How To Get a Remote Tech Job

Coding remote

Imagine the date was 1956 and you probably told your boss you’d be working out of a cafe today rather than be at the office. There’s a high chance you’d get a rash response tagging you as an unserious or unbelievable employee. You might even get fired or receive a threat close to that. But then, that’s in the early nineties. 

Welcome to the new era where remote working culture is no longer a taboo but is fast becoming the ultimate resort for many companies all over the world. 

Others even consider it more of a preference than an option. And this explains why remote jobs have grown so vast in recent years. 

Flexjobs, a leading global remote jobs aggregator, carried out a recent study that showed “regular remote work grew 115% between 2005 and 2015, nearly 10 times faster than the rest of the workforce.”  Also, “3.9 million U.S. employees, or 2.9% of the total U.S. workforce, work from home at least half of the time, up from 1.8 million in 2005.”

One otherwise interesting fact about the research was when it states that “half-time remote workers gain back 11 days a year—time they would have otherwise spent commuting”

Placing all these, one wouldn’t argue at the recently growing notion that “the future of work is remote”. But before delving into the future, perhaps we should have a closer look at the current state of remote jobs and how well it is catching on…. Or not. 

State of remote jobs

In 2019, Buffer conducted a remote work survey which had about 2,500 respondents. Post survey, the social media management platform accumulated all  interesting data on remote work culture, but according to Buffer, none was as powerful as a particular stat which had 99% of all respondents concur; 

If you’re reading this now, chances are you’d be amongst the 99% of respondents who’ll at least want to work remotely for some time through their careers. Buffer, surmising the significance of this discovery states: 

“This is a notable stat to have discovered; while remote work is sometimes portrayed as a trend, these results seem to infer that this way of working is here to stay. Out of all the data we collected, no response was as powerful as this one.”

But on the other hand, has there really been a side to life that isn’t full of pros and cons? Besides, there’s so much the future is presenting on this recent nature of work. 

Let’s explore a bit. Shall we? 

What the future holds  

While the recent saying that the future of work is remote holds true with every passing day, the reality is that the future is now. An article by Inc. reveals that “63% of companies now have remote workers and 48% of companies use freelancers (up from 43% a year ago). Also, work done by freelancers has increased by 168% and 6 times more hiring managers believe agile team structures will become the norm”. 

This is in addition to the rising use of mobile work tools and virtual video conferencing software like Zoom, Glip, Slack, Asana, Skype, Trello, etc., which are fast taking over face-to-face meetings, as the preferred form of communications with AI also playing a major role in remote staff and operations management.

All of these are bound to increase in coming years, as AI gets more sophisticated, virtual communications tools become more robust and the internet becomes more affordable, thanks to the ongoing efforts of the A4AI (Alliance for Affordable Internet). 

In light of the recent spike in the availability of remote jobs let’s consider some in-demand remote skills currently across the world.

In-demand remote skills

Globally, there’s a number of highly sought-after remote skills. They range from copywriting, editing, virtual assistance, data entry, telemarketing, social media management, project management, to more technical-oriented skills like software engineering, systems administration, graphics designs, technical translating, technical customer support and so much more. 

Balance, One of the World’s top career sites, published a research on the top-rated remote skills in this century. In no particular listing order, they include:  

