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Ask HN: Do you work remotely? How did you get that job?
65 points by good_vibes 11 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 60 comments
I'm doing everything I can each day to keep learning (UX, full stack web development), keep eliminating bad habits (health, thinking, relationships, financial), and applying to jobs everyday (on-site, remote, freelance, temp, intern).

This post makes it sound like you are on the junior side. IF that's the case, I'd absolutely advise getting a "desk" job first. Get your skills way up. That feedback loop will absolutely be tighter if you are a junior.

With remote work, it's about what you can show for it, not just the words. What do you have to show for what you've learned?

Yes, I agree. I had ten years of experience before I got my first remote job. It was with a contracting company. The clients needed to know they could trust me (this was nearly a decade ago, when remote work was less common) and I needed a track record I could point to, complete with multiple software releases in various fields.

In this period, I learned a lot about remote collaboration and the importance of communication. A lot of people go on about tools like Slack etc. but in my experience, the phone is still the most important tool. And good desktop-sharing software like Webex, of course.

Eventually I got tired of contracting and took a remote job with a Very Large Silicon Valley Company. Crucially, to get this job, I needed to point to both my depth of experience and my time as an effective remote worker.

So in my opinion, to start with it's important to work a normal go-to-the-office job for a number of years and successfully ship software.

Why is desktop sharing important? Is it specific to the kind of work you do?

This is a pretty solid answer. It's really hard to land a remote job if you don't have senior level experience.

And on top of that, you need to (usually) be self-sufficient. If you're the type that constantly needs to be told what to do, remote work is a lot harder.

Maybe this person has a good reason to be remote: caring for a disabled relative, strong ties to their region, ongoing litigation, etc.

That said, your advice is good in general: a portfolio is essential for junior developers who want to distinguish themselves enough to qualify for a remote position.

Fair point. I just feel discouraged at the moment.

I'm revamping all my projects and my site based on some new things I've learned. I'll be sure to post some here for feedback this month. I don't want to embarrass myself in this community (done that before under my old username, not fun).

Thanks though for the real question I should be asking myself and the mindset I should have.

After we shut down my last startup, Staffjoy [1], I wanted to travel full-time. I realized that I hated going to an office every day. I also knew that I wanted to contract, and that the contractor market was broken on both sides.

So, I started Moonlight [2], and started working for a variety of companies remotely on a contract basis. We're working to expand the marketplace, and are adding more projects every week. One of the factors that helps getting remote contract work is having a track record - meaning, at least 3 years of experience working professionally in technology.

About a month ago, I sold all of my stuff (I currently own a carry-on suitcase and backpack) and hit the road. I'm currently in Mexico City until the end of August, working about 10 hours per week through Moonlight to pay for all of my living costs.

[1] https://blog.staffjoy.com/staffjoy-is-shutting-down-39f7b5d6...

[2] https://www.moonlightwork.com

Very cool. I'm currently working from home as my wife is on medical leave and I'm assisting. I'm not sure I could live the full-on itinerant lifestyle, but I'd love the ability to fly to some foreign city for a month and work from there.. a couple times a year. Of course, that doesn't require full-time remote work, and likely finding a full-time remote position would be a slight hit in the ability to pay a silicon valley mortgage.... but maybe not.

Interesting. I wish I could browse the available skill sets before filling out the extensive form. For instance, I'm in need of a webRTC specialist. Preferably with experience using simple-peer.js. Is there a way to tell if you have anyone with these skills?

Hi Josh - this is a great point. We're working on our new task onboarding and will take this into account. Perhaps we could allow you to add tasks and see the number of moonlighters who match.

I wasn't sure about whether we have webRTC specialists, but I just queried the list of 1000 Moonlighters, and we do have a couple people who build real-time webRTC projects professionally. We can put you in contact if you fill out this form: https://www.moonlightwork.com/start

I work remotely for a 100% remote company.

I'm a Sr software engineer, and was hired because I taught one of the co-founders while I was a teacher at a coding bootcamp.

We've hired one Jr engineer who I knew personally beforehand (a former student). And we've hired one mid-level engineer whom none of us has ever met in person.

My thoughts based on personal anecdotal evidence:

- Hit the job boards hard and don't stop. Persistence wins. Here are some great resources[1]

- 100% remote companies are the way to go. You don't want to be the sole remote employee (or one of a few) at a mostly on-site company. You'll be a 3rd class citizen. I've seen this numerous times.

- It is entirely possible to be a Jr engineer and get successfully integrated into a remote company. We've done it this year. We allocate some extra time for our engineers to further their own learning. We also do lots of screen-sharing sessions, etc.

