Post-pandemic, the demand for remote work remains high. Forbes reports that an incredible 98% of the American workforce would prefer to work remotely at least some of the time. However, employers are not as keen about this trend. Currently, only 16% of companies are fully remote and the majority of the American workforce (59.1%) continues to work fully on-site.
While tech specialists have long had an edge when it comes to working from home, big tech is once again (as of September 2023) asking employees to return to the office in an attempt to institute a structured hybrid approach to work. This is in contradiction to the wishes of many in the tech industry. CIO Dive reported in early 2023 that 60% of tech professionals would prefer to work in a fully remote setting.
In this era of tech layoffs and general economic uncertainty, some tech workers may feel as if they have no choice but to follow whatever work plan their employer stipulates. However, with perseverance and a strategic approach, it is still possible to land a fully remote tech job.
Update Your Resume
As for any job search, an up-to-date resume is a critical starting point when looking for a fully remote tech job. Whether you’re in the early stages of your career or an industry veteran, it’s quite likely that your resume could use some fine-tuning. There are general resume-writing tips that are applicable across the board, including:
- Follow established, standard resume formats;
- Be concise;
- Avoid creating a comprehensive work experience log;
- Optimize your resume for each specific role that you apply for;
- Use active, quantitative language to communicate your value;
- Highlight your soft skills; and
- Don’t date yourself by double spacing after periods or including the phrase, “References available upon request.”
For remote tech jobs, it’s also important to tailor your resume appropriately. A comprehensive piece by Ryan Robinson suggests addressing these pointsAon your resume:
- Tools commonly used by remote workers, such as Slack, Basecamp, Trello, Teams, Google Hangouts, Skype, Zoom, and others.
- Written communication since email and other text communications are critical in remote roles;
- Reference to a strong portfolio that showcases innovative projects that you’ve worked on and any certifications and awards that you’ve earned;
- Your location, since some remote jobs will require on-site meetings or work on occasion;
- Demonstrable results from your work (Robinson uses the example of showing that your marketing skills increased traffic by x number in y amount of time because of z reasons); and
- Examples of autonomous work, which is critical to remote roles.
Optimize Your LinkedIn Profile
Historically, the tech sector has had an extremely low unemployment rate. Despite the swath of tech layoffs over the past two years, unemployment of information technology professionals remains under 2% (as of summer 2023).
As recruiters scramble to fill open tech roles, they scour LinkedIn for active and passive candidates. Keeping your LinkedIn profile updated can help recruiters find you so that they can offer you your dream job. We have a comprehensive blog on optimizing your LinkedIn profile but, in brief, make sure that you have:
- A professionally-taken profile photo;
- An interesting and clear cover image to capture attention;
- An optimized headline;
- A compelling story in your About section;
- A tailored approach to your Experience section;
- The completion of all sections;
- A customized URL;
- An indication that you’re open to new work; and
- Evidence of engagement.
Start Your Job Search
As a tech professional open to job offers, you will likely hear from recruiters eager to place you with one of their clients. However, by pursuing your own job search, you can narrow in on companies and roles that truly excite you. There are a number of different places to search specifically for remote tech jobs.
Company websites are terrific resources. In addition to learning about job opportunities on their career pages, you’ll be able to find out more about the company and its culture, to make sure it is a good fit before applying. The job postings on these sites should specify if the role is remote.
Remote Job Boards
There are job boards and websites that focus specifically on remote work opportunities in the tech industry. Some popular platforms to explore include Remote.co, We Work Remotely, FlexJobs, and GitHub Jobs (for tech-specific positions).
Remote Job Search Engines And Aggregators
Filter your searches at job search engines like Indeed, Glassdoor, and LinkedIn in order to quickly find open remote roles. Aggregators are also helpful resources, compiling remote job listings from multiple sources for your quick reference.
Keep Remote-Friendly Companies On Your Radar
Some tech companies are known for their remote-friendly workplaces, such as GitLab, Automattic (the company behind WordPress), and Buffer. If any of these companies seem like a good fit, get into the habit of checking their career pages regularly.
