DEV Community

loading...
Cover image for Finding a remote job is hard, here are 6 tips for having a better chance

Finding a remote job is hard, here are 6 tips for having a better chance

mpermar profile image Martín Pérez Updated on ・9 min read

As with my previous post, 10 years of remote working this is what I learned so far let me start with the bad news. If you are not already remote or if you are not very senior, you should re-consider your search, as you barely stand a chance of finding a remote working job. This is not something many of the sponsored blogs, or remote work sites, will tell you. Think about it, these places live from growth and capturing as many job applications as they can. But I have to tell you, and hopefully, you won't mind and take it personally.

So, why is that there is little chance for the non-senior or not already remote? Well, it is really a mix of several things. Remote companies are interested in people that have remote experience because remote working is hard and not for everyone. Also, experienced people are theoretically easier to ramp-up and would come up to speed much quicker. Remote working positions are also scarcer which means there are fewer companies for applying to, and many candidates competing for the same position. If you are lacking both seniorness and remote experience, your application might be discarded straight away and at best it will be at the bottom of the list. And let me tell you something, that is bad.

Many inexperienced people do apply to job offers without really thinking about the consequences. But when you get discarded from a company, there is a considerable chance that you might not be reconsidered for other positions. Usually, your record stays within their hiring databases. And as I mentioned, there is not that many remote companies for applying to as there are regular companies. So you need to be careful with your remote job applications as you don't want to waste all your bullets too soon.

If you are already remote and senior, this post is not for you. There is little I will add to what you already know. If you are senior and willing to work remote, this post might help you to get more chances, but if you are ready to find a job just go to the usual websites remoteok, HN who is hiring thread, We Work Remotely, remote.co, github, Stack Overflow, RemoteTechJobs, etc. There are quite a few websites and referenced everywhere. I'm focusing here alone on the software ones.

So, let me try to put here five things I think they might work for getting a remote job. Honestly, they really apply to most jobs, not only remote. But if you want to go remote, and you don't have experience, then either you do 1) below, or you need to become really really special, which are 2) to 4). Let me expand on this.

1. Relocate then go remote

This is by far the most common way to go remote. It is the simplest. Does not require any extra learning effort but it is also the hardest in consequences. Nevertheless, most of the people I know that are currently remote, have done it this way. You find a job you like, in a place you like, and you move there. You move with your boyfriend, your girlfriend, your family, or just alone. You spend a few months working hard, maybe years. People start trusting you. You become relevant, well known, a friend, a core part of team. Then, at some point you bring the news. "I want to move back home. These are my reasons. I love this company and would love if I could work from my place." If you have done a great job and the company is flexible, they will allow you working from home.

But hey WARNING, make sure you do some research before moving elsewhere. You must check that the company is indeed flexible with regards to working location. Maybe, you can check whether there are other people already working remotely. That would be a huge bonus point. Beware that some companies have remote working banned so you should definitely skip those. If when bringing the topic the company refuses to let you work remotely and there happen to be other several people doing remote work, then you should consider why. Is it that your team is not flexible? Is it that your manager dislikes it? All those factors are things that you will have to learn and act upon. Maybe you have to change teams. Maybe you have to leave the company. As mentioned above, this option is by far the easiest in execution, but you should have a plan and have actions very clear especially for the case when things don't go as planned.

2. Learn skills that are difficult to find

Many companies will hire remote workers for positions that are very difficult to fill from only local talent or for positions that are difficult to get people relocating for. You can try to jump into those if you fancy any of the topics and you are willing to be working on a non-remote company, which is hard.

Usually, if we focus on tech, companies on legacy platforms or legacy languages would be willing to hire you from wherever you are. However, there will be a tax paid on working in those stacks. This price is one of yourself going obsolete. It is not something I would recommend. There are some languages like C++ that I've noticed companies are still willing to hire remote and that are kind of legacy but not that bad at all and still hot in some environments. Frontend and design are some other positions for which you might see exceptions in companies. But personally what I would try to focus is on new or rarer programming languages or frameworks, especially if you know you will fancy these. For example, Rust, Clojure, Erlang, Elixir, Scala, or really kind of any functional programming language. All those are languages and frameworks for which it is difficult to hire.

If you find yourself becoming knowledgeable or expert on a stack that is difficult to hire for then your chances of being able to work remote have considerably multiplied.

3. Certify yourself in some valuable technology

This works as the previous point does. Again, you are trying to make yourself special and valuable to companies. Something that has always worked is to become certified in some demanded technology. Certifications as with many assets lose value over time. Of course there are exceptions, but for example, a Java programming certification is almost useless today if you ask me, but 18 years ago when I got it was amazingly valued. I was one of the first 10 people in Spain that achieved it. After getting it, I got a job with pretty much no interview. When I did ask my boss later, he was very clear: "We are a consultancy and you were one of the first 10 people in Spain with that certification. That alone provided us huge return. We knew we had to hire you."

This works today too but you need to find the appropriate tech. It needs to be new, modern, there needs to be demand. In summary, it needs to provide value to the company hiring you. I will not enter on whether Certifications are worth or not. But definitely, hiring managers do appreciate to find that people have spent some time learning and doing the exams, even when we perfectly know there might be many other non-certified people that surely can be much better. And as mentioned, for some cases like with consultancy companies, certifications have extra value.

So find something you love, something you can afford, something modern and hot. Maybe AI, maybe data intelligence, 5G, security, IOT, connected cars, i.e. some area that is soaring and that might have fewer candidates and get certified on whatever certifications might exist there. That will make your application more attractive and in any case, it will help you with local jobs too.