  1. Call center jobs: With more and more B2C [Business-To-Customers] companies needing to service and satisfy clients, the need for call center jobs is soaring. On the average, virtual call center agents take ​inbound customer service and sales calls and are paid  between $9-10 per hour. Multinational companies like Amazon pay their Virtual Call Representatives up to $12 per hour. Usually, call center jobs double as customer support services. 
  1. Data Entry: ZipRecruiter, a global online recruiting platform states that a mid-level data entry clerk’s salary ranges from $27,000 to $56,000, while the average pay is $37,000 per year. Entry-level clerks, however, generally start at a lower rate, and hourly wages can dip as low as $9 – $10 per hour.
  1. Transcription Jobs: Those providing services of captioning, transcription, and translation services are known to employ the services of transcribers, real-time captioners, editors, and translators to work at home. Pay is usually on the average of $1-$1.50 per audio minute; real-time captioning may go for $75/hour.
  1. Programming jobs: With more companies are looking to automate their process and adopt technology across operations; the need for programmers is on the rise. From a computer support specialist,to a systems analyst, or web and software developer, the median annual wage in this field ranges from  $49,390 to $106,860. 
  1. Sales Jobs:  Sales jobs come in different forms; you can either be employed by a company or work as an Independent sales consultant. Those in the later category often define their own remuneration or adopt the commission basis. Affiliate Sales Executives are also known to have lucrative income sources since they are able to work with, or list offerings of multiple companies. 
  1. Translators: this is where speaking in more than one language comes handy for the most people because on the remote scene globally,  companies are actively seeking bi-lingual or polylingual speakers as they expand their businesses globally. The best part is, translators are often highly priced; we can say, the more the languages, the merrier. And according to BalanceCareers, Spanish is the language most in-demand, followed by Japanese, Korean, Chinese, and French. Translators can have flexible schedules, albeit with tight deadlines.
  1. Teaching & Language tutorials: with over 7 billion people in the world, there’s a growing need for online tutors, adjunct professors, language tutors, educational consultants and those selling educational materials. Gigs in these categories are known to average $50,000 yearly. While Educational writers and editors may earn up to $75 hourly. 
  1. Virtual Assistants (VAs): usually known to provide remote administrative support to a company, team or executive such as scheduling meetings, booking travel, responding to emails, phone calls or messages on social media, or maintaining records, VAs have the earning capacity of $15 hourly according to PayScale. 
  1. Graphic Designer: often recruited by design-centered services, promotional agencies, and publishers,  a lot of graphics designers prefer to freelance. They usually create designs for social media, websites, packaged products, video games, promotional displays, marketing materials, and more. Depending on location, experience, and engagement terms, graphic designers earn up to $50,370 median wage. 
  1. Freelance Writing: As a freelance writer, you get to produce whatever written text or copy needed by clients, either working from home or in a rented office space. Most freelance writers get to define their own working terms and styles, as well as their remuneration scale, depending on the client or company they engage. They earn up to $$61,820 annually according to the Bureau of Labour Statistics. 

Remote job remuneration 

Based on several studies, most remote workers are young and well below 30 years of age. On average, remote workers earn an average of $19 USD per hour no matter the industry and spend less than 40 hours per week working. Different factors, however, determine how much a company/client is willing to pay remote workers in various industries. 

For instance, the skill set required, technicality, experience levels, expected deliverables and even hiring regions are usually considered when benchmarking hourly rates for remote workers. 

And from what we’ve realized, sought-after skills such as Design/Multimedia and IT/ Programming may earn up to $21 per hour. While other technical skills like Writing/translation and Sales Marketing may receive  $16-18 hourly rates. Interestingly, legal workers can go home with up to 24USD/hr. 

The infographics below details these rates across diverse sectors:

Source: Remote-how

While some schools of thought dispel the fact that remote workers are capable of earning much more than their office counterparts, the other remote working perks we’ve explored above are what many remote workers find even more satisfying than monetary rewards. 

But considering that career objectives differ, you may need to have a more in-depth understanding of what’s expected before taking a remote job decision. 

How to know if a remote job is best for you / Is a remote job the best for me? 

Like every other life-evolving decision we make as humans, there’s a lot to be considered when deciding if to follow the remote working path. 

If you’re that type that isn’t easily distracted, gets more work done in solitude, loathes being restricted, doesn’t enjoy the formal way of doing things or traditional corporate company culture, or intends to be a digital nomad, yet willing to earn a significant living, you may be tilting towards the remote way of doing things. But don’t get excited yet. 

There are foundational remote job prerequisites to determine how set you are. Let’s call it the “Remote-Readiness Checklist”.  They include: 

  • Remote-marketable skills: do you have what you can sell remotely? [more on this later]
  • Discipline: can you squarely face tasks and deliver them without procrastinating or getting easily distracted by yourself, physical environment, or the internet?
  • Tools: got an efficient pc, uninterrupted power supply or fast internet connection? 
  • Workable environment: how comfortable are your chairs [ ergonomics recommended] or working desks? 

Once you’ve been able to establish your Remote-Readiness Checklist, it’s time to get started. 

Getting Started With a Remote Job? (Taking the baby steps)

Here are practical steps to initialise your remote career.  We call it the “5Ds of Remote Working Path.” The very first path is a genuine question you’ve got to ask yourself; “Do you have a remotely-marketable skill? This takes us to the first phase of the 5Ds of Remote Path — Discovery. 

