How to Find a Remote Job as a Developer in 2021

Part 1. Lessons to learn before you start your job search

7 min readDec 16, 2020

Every year the Oxford English Dictionary chooses a Word of the Year — a word that has become prominent or notable over the course of twelve months. This year something went wrong. The OED described 2020 as ‘a year that has left us speechless’, meaning a year that cannot be summed up in one single word, and a bunch of words was chosen to reflect 2020’s ‘ethos, mood, or preoccupations’.

Marvelously, there has been a dramatic increase in the use of two words since March: remote and remotely. The majority of businesses would have moved away from the traditional office work model in favor of remote work over the next decade. The coronavirus pandemic made it happen in a matter of weeks.

Software developers and engineers anticipated the trend, as the industry is perfectly tailored for remote work. In 2019 a huge Stack Overflow’s Developer Survey showed that more than 50% of developers work at least part of the time remotely, and 12% are full-time remote workers.

While eager researchers collect the data on how COVID-19 has reshaped the developers’ world and changed the remote — non-remote ratio, we at 6nomads decided to enable engineers and developers to find the best full-time remote jobs in the world.

Pandemic or not, you have to be prepared. Here is 6nomads guide on how to find a remote job as a developer in 2021.

Lesson 1
Update your vocabulary

First thing you have to keep in mind is very simple yet powerful enough to lead to a series of misunderstandings or long-term even cause a chronic condition called ‘I hate my job’.

To avoid all that, the important lesson is to learn the definitions! You have to be very sure what kind of role and environment you are looking for. The trick is to speak the industry jargon to find the right jobs and also to impress your future employers.

Remote, distributed, remote-first, off-site? Do you know which one is for you? All of them sound similar, but they are not interchangeable.

Remote team: team members work in the same space, but their location is different from the company’s headquarters and other company teams.

Distributed team: a team has one or more remote team members working from multiple different locations.

Fully distributed team: a team doesn’t even have a shared physical space (office or HQ) where employees could work from. Every team member works wherever they want (at home, in a café, or a coworking space).

Hub & Spoke: a model for those who still want to go to the office sometime. The company has a main office and satellite offices, allowing employees to meet up within easy reach of home.

Co-located team: team members are located at the same location, so they can have and promote face-to-face collaboration.

The term ‘remote-first’ has become a keyword that small and big employers repeat like a mantra. Meanwhile, even the tech industry hasn’t agreed on a term. Remote first, remote-friendly, fully remote, and distributed are used by startups and established companies with a physical address that employees are not tied to and are open to remote work.

Feel free to ask a recruiter:
✔ Is your team fully-distributed?
✔ Does the company have other remote teams?
✔ What percentage of your staff work remotely?

Those questions can potentially help you weigh up your chances of being hired, draw out your career prospects within a company, and give you an idea of how prepared the company is for managing remote workers.

Lesson 2
Feel the remote culture

Some companies became remote and liked it so much that they burned the bridge to its offices and HQ. Others have been built around the idea of remote work, and for them working remotely is the default. The stronger the company’s remote culture, the better you feel as a remote worker.

Answering the demand, lots of remote companies are popping up. You have to make sure that your future employer is very familiar with distributed team management, the challenges therein, and has clear expectations. GitLab, the self-proclaimed largest all-remote company on the planet, Automattic, the company behind WordPress, InVision, and Zapier, among a few others, set the stage for successful remote culture. The veterans of remote hiring promote strong communication, accountability and alignment, as well as provide you as an employee with everything needed for the success of both parties.

The questions you should consider finding answers to are:
Since when has the company been hiring remote workers?
✔ What are the company’s general protocols/guidelines for remote work?
✔ Is there a dedicated point person in the company who takes care of remote needs?

Lesson 3
Consider company’s recruitment strategies

Do you want to start working tomorrow? Are you ready for 50 rounds of interviews? Are you chasing after big-name employers for your CV, or do you just need new challenging experience? How long-term are your career goals, and what are you looking for right now? Answering questions of this kind can help you look at your potential employers with new eyes and adapt to their recruitment strategies.

Keep in mind how big and established the company you are applying to is. There is a difference between established companies and startups in terms of recruitment strategy. The first ones usually turn the recruitment process into nine circles of hell, as they are resourceful enough to use temporary solutions until a new candidate is hired. Startups tend to focus on hiring people that do not require lots of training, so that they might be looking for tech talent with at least two years of experience.

With a remote job, the growth path with a company is not always clearly visible.

A good question to ask your potential employer:
✔ What am I going to be with you in two years?

Lesson 4
Learn geography

‘Israel has the same time zone as Moscow, I need not work at night’ — that’s the story of Peter, working for an Israeli fintech startup. For every remote worker, time zones can become an extremely important issue. They may shape where you choose to live or what company to work in.

To avoid working night shifts, make sure you know the answers to the following questions:
✔ How distributed is the team?
✔ Do you have to collaborate with other remote teams?
✔ Is working in core business hours a requirement?
✔ Does my time zone overlap with the rest of the team members?

Lesson 5
Evaluate potential package

Remote work has always been a way to freedom, and working remotely doesn’t mean you have to get less than an on-site IT specialist would. Know your needs, and research the market.

✔ Is your salary high enough? Learn the company’s strategy on setting salaries for remote roles. It might be based either on their location, or on your location, or calculated according to market trends. Websites like ZipRecruiter, Glassdoor and Totaljobs can give you a general idea of an average remote salary of a software engineer in the US or the UK for example.

✔ Will you get support for financial, legal and tax issues? This kind of support can be provided by someone from the company or a contractor who will help you deal with all the problems that always come up in the very beginning. You have to know how to be registered in your country to sign a contract as a remote worker, what tax implications are and how to avoid double taxation, where and how you can work.

If you like to get into more legal details, here is a guide on how an American startup can legally hire you as foreign IT talent.

✔ Does the company offer a work benefit plan? If not, do you have your own retirement plan and insurance, and are you going to make enough money for savings? Here you should get back to your salary expectations and make them even more realistic.

Some companies offer remote-specific benefits, i.e., provide coworking membership or cover other costs like the Internet and some other things you might need (a desk, a microphone and even a computer).

Make sure you pay attention to the differences between countries. At the end of the day, even fully-remote companies are registered somewhere and play by that territory rules and laws.

Stay tuned for Part 2 or check the remote jobs shortlist right now to find the offer suiting you the best!



6nomads — a new kind of recruitment service focusing on remote tech companies.