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What would you like to do?
remote_work, turing, turing grads.

note 0: this post now lives on as the following blog post: http://josh.works/remote-job-resources. Feel free to read it there. I've cleaned it up a bit, embedded some tweets instead of just linking to URLs, etc. I believe the reading experience is better over there, so... read that. Not this. But this lives on for posterities sake.

note 1: This is a collection of resources that come from a range of conversations I've had with Turing students. Some of it is specific to getting/working remotely, but most of it is (in my opinion) useful for any sort of role. Finally, I think "advice to others" is a tall order. All I know is things I did, and what seemed to correlate with good results. Correlation is not causation, etc.

Where do remote jobs "live"

I've had the most success getting email responses from two places:

First, http://weworkremotely.com/

Second, hacker news' "who's hiring" threads: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=15824597 <= December 2017

oh, and with the hacker news posts, they're often hundreds of entries long. I.E. hundreds of potential jobs.

I use this js in the console to filter them by keyword. At a minimum, I'd add "remote" as criteria: https://gist.github.com/kristopolous/19260ae54967c2219da8

This resource is 100x better than the above gist: https://kennytilton.github.io/whoishiring/

What sort of things did I do to actually get the job

My goal was to telegraph competence to anyone I interacted with. So, one of my main goals was to create visible evidence that I am competent.

That's not helpful, Josh. How do you do that? Do you run around screaming "I'M COMPETENT" at everyone you meet?

No. I just type things on the internet, and make those easy to find. My email signature has a link to my website, which has a smattering of technical and non-technical posts, and my "about me" page makes sure to also telegraph competence. If you don't have a website, just hop onto Medium, and start writing some things. Here's examples of my "technical" posts:

My "about" page is fairly friendly and comprehensive: http://josh.works/about/

None of these posts are earth shattering (actually, they are all very basic) but it telegraphs:

  • I have some initiative. Not necessarily a lot, but at least a little
  • I can write words in a legible and readible fashion. This is valuable in a remote work environment, as almost all communication will be written. (I.E. writing skills are particularly valuable.)

Jason Fried, founder of Basecamp (and a bunch of other stuff) wrote in his book Rework:

“If you are trying to decide among a few people to fill a position hire the best writer. it doesn't matter if the person is marketer, salesperson, designer, programmer, or whatever, their writing skills will pay off. That's because being a good writer is about more than writing clear writing. Clear writing is a sign of clear thinking. great writers know how to communicate. they make things easy to understand. they can put themselves in someone else's shoes. they know what to omit. And those are qualities you want in any candidate. Writing is making a comeback all over our society... Writing is today's currency for good ideas.”

So, writing is valuable. Write stuff, and make it easy to find.

Outreach

Cold outreach. It's hard, right?

I agree. If you don't like sending people emails out of the blue, I have a suggestion for you. Role-playing!

You're going to roll-play someone who likes to do sales-y activities, and that person is going to get you a job.

You're "selling" the product of your own development skills. So, get into a sales mindset, and you'll do just fine.

start here: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5476363, and read this entire comment carefully. Then go apply it in your emails.

i see the whole process of cold outreach as a collection of microskills (just like a complicated operation in Ruby or Javascript)

  • it's not "get a job", it's "write emails that get responses" => "write emails that start conversations" => "respond to emails that lead to more responses" => "have conversations where someone is thinking if I can/cannot do the job" => "in conversations convince someone I'd be a good culture fit", etc.

so all of those are tiny sub-skills of the job-hunting process. if you can do the first three, getting a job is just a matter of volume. one email or one conversation won't turn into a job. but ten might. twenty almost certainly will.

there's a #cold-outreach channel that I'd recommend joining. the woman that started it is great at putting stuff together around cold outreach. the hardest part of cold outreach is just starting it. there's 100 things you can do that make you think you're making progress, but besides actually sending an email to a stranger none of it is effective.

this is also a good read: http://www.kalzumeus.com/2012/01/23/salary-negotiation/

even though you're not "negotiating salary" until you get an offer, you are negotiating it by proving your worth and showing you have value to bring to a company, and by being professional in your communications. all of that can be done in the first email.

Here's an inspirational tweet: https://twitter.com/patio11/status/930353734953058305

patrick mckenzie is a good person to follow on the internet

he's written https://stripe.com/atlas/guides/starting-sales. scroll down to "How should you communicate with customers?"

and mentally swap "customers" with "potential employers", and go from there. within reason.

and follow Stephanie Hurlburt: https://twitter.com/sehurlburt/status/889004724669661184

there's tons of people that she retweets that are tweeting some variation of

I'd love to help people with {topic}, and DM's are welcome. please ask me for help

that would be a good place to get practice w/cold outreach.

i have a bit of an advantage because I've done sales in the past. Most of the skills for sales translate well to getting a job, so... as much as you can, imagine you're a sales person. but the product you're selling is your own skills as a developer.

You might think you have way more competition than you actually do

i once was helping hire for one of those sweet remote roles posted on weworkremotely.com. We got 300 applications within a few days.

I dismissed 280 of them out of hand, based on the email preview alone. They all began with either

Dear Sir or Madame...

or were some variation of

Here's my linkedin/CV, let me know if you're interested

I.E. Zero effort to differentiate themselves. we had one guy email me directly with questions about the role before he applied... I floated his application to the top and was pulling to hire him, without knowing anything else about him.

This is a phenomena sometimes called "The Craigslist Penis Effect" => https://www.iwillteachyoutoberich.com/blog/the-craigslist-penis-effect/

so... just see it as a numbers game. 300 applications per job less 90% of those applications leaves 60 tolerable applications per job. that's 90% dismissed out of hand.

So, if you're 50% percentile of the remaining applications, every dev role comes down to you and 30 other people.

As a Turing grad, i'd bet you're closer to 80th percentile for that pool, so you're now down to competing with ~15 people for every one of those jobs.

in summary, get good at:

  1. showcasing your work (I.E. a personal website that proves you can write some tolerable code, or have an aptitude to learn)
  2. telegraphing competence in basic email communications

and you'll do just fine.

Write personalized, engaging emails to fifteen people, and you will guaranteed have a collection of interesting email responses, and will have a few interviews lined up.

My offer to you

If you email ten people, and don't get a response, ping me in slack. (@josh_t). I'll read over the emails you sent, and figure out how to tighten 'em up.

If you've still not sent any cold emails, send me a doc containing the details you have for three companies you're interested in, as well as the contact person or contact email, and a draft of the email you'd like to send.

I'll help you get the emails ready to send.

Misc resources

Add comments to the gist if you feel inclined, or make suggestions on what I missed, and I'll update it.

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