Whenever someone asks me how I’m able to travel so often, I always tell them the truth: I have a remote job! People are sometimes a little skeptical, but working remotely is becoming more and more common than you may think.
Renting an office is expensive, and companies realize that office workers don’t mind working from home. The benefits to both parties are enormous. That being said, remote jobs aren’t for everyone. It’s best for people who can work independently and are self-starters. If you like having a support team around you, then remote work may not be for you.
Finding a remote job isn’t easy but it is very possible, especially if you have a technology skills. Don’t worry, even if you’re not an engineer, there are plenty of jobs for non-tech people. You just may have to work a little harder to get them.
If you’re reading this blog, you’re probably interested in learning if it’s possible to work remotely for the purpose of traveling more. The answer is YES. I got a remote job for precisely this reason, and today I’m going to give you the details on how I got the job, and how much money I made working remotely!
How to Find a Remote Job
Keep in mind, unless you get really lucky, finding a remote job won’t happen overnight. From the time I started looking for a remote job until my first day at work, about 5 months had passed by. Of course, I had received the offer about a month beforehand. Just be sure that you are realistic about the timing of finding a remote job.
If you’re currently employed, a good place to start is to ask your employer if they will allow you to work remotely. Be sure to show them the ways it will benefit them (ie. open the business into new markets), and not just you. This route could be especially useful if you have your eye on a particular destination that you’d like to move to.
Remote Job Boards
If keeping your current job isn’t an option, then you’ll have to start looking through remote job boards. Look at the skills needed for jobs that interest you and see if you match up or can position your previous work experience to be useful.
Here is a list of the top remote job boards to browse through:
Even if a job has expired or was posted many months ago, go to the company’s website and see if there are other similar jobs or they are hiring again for that job.
My biggest tip when looking through aggregate remote job boards is to make a list of companies that interest you, not jobs. Often times HR departments don’t update their listings on these remote job boards, but update their own website’s Careers section much more often.
This is how I found my remote job. I found a company whose mission matched up with my background and kept an eye on their Careers page until I saw a position that I knew I was a good fit for.
Top Remote Companies
You may be surprised to learn that some companies are completely distributed. They have no official office space, except for legal reasons. Everybody works from home or wherever they like! This is the type of company that I worked for for more than two years. Most companies are partially remote though. Here is a list of some employers hiring for remote jobs:
Top Remote Jobs
Right now, engineering jobs are by far the most common remote jobs you will find out there. But don’t worry, I was able to snag a well-paying remote job as a non-developer! As I mentioned, those types of jobs will be much more competitive so be sure to prepare yourself well.
If you’re not a programmer, you can still find lots of remote jobs in departments like customer support, sales & business development, human resources, and marketing.
Customer support is probably the easiest team to join as most people have experience working with customers in some capacity. That being said, working as a store clerk won’t cut it for most VC-funded companies. Experience at a technology start-up is definitely preferred, so if you can find a company hiring customer support specialists, even if it’s not remote, you should consider it to get your foot in the door for this type of work.
Applying for a Remote Job
Once you find a remote job you’d like to apply for, it’s time to prepare your application. Most companies will expect you to apply on their site and answer specific questions.
Try not to apply for more than one job per company. Once you speak with an HR representative, you can ask questions about other jobs that interest you, but applying for more than one job at a company can give them the impression you are not clear about your goals.
Of course, you can and should apply for several jobs at different companies to get yourself out there and practice interviewing again.
Take time to create thought-out responses to the job application questions. Customize your resume for each job you apply for. Show the HR representative why you’re perfect for this job.
Ideally, once you apply for a job, you’ll hear back soon and begin the interview process!
Following up on a Remote Job
Of course, in real life, things rarely work out as we would like them to. In my case, after applying for the remote job I wanted, I did not hear back from anyone. In this scenario you have two options: reach out to the HR department or reach out to the Manager of the team where your job would fall under.
What do I mean by “reach out?” Well, depending on how comfortable you are, you can either call them directly, send them an email or send them a LinkedIn message.
In my case, I ended up emailing two different managers on the team for the job I wanted. Of course, I didn’t have their emails so I guessed them. You can use a tool like Hunter.io to find the email address format of the company. If you have no luck there, then you’ll have to guess. Most companies have email formats like : first.last, flast, firstlast, first_last, etc. so be sure to send separate emails for each format you try!
This is how I got my remote job, by following up on my application via email to the team manager directly!
