How to take your remote working experience as a senior software developer to the next level.

Introduction

In this guide, you will find out how you can improve your career as a remote software engineer and develop a successful career working for a US company.

With this remote working guide, we hope to help you build an infrastructure of practical solutions, remote work resources, and incorporate best networking practices.

1. What does being a good remote team member mean?

Working from home sounds great, but it comes with many challenges. The idea behind this concept is not to incentivize being physically present at the office but to be present in the team and make relevant contributions without the need to be within an office environment.

1.1. Common challenges facing remote engineering teams.

Working from home offers employees a ton of freedom about where, when, and how they work. However, adapting to  work-from-home dynamics can be challenging. Some of the most common areas remote team members struggle with include:
  • Staying motivated: Distractions are easy to come by when working from home.

  • Time management: Even experienced remote team members struggle to manage their time properly when telecommuting.

  • Maintaining a healthy work-life balance: Having the discipline to stop working is just as important as having the discipline to start. Having a healthy work-life balance is key for remote team members. 

  • Communication: High-performing engineering teams rely on solid communication, which can be difficult to maintain across borders and via chat rooms, video calls, and email. 

  • Feeling isolated: Many developers and remote team members find it hard to feel part of a strong engineering team culture when working from home.

  • Collaboration and team contribution: Having solid teamwork skills is more critical than ever before when working from home. When you’re in a remote team, you must organize your agenda to socialize among team members. It’s not just chit-chat timing; it helps you to build a solid and comprehensive team, which at the end of the day enables you to maintain a strong company culture and a cohesive, collaborative workforce. The best work result comes when great minds come together.
meeting with a remote team

1.2. Becoming a solid remote team member and remote engineer.

There are many aspects involved in becoming a valuable remote team member at your company. Let’s go through some of them, so that you can start applying these tips right away.

  • Encourage face-to-face team building: The best teamwork results come from great minds coming together, face-to-face, in meetings. Do not underestimate the power of group calls in the remote work environment, they can become the best part of your day.

  • Create a routine for yourself: Working from home can be tricky and can be the downfall of some remote developers. Create a routine that meets the requirements of your company and allows you to balance both work and non-work related activities.

  • Focus on communication: Collaborative remote teams are built based on effective communication. Both formal and informal communication channels should be at your team’s disposal. They help breed stronger bonds between members.

  • Choose the right tools to support you on a daily basis: There are countless apps out there designed to help remote team members and developers flourish from their remote work environments. We’ll come back to this subject later.

2. Developing your international career through remote work as a software developer

As companies embrace more flexible work environments and realize the benefits of working remotely, demand for talented remote team members will only keep increasing.
As a senior LATAM-based software developer, moving to remote work opens up a lot of opportunities to kickstart an international career:
  • Freedom: The freedom that you enjoy when you work from home is undeniable: Rather than clocking in at a desk from 9-5, if you work from home, you can manage your hours and deadlines while working from virtually anywhere in the world.

  • Healthy work-life balance: Forget about losing your time commuting to work. Gain time for your family, your friends and have a healthier lifestyle!

  • Salary: Earn in a different currency from the one used in your country. It will allow you to expand your economic horizons, letting you plan a brighter future.

  • Do what you love: There is no limit to where you can work. Choose among multiple industries, from Fintech to Aerospace and more!

  • Flexible: Devote your time to what matters to you. Work by objective-oriented methods, leaving you the responsibility to choose whether to spend your time and how to spend it.
As you can see, the possibilities are limitless. Now, the decision to get your dream remote job in a US company and achieve the perfect work-life balance is in your hands.

2.1. US companies expectations when hiring in LATAM.

Here are some essential aspects that will help Developers everywhere land the best opportunities in terms of purpose, salary ranges, growth, work-life balance, learning, and more:
 
Be fluent in English:  An upper intermediate level will be good enough to land a great offer. There is no need to be a native speaker or even super-advanced, as long as you can get across your ideas in a dynamic, technical context (ie: a daily stand-up or a demo).
 
Good pronunciation in your geek-speak will help you a lot. English is the most important language developers need to master. If you are not there yet, we highly encourage you to go wild and remove subtitles on Netflix, accelerate your learning through experiences (projects, events, making new US friends) and you will soon be flowing in an international team. There are also apps to speed up your language learning.
 