Reach Out To Your Network
Networking remains as important as ever. Reach out to your professional contacts to ask about remote job opportunities. As well, always take steps to further build your network. Consider different places where you can make new connections with tech professionals including:
- Professional associations that are targeted to your field;
- Social media, especially groups that are specific to your field on Facebook and LinkedIn;
- Virtual tech conferences or meetups;
- Online tech forums and communities; and
- Recruitment agencies.
Consider Contract And Freelance Work
Contract work (or “gig work” as it’s popularly called) is well suited to tech professionals. It allows people to choose jobs or projects that most interest them and are best suited to their skill sets and needs. Much contract work is done remotely, allowing you not just the freedom to work at home but the ability to set your own schedules and achieve the best possible work/life balance. Plus, there’s always a possibility that remote contract work will lead to a full-time remote position.
Freelance and gig platforms such as Upwork, Toptal, and Freelancer may offer some leads on remote contract work, but regular job sites such as Indeed and LinkedIn also carry contract postings.
Pursue Upgrading And Certifications
The more demonstrable skills and knowledge that you have, the more attractive you’ll be to prospective employers. If you’re currently employed, jump at professional development opportunities offered by your workplace. Since many companies prefer candidates with strong soft skills (and since many soft skills are critical to success as a remote worker), don’t limit your learning to tech-specific areas. Honing your communication, leadership, and problem-solving skills (among others) demonstrates that you are committed to personal and professional improvement.
That said, tech-specific certifications can certainly help catch the attention of recruiters and hiring managers. They will likely also provide you with a wider skill set, allowing you to pursue job opportunities that would otherwise be unavailable to you. Further, advanced certifications often increase your earning potential, with 23% of IT professionals reporting that they received a 20% salary increase after getting certified. There are many different certifications available to pursue, depending on your niche and interests.
Investigate Smaller Companies And Companies Outside The Tech Sector
Rani Molla at Vox points out that while big tech once had a substantial edge when it came to hiring the best tech talent, by virtue of the fun and lucrative perks they offered, what workers really want post-pandemic is the freedom of remote work. Big tech has demonstrated its unhappiness with remote work by issuing return-to-office notices. However, smaller tech companies and those outside the tech sector who quickly amped up their adoption of tech during the pandemic (such as the healthcare, education, and financial sectors) are desperate for talented tech workers and often willing to use remote work to lure qualified candidates.
If you want to work fully remotely, don’t limit your job search to big tech. Smaller companies, companies outside of the tech sector, and contract work may hold better opportunities for you.
If you aren’t able to find a job that interests you and that is currently fully remote, consider positions that might be partly remote or offer flexible work arrangements. A hybrid position could lead to a fully remote job offer down the road.
Consult With A Recruiter
There are recruiters who specialize in placing tech talent and some who further specialize in remote tech placements. If you’re having difficulty finding a remote tech position on your own, research reputable recruiters who specialize in the kind of placement you are looking for. As a bonus, recruiters often have access to unlisted job opportunities.
Prepare For Remote Work Interviews
If you’ve applied for a remote position, chances are that the interview will also be remote. Video interviews require slightly different preparation than conventional in-person interviews.
Double-check your hardware and internet connection in advance of your interview. If the meeting will be held on a platform that you are unfamiliar with, check it out ahead of time so that you’ll be comfortable locating the different features and controls.
Make sure that both your interview space and your person are tidy and professional-looking. Do your best to limit outside distractions, perhaps taking your dog to doggy daycare for the day and turning off the volume on your phone. Since you’ll be working remotely, it’s extra important to present your remote workspace as professional and well-organized.
And, of course, as with all interviews, take the time to research the company you’re interviewing for and practice answering common interview questions.
Remember that competition for remote tech jobs can be high. Be persistent in your search and patient in waiting for the right opportunity. Tailor your applications to each position. Emphasize the soft skills that will allow you to work effectively remotely and, as with all tech interviews, be prepared to demonstrate your technical skills during interviews or assessments.