The Guide to Finding a Remote Developer Job

If you are fascinated by the inner workings of computer programs, have a knack for learning programming languages, and can thrive working both independently and in a collaborative environment, then software development and programming may be an excellent option for you.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, between 2016 and 2026, the job opportunities for software developers are projected to grow 24 percent—much faster than the career average. In 2016, there were over 1,200,000 job openings for software developers, and today, this number is rapidly expanding. The average salary for these positions is $105,590 per year, so pursuing a career in software development can be incredibly lucrative.

In addition to numerous job opportunities and excellent salaries, software development is ideal for remote work for a variety of reasons:

  • The nature of the work - The very nature of a software developer requires them to work with a machine that facilitates the activity of remote work: computers. Working with computer programs makes it easy to handle projects and coding tasks from anywhere.

  • A variety of job-type options - Remote work is all about flexibility, and this extends to job-type. Software developers can select from positions that are part-time, full-time, or freelance. It all depends on their availability and the intensity of the work.

  • Can easily receive virtual training - Instead of having to go to a physical classroom to learn programming languages for a better job outlook, developers can become familiar with languages like Ruby on Rails, Python, Javascript, and Java online. The same also goes for concepts or programs such as SQL, software development, DevOps, and web applications.

  • Can be done in any time zone - Again, since a software developer's work revolves around computers and digital tools, programming and development work can be done anywhere. Developers do not have to move to tech hotspots like New York, San Francisco, Atlanta, or another tech-based town in the United States or Europe for work.

Gregory Benner, a senior software developer, was able to take advantage of this perk:

We even were able to pick where we wanted to live in the US (we chose northern Florida!) as we weren't tied to any specific area because of a job. That kind of freedom is huge, and the ability to choose where I live is a perk that I can't even describe to most people because it's not something that they have thought about.

The future is bright for those who pursue a remote developer job. However, software development can be broad. Numerous types of positions depend on specific functions as well as programming languages. So, before you sign up for that coding school, take a look at the below remote developer jobs and average salaries (all provided by Payscale) to see which ones may be the best fit.

The Different Types of Remote Developer Jobs

There are many options when it comes to taking on a remote software developer or engineer role. It helps to know what is out there so you can make the best decision on the type of job to pursue, and even the best language to learn. So, take a look at the below list of remote developer jobs for some helpful insights.

Software Engineer

Software engineers typically handle the duties of writing, testing, designing, and installing software solutions. They will work with teams to develop user requirements, and will then take the information they have to build software systems.

These individuals should have experience in test-driven development, developing software verification plans and procedures, and building high-performing software. The average entry-level annual salary for a software engineer is a little over $103,000.

Full-Stack Developer

Full-Stack developers are the "Jack and Jill of all trades" when it comes to programming. These are individuals who are skilled in both frontend and backend coding.

So, they can develop programs that assist with user interactions on the website while also building out backend databases and servers to handle the unseen inner-workings that run front-facing applications. So, these professionals will have proficiency in languages like HTML, CSS, Python, Ruby, and Java. Their average salary is $73,519

Software Developer

Software developers are the keepers of software systems. In a similar function as software engineers, these individuals install, test, and maintain software. However, while most of their job is related to coding, they can also help with developing system improvements, creating training manuals, and working with cross-functional teams on software and technology-related projects.

While companies may look for a general software developer that is well-versed in a variety of languages, this individual may also be a Python Developer, Java Developer, or js Developer. A software developer's average salary is $105,590 per year.

Frontend Developer

Throughout the years, these professionals have come to be known as "web developers," but many are now called frontend developers. These individuals are responsible for all visual and web application elements of webpages.

From the look of the page to the CTA buttons and everything in between, frontend developers are accountable for the look and feel of the website. It is worth noting that these professionals can also be known as frontend engineers. However, in that role, they may also take over in testing and system improvement responsibilities. The average salary for these professionals is $70,003.

Backend Developer

Backend developers connect the information that is exchanged between the backend servers and users. They complete the work frontend developers handle by developing server-side logic.

Backend developers are known to create and maintain databases, ensure backend programs are causing frontend applications to be responsive, and implement data storage. Much like the task similarities between frontend developers and engineers, the same occurs with backend engineers and backend developers. Their average salary is $69,766.

Mobile App Developer

Mobile app development can be a broad profession. Mobile app developers create software for smartphones and tablets with an emphasis on facilitating exemplary user experiences. They will likely work with a variety of operating systems and programming languages.

