Why You’re Not Getting Hired for a WFH Job (And How to Change It)

A woman works from home on her laptop.
Carmen Mandato/ The Penny Hoarder

Having trouble landing that work-at-home job? I know. The work-from-home job search can be grueling and frustrating, no less difficult than hitting the pavement to interview in person for traditional jobs.

Your resume is still critical — but in a different way. Your appearance or self-presentation are still important, whether you are interviewed over the phone or via video chat. The similarities go on.

Don’t let the job search get you down! Roll out of bed, grab a cup of coffee and before you start checking those job boards, read this: I’m going to tell you why you’re not getting hired for that work-at-home job and how you can change it.

Your Resume Isn’t Working For You

When you’re applying for a remote position, hiring managers often care more about the skills you can bring to their company than the job titles you’ve held in the past. To keep up and stand out, ditch that old chronological resume and instead build a functional resume.

In a functional resume, you’re highlighting your skills and abilities over a reverse chronological work history. This gives you the opportunity to play up those pieces of your work history, certifications, experience and demonstrable skills that make you the best candidate for the job.

When you prepare this type of resume, group like skills together and use keywords from job listings for the positions you’re trying to snag. This dialed-in approach will show those hiring managers you’re prepared to go all in and invigorate their company with fresh energy.

Don’t forget: As Brie Reynolds from FlexJobs shared with my readers in a recent webinar, always, always customize your resume for each job you apply for. And make sure you play up those skills all employers are looking for in a remote worker: time management, self-management, tech troubleshooting and familiarity with remote communication tools.

You’re Not Interviewing Well

Interviewing from home is just as important as interviewing in person, and you must take it seriously. If you wake up barely five minutes before your phone interview, your interviewer is going to notice that you sound sleepy, or at least unprepared.

If you conduct a video chat in an old T-shirt with a lived-in mess in the picture behind you, your interviewer is going to think you’re not invested in conducting yourself professionally. If your phone connection is spotty, if there’s a lot of background noise, if you miss the company’s first call — any of these could spell doom for your work-at-home job prospects.  

This is one of the easiest things to fix. Show up on time by being prompt for your video chat or answering your phone quickly. Take the call in a quiet space with a stable phone or internet connection. Speak to your interviewer politely and professionally. You can absolutely express yourself in your own style, but make sure you establish a rapport with your interviewer first.

If you’re doing a video chat, dress for the occasion and clean up your backdrop. These preparations also have another positive effect: They’ll help you feel confident and centered for your interview.

Don’t forget: Show up, speak well and put your best face (and clean office) forward.

Your Home Office or Equipment is Lacking

A woman types on a keyboard.
Carmen Mandato/ The Penny Hoarder

Many work-at-home jobs come with specific home-office requirements, and not having at least the basics can knock you out of consideration. You may need to be prepared to demonstrate that you have a quiet place to work free of distraction, along with a reliable computer with high-speed internet access.

If you don’t have these things, the types of jobs that are available to you may be limited. For example, if you care for children during the day or have noisy pets, a phone-based remote position may be out of the question unless you are willing to work overnight.

Some jobs even require you to have a certain internet speed or a landline. When you start applying for jobs, pay attention to the listed requirements. This does not mean you are unable to work from home at all or have to invest in special equipment. You may simply need to look for alternative positions. Some companies and positions are more flexible than others.

Don’t forget: Don’t ignore office or equipment requirements in job listings and make sure you’re set up for success.

You’re Not Applying For Enough Jobs

Just as in traditional job hunting, you should apply to your dream job — and then apply to a few more jobs you know you can do. Dream jobs are fantastic, but they’re not always plentiful, while the number of applicants always is.

If you’re holding out for that one work-at-home position that fits perfectly (and is widely shared in the work-at-home blogging world), you’re not giving yourself the best opportunity to land remote work. Don’t hold yourself back: Go for gold, but keep in mind that silver and bronze are valuable, too.

Don’t forget: Don’t be picky. Go for your dream job, but apply for other positions as well.

Finished your coffee yet? Good, because it’s time to get to work.

Angie Nelson been working from home since 2007. With 10 years of experience in the work-at-home world, she’s now sharing legitimate work-from-home jobs and home-business opportunities. Are you ready to get started? Join my free 7-day series on finding work-at-home now.