Seeking Help (Career)

This post is extremely difficult and quite frankly embarrassing to write.

But, I’m desperately looking for a full-time remote position. I have a few years of professional experience (including remote) under my belt and have worked multiple contracts over the last year. While I’m thankful for each of these opportunities, the gaps in pay and unstable hours have really begun to take a toll on my family.

Over this last year I’ve applied for more than 100 full-time roles and have had very little traction. I’m not sure if this is actually due to my skills, luck, or possibly because I’m currently working in the over-saturated field of frontend development (one of the many reasons I’m learning Elixir).

Regardless, I could really use some help and good vibes right now. If anyone is looking for a frontend or an extremely junior elixir developer who is eager to grow, let me know. I’m not concerned about making a lot of money, just stability and the ability to continue doing the work I love. I’ll even consider paid internships.

Here is a link to my portfolio, if anyone is interested or wants to pass it along. You can view the hire page to get a better idea of my experience.

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Hey Justin,

kudos for pitching this. It takes some guts to ask for help in a difficult situation. So thanks for posting

I guess you already browsed through the jobs within the obvious portals (actually I have no idea if anybody still uses those :sweat_smile:)

At what stage were you usually filtered out? What are probably the reasons you did not make it through that stage. I can understand if you do want to go into details on a public message board, but if I can be of help, pm me. :slight_smile:

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Appreciate the kudos.

I did look through a lot of job postings here, but seeing as I’m entirely new to Elixir most, all would be above my current skill set/experience. I’ve also been applying for jobs on just about every other forum and board, ex: stack overflow, keyvalues, we work remotely, angel, etc.

As for stages of elimination, there hasn’t been a consistent pattern. I can say nearly 80% of the positions I applied for never responded or would say they’ve chosen to proceed with other candidates.

When given the chance to move forward in the interview process, being extroverted and optimistic played in my favor during phone screenings. So I would generally move forward to technical challenges or on site interviews.

With the exception of a few, these all seemed to go pretty well. I received a lot of positive feedback, always included test, and would provide documentation if/when applicable. I received a lot compliments, but never an offer. While I enjoy the travel, it does make things difficult for my wife as I’m leaving her at home with our twin toddlers.

I should note, that I have very realistic in my salary expectations and being from East Texas, I’m sure they are a lot lower than my competition. Also the positions I’m applying for are generally within my skill set.

I’m not trying to work for google, amazon, or some other well known valley company. So the majority of my applications have been centered around companies that I felt would provide a great culture fit or share similar values.

I’ve also updated my personal site and resume multiple times, to see if that would change things, but so far it hasn’t seemed too.

I’m sure the right opportunity will turn up eventually. Just been really discouraged as of late and had very little luck. I am on a very part-time contract now, but it’ll be ending very soon.

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I do not really understand that coming (originally) from West Europe. In West Europe (and fellow Europeans can correct me), people actually have to block recruiters because they are spamming you for jobs. Noob jobs for whatever skill for 400-600eu/day as a contractor (with a 50% tax for many Western countries, but that’s still a lot of money), where skill required is low. It’s mostly big corporations such as banks, insurance, etc. Unfortunately there is where the money is. I worked for such job for about 3 years so now I have some money and secured for some time to do what I want until these savings are running out (yeah, I have my own issues where I hate to work for such big institutions, so now I’m jobless instead of working there for 4k a month; fellow contractors who work there for 10+ years drive Tesla’s); but again, they allow you to make easy money to get out of the financial burden for at least a few years. Ofc you always need to be on-site; but that is just temporary.

Most people (at least that I know) want to work remote; but when that is not possible, and when money is running out, I think it’s time to give up on remote for a little while and work temporarily in such sh*t corporation for easy money.

Sorry if this doesn’t help; I just want to share my thoughts. And as the US I guess is as developed - if not more - than Europe, I stay a little confused.

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No worries. I understand where you are coming from. The US does offer a lot of amazing opportunities and I’m not against working onsite. However, I live in rural East Texas, so there isn’t a lot of here work locally.

The nearest city/metroplex, is DFW (2 hour trip not including traffic) and I’ve applied for dozens of jobs in that area. As I’d be more than willing to work onsite for a while or even travel in on specific days of the week. The only issue with that is I’d rarely get to see my twins and it would also place a huge burden on my wife who would then be responsible for nearly 100% of parenting load those mornings/evenings I commute.

My family and I would relocate but it would have to be for the perfect opportunity. I’ve been interviewed for several jobs that would require it and that is fine, just hard to come by. Especially when considering the support system/family and our house that we would leave behind.

I know everyone has their own circumstances, but remote work is readily available in the states. I’ve been working remote for years without any issues until recently. So I don’t feel this is a big ask.

Anyways, I hope this provides some context.