Also, while they will probably write native code for Android and iOS platforms, they can work within other system frameworks like React Native. In addition to writing code to create programs, they are also tasked with testing and maintaining mobile apps.

Mobile app development jobs can also come in the form of an Application developer, Android developer, iOS developer, and React Native developer. Those pursuing a mobile app developer position can expect an average salary of $72,891.

How to Stand Out on the Resume and Cover Letter

Even though there are a lot of software developer and programming jobs out there, you can expect to see much competition. This fact is even more accurate when it comes to remote developer jobs.

More and more individuals realize the benefits of working remotely. As a result, you have to ensure that you stand out from the competition, and you can start with the resume and cover letter. Below are some tactics you can use to sharpen your approach to applying for these positions.

  • Highlight achievements – At the end of the day, employers care about what you have done. A great way to do this is by putting your accomplishments out front. Look at their requirements, and the responsibilities and match them with work you have already done. Then, quantify your past experiences. For example, did you improve on the amount of time it takes to test a program or increase the functionality of a website or application? Put this information front and center.

  • Spotlight development experience – This may seem like a no brainer, but it can be easy to think you need to include all of your previous work experience. Don't! Unless you are going for a management position and have an experience that touches on this, focus solely on your development experience.

  • Include a portfolio – It is crucial to showcase your previous work if possible. Give employers a sneak peek at the work they can expect from you. At the same time, if you are not in the position to showcase previous work, collect recommendations or testimonials from past clients or employers. Their words can also give hiring managers insight into how you work, and what you can accomplish for them.

  • Use the keywords used in the job title and job description – Pay close attention to the words used in the job title and job description for a remote developer. If specific phrases or words are used multiple times, then they are important and should be included in your resume and cover letter.

  • Create three to four principles that highlight your career path – Make it easy for employers to know the trajectory of your career. For example, you may include a summary at the top of your resume that discusses your dedication to help clients and companies in four very critical ways. These could be increasing productivity, maintaining security, fostering efficiency, and forward-thinking innovation. If you include terms or phrases like these, tailor your resume and cover letter to show how you exemplify these points. Some of this will likely depend on what the company is looking for, but including this information can help employers to understand the type of developer and professional you are easily.

  • Spotlight experiences with remote teams – As a remote developer, it is highly unlikely that you will be a lone wolf. There will be times where you will have to interact with teammates, work with teams that are outside of your department, and collaborate with higher-ups. This task is hard enough to accomplish in-person, let alone remotely. So, ease your employer's concerns by discussing times when you had to collaborate with individuals whom you did not share an office with. Discuss the digital tools and processes you used to make this happen. If you have not had a remote job in the past, highlight ways you may have done this in the office if you ever worked with team members who may have been offsite or temporarily out of the office.

  • Discuss experience with agile project management – Many tech teams are still trying to find a balance between agile and waterfall management. However, while this may be the case, many are still utilizing agile as they approach various types of projects. Software development is made up of numerous short and long-term projects. So, show off your skills in implementing agile project management practices if you have them.

  • Always emphasize your ability to be trusted – Remote work is profoundly attached to trust and open communication. Employers want to know they can trust you to get a project done if they are not in the room. Ben, a web developer, and freelancer, highlights why this principle is critical to spotlight as you are looking for a remote position or working with clients:

Being remote means they can't tell how things are going as easily, so be the person to let them know. I cannot stress how important this is, regardless of if the projects are going well or poorly. As long as you are straightforward with where you are and any challenges you might be running into, you're in a good place […] Build a reputation as someone who they can trust to tell them the real state of the project."

Where to Network

While you may have a winning resume and cover letter, that is only the first step to finding the ideal remote developer position. Networking is the next crucial step in the process. Here are a few places you should begin to find a group of people to connect with for your job search.

Slack Groups

There are a lot of Slack groups out there for individuals looking for remote developer positions. Many are free, but some may charge a fee to access. Here are a few to get you started:

Most of the above Slack communities have Job channels where individuals share part-time, full-time, and freelance job postings.

Meetup Groups is known for bringing people of like minds together. As a result, many forward-thinking individuals have started developer meetup groups around the world. So, search your local area for software developer meetups. Several are related to a specific programming language, so be sure to do a separate search for general developer meetups.

