Getting hired as a remote developer — my experience

Working from BioLAB in Siem Reap, Cambodia

Just back on home turf from four months of travel with no intention of stopping — next stop, France — my wife and I have embraced the digital nomad lifestyle after piloting the idea on our honeymoon. And reassuringly my appetite for doing some team-based work has come back strong, which for me means searching for a freelance contract.

This usually means scouring job boards and company websites, contacting former colleagues, clients, agents — networking. But I had been watching plenty of startups that promised to alleviate that effort of matchmaking remote developer with futuristic companies hiring from a global pool of talent:

remoteok.io, remote.com, stackoverflow.com/jobs?r=true, jobs.github.com, angel.co/jobs

There’s of course Hacker News Who’s Hiring. And even an Awesome list with a megaton of resources.

So, here’s my experience step-by-step all the way through to landing a contract. The result of what worked surprised me, and I’m disappointed that it wasn’t an ultra modern solution.

October, 2018:

  • Subscribed to RemoteOK, RemoteOnly
  • Completed profiles across Remote (Dock), StackOverflow, Github, Angel

November, 2018:

  • Submitted 8 separate applications (approx. 20–30 minutes spent on each) following from listings across the boards I subscribed to
  • Discussed an opening at a remote-first startup with an Engineering Manager on a mutual Slack forum, referred onwards to internal recruitment

December, 2018:

  • No reply from startup’s internal recruitment after a handful of positive follow-ups, stopped pursuing
  • Tumbleweed rolls across my inbox, invested time on 11 more bespoke job listing applications
  • Christmas approaches, quiet time for hiring, take a break from the search

Friday, January 4th, 2019

  • Recovered from Christmas mince pies and port hangover
  • Still nothing exciting in my inbox, dig through archives to touch base with past clients and recruitment agents
  • Added “Looking for Work!” to LinkedIn status and personal website
  • Made roughly 60 impressions on LinkedIn (visiting user profiles), mostly recruiters

Sunday, January 6th, 2019

  • Spent about 90 minutes updating profile on this archaic website, JobServe
  • Subscribed to two feeds on JobServe, one with just keyword “Remote”, the other keyword “JavaScript” and location “Remote”

Monday, January 7th, 2019

  • Result! a couple excellent leads from JobServe subscriptions, straight on the phone from 9.00am — 10.00am (as an aside, don’t bother with applications through JobServe, past experience tells me they get lost in piles, just hunt down recruiters’ details)
  • One lead especially engaged, quick to respond
  • Interview at 8.00pm the same day

Tuesday, January 8th, 2019

  • Positive feedback in the morning, offer received
  • Contract signed later in the day

Thursday, January 10th, 2019

  • Project briefing (30 mins) ahead of Monday start

Monday, January 14th, 2019

  • Officially hired

Ultimately this is one data point among tens of thousands fluttering through this experience over the same time period. But bearing that in mind, in closing, I learned old channels still work best for me. Besides a lot of innovation in the realm of recruitment, I earned a new respect for recruitment agents — frankly, companies appear terrible at hiring for themselves.

Making phone calls and interacting with people directly trumped online applications and emails. Sadly, that tendency may also be counter-productive to equal opportunity hiring. I’m inclined to say modern solutions are too radical and ineffective, or maybe it’s just me. Feel free to criticise my profile at https://yannev.es/cv and find my contact details should you want to reach out with any questions.