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Navigating Remote Work: Strategies for Finding the Right Web Design Positions

The demand for remote work continues to grow. People want at least a hybrid approach that gives them more flexibility with their work schedules and cuts down on their commuting costs and carbon footprint. Finding opportunities is challenging. Scams abound on the internet and some companies are harder to work for from home than others.

How can web designers find the positions worth having without falling victim to scammers or companies with toxic work cultures? Fortunately, there are some strategies you can use that will help you find the best opportunities and assess if they’re a good fit for you.

1. Make a List of Wants

The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates there are 117,900 web and digital interface designers in the United States. Around 13% are self-employed freelancers. The number of applicants compared to the desirable openings changes frequently. Depending upon the area where you live, there may be an abundance of positions available or very few.

Start by listing out what you want from a remote job. Are you okay with a hybrid situation where you go into the office occasionally? Do you prefer to work for a company in another location? Those who live in rural areas with limited options may find they must look outside their home state to find a job.

Make some notes about desired pay, paid time off and benefits. Then, dig a bit deeper and make a list of what you want from company culture and the actual work itself.

2. Stray Outside the Norm

Finding remote work as a web designer starts with job posting sites and freelance gig places such as UpWork and Fiverr. However, if you want a full-time position as an employee, you’ll also need to consider other ways to get your name in front of hiring managers.

Visit websites for companies in the industry you wish to work and look at their open positions. Send your resume to your top choice employers. You can also sign up with a headhunter and let them match you to positions that fill your list of needs. They can help you with preparing for the interview process, too, and get a commission when you’re hired–typically from the company doing the hiring.

3. Network

A frequent pathway to new positions lies in networking. When you put yourself out there, you meet new people. Some might be business owners looking for someone with your skills. Others may know of opportunities before they even get listed on job boards.

Places to network include clubs, churches, chambers of commerce, taking classes and seeking out like-minded business owners in your community. Reach out to others in your field who’ve been successful and ask them for feedback and tips.

4. Work Your Contacts

Finding remote work sometimes comes down to being in the right place at the right time. A friend knows you’re looking for a web design position and their company has an opening. They mention it to you and recommend you.

Send a note to the people in your life–family, friends and acquaintances. Let them know you are looking for a remote web design position. You may need to stress that you want to work from home 100% of the time. People tend to hone in on a word, such as “design” and think any job would work.

Be open about your qualifications and what you bring to the table, so the person can sing your praises to human resources (HR) well before you arrive for an interview.

5. Go Freelance

Much of the advice for the 265,000 graphic designers in the country also applies to web designer job seekers. You should know the average pay in your area and how your experience or specializations factor into the equation. Look up the going rate from other web designers in your geographic location.

One way to ensure you can work remotely is to work for yourself and secure contracts with various companies. Many brands need at least occasional maintenance and you can provide it. If working freelance, consider adding some additional services such as social media management or other design work.

6. Read Reviews

Finding the wrong work from home web design position is almost as bad as no work at all. The last thing you want is to be tied to a company that doesn’t value your work, doesn’t pay on time or refuses to offer raises. You want a brand that invests in you and treats you like a valued human being.

One thing you can do before applying to a position is look at reviews of the company as an employer. Glassdoor is one option offering an inside look of how well other people enjoy working there. Workers rank companies on factors such as pay, work/life balance and company culture.

You can also search using a phrase such as “what is it like to work at ABC company?” You’ll likely find numerous reviews. Finally, go on social media and do some searches for posts referring to the brand name. You’ll find customer reviews that may indicate how secure the position is but you might also find some worker feedback on the job.

If you know anyone who works at the business, ask them how they like it and if they’d advise you to apply. You’ll gain insider insight into the brand and they may offer to recommend you to their boss.

7. Pay Attention to Culture

Gallup reports a mere 20% of remote-capable employees work fully on-site, a sharp increase in remote work from 2019, when 60% did. Probably more interesting is the shift in employees demanding a better employer/employee relationship with their companies. Management styles have four times the influence on engagement and mental wellbeing as where they work. Even remote workers desire positive company culture.

Remote workers enjoy a bit more freedom. As long as they are meeting deadlines, turning in quality work and being productive, they feel companies should trust them to do their best work. When brands begin looking over their shoulders and watching every move they make, employees often find the micromanagement stifling.

The focus of a healthy culture will be on everyone working together to improve output. Employees will point to equal opportunities for everyone and the way the brand invests in staff to train them and bring new skills into the workplace. If you see complaints about unfair treatment, spying or lack of advancement, consider whether you want to work there.

Make Remote Work Where It Doesn’t Exist

If you already have a position that isn’t remote, talk to your managers about the possibility of working from home at least some of the time. If your company values what you bring to the table, they may change the location of the position for your benefit.

Most HR departments are open to changes when they benefit the company. If you can show why you’re more productive from your home office, management is much more likely to grant your work-from-home request.

Eleanor Hecks is editor-in-chief at Designerly Magazine. She was the creative director at a digital marketing agency before becoming a full-time freelance designer. Eleanor lives in Philly with her husband and pup, Bear.

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