Increasingly, companies are either fully remote or are at least considering remote workers. There are really two approaches to becoming a remote employee. In “The Four Hour Work Week“, Tim Ferriss talks about how to transition to remote work in your current job. This will focus on getting a job, and some specifics about remote jobs. This is post is not about transitioning from onsite to offsite with the same company. This post is not about why remote is good or bad for the company or employee. The reasons people wish to work remote differ a lot based on situation and circumstance.
General developer job search advice
Job hunting is a roller coaster. There will be some lag time between sending your first applications and hearing back, then you will hear some positive news and some negative news. As things progress the news will be more intensely positive or negative. Don’t toss your cookies ;). When things aren’t going well it might help to vent to an understanding friend.
Write a blog. Putting yourself out there is super hard. You will likely experience imposter syndrome and at times feel like you have nothing valuable to say. Push through and f’ing do it. The biggest benefit is that employers will see that you’re interested and passionate about something. Every time you write a bit of code that isn’t cookie cutter, make a note / shoot yourself and email because that’s likely a great topic for a blog post. I recommend either using Tumblr or WordPress. No need to roll your own (we all know you want to roll your own blogging engine. It’s so you can procrastinate, don’t!).
Attend and SPEAK at meetups. What do you think the most valuable resource you have is? Mad ruby skills? You can build things at scale? You’re a micro-service artisan? Sweet! Those are great, but none of that comes close to how valuable your NETWORK is. Who you know and who you’re connected to is hands down the most valuable resource in building an incredible career. One of the best ways to expand your social graph is meetups. Especially if you don’t live in SF / NYC meetups are a great way to meet other people who are also working remotely.
Give back. Everyone has some body of knowledge that would be of value to someone else if only they shared. Engage on Twitter, StackOverflow, LinkedIn. Volunteer at a rails bridge, nodeschool, or hour of code in your town. You never know when one of the people you help now will be a hiring manager later ;). More motivation: giving back feels damn good.
Job hunting is a numbers game. At any point time there is a finite set of open jobs and a finite number of people searching for jobs. Indeed has a couple neat tools for analyzing the job market, here’s one of my favorites: http://www.indeed.com/jobtrends/unemployment. This shows the ratio of openings per job hunters. In the majority of cities and job markets today, there are more people looking for jobs, than there are job openings. Lets say there are 100 openings and 200 unemployed people. Some of those people will apply to 1 job others will apply to more. In the end companies will receive some number of applicants. Your goal should be to play the odds. If we assume that companies will all get an average of 50 applications, you want to be damn sure you apply to 51 places. It’s super hard to get an idea of exactly what that application rate is, so you must shoot as high as possible. Its turtles all the way down, folks.
The more applications you send, the more responses and initial screenings you’ll have. The more screenings you pass the more onsite interviews you’ll be invited to. The more onsite interviews you get, the more offers will stack up in your inbox. The more offers you get the more picky you can be about working where you want to.
Remote job specific search advice
Optimistically assume that all companies are willing to try remote. Even if a job posting does not include “Remote” still apply. There are some cases where a job posting will be explicit about not allowing remote. Skip only those that mention “No Remote.” Apply to all others.
Use remote job sites and resources. like...
- indeed.com (search with remote)
Consider working onsite temporarily. One reasons companies don’t like to hire remote workers is lack of trust. If the team has never worked with you how can they trust that you’re not just sitting at home binge watching House of Cards? How can they trust that you’re faithfully executing your duties and working as hard as you can for them? One possibility is that you work in person, onsite with the company for a period. Maybe 1-3 months. Suggesting this upfront will go a long way.
Consider working onsite for short periods. When working remotely its super easy to be forgotten. You don’t want that. If you’re forgotten, the next step is to be laid off and forgotten forever. One way to stay top of mind is to plan monthly or quarterly trips to the office. Spend a few days or a week at a time working onsite. This will help you build the onsite relationships with your coworkers and could refresh and reinvigorate your passion for whatever projects you may be working on.
Make a plan. If you’ve never worked remotely, it may come as a surprise to you that the environment you create for work is critical to being productive. When I switched from working onsite to working remotely, I had already started a membership at a co-working space and squared away Internet and teleconferencing equipment.
I have been working remotely at my new gig for about 6 months or so. In the beginning I worked onsite for 6 weeks. I visit the office in San Francisco a few days a month.
I’d love to hear your feedback and help you with your search.