If you’ve ever tried searching for remote work as a developer or designer, you know there’s a TON of garbage to sort through and a lot of worthless sites and job postings out there.
The good news is I’ve been finding remote work online for over six years now, and I’ve learned which sites and strategies tend to produce the best results.
But before I list the sites I recommend, I want to say that I specifically do NOT recommend the “bidding” sites like Freelancer, Elance, oDesk (now called Upwork), Fiverr, etc. Strictly speaking, it’s not impossible to find decent work on those sites, but the odds are against you. The rates tend to be ultra-low and the projects not defined very thoroughly. I don’t use those sites, and I’ve never needed to.
Recruiter Saturation Metric
One metric I’ve included for each of the sites below is what I call “recruiter saturation.” The levels I use are low, medium, and high. The higher the level, the more recruiters use the platform to post jobs they’re trying to staff (typically jobs they found elsewhere and are re-posting to be more accurate).
A higher recruiter saturation isn’t necessarily bad – just good to be aware of so you can account for it. A topic I’m saving for another time is how to find the original job posting (if there is one) for a recruiter-posted job so you can apply directly if you want to. I’ve got a few techniques to help with that.
And now, without further adieu, here’s the list of sites.
StackOverflow is really good but does require a verification process to prove you’re a real developer. The verification process requires that you either (1) be invited by someone StackOverflow already trusts, or (2) send them links to code you’ve published – such as on GitHub – and they’ll judge you based on activity (commits, pull requests, etc.) and/or code quality. The good news is this keeps a lot of low-quality developers out of the mix and keeps rates fair.
If you can pass the verification process, it’s worth it because the job postings here tend to be good. Since they’re posted directly to StackOverflow, the location filter (to find jobs with a remote/telecommuting option) is actually accurate. Also, the employers here tend to view developers with more respect than on other job sites.
Recruiter Saturation: Low
I haven’t used this site yet to find work, but I did use this site to hire a web designer a few years back. The candidates I heard from were all decent and all had standard market rates.
The search filters don’t directly allow for a remote/telecommuting option, but they do allow for “Freelance” and “Contract” options. When you combine the two, you tend to see remote opportunities pop up in the results. From what I’ve seen, the postings are usually original and pretty good – not the generic kind of posts you see re-posted by tons of recruiters on other sites.
Recruiter Saturation: Low to Medium (I’ll occasionally see a few posts from “CyberCoders” or similar firms)
This used to be known as the “37signals Job Board” but was renamed a while back to “We Work Remotely.”
The good news is this site lists only remote jobs, so filtering on “remote only” or something similar isn’t necessary. There’s even a link you can click as a job hunter to report postings that erroneously say they’re remote when they’re really not. Controls like that keep the quality high.
The bad news is if you specialize in the Microsoft stack, you won’t find much here. The postings tend to lean more towards MEAN, LAMP, Ruby on Rails, etc. But if you’re into those, it’s a good place to find gigs.
Recruiter Saturation: Low
Almost everyone knows the major down-side of this one: it costs money! HOWEVER, if you stay on the home page for several minutes and don’t do anything, you’ll almost always get a popup chat window offering you a steep discount, and then it becomes worth considering (because lining up even one gig would get you a good ROI). As an example, it cost me around $40 (with the discount) to sign up for a whole year, and I use this site a lot because it legitimately saves me time.
The premise of the site is they pre-qualify (to a certain extent) the jobs they list, and the jobs all offer flexible work options like weird hours, telecommuting, etc. The idea – which mostly works – is you save a lot of time sorting through garbage because they do that part for you. The result is a lot of medium-quality (and a few high-quality) gigs. They do indeed weed out a lot of the low-quality garbage.
However, there are a couple of downsides. One is the site’s popularity. Because the audience is large, a lot of large companies who offer “mill” type jobs (many applicants, not-so-great pay) post to the site simply for the exposure. Once you identify those, they’re easy to weed out. Another downside is the vetting process isn’t fool-proof. There are jobs sometimes labeled as “All Telecommute” that aren’t. They’re posted by recruiters, for example, who say within the description (usually near the bottom) that you must work onsite.
Recruiter Saturation: Medium to High (depending on category/industry)
You may be surprised I listed this one because it’s one of those pesky “job aggregator” sites.
Believe me, Indeed does have a LOT of garbage, especially when it comes to finding remote work. BUT… there is a way you can eliminate much of that and actually find some decent gigs.
The trick is to frame your search properly. And forget the “Location” filter that Indeed offers. It sucks and isn’t necessary anyway.
Let’s say you’re looking for remote SharePoint developer jobs. You might try a search like “SharePoint developer remote,” right?
With Indeed, about 30% of the results you get back will be legitimate remote gigs. The rest will come back as remote because there’s wording like “no remote workers” in the description. What I do is add a few qualifiers to my query so I end up with something like this:
sharepoint developer remote -“no remote” -“onsite only” -“does not allow remote”
Now the percentage of legitimate remote gigs jumps from 30% to somewhere near 60%. That’s a much better number to work with, and I’ve actually found a few remote gigs on Indeed by doing that. I would typically also add “-W2 only” because I don’t take W2-only contracts, but that may not apply in your case and that’s fine.
The downside with Indeed is it’s an aggregator. There’s a lot of garbage even with smarter search queries. Do your due diligence. For example, if you see a company name you don’t recognize, look it up on Google. See where it’s based, whether it’s a recruiting firm, whether it’s been reviewed on Glassdoor, etc.
Recruiter Saturation: High (as in “off the scale” high)
So that’s my list. I sometimes use Craigslist too but very rarely. It only works as well as it does because I live near Denver, and Denver is a good place to find startups and smaller companies who use remote workers.
If you know of a good site that I missed, please comment and let me know! Spam comments or attempts to promote your own site will be moderated appropriately.