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I see now; I know nearly nothing about the US; EU countries tend to be small:) but there are not a lot of remote opportunities, employers are not open to it where I’m from. Elixir however could potentially allow me to work remotely, because the dev community is too small for looking for local talents; thus they’re kinda forced into that.

I hope someone can bring you the right guidance here.

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Keep your head up – landing the first job is the hardest. I did freelance work for 8 years, but getting a list of remote clients was made vastly easier by having worked full-time as a developer and rubbing shoulders with real live people. Here are a couple pieces of advice (take them or leave them):

  • Consider moving somewhere. Rural East Texas is not a mecca for any sort of software development. What sets you apart from the millions of anonymous code-monkeys on Upwork et al is you in person. Clients chose a developer because they believed in them as people (not because they had any idea of how to evaluate their output). This was true for my work as a freelancer, but I think it’s also true for a lot of remote work. I understand that you may have very important personal reasons why moving is not possible, but your geography and your real-life face-to-face interactions are (in my opinion) more important than your portfolio (!). It’s really the same type of equation with dating: you will meet more “candidates” purely by accident in your day-to-day life in a big city like New York or Los Angeles than you will meet in a year of trying in some rural backwater. It’s probably easier to move back to someplace after having gone to the big city for a while. YMMV

  • Work your network. I fully admit that as an engineer, my knee-jerk reaction to finding work almost never involves me flipping through my mental rolodex and thinking “who do I know who might know about jobs in X?” Do you have relatives, or friends, or that one guy you met on a plane, whatever… ask your network for jobs or leads. Having moved to Los Angeles, I am much more aware of how much the aspiring actors and musicians here really work to make connections – they talk to people, they get business cards, they follow up, relentlessly. It all seems really unnatural to me as an engineer, but it’s a skill that’s really worth practicing. Again, this is something that East Texas is not going to push you to do. I visited Tyler, TX and I remember seeing a musty old shop advertising “We Build Web Sites” with an icon of Internet Explorer stenciled on their window. That’s not the person you want to be standing behind in line for a job nor the person who is going to give you good advice on the state of the software industry.

  • If you can’t find work doing what you want to do, find work that is adjacent to what you want to do. For you, if you want to do backend development but you are more employable as a front-end dev, then maybe you need to take a gig doing front end work, BUT… make sure it is someplace that would allow forays into backend development. I taught a data science class and some of the students who gained the most dev skills were the ones who were in office jobs that required something RELATED to programming. Maybe it was producing Excel reports each month or running some database queries… it was the perfect place for them to introduce some coding. Some places didn’t care HOW they did it, as long as it got done, other places actually had real live developers working there and who do you think are some of the best people to teach you how to up your game or help solve problems?

I hope some portion of that was useful.

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My experience of how to find work is that basically none comes from applying to postings. I’ve had small work from recruiters cold-calling me from my postings on freelance-boards. I’ve had longer-term work from recruiters that I’ve specifically held on to because they seem to know their stuff.

But mostly its been through my network, from the day I got my first tech-job 10 years ago. Its just been different kinds of networking. Not always freelance, I’ve been in-house as well. But I’ve never had a good outcome from sending a resume.

My current client was something I discovered because of a friend on the Elixir Slack going “huh, isn’t that on your coast?” (in Sweden) and I went for it. Good client.

The best network for remote is probably something like here, the Elixir Slack and trying to make connections through conferences. Because you need to know people elsewhere. Getting the first work is often the tricky part. Is frontend dev really so oversaturated? I’d imagine there’s plenty of work as long as you enjoy React or React Native?

Anyway, best of luck, I’ll keep an eye open to any remote needs I see.

Edit: Also, nice shirts. Like the term one a lot.

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A little brutal, but largely true…

I lived 3 hours out of a city until a year ago - different circumstances but I know what @fireproofsocks is talking about.

OK, another idea to confuse you some more!

Do you have contacts in DFW? I think a semi-remote job may be your best option given your circumstances. You take a lot of the risk factor out if you are able to turn up in person once a fortnight.

You could maybe secure work by making the trip twice a month and stay overnight for meeting & greeting etc, where possible timing it with relevant meetups (can you present at a meetup?) and organising meetings with owners of target companies. Do this with a view to secure some stepping stone semi-remote contract work turning into a semi-remote full-time role. I know it would be a little hard on the family at first, but probably less hard than a 4hr+ commute every day, or a relocation, or always stressing out about getting food on the table.

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I appreciate all the replies, messages, and encouragement. This is quite possibly the friendliest dev-centric forum I’ve ever been on.

@fireproofsocks, definitely helpful. This wouldn’t be my first dev job, I worked for an educational tech company for a few years prior to doing contract work. But that is neither here or there, the rest of your points are spot on and valid. As an aside, I’m not far from Tyler and may know who you are talking about. :joy:

@lawik I’m definitely working on and trying to expand my network as I know that your circle and community can play a huge role/benefit in job hunts. That is another reason, I picked up Elixir. A local developer and I were talking programming and he introduced me to it.

