I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Michael Swigunski, founder of the remote job board GlobalCareer.io and author of the best selling book titled: Global Career: How to Work Anywhere and Travel Forever.
He has worked remotely and internationally in over 85+ countries over the past decade and loves sharing his passion and knowledge with others. Over the past decade, Mike has been working internationally and remotely with experiences that have provided him a unique 360-degree view of the remote work environment.
Whether it’s contributing industry-leading articles for Entrepreneur.com, helping build one of America’s fastest-growing remote companies, or being recognized as one of a few emerging remote work entrepreneurs, Mike knows what works and what does not in the remote world.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us your origin story? Who is Mike Swigunski?
My international journey started when I studied abroad in Italy during my sophomore year at university. I enjoyed it so much, I applied to become a University of Missouri Study Abroad Student Manager and was selected to lead the Prague program for the next two years.
This role required teaching university courses, marketing the program, and everything else that encompasses a study abroad program.
During my senior year, I was presented with two paths, one was working in corporate America and the other was a one-way ticket to Europe, with a lot of uncertainty and no real.
I chose the second option and started the first chapter of my own global career in Prague. With no job lined up, I decided to utilize my network of connections with the university in Czechia and after some time was able to land a professor job teaching financial economics, which was fitting since I had a few years of experience teaching at Mizzou and my major was in finance.
Once I landed this job, it was my “aha” moment and I realized that it was possible to continue advancing my career, while still pursuing my passion for travel.
This method allowed me to work internationally in a variety of different countries and eventually led me to work remotely in Australia, New Zealand, and landing a remote job at an early stage American startup.
I spent four years helping grow the company and recently transitioned into full-time entrepreneurship with Global Career.
Ok, let’s jump to the core of our interview. Not a lot of entrepreneurs have experience in remote work. Others have just started looking for remote work due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Can you tell us how many years of experience you have helping people get remote employment?
It’s coming up on two years. In November 2018, I launched my remote jobs board and released my book, and ever since then, I have been helping people start their own global careers and land remote jobs.
Getting a remote job can be very different compared to traditional job interviews. Can you articulate for our readers what the five main challenges that come with obtaining a remote job position? Can you give a story or example for each?
Here are the five main challenges people normally struggle with:
- Resume Content – A lot of people write resumes like a job description, but they should focus more on quantifiable and tangible accomplishment.
- Social Media Presence – In this day and age, you need to expect that every employer is going to google your name and check out your entire internet presence. Controlling that narrative is difficult, but having it polished is important.
- Accountability & Motivation – A lot of job applicants get demotivated after not hearing back about jobs and this can be very frustrating. A lot of remote companies can receive hundreds or thousands of applications to fill just one position, so keep that in mind.
- Remote Job Matching – This was the biggest issue we discovered when surveying thousands of remote job seekers. They struggle to isolate and find legitimate remote jobs.
- Interview + Applications – There are a lot of insider tips to improving your odds for the application and interview process, most people are applying to so many jobs, that they have a quantity over quality approach, which normally doesn’t work well. You need to try and differentiate yourself during the interview and application process.
Based on your experience, what’s the best way to solve those challenges?
It’s really hard to nail all five of those challenges and I’ve yet to meet many job seekers who don’t struggle with at least one of these areas. The best way, in my opinion, is to find help from experts or to find a mentor. It can sometimes be hard to find a mentor, so finding a coach or some assistance is well worth it. We offer paid job-seeking assistance in our remote life program that helps in every area listed above and provide free resources like our Top 100 Remote Companies Ebook.
Can you specifically address how to connect with potential employers over email or Linkedin? How do you prevent the email or Linkedin message from sounding too desperate and actually become an asset to companies?
Reaching out to hiring managers with a thoughtful message after completing an application can be a great way to separate yourself from the competition. It’s best to send an email directly to them letting them know you are excited about the role and let them know to reach out to you if they have any questions about your application.
The message needs to be short, thoughtful, and 100% unique to show you put some consideration into writing. If you can’t find their email, I would suggest connecting on LinkedIn and sending a short message as well but I would recommend sending an email over LinkedIn.
Can you share any suggestions for newbies who have no experience working remotely? Are there potential obstacles or issues they should be prepared for with this lifestyle?
It can be difficult to make the leap from an office job to working remotely, but remote employers are especially going to care about a few main traits no matter what role it is. You need to work on improving these skills and presenting them properly throughout the interview process:
Communication: Over-communicating is especially important in a remote team. You need to be able to express yourself in all types of non-verbal and verbal communication: audio/video calls, written text (email/slack), and body language. Oftentimes, it’s easier to hop on an impromptu call than to keep having written back/forth on Slack.
Self-Discipline: If you aren’t self-discipline and organized, then you are really going to struggle to make it in the remote workforce. There are some great tools, tips, and resources to reduce your distractions while working remotely. If you can’t afford a separate work computer, I suggest having two users created on your computer. One for work and the other for personal use.
Collaboration: Being able to effectively collaborate with your team and other employees that might be distributed around the world is going to be essential. A lot of remote teams are spread all around the world, so it can sometimes add a few extra hurdles to collaborating with people on the other side of the world. Utilizing technology like Trello, Monday.com, and other software is also extremely beneficial to make virtual collaboration much easier.
As far as obstacles, the biggest one I can see now is that a lot of businesses are struggling so the supply and demand are thrown off. Job-seekers need to take extensive steps to separate themselves from the competition. Most people focus only on the hard skills of the role, but fitting into the company culture is arguably just as important!
If you don’t have any remote working experience, then work on creating it (freelancing) or educating yourself with free training on software and tools such as G-suite.
You run a powerful platform that helps individuals obtain remote work advice and services. If you could put into words what people get working with you or your platform, what would that be?
If I had to sum things up in a few words, it would be structured guidance and accountability. With our remote life program, we take people through a step-by-step process that greatly increases their chances of landing a remote job. Our unique process help job seekers at every stage of the process (resume audits, mock interviews, hand-selected jobs from our private network, and accountability).
Finally, can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” – Lao Tzu
This quote is one of my favorites and I think it super important for people to implement this into their personal and professional lives. Most people set goals and only focus on the “last step” but never consider the thousand of steps that are required to get complete a goal.
It’s essential to focus on the process before you can reap the rewards. The best example I can share is my life goal to visit every country in the world. There are so many things that need to be done in between to make that goal come true and I am more focused on the process than the actual goal since that part is actually going to be the most fun and rewarding aspect!
Most people tend to fail their yearly goals since they neglect to break goals down into smaller chunks (quarterly, monthly, weekly, daily) that will actually set them up for success! It’s great to have ambitious goals, but you need to plan out that first step and all of the steps in-between to make it actually happen!
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