As work from home becomes the norm, companies get more comfortable hiring fully remote employees

April 7, 2020, 9:00 PM UTC

Working from home for the past few weeks? You might have a serious case of cabin fever by now. Or then again, you may have found you prefer it to your former routine. If you’d rather not go back to the office even after the pandemic is finally over, this might be the moment to start looking for a new job that allows—or requires—you to stay home.

Remote job openings were proliferating well before this crisis, rising 270% since 2017, according to new research by job search engine Adzuna that analyzed 4.5 million U.S. postings. Now, spurred on by COVID-19, it seems even more employers want the chance to recruit from a vast talent pool unrestricted by geographic distance.

“Our data shows a continued increase in work-from-home vacancies,” notes Adzuna cofounder Andrew Hunter. Companies that never recruited many (or any) virtual employees before are “embarking on a giant work-from-home experiment,” he adds. “The standard office-based job is increasingly a thing of the past.”

One place to start looking for remote work: Job site FlexJobs has come up with a list of the 35 U.S. employers who are doing the most work-from-home recruiting right now, along with brief descriptions of what kinds of roles they need to fill. For instance, Aetna (No. 2 on the ranking, behind Adobe) is looking for social workers, a lead data scientist, and registered nurses to work as case managers. Dell (No. 6) is seeking cybersecurity pros and an infrastructure automation engineer.

While both Adzuna and FlexJobs data suggest many current openings call for tech or health care skills, employers are also hiring remote employees in sales, accounting, customer service, human resources, and other fields, some of them highly specialized. UnitedHealth Group, for example, is seeking an expert in dealing with the medical bureaucracy at the Veterans Administration.

Planning to apply? Beyond having the skills and experience in the job description, employers want to see evidence that you’re flexible enough to work alone. So rewrite your résumé and cover letter to emphasize, for instance, projects in which you collaborated with distant teammates, maybe across different time zones. Since working at home means you’ll have limited access to the company IT help desk, it’s smart to include a list of the collaboration software and web and video conferencing tools you know how to use.

A tip from FlexJobs: Interviewers for remote jobs usually ask the same questions as for other roles, but get ready for a few twists. The virtual-work equivalent of the old standby “What’s your greatest weakness?,” for example, is “Why do you want to work remotely?”

This query can be such a minefield for the unprepared that FlexJobs’ report recommends bringing it up yourself even if the interviewer doesn’t ask. Maybe you’ve found that you’re much more productive working at home than in your old noisy open-plan office, or maybe you live in an area where opportunities in your field are scarce (or require a long commute). If you’re enthusiastic about the chance to work for this particular company, remotely or not, don’t forget to say so.

If you can draw a specific example or two from your current remote work, demonstrating how you’ve been able to achieve results from home that equal or exceed what you could have accomplished in the office, so much the better. The point is to reassure the interviewer that even if your only work-at-home experience so far has been dictated by COVID-19, you’re a safe bet as a stellar remote employee in the future.

More must-read careers coverage from Fortune:

—3 ways to manage conflict when you work remotely
How to job hunt during the coronavirus pandemic
Everything you need to know about furloughs—and what they mean for workers
—4 things to say if recruiters call you during the coronavirus pandemic
—Listen to Leadership Next, a Fortune podcast examining the evolving role of CEO
—WATCH: 401(k) withdrawal penalties waived for anyone hurt by COVID-19

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