Edit: That is one of my favorites too! Thanks. :+1:

@mindok you and @fireproofsocks may be right. I have spoke at and attend some meetups/conferences. I’ll see if doubling down in the DFW area helps on the hunt.

Regardless I really appreciate everyone’s support and comments. I thought for sure I was gonna roasted. Thanks again.

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That’s really not bad. Even folks with a whole lot of experience may not do hugely better than that.

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Just like to add something I don’t think has been mentioned yet… you are already on the biggest networking platform ever created - the internet! :003:

Write blogs, be active on forums, create tools or other interesting or useful stuff and there’s a really good chance you will get noticed :smiley:

When I first got into Ruby I started writing blog posts because I was so in love with it and I wanted everyone else to know how special it was. After writing my first few I got offered a job by a leading Rails shop! There have been quite a few offers since and I genuinely believe it’s because people employ people first and foremost - if you are already programming, then you already have the ability to program, and more specialised skills or new languages can be learnt - but finding passionate, compatible people for your team is far more challenging.

Alternatively, forge your own path - create your own business. You don’t even have to be creative, just look at what’s around you and see how you can make it better… with nothing in this universe being perfect, you can pretty much pick anything! (Though maybe start with something ‘easy’ :lol:)

Another option is creating open source software - although the software itself is free, you’re not - and you can make a living through public speaking, endorsements etc :smiley:

Good luck and keep us posted :023:

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Thanks and will do! I’m actually working on adding a blog to my current site so I can talk about how great Elixir is, as well as what I’m learning. :+1:

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Hey Justin, just want to let you know that you are not the only one struggling to find a good remote full time job. I had a similar difficulty myself, applying to different positions for the past 3-4 months and not being able to secure one. I have been applying to ads on Hacker News jobs thread and Angel List.

To be more specific I’ve been applying for a backend Python (Django) or full stack (Django/React) roles, a stack that is very common today. Django and React are the most used technologies on Hacker News jobs thread for a while.

I’ve had about 6 interviews, with coding assignments submitted. In two of these the choice came down to two developers and I didn’t get the job. Also, in two interviews I was told that there have been many applications (200+), so there’s obviously a lot of competition for a remote full time job.

I have some financial stability and ongoing projects to keep me secure in the medium term, but I am aiming to get a full time remote position and it’s not as easy as it may seem.

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Not even in Paris could you get this much as a n00b contractor. 400 euros a day is after years of experience, n00bs start more around like 200.
And indeed in Paris I used to block recruiters, but as soon as you move outside of the few biggest cities it’s much more difficult to get jobs, let alone remote jobs, which usually pay less and are more difficult to come by.

@justinjunodev it does seem to me that there are way more remote position available in the USA than in Europe, so there is hope!

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I’ve been in a similar position as you. After I had my qualifications, I still had to work in construction in one city I lived as there was no computer industry to speak of. It’s very difficult as a junior to work (remotely) effectively in a company and most companies know that. You need to get a lot of the tools under your belt such as git/agile/scrum/… This is best done in an environment that can mentor you which is best done in person. It would take an exceptional company to take the time to train someone remotely when they don’t have these infrastructure type skills in place.

The Elixir/Erlang ecosystem is pretty difficult to break into as well because there is a chicken/egg problem of employers generally want more experience even if it is with something other than Elixir.

I know this is a terrible answer that I was always irritated with but I would recommend building side projects and contributing to open source libraries and building your own as a means of showing competence. I know this isn’t an immediate answer to your situation (another thing that always irritated me).

Another thing you can do is use your current skill set to pivot. This is what I did with my current role. I came in with React Native and jumped at the idea of using Elixir when the opportunity came up. There are companies that are building the whole stack that need some front end people that also build the backend. If you pay attention to the Elixir ecosystem a bit you’ll be able to find them.

All the best. I wish you success.

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Yeah, I know there are a lot of us out there searching and in need. Which was another reason I was hesitant to create this post in the first place. My wife and I have been talking a lot recently about extending the search outside of remote and even the DFW area. As I think it would really increase my chances and hopefully provide a better life for our little family.

Keep me posted on your hunt, I’d love to know where you land. If I come across any Python/React gigs in my search, I’ll happily shoot them your way. Cheers!

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Agreed, there are a lot here so I hope that it’ll help in my search. :crossed_fingers:

That’s definitely some good advice. I definitely have a fews years of professional experience in the javascript and frontend ecosystem and would consider myself a mid-level engineer. Though I have a led in some smaller contract roles/gigs.

I have a pretty steady steam of side projects and have started contributing more to open source as of late. So I’m hoping that’ll help as I continue on my search.

I really appreciate your sharing and your advice. Thanks! :+1:

I just want to bumb this post up, because I too am in the same situation as well. Wish you all the best @justinjunodev!

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