Think of trailing spouses, and an unflattering portrait may likely come to mind. Is there anyone you know who would prefer to be referred to as a partner who is (perhaps even sluggishly) following someone around the state, country, or globe?
They’re the husbands or wives who are sacrificing their own professional positions, social lives, or even career trajectories for the benefit of their partner.
They’ve seen the advantages for their better halves, have weighed the many pros and cons, and, in many cases, have made a truly selfless choice.
Such a generous act surely deserves a better name. Maybe we could instead think of them as supporting spouses. Or rockstar spouses. (Hey, rockstars are frequently on the move, right?)
For lack of a better term, these trailing spouses exist for a host of reasons: changing military posts, expat work assignments, new faculty positions, significant promotions, and job relocations.
Sometimes, the reason they’re following a partner has less to do with a professional opportunity and more to do with a personal situation: an aging parent who requires closer care, a child with special needs, or a loved one experiencing a major crisis.
In the past, these (rockstar) spouses would be trading in their professional lives for an uncertain future—one with unknown work opportunities, closed networks, and inaccessible positions. (We could possibly assume that when it was coined in the 1980s, the trailing spouse title reflected these kinds of dismal prospects.)
However, thanks to technological advances and cultural changes, increasingly more companies are embracing remote work via flexible arrangements, distributed employees, or fully remote organizations. These aren’t just young startups, either; they’re Fortune 500s, NGOs, and everything in between.
If you find yourself in the position of “rockstar spouse,” here are four ways you can take advantage of working remotely—and open up a world of professional options:
1. Instant Networking—Anywhere
Not sure where to begin? You don’t need to be part of the industry in-crowd the moment you set foot in a new location. Simply check out MeetUp for local face-to-face events that’ll bring you in contact with potential employers, business partners, and (yes!) even new friends.
You might also check in with your alma mater’s alumni relations department; many universities have regional and even overseas chapter events, and some offer virtual networking opportunities. (What could be better than growing your contact list from the comfort of your favorite coffee shop?)
2. Job-Seeking Resources
Gone are the days of scouring a few aggregate (and all-over-the-place) job websites for work-from-home opportunities. And forget about newspaper ads—we won’t even go there.
Today a variety of websites like FlexJobs, WeWorkRemotely, RemoteOK and our own Remote.co jobs section offer expert advice and regularly updated job listings—some of which are guaranteed to be fully vetted by a team using rigorous criteria.
That takes out a lot of the guesswork and the illegitimate posts and gives you back the most precious resource of all—time.
3. Online, On-Demand Training
You may think you don’t yet have what it takes to hit the ground running in a remote position. Maybe you need to brush up on tech skills or add some more training to your professional arsenal. We get it: roles are rapidly evolving, and it can be tough to keep up.
You’re in luck; a number of companies cater to folks just like you!
General Assembly offers immersive courses to springboard students into design, data, marketing, and tech roles, and Skillcrush provides learners with a variety of tech career blueprints to choose from, like visual designer or Ruby on Rails developer. It’s an affordable way to move your career forward without setting foot in a classroom.
4. Switching Careers
Maybe, just maybe, this major life change of yours calls for another. If you’ve ever thought about exploring another line of work, now’s your chance.
Perhaps you’re moving to a startup hub, a region that top companies are marketing to, or an area with a strong academic community.
Finding an online teaching position in your field of expertise or using your transferable skills at a reputable distributed firm could make the idea of trailing seem like more of an adventure than an obligation.
Beyond that, you’ll be showing future employers that you’re flexible and adaptable—two top traits cited by employees for job candidates.
A remote marketer since early 2014, Kristi DePaul (@reallykristi) has mastered content development, management, and creative direction from a distance. Her adventures have taken her to nearly 40 countries on five continents. She doesn’t work in her pajamas.