Discovery

The discovery phase is the very foundation of remote work. It involves critically examining yourself and analyzing your present skill sets, to see whether or not they are remote-friendly or marketable. It’s as simple as picking up a pencil and piece of paper, listing out all areas you are good at while striking out your points of weaknesses. Once you’re able to narrow down to at least the top three skills you are very confident about, you should move on to the next step — Development. 

Development: 

If you realize that you have no remote working skills, you may need to start aligning your interests. For instance, if you work out as a security officer at your company, you might not necessarily do much as a remote security staff. But if you align that part to starting a skill as a cybersecurity expert, then, you’re already graduating from a non-remote marketable skill to a skill whose demand isn’t restricted by borders. 

However, the Development Phase goes both ways for those having presumably marketable and non-remote marketable skills. For instance, you might be a good technical writer or a virtual assistant. That’s a remote-friendly skill you got already, however, if you do not develop on such skills, by perhaps learning some enhanced virtual assistance or social media course,  taking a course in data entry as a virtual assistant and another in Google Analytics as a social media aficionado, then, you will find it really difficult competing in the remote job space. 

So, once you’ve developed on a remote-friendly and marketable skill it’s time to display them to the world. This brings us to the next D — Display. 

Display: 

Simply put, the display is the marketing phase of your remote skills. It’s when you place it out there and begin competing with others on similar projects. This time, you’d only have an edge if you’ve gone through the development stage of honing your skills to move beyond what a regular person with the same skillsets as yours might be doing at that particular time. 

Short courses and certifications from reputable companies such as Google, Twitter, Adobe, Alison, etc, could really make you stand out. You can begin displaying your remote skills sets on remote job boards, freelancing platforms and social media (mostly on LinkedIn; Instagram is also helpful at this stage). You may not necessarily need a website, except, you’ll rather opt for a more custom page for your brand identification and portfolio display. Otherwise, LinkedIn is just fine with displaying your experience and expertise; and cloud hosting platforms such as Dropbox and Google Drive will be great to compile and hold your portfolio. 

Moving on to the next D — Demand. 

Demand: 

Just as the name implies, this is the point where you place a demand for your skills. Once you’ve established your professional footing having gone through the prior three Ds, the next is to place your rates and demand a price for your skill sets. It’s imperative, however, that you do a survey related to your niche before placing a price so you don’t go beyond or beneath the market rate. Going beyond could make you look too pricey and end up discouraging your potential employers or clients while going below might make employers wanting to engage you to feel you may not be as qualitative as you claim. You have to strike the balance. You can refer to our pricing guide above to get started. But the average rate for remote work across all industries has been fixed at $19/hour. This could go a little below or above, but not so far off. 

Diversify: 

The diversification phase is often the last resort for many remote workers. This is when after establishing a lot of influence and making so much, many freelancers or remote job owners might want to try out other fields, whether related or unrelated. While this boosts their earning power, it also makes them vast across multi-sectors, and owing to the fact that there are no restrictions in remote jobs, it becomes an encompassing way to grow career-wise. 

Remote workers at the final D-stage are often highly-priced. They are the top 6% who may go as high as $105 / hour. 

The Pros of remote jobs (Why it’s the next big thing)

There are pros and cons to going on a remote path. Let’s examine each of these squarely. 

  • No more early mornings: Your once dreaded commute is over, no more waking early, no more traffic or annoying rush hours and annoying office stress and drama
  • Your own schedule: Nobody is watching. You can take an online yoga class right inside your room while setting up for work. Go ahead, no one will raise an eye. Depending on your job function, you can work when you want and gain more time. 
  • Work anywhere: you can literally work anywhere. You can work from your kitchen or your favorite cafe or even rent a personal workspace depending on what works for you.
  • Family time: This means you can have more family time and the flexibility of working from home might help you save the extra money you would normally spend commuting
  • Low cost: Cutting cost on commuting, expensive mandatory formal wears, and exotic cafeterias ultimately save you money in the long run

The Cons of remote jobs (red flags to look out for)

Despite the alluring benefits of remote jobs, there are usually red flags to watch out for. Left unattended, they could ultimately jeopardize the very essence of the remote working culture. We’ve listed the most prevalent. 

