If you’re tired of applying to dozens of jobs and scratching your head with confusion thinking how to land a remote job, this piece is for you. I’ve been working remotely for over 5 years now and I’ve learned a thing or two. I’ll be sharing with you everything I’ve picked up regarding landing remote jobs that have worked for me.
First, we’ll go through a few things to keep in mind, then how to prepare a resume, the best websites to land remote jobs, and what the interview process is like for such positions.
And I want to remind everyone that I’m no guru or expert in this and all that I’m about to share are things that I’ve experienced or personally seen other people go through. So take it with a grain of salt and decide things for yourself.
So let’s jump right into it.
Thing to keep in mind for remote job hunting
1. Know your “why”
This might seem like something you can ignore and jump to the next points. However, getting to understand why exactly you want to work remotely can help narrow down your goals. It will help you land a remote job that not only allows you to work from anywhere but also helps you grow.
Remote jobs are awesome but not all of them. Remote work isn’t as stable as regular jobs, you’re more likely to be scammed, most of the time they pay low and there are no benefits. Also working on your own and managing your time with all distractions laying around your house can choke your productivity quickly.
So ask yourself “Why” and “What”.
For example, if you are learning some new skills and potentially switching careers then maybe trying freelancing first is a good idea to test the waters.
If you want to travel the world and have some source of income then you should probably avoid high-stress jobs like programming so you can enjoy traveling without having to constantly think about that one problem that you can’t fix. Instead, focus on something lighter that pays well.
2. Know their “why”
When hunting for jobs we often become too focused on ourselves and what we want. In doing so, we fail to see why exactly are they looking for candidates.
The thing about remote jobs is that the talent pool is huge. You are competing with the whole world including people from countries where the cost of living might be lower than yours. That makes it impossible for you to work at the rates that they are happy to jump on. That’s because what you might think as a joke salary or hourly rate, might be a dream job for someone living in Congo.
That’s where you can stand out of the crowd by giving them more than just credentials and showing how good you are. Look, everyone who applies thinks they are a perfect choice and they have it all that is required and recruiters are probably bored of reading similar cover letters again and again.
But If you can give them a practical reason, you suddenly turn the tables. Maybe you are interested in their core mission. Maybe you are a big fan of a certain product that they have. Maybe their service will give you a sense of purpose. Basically, anything that shows that you took the time to research the company and what kind of a person they need for the given role. That makes you different and boosts your chances of getting a call.
4. Avoid brute force approach
Alright, been there, done that and I would not recommend you to do the same. I used to open up remote jobs websites (we’ll be covering those websites later) and just spray my resume across the world.
I used to apply to each listing that was anything similar to what I might be able to fit in. I applied even to the listings where I passed only one of ten requirements. The end results were disappointing and rightfully so.
The common questions like “what makes you a good fit” or “why do you want to work with us” used to annoy me so much and I remember being like “Dude, I’m just looking for a job that pays better”. However, after enough applications, I realized the importance of these questions.
You gotta think about it from their angle for a bit. Maybe you truly have something other than money that makes you interested in the role or maybe you don’t. But you have to give them something that shows that you are serious about it and took the time to write the answers even if they never fully read them.
And don’t think of me as some corporate BS supporter. I hate them as much as the next person for unreasonably making us dance like monkeys. And I hate this whole hunting game in general but you gotta play the game until you manage to start your own business. So if you’re gonna play the game, why not play it well?
How to prepare resume for finding a remote job
Before we get into how you should prepare your resume to land remote jobs, we first need to understand the key difference between office and remote jobs.
That is that remote jobs tend to put more value on experience and less on degrees. When you are looking for a regular job you can get your foot into the door even with no experience. You can do so by simply volunteering or as an intern who learns things and works their way up the ladder. That’s not the case with remote positions.
That’s because when working remotely you are away from the eyes of your employer. Yes, some companies make you install software to track your activity and clicks and whatnot but they aren’t very hard to fool.
So remote employers tend to put a higher value on people who have some experience doing what they are required to do because that shows that they understand the process from start to finish and know how to find their way around problems. It also shows that these workers will require less attention from seniors and know how to do things on their own.
That’s why it is difficult to get a junior developer or writer remote job these days because most listings require you to have some sort of experience.
Now with this information in mind, you should focus on building a resume that showcases how good you are and the diversity of problems you can solve.
Take the best projects that you have done, and if you haven’t done any, start something similar to the roles that you are looking for and put that on your resume. Don’t get too strangled into worrying about the design or layout of your resume unless you are applying for a design job. Just put it in a way that is easy to read and conveys your experience and skills to the reader.
Best websites to find remote jobs
After you’ve covered all of the previous things, now is it is time to hunt. You have multiple options here like cold emailing, reaching out to your friends or colleagues, or people who might have further connections to find you the job you want. But for now, let’s focus on finding remote jobs all on your own using some reputable remote work websites.
