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Ask HN: What skills would get me the best remote job?
42 points by needajobb on May 3, 2018 | hide | past | web | favorite | 21 comments
So, due to family reasons I can't move from where I live (Ireland). The available jobs and salaries are incredibly poor here, I am struggling to make ends meet.

I feel I should try to aim for a remote job with a company that is willing to pay a much better salary (I am thinking $100k). I am a fairly competent web developer. Web developers are a dime a dozen, so I doubt if companies would really want to pay for a remote worker when they could easily get a handful just round the corner.

I am thinking I would need to become competent in a more niche area - an area that companies really need, but it is harder for companies to find recruits for. It would also be easier to become a leading expert in the field due to reduced competition.

Say I want to get this job in 1 years time, what skill sets would be the best to focus on - AI, networks, operating systems, compilers etc..? How should I best develop these skills? Presumably I will need to develop a decent portfolio to market my skills.. What would the best way to go around this be?

This is probably a fairly vague fingers in the air question, but any pointers or inspiration would be appreciated..




> Web developers are a dime a dozen, so I doubt if companies would really want to pay for a remote worker when they could easily get a handful just round the corner.

What exactly do you consider a web developer? If you're talking about the kind of web developer who codes a web page for his grandma's flower shop in html & css then I think you'd be right about that.

But if you're talking about one who writes backend code to scale, parse data and interact with external services or writes frontend code using whatever the latest javascript framework is these days, then those web developers definitely aren't "a dime a dozen". And they certainly won't have problems getting a remote job.


Interesting. Yeah I'm definitely more the latter, I work on fairly complex financial saas type products..


Financial sector domain expertise in and of itself should make you stand out.


I think you've described one type of developer but with different words.


Not sure if this will help, but this post was on HN yesterday. Skills to learn for standing out as a web developer: http://fullbit.ca/learning-web-development-stand-out/


If you enjoy being a “fairly competent” web developer, why not work on that and become a “very skilled” web developer? You can make more than 100k that way, and the world needs a whole lot of web developers. If you aren’t sure where to start, try picking some specific tools and contributing to the open source ecosystem. The world can still use cool new React libraries.


Not sure I particularly enjoy being a web developer, it just seems to be where I have landed. I do love coding of all types though. There are definitely some open source libraries I am interested in though. I guess this leads to further questions, say I were to contribute heavily to a decent project, would this be sufficient to get a company's interest up (in your opinion) - or do you think it should just be one part of my strategy?


It's hard to say. Some employers will be pleased, impressed, and weigh in open-contributions. Others won't care in the slightest.

If nothing else I've found such things can come up in interviews, and be useful points of reference. It's better to say "Yes I've done XX, YY, ZZ and you can see examples in this project I published .." than to not have good examples.


The most important thing is for you to get better. If you really are becoming a better and better engineer over time, some companies will realize that and offer you more money. So find a project that challenges you enough that it will improve your skills to work on it.


As a remote Java developer of 5 years (10 years experience total) the remote market seems hottest for exactly your skillset,as others have suggested you'd be best levelling up your current skills.

If I wanted to get a remote job now the best combination of skills/techs in my opinion would be any combination of the following:

- React/Vue.js/Angular

- Node.js/PHP/Ruby

To stand out in the crowd I would do two things:

1. Blog about the techs you use, it's a great way to get noticed when you apply for jobs. Posts can be as simple as you want around new things you are learning and is a positive chance to show off your writing and communication skills.

2. Whatever tech stack you choose or are comfortable with you should have a demo application in Github/Bitbucket be it a React widget that pulls in data about the weather/stocks etc or if you are fully backend then a rest API or library to solve a particular tech problem. Focus on good commit messages, clean code and concise,descriptive and useful tests.

If you do get the chance to interview for a remote position then over communicate, remote work can be spread across countries and timezones and it's crucial to make sure information is available for everyone and understood to avoid blockers.

So if someone reaches out and suggests a time then I'd recommend messaging back with 'Great, I'm looking forward to meeting you. Just to confirm I'll be online at 4pm EST and my skype is XXX. Any problems feel free to reach out to me on email X or phone Y.'

Last but not least, you're not going to become an AI/network specialist in a year, you'd a competent developer (let's drop 'fairly'). Look at what you can improve in your current sphere:

- Is your code clean and understandable?

- Can you effectively explain technical concepts to folks that are not programmers?

- Are your tests useful and effective?

Best of luck!


> If I wanted to get a remote job now the best combination of skills/techs in my opinion would be any combination of the following...

I am a bit confused. What is the point of combining PHP with Ruby ? Isn't that an overlap ?


He means pick a combination with one selection from each front end and back end category. For instance you can pick vuejs from front end and combine it with php/laravel on the back end


Yup indeed, I wasn't super clear but that was my intention!


Look at remoteok and search the HN hiring post for remote roles. Review the skill sets listed, and work towards gaining those skills.

If you have those skills then work towards selling yourself better.

Believe in yourself!


It's a supply vs demand thing. I doubt anyone is hiring remotely for AI and blockchain right now. Things like this are usually done face to face because they require a lot more communication.

Web skills are still in very high demand and still in low supply. JavaScript is used for TVs too. Java is used on a lot of systems. Few people go past the 1 year mark.

If you really want a niche, ironically, you might want to learn legacy systems, as they pay a lot but are very hard to recruit for. You can also learn a whole stack of systems, get certified with Google, AWS, Microsoft. I'd actually bet on Chinese systems as a fast growing market. So maybe look at Alibaba or Huawei systems.

In general, I recommend learning some low risk, low return skills and a few high risk, high return skills. The low risk skills will get you a job, the high risk skills will get you promoted.


I definitely don't agree with "learn legacy systems". There are high-paying jobs for those, but not remote (I've worked in a language that's in very high demand on the defense community but you need US citizenship AND security clearance to get those very high paying jobs).


if your interest is getting the most money, it sounds like portfolio building could be a good use of time in the short-term. for instance... if your current portfolio is worth a 50k/yr remote job, and you improved your portfolio making ability (say, with a redesign or a retelling of your work history, etc...) for the next 4 weeks, and got a job offer for 75k/year... then you would have increased your take by 50% in 4 weeks.

if you don't think your current portfolio could/should be improved, then I would suggest that you look at the companies you're interested in working for and understand the sorts of work they need a remote developer for... and target that skillset.

alternatively, start your own thing on the side... do it for 2 years while doing a remote job that you can handle with 75% attention.

good luck.


You can try getting some freelancing work at https://upwork.com and then build a strong enough reputation or portfolio to take your business elsewhere (like your own website. Just use https://www.thinkmain.com to set it up and you're good to go.)

The goal with it would be to move to your own website eventually. Upwork fee's are around 20% from what I hear.


Define fairly competent - Is it 4-5 years of experience on production scale system with great traits like commenting, documenting, automated testing and owning code? Or is it something closer to 2-3 years of experience, worked for a company didn't own much code? Market is hot at the moment for the former.

My company is hiring a remote web developer - if you're interested. Salary goes between 80-100k depending on experience. Contact is in my profile.


It depends on where your skills already lie. If you do front end work you should learn one of the big frameworks. Love them or hate them, they're here to stay. You should check out some of the remote jobs boards and see what people are asking for. You may as well start applying now instead of waiting for a year, at the very least you'll get a more in-depth knowledge of what people are looking for.


I'm a developer myself, and the skill that has been the most beneficial to me by far has been the ability to make decisions.




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