Hack-a-Thons and Workshops

Again, this is a great way to meet individuals who are in the tech world and will likely have connections to the remote companies you want to work for. The most popular spot for hack-a-thons is coworking spaces. So be sure to search for tech-themed coworking spots in your town and search their events. Also, if you have any coding schools or General Assembly locations near you, search there as well. Many will offer free or low-cost events and workshops.

Alumni events

Don't forget that you invested in a far-reaching network when you paid that school tuition. So, don't forget to take advantage of your university's alumni events and services. Even if you are no longer in the city that you went to school in, search for alumni chapters in your area, and attend events. You already have a common interest with those in attendance, so it will be a lot easier to network and make a potential connection.

Social media

We have mentioned this in a previous post, but if you are looking for a remote developer position, you need to have a social media account, namely Twitter and LinkedIn. Both platforms house a more professional audience that is open to online networking. Below are some helpful ways to take advantage of this and utilize both platforms.

Twitter hashtags

Search for the following hashtags to hear about remote developer positions:

In addition to these hashtags, combine them with a hashtag and programming language to look for specific programming and development positions.

LinkedIn Groups

Job Posting and Job Listing Sites

Below are job posting and job listing sites you should routinely check for remote developer positions. Many allow you to sign up for email updates when a position that fits your criteria is posted. So, be sure to take advantage of that feature throughout your job search.

Freelance Remote Developer Job Sites

If you are looking for even more flexibility in your remote developer position, or are interested in starting your own business, get started by joining one of the below freelance marketplace sites. Most allow you to set up a profile on your own to begin bidding for positions, while others have a lengthy vetting process.

Even if you do not want to make a career out of freelancing, doing it can help connect you with companies or entrepreneurs that could eventually hire you on as an employee.

Patryk, a frontend developer, and UI designer, started his developer career in freelance, and realized it was the best work scenario in the long-run:

I realized that what I most enjoy is direct contact with customers - briefing them, understanding and solving the problems of their businesses, presenting and defending my work. I also realized that working as a freelancer allows more freedom - you can work wherever and whenever you want. Since I enjoy traveling, the choice was easy. […] I started getting clients thanks to recommendations from my friends or from people I met during conferences.

Note: While we do our best to research and post legitimate jobs, postings, and groups, we always advise you to do your own additional research to ensure jobs, websites, and groups are above board.

General Tips for Moving Ahead of the Competition

Here are five additional tips you can use to help you move ahead of the competition, and give yourself a better chance to land a remote developer job.

  • Follow companies you want to work for on social media – Remote companies do mostly everything online, so it is highly likely that they have an active social media presence. So, follow the company and CEO and interact with them online.

  • Sign up for any newsletters from companies you want to work for – Many remote companies have monthly newsletters that they may send to constituents and customers. Sign up for these email newsletters as some may include job announcements. It also gives you insight into the company, so you already have a good feel for how you can make an impact.

  • Contribute to open source code projects of companies you are interested in – Some forward-thinking and innovative companies may allow users to contribute to open source coding projects, or even submit solutions to a problem. Participate and use social media to start a dialogue about what you did.

  • Attend remote work-based conferences (on and offline) – The beauty of remote work is that remote companies and organizations understand the importance of on and offline communication. So, if you can, attend conferences in both categories. Doing this will put you around individuals who own or are associated with remote companies.

  • Let your network know you are looking – Your friends, family, and former co-workers cannot help if they don't know you are seeking. So, let everyone know you are on the search for a remote developer job and make sure they understand why you are qualified.

Igor Kulman, a software engineer, discussed how a friend helped him connect to a remote company for this current remote job:

About two years ago while still working in an office, I got in contact with a remote company through a friend. I started working for them a few hours a week remotely and then after about six months later I got an offer to come work for them full-time on a new project. I accepted and started working remotely full-time.

Final Thoughts

Again, a resume and cover letter may get you in the door, but your experience and the relationship that you have cultivated with a future employer will get you the job. The nature of remote developer jobs—as well as other remote work jobs—require that candidates show they can be trusted and that they have the discipline to succeed. So, make sure these principles come through on your resume, cover letter, and interactions with remote work companies.

For more empowering advice on looking for a remote developer job, we invite you to check out more of our RemoteHabits interviews. Also, to jumpstart your job search, check out our RemoteHabits job board.

We wish you success on your remote developer job search, and we hope our tips have helped you develop an effective game plan!

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Posted on June 11, 2019
in Uncategorized

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