To the recruiters, telecommuters, and other IT professionals out there:

Over the past two years, I’ve been trying to acquire steady remote work. The reasons are varied (free time, need money for fun things like buying a house/getting married etc..), but the lack of success has not. So in a nutshell I’m asking anyone out there for any advice on what I’m doing wrong, if there’s any option(s) that I haven’t tried, or if what some of my contacts in the industry have stated is true, that I’m pretty much wasting my time.

Here’s what I’ve tried so far:

  • Hitting up the contract sites, aka odesk/elance/vworker. Currently sitting at a 0 for a lot with this approach. Its the typical reason for not winning bids; get outbid by folks that can afford to drop single digit hourly rates. I’ve been told that knowing tech that isn’t mainstream like say Clojure or COBOL helps with weeding out that issue, but as I don’t’ feel confident in any non-mainstream to the level that you should for contract work (aka years)
  • Contacting local business/folks within my network for interest in my services. No dice here at all. From conversations that I’ve had with local business owners and those in my network, the vast majority just need basic websites (which I can do), and that are already done by a relative/intern/co-op student (which beats me budget wise). The lone exception? Requires a few years flex experience (which I’ll have….in 2014. Not too helpful for the present)
  • Applying for positions that are constantly advertised. The theory behind this was to help out local dev shops that seemed to have an issue staffing positions. They let me work remote, I help them with additional workforce. This theory I figured would work in places where IT talent was at a premium like Atlantic Canada (who seem to be advertising hard for folks with IT skills to move there), and for companies that seem to be constantly looking for the same position over and over again (like some dev shops in the GTA, or Greater Toronto Area for those not in Southern Ontario). As you can gather, that strategy has produced a prominent goose-egg. There’s been a lot of interest…for onsite only. The minute remote comes up is the minute the interest dried up, which is a great way to get rid of spammy recruiters, but not so much when it’s a position of interest.
  • Applying for remote positions. A no-brainer right? Not so fast. In my travels I’ve found that most positions that accept remote developers are based in other countries, mainly the United States. As someone that is not in the United States, nor has a green card, it, as I was told once by a dev shop in Washington D.C. once, pretty much means “Not American? Not wanted.” And the remote jobs that exist in Canada are quite uncommon I’ve found.

Now obviously my odds would be better for some of these items (namely contracts sites) if my skillset was in more cutting-edge languages (which PHP and Java, aka what I have experience in enough to feel confident enough to do contract work in, is definitely not), and that is on the agenda, like it should be for any developer looking to improve themselves. That being said, that’ll take years and I could end up in the exact same situation as I’m in now. Also the type of work hasn’t been “well I’ve got to be a senior/lead dev/CTO” type thing. I basically am saying to any potential employers that I have the time, I have certain skills, and of course the motivation, and if I can meet your business needs, I’d like to work for you. The only requirement is I’d like to work from my own location. Something that with today’s technology shouldn’t be an issue, but yet, here I am.

So I guess what I’m asking here, is if I’ve been as through as I can be in trying to obtain remote work (as even though these options haven’t worked, I’m still going to keep trying since they’re all I currently know to achieve this goal), if there’s something that I’ve missed along the way that could help my odds, or if some of my colleagues are right, and I’m wasting my time in this quest.

Thanks for reading.