[1] SO remote jobs: https://stackoverflow.com/jobs/remote-developer-jobs

Hacker News monthly job listings (search in-page for REMOTE): https://hn.algolia.com/?query=who%27s%20hiring&sort=byPopula...


thanks! I'll keep at it, the search alone is making me learn a lot about myself, the world, and where I can improve.

I started working in the a vacant office, because one of the boss was in South Carolina and the other boss was in Denver. (I was in Denver.) Myself and a few other hanger-oners came into the office.

The company downsized and they closed the office and I was sent to work from home.

I worked from home for 2 years as a senior dev. My wife reminds me that at first I wasn't happy about working from home. But after a month, remote is the only way to go.

I left that company and went remote for a startup for 90 days, and left before it imploded.

Now I'm stuck in a cube! Help me!

(also when applying to remote jobs, it seems that having remote experience is very beneficial.)


I'm a senior developer. Company contacted me about a position in the Bay area. I told them I recently moved across the country and asked if they would accept remote. They said that's ok (they had other remote workers and almost everyone is remote now). Phone interview the next day and an offer the day after. Flew out about a week after that for two weeks on-site. I go back for a week every now and then on-site. The irony is that I was looking for a full-time, remote position in the Bay area for years and less than six months after I moved, there it was.

Definitely recommend looking for companies with a remote culture. At another company, they flew me in for an interview, told me they wanted to make me an offer, then refused when I told them, as I had made it clear before the interviews, that I was not interested in moving back to the bay area. I've never been so speechless in an interview as when they asked me, "What would it take to get you to come back to SF?" and I knew the figure I wanted was nowhere near what they would want to pay. I also would recommend not doing any sort of take-home assignment for any company, but especially for remote jobs. That will be a lot of wasted time and the company might not even look at your work after you've spent hours or days on it.

I am cofounder of my company based in the Bay. I didn't get my US visa and ended up having to leave, but remained in charge of Android product and payment processing (easily isolated but still critical tasks so I could operate async).

I spent 2 years as a digital nomad while fulfilling that role. It was a bumpy ride as our 4-5 person team figured out the logistics and managing expectations and productivity. But now 3 years later, even after I got my US work visa we don't have an office, meet up in coffee shops a few times a week as 2-3 people, and each of us take a month to work remotely from a different city or country regularly for a change of pace at our convenience.

The biggest reason we support remote work is that once we learned how to make it work, not paying office rent and increasing our salaries proportionally was seen as a win-win all around.

I'd love to learn more about your journey for inspiration. Do you have a blog?

I agree with that outlook and strive to reach that point one day with my side project. Travel, work, save, and serve all at once.

Not quite a blog as much as some long-form writing. Writing helped me keep my sanity while I was a nomad, but it is updated much less frequently since I "settled down", as most of my writing happened on airplanes or while waiting in airports :)


I do work from home in the past probably 5 years (working technical lead job for a big telco), I just decided one day there was no more fun in the office and told my boss I'll work from home since my team is spread around the country anyway, so no point to waste 30 min each way to drive to the office... The point is if you perform well and can be trusted, you can work from home... My next goal is to work from another country for long periods of time, but here I think the problem is different employment laws and probably the health/life insurance...

Ditto. My dream role would be to take off and work remotely for a month here and there, as my wunderlust dictates. Maybe 1mo AirBNB: 2 weeks working, 2 weeks PTO traveling with my wife. That kind of thing.

The nice thing is, you can pull this off on a tourist visa.

That's the goal for me too: travel, work, save, and serve all at once.

Travel and working is quite difficult in my experience. I work remotely full time and while I can do some kinds of travel, I have found that other kinds just don't work for me. If you have never done it before, it's easy to assume that there will be no problems, but finding locations where you are able to be very productive, have online communication, etc is much more difficult than it appears.

Having said that I have a colleague who is very good at the travel/work thing, so it's not that it's impossible -- it's just that I wouldn't recommend going into remote work with that as a near term goal. Spend a couple of years finding out how you work remotely before experimenting with some travel.

Noted. I'm glad I asked here because it nudges me in the right direction. I want to be taken seriously and this is where the serious developers discuss things.


Ask your current employer for it.

PS https://github.com/lukasz-madon/awesome-remote-job

Also how I got my remote positions (this is the second one I've had). In both cases I didn't actually intend to be remote, but after a year or so life circumstances required that I move. So I went to my bosses, explained my situation and asked if they were OK with me working remotely. In both cases my employers were not that experienced with remote workers, so there have been a lot of challenges. Having a reputation really helps to remove misunderstandings. Still, you have to expect to work hard to keep communication as obvious as possible.

