So you want to work remotely? Awesome! This article is for you.
If you’re new to this blog, I’m Ahmed. A self-taught software engineer from Morocco working remotely. You can know more about me here.
I’m providing you a 5 steps to get a remote job. I used this process myself and I hope this will set you on track to landing your first remote job. Take these steps as blueprints and feel free to step in and change things if they don’t suits you. It’s hard to find a perfect solution for everyone, and for every profession. So these are here to help you navigate.
I suggest you bookmark this page. Chances are you’ll visit it often to refresh your memory.
Why remote working?
Before starting, you need to know why you want to work remotely. It can be the international experience, a better lifestyle, working from home, or anything else. There is no good or bad answer. You just need to be able to articulate the why behind remote working. This will keep you accountable while preparing and learning.
I’m not going to lie and tell you it’s an easy process. It’s not. There is ups and downs. But what you need most is dedication. Knowing why you started this in the first place is what will keep you dedicated. It’s your polar start.
In case you need some inspiration, here are 4 reasons why remote working can be beneficial for you.
Know what you want (or get close)
What do you want to do remotely? My advise would be to start with things you are already doing. Can you do your current job remotely? Awesome! It’s going to be easier.
If you plan to switch your career, that’s totally fine too. You just need to keep in mind that it takes more time and more dedication. If you want to switch but still don’t have an idea about what to chose, that’s fine. You can move to the next step.
PS: We have a list of jobs you can do remotely.
Do your research
This is the most important step and you’ll learn a lot from it. So take notes. And don’t fool yourself with the “I’ll remember”. You will not 🙂
Once you have an idea about the jobs you want, you need to do some research around them. Visit remote working job boards (best are remoteok.io and weworkremotely.com), and start reading postings about your desired job.
If you still don’t have a clear idea about your dream job from the prior step, you need to spend more time here. Visit each job posting and read the description. This will help you understand what you’ll be doing in each job and chose the most appropriate one for you. In the end, you’ll find a job that resonates with you and give you the “Aha!” moment.
Now move to the requirements part of the jobs and read it closely. If you spend enough time with different job postings, you’ll see a pattern emerge. The things that appears in every job posting. You need to note those. Those are the things you need to work on.
Be extra curious about things that are specific to a job posting or a group of job postings. For example, ABCD Company wants a writer who’s good in English but also can talk some Portuguese because ABCD Company is a Portuguese company. From this example, knowing Portuguese is specific to this job and should be ignored. And one simple trick is asking yourself: if I remove this, can I still perform my job elsewhere? if yes, then it’s a detail. This will help you get the signal from the noise.
For me, I’ve done this research on software engineering jobs. The pattern that emerges is: you need to be able to communicate well within a team and have a record of building and shipping products. The specifics on the software engineering jobs are the programing languages, the frameworks, etc. You’ll find thousands of jobs asking for experience in Ruby on Rails. Others asking for experience in PHP… But they all share the same pattern: communicate well, build and ship. In the rest of the article, they are called areas of improvement.
Once you have your areas of improvement, you’re ready for the next step.
Build your portfolio around your areas of improvement
Now it gets interesting. You need to build your portfolio around those areas. You can read more about why a portfolio is crucial. But the TLDR; is: it’s your only way of showing people what you can do. Instead of saying: “I’m a good communicator, trust me”. You can say, “I’m a good communicator, you can see my blog here”. The second one is more convincing.
You need to find a way to improve in those areas. Then make sure to add it to your portfolio. What I mean by portfolio is a website, a blog or anything else. But basically, a place where you expose what you do.
For my case, I needed to show recruiters that I communicate well, and I can build and ship products. For the communication part, I decided to start a blog. When writing, you need to express your ideas in an easy way to reach people. And that’s how you build your communication skills. I admit my writing was terrible (and maybe still), but it’s getting better with time.
For the build and ship part, I decided I should start building small apps and share them with the world. You can find them here, but the majority of them are now retired so I can free my time to something else. Like the blog you’re reading now :). For software engineers right there, it’s ALWAYS better to build and ship something than to read a book about how to build it perfectly and end up doing nothing.
Building your portfolio is the longest step. It’s also the loneliest one as you’ll be working on your own projects with no external validation. If you can find a group of people willing to do the same as you, that’s awesome. You can learn all together. If not, do not push yourself hard and give yourself some room to breath.
I shared some advices on this article and you may find them interesting while building your portfolio: How to learn something new while keeping a daily job.
Start applying for jobs early
When you have at least one thing in each area in your portfolio. Start applying for remote jobs. Do not wait until you you have the perfect portfolio because there isn’t such thing. And odds are, you’ll not land a job from the first try. It’s part of the process.
Keep working on your portfolio, add anything interesting to your resume, and keep applying for jobs. One day it will stick.
That’s it, this all you need. It involves hard work and determination.
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Also feel free to peek around for some interesting articles like the ones suggested bellow.