  • Indiscipline: there’s a high chance of being distracted at remote jobs — could be family, friends, or you could as well distract yourself
  • Drudgery and Procrastination: since there are no close monitoring or direct supervision, it’s easy to procrastinate tasks needing immediate attention. This results in loss of efficiency and stalls productivity
  • Interpersonal Communication may suffer: you might be terrible at relating with other people; working closely with a physical team helps to curb this. The risk with virtual teamwork is,  you may lose the human touch and your chances for interpersonal growth 
  • Loneliness: Working remotely can get really lonely most times, and this can easily cause boredom and sadness. Overall, it could generate a more solitude-personified workforce in decades to come which truncates the chances of developing emotional connections with peers beyond work. In plain terms, the line between living a life and your work becomes really thin 
  • Overworking: When you hear remote working, it all sounds like having more time to relax whilst working. However, it may not always be so as some people may lose track of time while working, and others  may begin to struggle between work hours and family time resulting in burn out
  • No bonding moments: Some creative ideas are born during physical discussions between colleagues and peers. But this could be lost due to working remotely
  • Under-woking: Remote jobs may impose little work supervision on someone since they have no one to checkmate them. A remote staff can easily fall into low productivity at work.

Suggested Read: 9 in-demand tech skills (previously written article)

Buffer puts it aptly in infographics: 

Where to get foreign remote jobs – Remote Job Boards 

You can start your career as a remote worker in one of two ways: either as a freelancer or as a fulltime remote employee. From freelancing platforms to remote job boards and job applications, hundreds of remote vacancies are being published by employers every other day and aggregated across multiple platforms. 

TechtalentHQ has taken the time to examine some of the credible remote job boards while sorting them out in several categories: 

As a freelancer, platforms to explore for remote works include

  1. Freelancer.com: Nicknamed  “The World’s Largest Outsourcing Marketplace,” Freelancer.com is packed with remote freelancing gigs. All you need is to create a profile and start bidding for jobs
  1. Fiverr: This is the platform most people would go to if they are on a tight budget. So this could be a good place to start because the site allows customers to leave reviews and comments after working with you. The site also shows days you need to deliver an order thereby setting a deadline automatically. To enable you to get work done faster
  1. Upwork: On Upwork, you can find a more diverse category of talents and projects, and membership is free. However, the remote worker needs to understand you get paid a minimal amount whenever they bid on a project
  1. Freelancermap: Here, you can find thousands of IT projects that are remote, and almost always on contract terms. This site is used  globally, with projects at companies from Poland  to Spain and the US
  1. Elance: More than 300K programmers and over 200K designers use Elance to connect with remote job opportunities. Microsoft, Cisco, and Mozilla are just a few of the companies hiring contract workers on Elance
  1. SolidGigs: This site is one of the best remote sites because it not only offers remote job listings but  offers in addition, a monthly membership fee which grants you access to a huge resource library with courses, interviews, templates, scripts, and other tools, all with the focus of helping you land more freelance jobs, pitch high profile clients, negotiate your rates, and grow your remote business. Awesome, right?
  1. AngelList: If you’ve always wanted to work for a startup but do not live in a city then this is your destination site
  1. Ruby Now: This  job board is entirely dedicated to Ruby developers.

Remote Job Boards

You can find in the list below some of the best remote job websites online. No matter the type of remote services you offer, there is a site that best suits the kind of jobs you may be looking for.

Let’s check them out!

As a full-time or part-time employee, your go-to platforms will be: 

  1. Flexjobs: What makes this site stand out is that it has a well-organized listing of not only remote jobs but also part-time and flexible gigs. You won’t have to worry about job scams and annoying Ads. However, the site is not free
  1. Remotive: On Remotive, you can search through categories of gigs. On this site, it’s quite easy to find jobs and see exactly where it’s located. The coolest thing about this site is that you can get free newsletters and webinars and it’s all free to join 
  1. Working Nomads: This site was formerly known as (goRemotely) and offered a well put together system where you get jobs directly on your email, weekly or daily depending on your preferences
  1. PowerToFly: This new site is focused on giving women in tech a better opportunity at landing tech jobs by matching them to jobs all over the world. Founded by two techie moms, this site is the perfect place to start as a female in tech. With a monthly subscription, you can enjoy all the benefits of this amazing site 
  1. Jobspresso: You don’t have to create an account to start finding jobs and applying for jobs here. Developers, designers, DevOps, and UX specialists will find this site very helpful.
  1. Authentic Jobs: Authentic Jobs is a board for web professionals that is easy to use and well designed for developers and web designers.
  1. Dribble: Great site for graphics designers, where they have the option to click for jobs remotely/anywhere.
  1. WeWorkRemotely:  Positioned as the largest remote work community in the world. With over 2.5M monthly visitors, WWR is a great destination to find and list incredible remote jobs.