One of our teammates was working out of the office on a daily basis and asked to just work from home to skip the commute. It was easy to say yes because his work ethic and skills were great.

I maintain a personal site and blog where I keep updating what I do along with what I learnt. Beside that I promote my blog posts on different platform.

Majority of the work I got via my website/blog.

A few months back I wrote a blog post how developers can have exposure to their work. Check link at:- http://blog.adnansiddiqi.me/5-ways-developers-can-have-multi...

Thanks! This is very helpful to me, good looking out.

Bonus question: are there C or C++ remote jobs? Basically non-web and non-mobile development jobs.

+1. I'd even be fine with .NET, but I'd rather not work with JS, and that seems like the main remote tech.

Yes, even in the embedded space. I have a local friend who runs his own company doing contract embedded development and he is remote. Again though, you need a really good track record as a regular, on-site employee first, someone who ships software and can communicate really well.

https://remoteok.io/remote-c-plus-plus-jobs - yes, but you have look for them... They won't come knocking.

I worked at Walmart Labs when they were actively pursuing remote as a strategy (2012-2015ish). There was a changing of the guard in senior leadership and they were more of a "button down tucked into their dockers" kind of crew and remote was then no longer being considered for new hires. I was asked to move out to Sunnyvale (I am in the NYC area), I politely declined, and then was laid off 3 months later, along with most other remote staff in my area.

I am now back in an office- I received an offer I couldn't refuse, and they unfortunately are hard-line, at least for the moment, about not allowing remote work on any consistent basis. I did receive offers that were ok with remote, and one that was a completely remote job. Unfortunately, they were all about 20% less than I was making before. Hopefully this job works out in the long term, but my main driver in taking it was to bank enough such that in all future jobs I can afford to take a pay cut (have retirement fully funded/become financially independent) and work remotely if I want to.

Anyway, to answer your question- Amazon supports remote work, as do a lot of consulting firms- NearForm, NodeSource, Joyent, etc. Auth0 is a fully remote firm as well.

My first remote job started as an in-office job and I eventually asked to transition to working some shifts from home on an interim basis, and if it went well, to transition to fully remote. That transition happened and everything went well.

My next remote position found me through my existing network. I was asked to do some work for an agency that they didn't have enough bandwidth to handle, and that eventually turned into a full-time gig.

How long it took you to transit from in-office to fully remote?

I'm working remote for 3 years now.

I did it like that:

1. Saving money in my non-remote job where I worked for 7 years, so I didn't need to work for like 2 years.

2. Quitting my non-remote job, so I had time I could pour into working remote.

3. Doing some remote OSS work. Most OSS projects are remote anyway, people like free developer help, so this was an easy way to get into remote teams without much barriers like interviews etc. I also did a masters degree in computer science and had to do 2 projects, which were remote too. Never finished the master, lol, but still got that remote experience. Also I did a few projects, started doing all the coding at coffee shops etc.

4. Put my resume on online job websites that allowed me to say I only want remote jobs. Took me 4 months till I got a job, but I never wrote any company. Two companies wrote me and one gave me a job in the end.

5. Started working remote 2 years at a startup that was about 300km away from my home.

6. Quit the startup and started freelancing, which I'm doing for 6 months now.


I mostly learned about myself in the process. For example that the wish for remote work was just a wish for no bosses, more free time, etc.

If you have the skills to prove it, no prior remote experience, I absolutely cannot recommend Toptal[1] enough.

I went through their rigorous interview process which was definitely harder than any I've encountered, but once in, I've had the best work experience in my life.

My clients have been amazing, Toptal handles payments for me so no problems getting paid, and they're always there to help me out. I chose my hours, and rate, and being a part of the community alone has taught me so much.

Prior to Toptal my only source for questions was Stack Overflow, since I'm self-taught. Never before had I discussed the new features of a Rails launch in a Slack channel, or discussed the best ways to handle my SQL queries.

[1] Toptal Referal Link: https://www.toptal.com/#contract-just-respected-software-arc...

Disclosure: Shortly after joining the Toptal Network, I joined their Core team. However, their community and company culture is definitely the best I've ever seen.

Having prior experience will definitely help you find a remote position.

Personally I don't think being a junior remote employee is a bad thing, but a lot of the time hiring manages are afraid of hiring remotely.

I have worked remotely for a couple years now, and I found both of those jobs via Hacker News' "who is hiring" threads. A lot of companies on that thread are hiring for remote folks.

If you are in a situation where you are junior, but cannot work in an office for whatever reason, there are ways to dig into certain positions.

Companies with significant open source projects are a good place to start. If you can make significant contributions to a company's code via open source they might be more open to hiring you.

