What It Takes To Land A Remote Job

I was asked to spend more time discussing remote working and distributed companies.

This is a sensitive subject since I do understand most companies which deny the benefits of remote working.

  1. The entire organization has to be set up for remote.
  2. Management should understand and have the instruments in place to manage remote staff.
  3. People should be motivated, determined, hard-working, and self-managed to a certain extent.

More importantly…

I talk about salaries here. And some notable differences between average wages in various countries and asking paychecks when applying with us.

remote job


00:00:45 – Finding A Remote Job is Difficult
00:02:23 – Competing In A Very Tricky Game
00:04:46 – How Pricing Works
00:05:45 – What Company Owners Look For
00:07:10 – Pricing And Skills Considerations


Mario Peshev from DevriX here.

So I wanted to avoid this topic, but too many people ask me about remote working and working from home, telecommuting and stuff like that. So I just wanted to make a few things clear.

Keep in mind that while it’s becoming more and more and more popular over the past five or 10 years, it’s still a stigma. It’s still something that lots of businesses don’t really deal with. So I just want to discuss different perspectives here as someone who used to do full-time freelance and someone who has been two or three times, actually three times a remote employee at a company, completely remote. And also, someone who is currently running a distributed team of people. I just want to show different perspectives here.

Finding A Remote Job is Difficult

So first off, finding a remote job is difficult. Most businesses are simply not set for remote. Some are. So if you go to remote.corp or probably if you go to indeed.com and look for kind of remote jobs, it’s something that you can do. There are some jobs available out there and you can apply there and you can see whether you’re a good fit or not and whether you kind of match the criteria.

The thing with remote jobs is that those perks come with high kind of responsibility for the employee. Because if you apply on a local scale for a company, at the company that only hires locally, it means that you’re only competing with the people who live locally in that area.

And that’s especially valid for kind of software engineering jobs because the demand is extremely high, lots of companies are looking for people and essentially companies are roughly speaking, exchanging people from one team to another, from one company to another because they’re not enough kind of local people on the market. So that’s as far as local companies are concerned.

In terms of remote companies, you’re competing with the entire universe, or at least the part of that that has humanity kind of inhabited that ecosystem or that world and the one connected to the Internet. So keeping that in mind, when you apply for a job somewhere, you’re competing with probably 10 times or 50 times or a hundred times more applicants interested in working in that particular team. And we deal with that as well, which means several things.

Competing In A Very Tricky Game

When I used to apply for remote working jobs, whenever I’ve been discarded, it was due to other applicants that were more successful than me, with a better portfolio, better communication skills and stuff like that. So that means that you really have to step up your game in order to apply for a remote working job. It means that you need to be great at what you do, really confident at that skill and also compete pretty much on an international level.

Moreover, you’re in a very disadvantages position for two reasons. First, you’re always going to be more expensive than some people. Like even the company really cares about price and most companies do, they’re always going to be applicants from mainly Asia, eastern Europe, South America or other parts of the world where basically people can afford to charge less because their expenses are lower.

The second thing is, again, you’re going to compete with the top players in the market kind of applying for that specific job. So keep that in mind. It’s a very tricky game. It’s mostly based on a kind of reputation, community work, anything that you can showcase a which is not, “I just worked for that random company.” Right? So that’s one thing.

In terms of looking for people because again, we are a distributed company, we also have to deal with that. And we do have people in about probably six or seven or eight different countries right now. We do try to gauge that and find the best fit between, culture fit and skills and portfolio and communication and availability and of course costs. And it gets pretty tricky because … I’m going to be brutally honest with you in terms of pricing.

How Pricing Works

We’re based out of Bulgaria where the average salary is low. But IT industry is booming here. So basically, there are tones of international companies with, not headquarters, but with large offices hiring hundreds of developers here in Bulgaria. Some have higher given thousands, right? Which means that salaries are jumping higher. There are lots of offers with salaries that are competitive to the … salaries that you are going to get in most states in the US. So I just want to make that clear.