Long-term contracts only for seniors:
 
Companies hiring remote workers seek the strongest technical talent they can afford. Even though years of professional experience don’t necessarily mean technical mastery, the common ground is to amass at least 4 years of experience as a full-time developer.
 
If you are not there yet in terms of years, how can you prove you are up to the game? Show off your accomplishments, for example your technical accolades or high scores in tech tests. Don’t be slowed down if you want to play hard, show your technical potential.
 
Also, do not forget to share absolutely all the information that a recruiter can see on your LinkedIn. Did you get any certification in the last few months? Let everyone know!
 
remote developer speaking in a meeting
 
Cultural fit vs Technical fit:
 
Companies weigh cultural practices, etiquette, values, ethics as strongly as technical skills. Having a couple of years working remotely for US or European-based companies is a huge plus because you’ll already know “the framework” to work remotely and with foreign cultures. 
 
Most tech interview processes focus on cultural fit first. When it comes to cultural fit, it is all about your soft-skills. Talent seekers will observe how you work alone and as a team. They will analyze your communication skills, your respect for others’ time and their points of view.
 
They will pay attention to your work attitude under stress situations without supervision and test your reactions to see how you manage frustration. You must show them how you respond to pressing deadlines, and your plans to improve yourself and help others.
 
Technical Challenges, Take-home assignments, Pair Programming: 
 
As the tech world gets closer together, there’s an increasing need to expand technical skills. Whether it is with hackerrank, codility or a 2-week long exercise, companies and developers need to be ready for a very competitive interview process.

You’ll be competing with the best globally –and they prepare. Some of these companies will measure how well you juggle the ball (ie: automated coding tests), while others will look deeper into your problem-solving skills as they are seeking players to win a tournament (take a Startup to the next level). 

The common ground is to be prepared to code live and shine. Having strong knowledge of CS fundamentals, including data structures and algorithms always adds to your profile.
 
Hiring processes length will vary depending on the company, but the good practice is they take between 2 to 3 weeks end to end, and from 2–6 hs of total time interviewing, coding, etc. 
 
remote worker joining a meeting
 
Know your strengths and your goals:
 
Most times the perfect match comes down to aligning your strongest skills with what others, and the world, need while getting paid for it (so you can do it sustainably, where money is not a problem). It’s a win-win.
 
So it is important to know yourself and be ready to take the next step in the right direction. It may sound cliché, but it’s among the hardest things to have clarity on how to drive your talents purposefully. Be prepared to answer what you want and why.
 
Have your support network:
 
Let your career be powered by peers and access opportunities at amazing companies, acting as a network of remote workers who will share the same passion. There’s so much to keep growing and building together while the perfect opportunity lands in our lives.
 

people working as a team

2.2. Valuable skills when applying internationally.

At Nexton, we find US companies consistently hunt for back-end, front-end, and full-stack developers, as well as other technical talents with the right skill set to face the unique challenges that come with working remotely. But there’s much more to being a developer than just writing code. Let’s see other skills that you should have, or you should work at, to apply and successfully get the job:
 
Great communication skills: In the absence of face-to-face meetings, strong communication skills are more important than ever before to your career. 
 
Being disciplined: Working from home might sound like a dream come true. However, without the routined structure of office life, many developers find it difficult to manage the flexibility that comes with a remote career. Hence, US companies highly value engineers with the ability to properly manage their time, focus, and motivation.
 
Strong team players: As a senior developer, your career depends on your ability to connect with your team members and coworkers. This is even more important when working remotely, where communicating and collaborating are a little more challenging.
 
cultural diverse team

2.3. A few things about landing the perfect remote engineering job: Company culture & Salary.

The job search is definitely one of the most important aspects of your career, and you will engage with this process every time you look for new opportunities.
 
Remote engineering careers come in many forms; they can be full-time, part-time, contract, or freelance. Knowing what kind of role best suits your needs and work structure can be tricky, and finding the right company to work for can prove even more challenging. 
 
At Nexton, we specialize in placing LATAM-based developers in long-term remote-jobs, levelling the playing field for talent across borders. We understand the drive developers feel when they feel their capacity is not being put to the challenge. We seek to bring dreams to reality by creating bridges that unite unique talent with innovative companies. 
 
