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How to Land Remote Software Engineering Jobs from the USA

6 minute read

By Editorial Staff

For many software engineers, especially those outside the U.S., landing a remote position with a U.S.-based tech company is the dream. With the average salary for senior engineers at $115,072, it’s easy to understand why.1

Believe it or not, this dream is definitely achievable, especially for experienced developers. While it won’t be easy, you can give yourself a competitive advantage by examining all the variables before you set out on your remote job journey.

Roman Samborskyi / Shutterstock

Create a Focused Portfolio

Your first step to remote software engineering bliss is to overhaul your portfolio. As a software engineer, your portfolio is the most important tool you have in getting you noticed. Experienced engineers likely have numerous projects to show off, but now’s the time to take a step back and determine if your work represents the kind of job you’re looking for.

When it comes to landing a remote job in the U.S., quality and focus are more important than quantity. Clear out any old projects that aren’t relevant to the job you want, and make sure the ones you keep are production quality. If you have case studies and documentation to accompany them, even better.

Streamline Your Resume

Your portfolio is core to landing a software engineering job, but your resume matters too. It’s what entices prospective employers to visit your portfolio in the first place. As such, your resume should take the same focused approach and highlight experience relevant to the job you want.

Your resume is also a great opportunity to highlight remote work experience. Working remotely requires a unique skill set that employers look for when hiring for distributed teams. If you can tailor your resume to reflect this skillset, you’ll increase your chances of breaking into the interview stage.

Level Up Your Language Skills

No, we don’t mean JavaScript. A strong command of the English language is arguably your most important skill when applying for U.S.-based software engineering jobs. This means good reading and writing skills when communicating over Slack, as well as strong speaking and listening skills in Zoom meetings. Even a program’s source code is written in English.

If your skills are rusty, there are countless apps you can use to help sharpen them. If you prefer self-study, Rosetta Stone2, Duolingo3, and Babbel4 are great choices. For a more guided approach, Preply5 is a good platform for finding one-on-one language tutors.

Get With the Time Zone

An important aspect of working remotely is how much your time zone overlaps with the team you’re on. Some U.S. companies adhere to a strict policy, where the entire team or department is required to be in the same time zone. This means remote opportunities are limited to individuals in North, Central, and South America.

That said, many companies are beginning to adopt a “core hours” approach, where remote employees are required to share a four-hour overlap for communication and meetings. Others take a fully distributed approach and don’t even have central offices. Whatever the case, be sure to take the time to see what the time zone policy is for the companies you apply to.

Do Your Homework

If you’re new to searching specifically for remote engineering positions within the borders of the U.S., you’ll have to adjust your approach. As you can see by now, you can’t simply fire off applications to any open position. In short, you’ll have to dig a little deeper to find those beautiful businesses that work with worldwide professionals.

That said, there are more distributed teams out there than you think. And some of them have been at it for a while. Automattic, of WordPress fame, has been fully remote for years. Some focused research will uncover many more.

Top Job Placement Sites

Once you’re fully prepared and ready to apply, researching and applying to individual companies is good, but there are other ways to boost your application efficiency. One way is by leveraging platforms specifically designed to connect companies with remote software engineers.

Toptal6 and Turing7 are two such platforms. The former is inclusive of all tech professionals while the latter focuses solely on software engineers.

Get Gigs on Freelancing Sites

If you’re looking for a U.S.-based engineering job, chances are, you’re focused on long-term career growth, comfortable benefits, and a sweet salary. The thought of freelancing might seem like a step in the opposite direction.

But freelancing can also be a means to an end. In fact, what better way to interview for a company than by getting paid to do some work for them? Sites like Upwork8 can connect you with countless businesses looking for short-term software development, and it’s not uncommon for these one-offs to turn into full-time positions. Just think of it as getting paid to increase your experience and grow your network.

Lean On Your Existing Network

When you’re in the thick of the job hunt, scouring job sites and firing off countless applications, don’t overlook your most valuable tool: your existing network. If you’re established in your career, you no doubt have connections you can tap to increase your reach.

Reach out on Slack, fire off a few emails and let everyone know that you’re looking for an engineering job in the U.S. You never know who might know someone that knows someone.

Get Social

While you’re catching up with old colleagues and acquaintances, don’t forget to use social media to spread the good word. As a software engineer, you likely already have a LinkedIn account, so put it to good use. If you really want to catch a hiring manager’s attention, publish a few blog posts on your profile to demonstrate your engineering acumen as well as your communication skills.

LinkedIn is great, but don’t forget about other social platforms. Twitter can be a surprisingly good network for finding tech opportunities. Look up influencers in your vertical and start following them and interacting. You really never know what opportunity a random tweet might uncover.

Prepare to Send Numerous Applications

Applying to remote positions means you have access to more opportunities compared to job hunting in your geographical area. But this also means that each opportunity has more engineers applying to it. This is something you’ll need to keep in mind when applying as the sheer number of positions and applicants means you’ll need to fire off a lot more applications before you land a job.

Landing a remote job often requires dozens of applications, if not hundreds. In most cases, you won’t even get a response. But don’t take it personally or feel it’s a reflection of your qualifications. It’s simply a numbers game — one you have to keep playing until you break through.

Be Timely and Responsive

Being responsive is a given for any job, regardless of whether it’s remote or onsite. But for remote software engineering positions, it’s even more so. Remember, you’re competing with a much greater number of qualified engineers. Chances are, that when a company first contacts you, they also contacted several other candidates. You don’t want to drop the ball by taking too long to respond.

In fact, your first response can be somewhat like a pre-interview. Responding promptly and communicating clearly will convince the hiring manager that you respect their time and demonstrate good team communication.

Persistence Is Your Superpower

It bears mentioning again: If you’re looking for a remote software engineering position, especially in the U.S., you’re competing with a large talent pool. For every application you send off, you’re likely competing with hundreds of candidates.

If you’re applying to job after job with no response, don’t get discouraged. Simply move on and keep firing off applications. You’ve made it this far as a software engineer, which means you have the most important skill of all: grit. Like a difficult engineering problem, persistence and perseverance will soon enough pay off, and you’ll eventually find the remote engineering job of your dreams.

Editorial Staff