BUSINESS + ECONOMY

Looking for remote work? It helps to have an inside connection

Sep 29, 2023, 4:00 PM | Updated: Jan 5, 2024, 1:14 pm

Image of a help wanted sign. There aren't as many jobs that offer remote work as there were during ...

FILE: A Help Wanted sign is posted at a Designer Eyes store in Miami. When looking for work, including remote work, a Utah expert says it's still important to have connections. ( Lynne Sladky, Associated Press)

( Lynne Sladky, Associated Press)

SALT LAKE CITY — Striking out on scoring that perfect remote work job? Success in the employment arena still comes down to who you know, not what you know, says a Utah professor.

As remote work become more popular, more and more applicants for this type of work can make finding jobs slim to none against an army of competitors.

On LinkedIn, only 9% of job postings last month were fully remote, down from a peak of 21% in March 2022. Yet the handful of remote listings attracted nearly half of all applications on the site, according to Business Insider.

Hiring for remote work begins with computer sorting

Scott Hammond, a professor of management at Utah State University, said the sheer number of applications for remote work will close the posting within hours.

Remote Job Search: How to stand out among hundreds of applicants…
10 minutes

“Nobody has time to look at that many resumes and so they’re going to look at maybe the first 20 or 30,” he told KSL NewsRadio. “They’re gonna look until they have a pool of three or four applicants they want to interview and then they’re going to stop going into the pile.

“. . . It’s not like they’re picking the best 800 in the pile. They’re picking the first four or five resumes they come across that are qualified,” Hammond said.

A computer sorts through all of the applications initially, and if yours doesn’t have the right keywords from the job description, for that one particular job opening, Hammond said, your application will be discarded. Then, you may receive a rejection email, or hear nothing at all. 

Even with remote work, connections are golden

With this new technology for sorting job applicants, Hammond said, it still comes down to who you know.

“You’ve got to be able to have a connection with that company in some way or know somebody or have that magic keyword or have a reputation that precedes you in the door. Those kinds of things make all the difference,” he said.

The connection doesn’t have to be deep. In other words, it doesn’t necessarily need to be a family member or longtime friend.  Hammon said it could be a weak tie, such as knowing someone who knows someone at the company you wish to join.

“A guy who knows a guy”

Hammond shared an example of a weak connection that turned into job success.

He said one of his students was among 800 applicants for a job, which closed within six hours because of the overwhelming number of job seekers.

“It’s so stressful. It’s so hard when you were a young family, and you’re going through all of that. He’s applying for jobs every day and rejected every day,” he said.

The student knew someone, a former co-worker, who worked at the company that just shot down his application.

“. . . he called the people that had laid him off. And one of them had worked at this company. And he said, ‘Will you give him a call and tell him that I’m a good employee?'”

The company that rejected him then asked him to come in for an interview — and he scored the job among 800 applicants. 

Some of the applicants who win a job because of a weak connection aren’t always fully qualified for the position, Hammond said, but because they want to prove themselves, they can end up being the best employees.

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Looking for remote work? It helps to have an inside connection