remote developer

How to become a remote developer: A cheat sheet

Remote developer jobs have always been popular, but that demand has accelerated since the COVID-19 pandemic. Over the last decade, remote jobs have grown by a massive 173% and the phenomenon isn’t settling down any time soon — in any country. It’s something employers are keen to offer as well, with a PWC study showing 83% say the shift to remote work has been an overwhelming success to their company.

As a developer, you can benefit from the flexibility of remote work, too. Whether you want to control your own schedule with extra flexibility, become a digital nomad while coding on a beach in Barbados or work from home to balance your work around the kids, becoming a remote worker is possible.

What’s not to love? You’ll get an excellent salary (the average salary for remote developers in the US is $66,000), you won’t be stuck in the morning commute and you can finally achieve that perfect work-life balance you’ve been craving.

Here’s a cheat sheet to help you become a remote developer.

Learn the essential developer skills

If you’re already a developer, then you’ll have this strategy nailed. But if you’re looking to get into the world of development and want to do it remotely, your first stop is to become proficient in the necessary skills.

Clearly, becoming a skilled developer isn’t an overnight process. Your first port of call should be to become familiar with JavaScript, CSS and HTML. At the same time, dive into numerous frameworks and libraries while learning how to use critical tools like GitHub.

A piece of advice: Don’t choose an erratic app of simple YouTube videos. If you’re genuinely serious about becoming a remote web developer, take a structured approach to your learning. There are many academies and certification programs available that can help you on this journey. 

But they’re not the only options out there. You can opt for self-learning courses, online bootcamps or something a little more immersive and hands-on.

If you’re new to development, you can’t really skip this step as it’s the core foundation of the role. You can also think of it as excellent preparation for a remote developer career, as you’ll become more familiar with remote tools like Zoom, Trello and Slack — your bread and butter of life as a remote developer.

Tidy up your portfolio

Next up, sort out that portfolio you’ve been neglecting. Or, if you’re new to this world, prepare a portfolio that will show off your skills and help you land a remote developer job. This is your shop window; your personal website that will:

  • Introduce who you are to potential employers
  • Highlight all of your pivotal skills
  • Showcase which areas you’re an expert in
  • Put the spotlight on projects you’ve worked on
  • Reveal your contact details
  • Reference your projects on platforms like GitHub
  • Give an insight into you as a person via your social media profiles

This is a minimum requirement for your portfolio, so take the time to polish it up and make it employer-ready. 

Get some remote experience

The more remote developer experience you have, the quicker you’ll manage to find that full-time role. A lack of experience isn’t the end of the world, though. If there’s one job in high demand, it’s web development, so you’ll be sure to find something as companies are always on the hunt for talented developers.

If remote work is a deal-breaking requirement, try and get some remote experience before applying to roles. This will show you have the capability and discipline to manage your projects, time and that they’ll be able to rely on you. A good starting point is to check out Fiverr and Upwork to win some gigs.

Leave an impression in your remote developer interview

You’ve gained the skills, achieved the qualifications and your portfolio is nice and tidy. Now it’s time to apply for remote developer jobs and prepare to ace your interview. In a remote role, the likelihood is your interview will be conducted remotely, too, so prepare for this and the challenges it can bring.

Now, there’s not a single cheat sheet out there that can list every question the interviewer will ask you. But you can expect questions around your problem-solving skills, what you want in terms of salary and work-life balance, how you communicate, how you work in a team and how you’ll excel in a remote work environment.

At the very least, have the answers to these questions ready. Here are other questions you should expect when interviewing for a remote developer role:

  • Can you describe how you communicate?
  • How will you stay motivated without being supervised?
  • How will you combat productivity slumps?
  • What do you think will be your biggest challenge as a remote developer?
  • Why do you want to work remotely?
  • What’s your home office setup like?
  • What was the biggest development challenge you’ve faced and how did you overcome it?
  • What developer experience do you have?

Don’t be afraid to ask your own questions and set expectations either — this remote role needs to work for you. Make sure you do your research on the company, the role and have everything already prepared, ranging from downloading Zoom or Google Meet and your notes.

To make this step even easier, you can also sign up to a platform like VanHack. We help you get more than noticed — we’ll prepare you for the selection process with mock interviews and help you with the entire relocation and visa process once you’re hired.

All you need to do is create your profile, record a couple of short views to help a company get to know you and show off your potential by taking code challenges. Complete your profile in detail and you’ll have a better chance of securing that interview.

Or consider other options

A full-time remote developer at a company isn’t your only option. Sure, it can be a great starting point, but you can achieve this goal without locking yourself down to one company. Sure, experience does come into it and as your career progresses, you’ll unlock more opportunities.

Want to learn the ropes at a company? Work for a handful of clients as a freelancer? Start your own empire? There are plenty of options to choose from. It all depends on your needs and goals.

Nail your remote setup

When you’re working as a remote developer, you want to make sure you have the perfect setup so you can work in comfort. This setup should include all your essentials, such as:

  • A suitable desk, such as a sit-stand electric desk
  • A comfortable ergonomic chair
  • Suitable lighting
  • A reliable internet connection
  • A good desktop or laptop — or both
  • A second screen

And whatever else you need to make your setup your own. You need one that will help you concentrate and not distract you from the hours of debugging and coding heading your way. It might be a remote developer role, but by no means is it easy where you can work from the couch all day. You need the proper surrounding and tools to work to your potential and carve out a successful remote role.

Map out your communication methods

When working as a remote developer, being an effective communicator is critical. If communication is necessary for an office-based role, then it’s even more essential when working remotely.

Map out how often you’ll check in with your manager. For example, it could be smaller weekly check-ins along with longer bi-weekly or monthly catch-ups. It’s also a good idea to have some overlapping hours with your team, rather than everyone working separately and slowing projects down.

Make sure you have the relevant tools installed, too. Zoom or Google Meet are two leading options for video meetings, whereas Slack and Google Chat are handy to keep open in a tab so you can continue communicating with your remote colleagues.

The transition into remote work can be a little daunting at first, especially since you’ll manage your own time. The first day could be easy, but you might lose track of your work-life balance before you know it. Schedule your days to make sure you have enough time to do work and enough time to focus on yourself.

Your employer will trust you to get the job done. It’s down to you to find the suitable hours where you’re most productive. You don’t want to work more than you did in the past, as you find it challenging to know when to stop. Carve out your ideal schedule and work with management to work remotely when it suits you best.

If you want to leave an impression on employers and start your journey towards becoming a remote developer, set up your profile on VanHack. To be in with a great chance of securing your remote role, craft a complete profile to stand out and increase your chances of landing your remote developer role.

Or, if you need extra support with the interview process, the VanHack Premium Academy can help you become even more prepared for your interview.

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