You can find junior people at low cost, roughly speaking. But when you start competing for more experienced and senior people, it’s likely to get someone who’s getting as much as a US developer or let’s say just 20, 30% less than that even though the cost of living is low. So it’s a tricky situation.

What that leads to is first off, hiring locally becomes trickier because the more experienced the person gets, the more likely it is for them to be looking into different opportunities, including international companies settling here and also just applying for remote position even though those are still kind of scarce, not widely available everywhere and you really have to be good.

But the other thing is we do get a lot of applications from countries that have lower standard of living of ours and asking for two or three times more money than what we’re going to get here locally with the other drawback of less experience and communication gaps, cultural gaps and other stuff like time zone differences and whatnot. So it gets pretty tricky.

What Company Owners Look For

And I’m not saying … So as a company owner, what I have to do myself, and you know what almost everyone in my inner circle does is we look for two things. Either someone who’s extremely professional, even though we know that they’re going to be more expensive but we know that the return on investment is going to be dramatically higher, right? So we know that we are hiring someone who’s going to be far more experienced or better equipped with those skills or they know how to scale complex platforms. They work very fast, they work long hours, whatever it is. So that’s kind of one thing.

So we know that we are hiring someone who’s going to be far more experienced or better equipped with those skills or they know how to scale complex platforms. They work very fast, they work long hours, whatever it is. So that’s kind of one thing.

Or the second thing is looking for someone who’s a fairly affordable in a sense that we can pay still a lot of money but at the place where that particular person can probably thrive and leave a very comfortable and convenient life. So those are kind of the two contradicting points that we’re trying to kind of match together.

But whenever we get someone who is remote, English isn’t their first language and they don’t really speak English very well, different times zone, some communication gap and asking for a way above average market salary within their region, we are reaching to a kind of tipping point where we simply have to discard that applicant. Because we know that there’s specific overhead for working with remote people. They don’t really showcase anything that’s extremely valuable and that’s adding up to the point.

Pricing And Skills Considerations

So the experiment that I made I think last year was I went through … because we were listed on a Forbes List for 126 I think companies hiring remote people. That led to hundreds and hundreds of applications in our contact form from people from Australia, through Asia to kind of parts of Europe, through the entire North America and even several applications from Brazil and I think Chile. So we got a bunch of different application.

One would expect that people living in the states, at least the … states like Massachusetts or Texas with kind of a higher standard of living are going to ask for more than people in Asia or Africa or parts of Europe. But the thing is the difference wasn’t really quiet quite as much. So I even coached some of … kind of … I called two references from two of the people that apply from … one from … actually both were from Asia. Both people from Asia asked for a salary for junior to mid level developer for about roughly $3,000. So I had to call their references or people in my network. So I understood that they take between five and 10 times less what they were applying for.

Make More Contributions

So again, I do understand the gap, but the thing is if you want a higher paycheck and if you get let’s say $500, if you apply for $1,000, it’s still going to be double what you’re asking for. When you apply for $3,000 with three years of experience in development without actually having contributions, this simply looks wrong and this simply looks like something that doesn’t really add up. So again, in terms of pricing, it’s a very complicated and sensitive matter.

In terms of skills, you’re either trying to be a cost effective, roughly speaking, given your experience or someone who’s insanely experienced. So you’re basically among the top 0.01% on top of the food chain. So those are kind of the two options. But if you’re simply asking for a random paycheck in a random company, hoping that you’re going to get hired, that’s probably not going to happen.

You should either have an open, honest, transparent conversation with that team, just showcasing what you know in order to have a reason for asking for that amount. Or you should have the portfolio, GitHub and pretty much everything else that speaks for your work. Some community experience, extra experience that’s going to contribute to that thing.

But aside from that, just keep that in mind. Just asking for a higher paycheck in a random company isn’t going to cut it. So skills and communication are simply crucial.