Why a remote job might not mean you can work from anywhere

Now that the majority of office workers have grown accustomed to remote work, many are hoping to continue working from home at least part of the time even as offices physically reopen. Already, we're seeing employers work to meet some of that demand for flexibility.

One analysis from the jobs site Indeed found that postings are now twice as likely to mention the ability to work remotely than before the pandemic. And on FlexJobs, the career site dedicated to remote work, employer postings for openings that could be done remotely increased by 19% in the last year. Activity among job seekers, meanwhile, jumped by 50% throughout the pandemic.

But if you're applying for a new remote role, keep in mind that a remote job isn't always a work-from-anywhere job. Due to tax and labor law implications, the employer may be hiring a remote worker who doesn't have to go into an office, but does need to reside in the same state or city as company headquarters.

FlexJobs career development manager and coach Brie Reynolds suggests that you continue to specify your location when searching for a remote opening on jobs sites. That way, only remote jobs that are actually open to your city, state or country will come back in the results. A remote role that's truly open to workers from anywhere in the world will indicate that in the job listing.

Also keep in mind whether pay could be different based on where you're located. Salaries for remote jobs are "like the Wild West," Reynolds tells CNBC Make It, but companies are generally working with one of three strategies. First, they might pay the same salary range based on job title, regardless of worker location. Some organizations might pay market rate depending on the cost of living wherever the worker lives. Others, Reynolds says, might provide pay based on national averages by each job title.

To get an initial idea of how the employer is approaching things, Reynolds says job seekers should check the company's media or press pages, or see if they've showed up in the news recently. Some companies, such as Reddit, announced last year that they would allow workers to remain remote forever and wouldn't adjust pay even if they moved to areas with lower costs of living. "That's a great talent attractor, so companies hiring want prospective candidates to be excited about that," Reynolds says.

If you don't have any luck gathering intel online, Reynolds says you can broach the topic generally in one of your initial interviews. Ask, "How does the company set salary for remote workers?" or "How do cost of living factors impact the company's approach to salaries for remote workers?"

Get an idea in an earlier interview in order to prepare for a potential salary negotiation further in the process.

And as you're applying, remember to highlight your experience working remotely throughout your resume, cover letter and hiring process. That may include managing a team during the pandemic, using cross-collaboration tools to launch new programs with colleagues in a different office from yours or doing any online learning throughout the pandemic or otherwise.

Check out:

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