Steps to creating your portfolio as a remote worker

Upon deciding to go the remote path, the next is preparing yourself. 

  • STEP A

Define your skill sets: going through the 5Ds of Remote Work Success (as analyzed above) will help you a lot.

  • STEP B

Create a sharp resume online (You could use online tools — such as Resume.io, Canva, or pay a professional designer for a custom-tailored CV.) 

  • STEP C

Position yourself online professionally: No one will reach out to you if you aren’t visible. Therefore, it is imperative you are deliberate with your online and social media positioning as a remote worker. You can make use of free self-hosting platforms such as About.me, to build a robust profile and or utilize the LinkedIn platform for a professional outlook. 

  • STEP D

Make use of social media platforms:  As of June 2017, the world’s population stands at 7.5 billion with 3.8 billion people using the internet. Active social media users account for 2.89 billion people, which is penetration of 39%. Active mobile social users are not far behind at 2.69 billion.  Social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram allows you to reach a high number of internet users, through videos, texts, pictures and promotional Ads. And it’s totally  free. Why not take advantage of this?

  • STEP E

Showcase your portfolio: The many advantages of having a portfolio page can not be underestimated. Depending on your kind of skills, you could host your portfolio on a personal website, or free self-hosting platforms like About.me. Do not forget that using cloud hosting platforms like Google Drive or Dropbox might be more cost-efficient. All you need do is share the link to your works whenever requested.

Research shows that a large percentage of online transactions always start with an online check, and in most cases a visual representation of your works and recommendations is all your potential client or employer needs to be convinced of your competence. You should be totally keen on creating a portfolio and case study profile because, in the end, they happen to be your low-cost marketing tool.

How to do well at a remote tech job

Despite the intricacies and cons that may surround remote jobs, which also suggest why hundreds of companies are slowly adopting the new working culture dubbed the future of work, there’s a way to overcome the hurdles. 

Below are highly practical steps remote professionals adopt: 

  • Have a goal (career + remuneration goals): it all begins with a goal that you work towards. Working with the end in mind makes you alert and focused. You wouldn’t lose track easily.
  • Stay organized: you have to be conscious enough to realize that although remote jobs promise freedom, it’s still a job. Hence, a lack of organization could distort your activities and the chance of being able to deliver.
  • Develop a sense of accountability: in a survey about remote workers, more than 580 remote professionals claim that despite their virtual schedules, they are able to deliver efficiently because they work as if they’re being watched. Working as though there’s an invisible supervisor behind you makes you develop a sense of accountability, indeed. You should adopt such sensitivity as a remote worker.  
  • Use project management tools & scheduling tools:  It’s easy to lose track of time as a remote worker due to self-generated or external distractions. The best way to curb this is to adopt online project management tools such as Trello, Asana or Evernote. Google Suites is also very efficient when it comes to project management and scheduling
  • Gain feedback and recommendations: Working on sites such as Fiverr and Upwork allows you to easily get feedback and recommendations from clients which could, in turn, be used to build your portfolio. These sites allow clients to add ratings to your profile which serves as a good indicator for clients. However, some comments can put you down in the face of a potential client. Nevertheless, this is not a bad place to start.
  • Plan your day: Just like your regular job, make a schedule that includes prioritizing and setting goals for your projects. This will help you keep track of what should be done to meet deadlines.
  • Create a conducive workspace: Starting your remote job from the comfort of your bed may not work for you. That said, you might want to make some space for your work desk where you keep everything you need to work with separate from the regular items you would normally use at home and possibly away from the distractions of family and noise from outside. This way you can get into the work ambiance whenever you are in that space.
  • Keep your phone away from you: Though on our phones, we may have a lot of apps that help us stay productive, keeping your phone close to you when working remotely might not always be the best idea. There are lots of distractions that come with having an app filled phone. Also, receiving constant phone calls may slow down your workflow and concentration. A smarter thing to do is to switch off your phone at the early hours of your work or just putting it on silent mode so you don’t get distracted every time you get a notification
  • Set boundaries: This might mean hiring a nanny if you have kids so that your kids don’t come between you and work. Friends and family might not be allowed to visit at certain hours of the day to avoid distractions. Having to constantly shift your attention may distort concentration, destroy ideas and impair creativity.

Did you find this article helpful? Let us know in the comment box. But most importantly, we’d like to know why you may be considering remote jobs right now? And if you’re a remote worker already, could you share with us your experience so far? We’d love to hear from you! 

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