How to find a digital nomad job?
“How did you find your digital nomad job?”, “You travel all the time. What job do you do?” These are probably the questions I hear from you most often. Combining work and travel is a dream for many people. However, to benefit from such a lifestyle in the long term, you must be willing to turn your existing world upside down. The first step, of course, is to find a remote job. How do you do this?
There are many answers to this question. However, I can share with you my experiences from the past few years and the ways I’m looking for digital nomad jobs.
What will you find in this article?
Freelancing or employment?
It is worth starting with a formal aspect, namely the employment type. It determines to a certain extent the next steps. Whether you are a freelancer or an employee influences how much freedom, responsibilities and stability you have.
Working remotely as a freelancer
Of course, being a freelancer gives you the most flexibility when working remotely. If you have your own business and you offer your services online you can just issue invoices and work wherever you want. You don’t have to sign an employment contract. But… You’re also constantly competing for new projects or assignments. This means you should be prepared for an unstable income and a constant job/project search. Unless you get one or two long-term clients. For me, that is the ideal option.
Being a freelancer also means doing all the other stuff yourself. Bookkeeping, paying insurance and pension fees, doing marketing, sales, and developing your skills. It’s a lot, and it’s hard at first. However, in return, you can be your own boss. You can schedule as many hours in front of the computer as you wish. And you can take time off during the week.
Working remotely as an employee
You can also become an employee that works remotely. Search for companies that work 100% online or ones that allow the employee to decide whether to come to the office.
It is a solution that offers more stability. You have a steady income, insurance, a team to work with and specific tasks. However, such a job is harder to find. Especially if you do not have very specific or sought-after skills or if you are not simply a developer. With this profession, it’s still very easy to find contract employment with the possibility of working remotely.
Sometimes you might find companies that offer a remote working model but from a specific country. This means you do not have to come to the office, but you must be located in country X. This significantly limits the freedom to travel. Sometimes there is a specific number of days that you can spend abroad. I have the impression that this is currently the preferred model in many modern companies. They allow you to work remotely but only from a specific country, and offer you the possibility to work abroad for 30-60 days a year.
It might also be a problem if your place of residence is different from the country in which the company and its subsidiaries are registered. Even companies that work remotely might offer employment only to people registered in a specific country.
Because of these administrative restrictions, you should be prepared to move or you need to accept that finding a digital nomad job might take longer than finding a regular job. For that reason, it’s important to remember that a refusal might be related to formal employment problems and not to the lack of qualifications.
What do I need to do to work remotely?
To find a remote job and become a digital nomad, you will probably need to retain. Jobs that can be done remotely are limited to specific skills. Some jobs simply cannot be done remotely, or the industry is still too conservative to accept remote work.
There are plenty of online courses that will teach you a specific skill (check out coursera – just one of many examples). You can become a developer, online marketing expert, translator, computer graphic designer, etc. After a few months of learning, you can do some free projects. You can add them to your portfolio and start looking for entry-level positions.
You have no idea which profession to retrain for? Search for digital nomad jobs on the websites below and see what companies are currently looking for. If a position appears in the search results multiple times and its tasks seem interesting to you, it might be worth going in that direction.
Where to look for a digital nomad job?
There are many ways to do this, just like in the case of a regular job. But of course, there are fewer offers ;). I’m sure each person that works remotely has his or her own way. Below you will find the sources I mainly use.
You can search for remote work on LinkedIn. Simply select the remote option in the filters, and you will only see remote offers.
Remote work is still mainly offered by young and fast-growing companies. For that reason, it’s easier to find such a job in startups than in conservative corporations. Many offers can be found on startup.jobs.. Like on LinkedIn, there is an option to filter out ‘remote’ offers.
3. UPWORK OR FIVERR
Some years ago almost every freelancer started his career through these websites. Upwork and Fiverr are marketplaces for freelance services. They help to connect employees with freelancers. If you have any specific skills and can offer them as a service, then you can look for jobs there. Unfortunately, they are usually poorly paid, but they will give you some idea about rates and current demand.
If you have your own business and can issue invoices looking for contractor jobs is also a good option. These are generally (but not always!) positions that do not require a permanent place of residence. You are officially an outsourced contractor, not an employee.
Some job search engines have a filter for contractor positions. You could also try to add the word contract or contractor next to the position you are looking for. Sometimes it’s part of the job posting title.
5. COMPANIES WITH A REMOTE WORKING MODEL
Some companies decided to run their offices 100% remote. Examples of such companies can be found here. It’s a good idea to choose the most interesting ones and regularly browse their job pages. Maybe they will have the right position for you.
Has the pandemic changed anything?
The pandemic has brought remote work into the mainstream. It’s no longer reserved only for people working in the IT sector.
Working from home has been the norm for the past two years. The lockdowns have forced companies to quickly introduce IT solutions that enable remote working. As a result, it allowed many people to try the home office model.
However, things are slowly starting to get back to normal. Many people assumed that after the pandemic the job market will completely change and all companies will offer remote work contracts. But this did not quite happen.
Currently, there are definitely more companies offering remote positions than before the pandemic. Some have even given up their offices completely. However, I have the impression that there are still way more companies, even among modern startups, that expect their employees to be based permanently in one place. They prefer them to be based in the same country as their company and to come to the office at least 2 days a week.
While every company already has the infrastructure to enable remote work, formal and legal issues are still a big problem. Of course, there are solutions to these problems. After all, remote companies existed already before the pandemic. Nevertheless, it still seems to be problematic to implement these solutions because of tax and insurance-related issues.
SUMMARY: How to find a digital nomad job?
Looking for a remote job is certainly not easy. You must be prepared for compromises. Some of them are lower wages, an inferior position, more difficult career development, and administrative problems. However, this is a price many people are willing to pay in exchange for independence and freedom, the opportunity to visit new places and the possibility to spend a lunch break at the beach.
After some years of being a freelancer, I have had plenty of moments of total uncertainty. I had sleepless nights after checking my account balance and thoughts like “Are you sure this was the right decision?”. However, all these doubts disappear when I go kiting during the day and escape to the Canaries for the winter ;).
Frequently asked questions
I am a translator. I was lucky enough to finish my studies in this field. However, after finishing my studies, I had no intention of working in this profession. My career developed in another direction. Over time, however, I realised that translations can be easily done remotely, so I changed my career path and was happy to return to this profession.
I met a person in a coworking cafe who has a translation office for outdoor sports companies. As a translator with an MA degree in this field and a big sports enthusiast, I was the ideal candidate to work for them. Shortly after connecting with her, I got an invitation to participate in a big project. That’s how my remote working adventure began. I was just extremely lucky to have an easier start. However, after the project ended I needed to start looking for new projects – and this wasn’t easy at all.
Sometimes it is. The truth is that everyone dreams of working remotely and travelling, but being a digital nomad is definitely not for everyone. Changing locations constantly, not having a regular group of friends, and paying lots of money for short-term rentals are just some of the downsides. It’s worth being aware of these before you start ‘living your dream’.