4. Engage in local communities

Social networks are by far the most used way to find and hire employees. I cannot guarantee you that by going to local events you are going to find a remote job, or any job. But what I can guarantee you is that by engaging with local communities you will have a much better chance to find a job and you will likely learn a lot too.

Maybe you are lucky and you end up connecting with people that are working remote. Those people might want to refer you to job offers that they know of, either in their company or in other companies. Prove yourself valuable and capable. Demonstrate passion and eagerness and opportunities will come. Local speaking also helps and opens many doors. And, who knows. You might actually find that you are really good at speaking. That really helps too. Did I say that developer advocates is a profession that has got really popular on the last few years and that is mainly done remotely? It is. It requires a lot of travel too. But if that is your thing then start contributing to a local community is certainly a good way to get into that world.

5. Contribute to Open Source communities.

This is another very usual way to go remote. Find something that you are passionate about. Check the open source community for projects around that topic. If we are talking about software, for example, go and download some of those projects. Get familiar with the sources. Learn how to build these projects. How to install them, how to debug them.

At some point you will find yourself comfortable with the code and able to answer questions and solve issues. Engage with the community. Sooner you might find yourself doing contributions and sending pull requests. Hey, if those get approved, you will be an Open Source Contributor!! Very few things look cooler on resumes, believe me. ( on programmers' resumes, of course :))

If you are a contributor, you might get changes to speak. If you like it you might even become popular. But believe me, before even speaking or being popular I wouldn't be surprised if you get a few job offers to come from other people from that same Open Source community where you started to work at. When I was contributing to Open Source I got quite a lot of those, some even from very cool projects and companies. And it felt really great, both contributing and being appreciated for it.

6. Build your real side projects

On my job, I do have to review many job applications. Some of them actually come with Github profiles. Those, always call my attention. However, that attention usually fades away when I see that the Github repos from that profile are just a bunch of exercises or forked repos.

If you really really want to be special and therefore to have unique chances to be hired remotely ( or locally ) then the best way is to have real side projects. With real, I mean real things that people can browse, download, install or use. Something real. That might be a website, an iPhone or Android app, some command line utility. In summary, something that the person doing the hiring can actually go and try. That will demonstrate that not only you have a good resume but you can actually execute things.

But wait, what should you create? Well, you should start with something that you like. Try to solve maybe a problem that you have. Or perhaps something for your beloved ones. For example, I currently run a website which happens to be the biggest community for Spanish speaking cake crafters. I just created it because I wanted to see how it looked like to run a real node.js app in a production-like system. So as my wife liked baking I went ahead and created a website for her. Recruiters proactively searching for talent still question me about it when they get in touch.

Or for example, I always struggle trying to book holidays for my family. Trying to find a suitable place for two kids that pleases them and both my wife and me has always been exhausting. So I just went and I did create an app that specializes in booking places for kids. Will it be super popular? I doubt it. But it solves my problem and also helped me to learn what it really means to write a mobile app.

So, try to find some technology you want to learn. Find some problem you have and then go and create a side project. There is nothing more effective than this when it comes to calling a hiring manager's attention. You will learn tons of stuff and you will demonstrate that you are not only theoretical but you actually have real proven experience.

Wrapping up

Wrapping up, pretty quickly. Finding a job is hard. Find a remote job is even harder. You should consider really if you want to go remote. You can check my previous article if you need it but overall if you don't have experience then, in my opinion, your options are either to become really special or to relocate and then try to force a move.

In any case, I do hope this article has given you some ideas on how to do one or the other and hope you the best of luck!

Thank you for reading.

Discussion (8)

Collapse
volcanicpenguin profile image
Lee Comstock

This is quite frustrating. A year and a half ago I moved from the city to the country side of a different country, and in doing so I kept working for the same company as in the city but now remote. However after a year they ran out of projects for me to work on and I now have to find new work. I can't relocate as I have my daughter and her mother living in the area. There aren't a lot of tech jobs where I live. Been looking for remote work, and even though I have 4 years experience in frontend development and 1 year remote experience, and I'm good at what I do, I'm still struggling to find a remote job as there are surprisingly few of them. It's frustrating to see how behind the times the industry is, I hope it'll catch it up with time. Until then I hope I won't end up homeless or some shit. I barely even speak the language here. Pro tip, this is the kind of shit you get yourself in when you trust crazy women with birth control. But hey, as I keep telling myself, struggle builds character. Thanks for listening to my Ted talk.

Collapse
mpermar profile image
Martín Pérez Author

You might try contracting. Sometimes it is easier to get a gig that way as companies feel it a less risky bet. Many contractors eventually move to full-time employees.

Collapse
javitrevino profile image
javitrevino • Edited

Thank you so much for the article, I think it paints a very honest picture of the whole situation with remote jobs. I still want to find one for myself but I'm now much more aware about the need to acquire special/unique skills that are needed to do so. Good job, thanks!

Collapse
tuljmdev profile image
tuljmdev

As someone who has recently been feeling motivated to really start looking for a remote job, this is both discouraging and encouraging. Thanks for the input.

Collapse
shah_cattolico profile image
Jordan Freydun Shamlou • Edited

What about remote jobs for non-tech people? If I want to be in inside sales, for instance, am I pretty much screwed in terms of getting a truly remote position that also pays the bills?

Collapse
developify1 profile image
mark_boyer • Edited

I recently found a job board with many remote opportunities for sales (surprisingly), the website is getremotify.com you should check it out!

Collapse
shah_cattolico profile image
Collapse
mpermar profile image
Martín Pérez Author

Sales positions are often remote-friendly, as very usually salespeople need to travel a lot.

Forem Open with the Forem app