The more desirable the job, the harder it will be to get. Don’t give up just because you don’t hear back from HR or the team manager. Follow up every 2 weeks or so until you get a response. Try another channel if you don’t hear back via email.
You would be surprised at how many job applicants do not follow up at all. It’s a really easy way to make yourself stand out, so don’t hesitate to give it a try!
Questions to Ask the Company
In addition to the standard questions you would ask about any new job, for a remote job you want to make sure you understand the hours you will be expected to be available, whether your teammates are located in your time zone or not, and any equipment you’ll need for the job. Most companies will provide you with a computer to use, but it’s good to clarify this upfront just in case they expect you to have your own computer.
I would not ask the company if it’s okay that you travel while you work remotely for them. It could send the wrong message and ruin your chances of getting the job. Instead, I would wait a month or so until you get a feel for the hours, availability and time zones of your team. From there, you’ll have a better idea of what kind of travel is practical for this job.
For me, it was not practical to travel to southeast Asia, even though I wanted to! I was expected to be available during Eastern US hours, so it was only practical to travel in the US, South America and Europe if I didn’t mind working evening hours.
Tips for Working Remotely and Traveling
Once you get a remote job and understand your expectations, you can start planning to travel! I would recommend purchasing a mobile wifi device as a back up in case you run into issues with wifi abroad. Nowadays most cafés in the western world will have wifi, but it’s always good to have a back-up device, especially if you’ll be working nighttime hours.
If you plan to stay in Airbnbs while working remotely, I would definitely recommend messaging the host of your apartment before booking and asking what type of wifi they have. Just because they check off “wifi” on their listing doesn’t mean they have real wifi. I was really surprised to arrive in my Airbnb in Aix-en-Provence to find the host offered a portable wifi device and not a true wifi connection from a local company. The older device malfunctioned several times and wasn’t an ideal working situation.
Now, I always mention ahead of time “I will need to do some work during my visit. Do you have a strong wifi connection from a local internet company?” before booking an Airbnb apartment!
Benefits of Working Remotely
There are many benefits to working remotely, and once you get started, it will be really hard to go back to a normal office job!
Free time – The biggest advantage to working remotely the free time you get back because of your lack of commute. You can take short breaks when you like, accept packages at home, and spend time with family without losing your vacation time.
Travel – Working remotely provides you the opportunity to travel, just be sure your team is ok with it before you go. You will probably still need to be present for any meetings, so traveling to the other side of the world may not be practical depending on the time zone you’re expected to be working. As long as you plan ahead, long-term, distant travel is definitely possible while working remotely!
Money – Working remotely can be very lucrative depending on your skill set and how well you can negotiate with a company. I was able to earn more than $90,000 a year entry level while working remotely for a fully distributed company. VC-funded remote tech companies will pay top dollar for talent, no matter where they are located.
Drawbacks to Working Remotely
Fewer Professional Connections – Because you don’t see your coworkers at an office every day, it takes longer to make strong professional connections than it would take in a typical office setting. You’ll also meet far fewer people that don’t work on your team or at least in your department, unless you’re at the managerial or executive level in a remote company.
Communication Issues – Many remote companies face communication issues, so this is something you’ll have to be prepared for, especially if you decide to work for a newer company. Always ask questions and be sure you are clear on your expectations since you can’t just walk over to your bosses’ desk when you feel like it.
Loneliness – I was surprised at how the lack of human connection affected me once I began to work remotely. You may go a full day without seeing anyone in person, especially if you are single. This is why it’s important to go to coffee shops to work even if you are working remotely. It can get very lonely faster than you realize!
Cabin Fever – You will also get tired of working from home if you do it too often! I had coworkers who lived in studio apartments so they essentially spent all their time in the same room, especially during the cold winter months. Expect this ahead of time and plan to go out at least a few times a week to work outside your home and keep your sanity!
Time Zones – As mentioned earlier, I expected to be able to work from anywhere when I accepted my remote job, but that was far from the case! I had to be available between 10am and 6pm Eastern standard time, so that meant no trips to Asia or Australia for me! If I was in Europe, I was working from 4pm until Midnight every weekday.
In conclusion, there’s a lot to consider before going after a remote job, but the benefits can be worth it if your goal is to travel more! I’d also like to note that any of the advice I’ve shared shouldn’t discourage you from applying for a remote job. Even if you’re not a perfect fit for the job, you should still go for it! You’d be surprised how easy it is to convince someone to give you a remote job if you put in the effort to show them that you’ll be dedicated to your work.
What have your experiences with remote jobs been like?