y content, but LinkedIn is still your best bet for connecting with other professionals in your industry. Alternatively, you could try Polywork (with my invite link) which aims to be a cooler LinkedIn or even Twitter which can be a surprisingly good spot for making professional connections.

The point is to engage with people. And not just when you're looking for a role - the pros in your industry may not be hiring, but they have built up a network that you don't have. That's what you need. Follow the people they follow, participate in the conversations they highlight and reach out to them once in a while. Get noticed and stay noticed - you never know who's keeping an eye on you.

Create a portfolio

This may be very tech-specific advice, but there's nothing like proof-of-concept to sell your skills. I've found that a portfolio works way better than a CV at getting recruiters' attention. Of course, creating a portfolio requires that you've worked on projects which can be a hard ask if you've never held the relevant role before. But using my experience as an example, start out with your personal work to build your portfolio.

Random Medium articles or fun UX projects you worked on can be the spark that gets interest from your future jobs. So keep a record of these seemingly random projects in a formal format so you can direct people looking for practical evidence of your skills.

Find (and hold on to) a community

It's very difficult to search for remote work from a country like Nigeria, and it's even harder to do it alone. More people are opening up to global remote workers, but there are stigmas (?) attached to being from here that will inevitably affect your search. People will say disheartening things to you, try to cheat you out of fair pay or not be willing to open the door for you to even peek in.

So, whether it's a community that focuses on your field, one with people in your country/region or one with other remote job searchers, a community is a valuable tool in the hunt for remote work. I hunted down communities within content marketing and remote work in my first year of job searching to build connections, engage with professionals and gain tons of valuable knowledge. Here's a list of the spaces I've found most valuable:

Conclusion

I don't have much experience beyond just doing things. When I want something (in my career at least), I go for it - but I know that won't work for everyone/isn't how everyone operates.

Beyond sharing what's worked for me + some resources, I know I can't and don't really have much more to say or do. But I hope it does help you, someone, anyone.

Here are some key links + resources that you might find helpful as you take on the challenge of remote job searching.

  • Contently: Create a content portfolio in minutes
  • My CV: Simple is best, especially when applying for foreign jobs. Resist the temptation to turn a Canva template into a work of art (unless you're applying for a design role, in which case, GO OFF)
  • This article on the top remote job search sites
  • Superpath (for a content marketing community)

Find me on Twitter or LinkedIn to chat more about remote work from a non-Western perspective!