Be careful to not slave away for a company as free labor, but if you're learning and trying to grow your skills, some strategic open source development could be a good start.

@good_vibes - Is this presumably directed only at devs or are you speaking to any remote workers? I'm head of Sales for Pagely.com and just finished a program called Remote Year where I worked across 51 cities, 16 countries and 4 continents. I ended up giving a talk at PressNomics in April on everything involved in making this situation work. It was well-received. You can find that here if interested: https://pagely.com/blog/2017/04/making-remote-work-work/

lmk if you have any questions I can help with

Oh hey! I'm a founder of Moonlight. LMK if you have any questions. We have people from all over the world contracting on the platform. I personally contract through it, and I'm traveling full-time (currently in Mexico).

I'll post a more full comment about the company above.

Just saw this and felt the need to sign up. As a junior developer, I hope this can help me build myself.

I'm a lobbyist that does grassroots advocacy so maybe I'm not the best example, but here goes: I researched companies that had a large population of clients, students, employees etc. Then I researched which issues most affected all of that base. I then rang up the CEO or General Counsel and pitched them my services. I work with the employees etc. of each client company, motivating them to become politically active on behalf of the company. Part cheerleader part lobbyist. In the end it just took a LOT of research to identify the client, scope out their need, create the pitch, and start cold calling.

I worked for a company for 1.5 years and mentioned I was moving and that I would like to stay with them and work remote if possible otherwise that I would be moving in 6 months.

I was incredibly lucky and know it put pressure on them to find special remote opportunities or 'fly and build/fix it' type opportunities for many clients. I work in network security and networking.

my employer already knew me and was very happy with all of my work, otherwise I cannot see anyway I would have obtained this opportunity.

I'm a contractor/consultant and 95% of the time I work in my own private office. In order to duplicate this arrangement it helps to have some sort of expertise/reputation such that your clients don't think they need to watch you work.

If you worked for company A at one point in your career and left on good terms, you might do some part time contracting for them from home. If you worked for companies A, B and C and you can swing the same arrangement you're now a consultant.

One hint from personal experience is you will always need at least one real-life interaction before being taken seriously. Such interaction can be a tech conference, a common acquaintance, a direct interview at their HQ, etc. etc. The more the market is flooded by unknown / untested quantities from everywhere, the more trust building goes back to pre-internet methods.

My experience points to the contrary, I had gotten multiple remote jobs with Skype-only interviews.

I can say that you are clearly much above the average for skills, location, network, portfolio or a combination of these, which is not the case for the great majority of people applying for remote jobs these days, location being somewhat the most important factor.

I dunno, I'm just a solid senior dev with experience in some sought-after technologies and concepts (ML).

I've been doing remote work for over 10 years, but my first remote position ... I was recommended for a position onsite, in NYC, which I interviewed for.

After my interview, circumstances changed and I needed to leave NYC, I told the company and they decided it would be ok for me to work remotely from Boston. Haven't looked back since, love being remote.

Believe it or not, I had a recruiter call me and I got the job that way. I normally never even took those sorts of calls.

I'm a Principal Software Engineer at my company and had been working there for about 4 years (on-site) before I transitioned into fully remote.

I was moving away from the city for personal reasons and discussed options with my manager/team. It helps if you've demonstrated your ability as a self-directed high performer.

I started out on a 3 month contract with the understanding there would be a good chance it would either end in 3 months or I would move to the Bay Area after to renew. I flew to the office quite frequently. I worked hard to prove myself, and three months later after some negotiations I had a FTE offer for remote work.

I worked in the office originally, but needed to move to a different city for a few reasons. We already have some satellite offices and remote workers, so I asked if I could continue my role remote and they accepted. Been working remote for about a year now, and it's been great.

My wife owns a business with 20 employees that basically makes it so that we can't move out of the area. Moving would have been preferred but they understood it wasn't an option and did have some other remotes at the time. Many more now though.

Worked full time in SF office for 1.5 years, worked from the company's Tel Aviv office 3 months, then moved to Austin in a slightly different sales focused role (was implementation before), and been working from here ~ 1 year.

I'm here in Tel Aviv and have been struggling to find anything. Any tips?

I published some freeware. Someone contacted me about making a fancier paid version. 10 years later that product is long dead but I'm still here.

I got out there and then I got lucky.

The lack of remote jobs is a trust issue. Either apply for companies that are willing to trust their employees or build enough trust in an existing one.

hehe I'm in a rather similar situation, but instead of trying to find a job I'm trying to create my own, and since you talked about habits, I need to share my work now! https://everydaycheck.com :P

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