The first item that we have is AngleList which is a special place to find high-paying jobs and get an opportunity to work with startups building impressive tools. Now the reason why this place is special is that your job applications mostly go directly to executives of the company which removes the HR BS from the middle and increases your chances of getting the shot if you are good at your craft.
You can sort the jobs by basic filters and send messages to the company. Your profile is automatically included in the message. If they are interested in you, you get a notification and the ability to message back and forth.
Next up we have weworkremotely.com which is another great option for finding remote jobs. The biggest plus point here is that this website requires 299 dollars to post a job which means you are less likely to come across fake listings who are only in the market to see what kind of talent there is.
You can sort the jobs by major categories like programming, design, writing, and so on. The website boasts having more than 3 million visitors per month so be prepared for some competitions in pretty much all fields.
Next, we have remoteok.io which is pretty similar to WeWorkRemotely. They also have an API in case you are interested in scraping and filtering out jobs using your tech skills. But the overall website looks pretty good and active and has categories to make it easier to find what you are looking for. A decent option to try.
Generally not a job posting website as it focuses more on hourly or task-based projects but still offers plenty of opportunities. There are often job postings both part and full-time.
Another option you have here is to start working with clients where you think providing consistent quality work can lead to long-term opportunities. One thing you might want to keep in mind though is, Upwork projects and jobs mostly pay lower than other sites that we’ve talked about before.
What better site to offer jobs than the one that helped you learn to code and keep the jobs that you had so far in your career? Stackoverflow has quality listings and gets new jobs frequently. But that’s not all that. They have the best filters available to any job board out there.
You can filter jobs by technology you like or hate, compensation, perks, visa sponsorship, company size, experience level, roles, and even the response rate of companies.
All these things make StackOverflow the best place to find remote jobs in my opinion.
What is the interview process like
Alright, now we have talked enough about preparations and searching. Let’s take a look at what a typical remote job interview looks like. This by no means covers every company out there. Some companies are pretty laid back and you are on board after basic interviews while others take you on a whole journey. Their procedure makes you feel like you are on some spiritual tour and your soul is being purified.
This is how a typical interview goes for remote jobs.
1. Phone screening
Most companies start the process by getting to know you a little better and confirming that you can communicate things clearly. Communication is super important in remote jobs because that’s crucial in ensuring that you understand the tasks that you are given and have the entire team on the same page if you have a management role.
Phone screening interviews typically last for about 15 minutes. You’ll be asked about your previous experiences and projects. They’ll also ask what makes you interested in their company and how quickly you’ll be able to join and some other basic questions like that.
Again, the main purpose is to get to know you better and judge your communication skills more than your technical knowledge for the job.
2. Coding challenge
Things get a bit tricky here and you are given a coding challenge to solve with a time limit ranging from an hour to three hours. You are typically asked to solve between 1 - 5 problems in a given time.
The problems may or may not be related to the role that you’ve applied for. They might be a bit practical or completely pointless with the only goal being to mess up your self-confidence.
The purpose of coding challenges is to judge your problem-solving skills and even at this point you aren’t being judged for the actual job. They are just getting to know you on a deeper level and this step is in place to filter out developers who are good at coding.
I don’t entirely agree with this approach but that’s how most companies have it at the moment.
3. Technical interview or code screen test
Once you have passed the coding challenges, you are welcomed with another interview either with a technical team or code screen test with a technical lead or sometimes both one after the other.
In an interview with the technical team, they’ll grind you down to see if you know what you claim to know. This can be by asking questions related to your experience or going deep into the projects that you’ve put on your resume to see if you are bluffing. They may also paint a couple of scenarios for you involving the real work you’ll be doing if you got the job.
The code screen tests are even more stressful. You are given a set of problems similar to what you did in earlier coding challenges but the tricky part here is that you’ll have another person looking at each word you type and your process of solving a problem.
I’ve been into quite a few of them and I can tell you from experience that they are never easy to go through even when the problem you are supposed to solve isn’t that hard. That’s because of another human being looking at you while you work. And yes, it gets easier with practice but still a pretty tricky phase of the interview process.
The main purpose for either type of this stage is to not only judge your technical skills but also see how well you communicate your thoughts and how you figure your way out of stressful situations so go in prepared and with an open mind.
4. Wrap up the interview and offer
This is the final stage of interviews. You’ll be talking to the project manager or sometimes COO or CEO of the company. At this point, they know that you are good enough to do what is required of you but they still want to make sure if you are a good fit from the cultural point of view. This is more of a personality interview but technicalities often creep in pretty easily so be open to the possibility.
If they liked the way you present yourself and communicate your thoughts then you’ll be getting an offer a few days after the interview and that’s when you are the one in complete control.
The truth wins in the end. Be yourself. Let them know how good you are and the amazing things you can do. Brush off the doubts and enjoy the process. You’ll be alright.