People had full time remote jobs before working remotely became trendy. For instance, IBM had thousands of employees working remotely in the early 2000s, around the same time video conferencing and instant messaging tools became available for business. But in 2017 they gave employees an ultimatum: come back to the office or get fired. Yahoo did the same thing with their remote employees.
These seemed like cases of large corporations wanting to have more control over employees. In the beginning, it probably made sense for IBM to have remote employees. They could save money on onboarding, real estate, and office-related costs. But these cost-savings benefits could not compete with the corporate ego (i.e. the desire to control).
Fortunately, you don’t have to work for a company like IBM or Yahoo if you want to work remotely. Today there are well-funded tech startups and fast-growing tech companies that can pay you as well as corporate giants and give you the freedom to work in a flexible way from virtually anywhere in the world.
Work remotely vs work from anywhere
There are two types of ways companies let you work as a remote worker:
- Work remotely: when you don’t have to report to a central office but must be located in a specific time zone or region.
- Work from anywhere: when you can work from anywhere in the world where there’s a stable internet connection.
If you like to travel internationally like me and believe that no company has the right to tell you where you can work from, you’ll want to find a company that lets you work from anywhere. On the other hand, if you don’t have international travel goals and just want to have more work flexibility, finding any type of remote work should suit you just fine.
Note: Choosing to work from anywhere will limit the amount of remote jobs you can apply to. Another option to consider is getting hired by a company that lets you work remotely and then, a few months later, convince them to let you work from anywhere. I have done this successfully before.
Full-time remote employee vs remote contractor
There are two types of full-time remote workers:
- Full-time remote employee: a remote worker that receives a salary and benefits from an employer including health insurance, paid time off, and stock options.
- Full-time remote contractor: a remote worker that is paid on an hourly, weekly, or monthly basis and does not receive benefits.
I have experienced life as both a full-time remote employee and contractor throughout my career. In 2019 I was a full-time remote employee for a company that let me work remotely as long I was in the United States. It was nice to get health insurance coverage and paid time off. However, in 2017 I was a full-time remote contractor for a company that let me work from anywhere. I didn’t receive benefits but this was fine because I was able to work while traveling internationally.
Note: Choosing to get hired as a full-time remote employee will also limit the amount of remote jobs you can apply to. Another option is to be okay with working as a contractor and, during the negotiation phase of the interview, request a higher rate to offset the lack of benefits.
Action Step: Write down your requirements for remote work in your journal. Do you want to work remotely or work from anywhere? Do you want to be a full-time remote employee or contractor?
Prepare for getting hired
If you have a college education that you spent a lot of time and money on, here’s a hard pill to swallow: Companies want results. Proof of a formal education doesn’t prove you can make things happen. What does prove you can make things happen is evidence of results.
Collect evidence of results
- Links: Links can include blog posts, reports, social media posts, videos, websites, or any other type of online content you created or helped create. It can also include press releases or news articles that mention you or a project you worked on. The idea here is to connect yourself to creation and/or teamwork and success.
- Testimonials: You want to get testimonials from people you’ve worked with. Testimonials are a type of social proof (i.e. words from other people that support what you say about yourself). The best way to get testimonials is through LinkedIn. You can then repurpose and abbreviate these testimonials for your resume and portfolio site.
How to get testimonials on LinkedIn
To ask for a recommendation on LinkedIn, go to the person’s profile and click the More… button. In the dropdown menu, select the Request a Recommendation option. For this to work, you must be connected with them.
If you are not connected with them, search for them on LinkedIn and click the Connect button on their profile. After clicking this button, click the Add Note option. (Sometimes this is hidden as an option behind the More… button.)
Send this message to people on LinkedIn who are connections…
Hi [THEIR FIRST NAME]! I’m currently looking for a full-time remote job and am wondering if you can write a sentence or two about your experience working with me. I’d really appreciate it! — [YOUR FIRST NAME]
Send this message to people on LinkedIn who are not connections…
Hi [THEIR FIRST NAME]! I’m currently looking for a full-time remote job and am wondering if you can write a sentence or two about your experience working with me. To do this, you can go to my LinkedIn profile, click the “More…” button, and then click the “Recommend” button. Thank you! — [YOUR FIRST NAME]
Action Step: Find links to work you created or that mentions you online. Also, find five people you can request a testimonial from.
Important: If you don’t have any links, don’t worry. You can create pages on your portfolio site that explain projects you’ve worked on. I’ll show you how to create a simple portfolio site and pages you can link to in future lesson.
Action Step (Optional): After completing this lesson, share whether you want to work for a company that will let you work remotely or work from anywhere in the Reply section below. Also share whether you want a full time employee or contract position.