Last week I covered a few reasons why companies are returning to the office, and especially how they could have avoided it in a remote culture.
Today I'm addressing a question that people ask me very often:
• How to land the first remote job, especially for someone who doesn't have significant professional experience in tech?
This is an example from this week, a junior Software Developer from Pakistan asked me:
These are my pragmatic tips for anyone in this situation:
1) Optimise for getting a job in the first place
Everything gets more complicated without financial stability. Having a recurring source of income means you'll have more options ahead, and you can always keep applying to your "dream job" on the side of your job.
Accept the best job that's available. Yes, I know it sucks to have a job that pays a low salary. It also sucks to work a job that's not exactly what you wanted to be doing or where you don't learn much. In any case, the financial stability can serve you as an important stepping stone.
2) Take note of your skills and experiences
I see some people overly fixated with specific job titles. Don't be that person. Focus on skills instead. Focus on jobs that you have the skills to do.
Eg: If you know some Python and did a course on AWS, don't obsess to be a DevOps Engineer (assuming that's what you want). Apply to jobs that demand your skills, those could be Software Developer, Cloud Engineer, Data Engineer, and even less technical roles like Product Analyst, IT Consultant and so on.
Don't limit yourself by applying to roles where you won't be selected. Diversify by applying to all roles that demand your skills, and double down on what works
3) Apply to junior-friendly roles
Some roles focus on senior profiles, and any applicant with little experience will be ignored by default.
Sadly, for less experienced applicants, senior roles are the majority in remote work. Roles that are remote and pay high salaries are very competitive, so the most experienced and qualified candidates will outcompete you.
To reduce competition and increase your odds of getting the job, you can focus your applications on roles that say "Junior" in the title, or that list little experience in the job description. You can also apply through niche remote job boards such as these 6, instead of the more popular ones like Linkedin or Indeed.
4) Apply to "unsexy" companies
This is bad-tasting advice, but it works. Some companies are terrible to work at for a long period, but they can be great as a starting step.
See my own example. I starter my career as an IT Consultant at Accenture, when I was a fresher out of University. I stayed there for 3 years. It wasn't great and paid a shitty salary, but I gained relevant work experience to grow into a Startup CTO role, and from there to my first remote job working to a US startup.
Companies like consultancies, outsourcing, agencies, etc are a good place to start a career and gain some relevant professional experience. They'll pay a low salary, since they need to optimise for high margins, and the culture can be quite stressing, since there are multiple clients in parallel. But those negative factors lower the competition to get those jobs, since the more qualified and experienced applicants aren't interested in such roles.
5) Apply to local companies instead of international
Instead of focusing on the holy grail of US startups that pay huge salaries, try focusing on local companies in your country or geographical area.
Those companies are less known, pay lower salaries and attract fewer applicants. Also, you won't be subject to any time zone related challenges. Applying to local companies you're likely to have much higher odds of getting that first remote job. You'll certainly use that as a stepping stone to grow into a better role and higher salary in the future.
If you're actively looking for a remote job, you might want to have a look at this list of 1000+ companies hiring remote roles right now. I built this free resource just about 2 months ago, and since then 15000 have visited the page and applied to remote roles listed there. Have a look!
I'm also launching soon my first ever cohort based course and private community, where I'll be breaking down my knowledge into modules, and will help a batch of remote job seekers find a remote job. The launch will be private, join the waitlist and stay tuned.
Thanks for reading this newsletter until the end. You can read all past editions here. Make sure to share the link with your friends and colleagues so they can read it too.
See you next Friday,
Startup CTO & Remote Work Lover