If you are ready to turn on the engine and start working towards a better future, you need to learn these crucial aspects of any job search:
 
Company culture: You can’t objectively measure company culture, and remote settings make it even more difficult to analyze whether you’re a good culture fit for a company. To learn more about culture fit, why it’s important, and how to gauge it when applying for remote developer jobs, click here.

Salary expectations: Remote engineering salaries vary greatly depending on a candidate’s experience and skills, the responsibilities of a particular job, and the geographical location of the hiring company. Keep reading as we’ll focus on this particular aspect later on.
 
team meeting

3. Time to double your salary, but how?

Remote employment allows software developers to significantly increase their pay. This means staying close to family, friends and enjoying the comfort of your cultural roots while earning a salary that makes you feel your time is well valued.  

How do you do it? You must be outspoken about what you want and deserve, in order to achieve this and pursue your dreams.

money in a table

3.1. Defining Salary expectations.

Negotiating your salary requirements not only shows that you know what you're worth as a developer, but it's also something that the majority of hiring managers in the US expect.
 
Let’s find some practical tips for negotiating pay expectations with ease: 
 
Be sure of your value: When it comes to setting salary expectations with a potential employer, knowing the going rate for a senior software developer's salary is crucial.
 
Set a minimum salary: You should negotiate compensation expectations that are higher than this, but setting a floor can be a useful personal action to ensure that the opportunities you're applying for are a good fit for you.
 
Consider business benefits and culture:  Matching your values with the company’s work culture and benefits sometimes is as relevant as your final paycheck. 
 
Use your salary history: Choose when and how to divulge it. If the recruiter gives you the opportunity and you feel comfortable talking about this, revealing your salary history could be helpful to set up expectations.
 

remote salary negotiation

3.2. Salary negotiation and what to avoid when discussing it.

As a senior remote software developer, you're always on the lookout for fascinating and well rewarding challenges.

Salary negotiation is a process you’ve probably already faced multiple times before, and it’s something that you’ll likely have to keep facing. That’s why we want to share some aspects you should not do when negotiating your pay.
 
Don't be aggressive or allow yourself to be forced around: How you conduct yourself when applying for a job, particularly during a wage negotiation, can have a significant impact on the roots of your work relationship.

Don't be shy to call for some more: Anyone can successfully negotiate compensation for a job they are keen in and suitable for with the appropriate attitude.

Don't rush, but don't sleep on your sleeve: Discussing money too soon can make you appear pretentious, and you don't want to make a bad first impression. Meanwhile, putting it off until the end of the application procedure increases your chances of being frustrated. You've both wasted time if the company's offer does not meet your expectations.
 
developer negotiating his salary

3.3. What is the greatest way to get paid in Latin America?

While setting up the proper payment process may take some initial effort, it will mean less worries in the near future.
 
If this is your first time dealing with invoicing, payments, and financial accounting, we recommend you look at our post on getting paid as a remote contractor
 
To get paid you can choose among multiple platforms from bank transfers, to Paypal, Wise, Payoneer and why not Cryptocurrency. Select the method that best suits your needs. Consider all factors that may have an impact on the overall amount, like transfer fees, exchange rates, additional perks, currency support, and transfer speed. Last but not least, bear in mind the regulations and tax system in your home country.
 
cryptocurrencies
 

4. Not everything is coding: Other necessary skills for engineers

Every remote position demands you to be dedicated, reliable, and possess the required technical and problem management skills. In addition to programming skills, you need to be alert to details, communicate well, and take the right attitude to manage remote work. 
 
Let's take a closer look at some of the winning features that will help you find your way to success.

4.1. Communications skills.

Your job requires a lot of collaboration and good communication skills.
 
Working together, expressing ideas and thoughts, and making oneself feel acknowledged as a member of a remote team requires excellent communication skills. 
 
Strong communication skills are also important as a software developer when discussing what we've created, what challenges our developments solve, and how to properly use them. 
 
What can be done to improve them?
 
Keep things short and sweet: Developing strong communication skills demands brevity. A brief, consistent, straightforward, and direct email will always be appreciated far more than a long call.
 
When in doubt, it's always a good idea to ask: Obtain feedback and ask questions. The most common error made by software developers is making assumptions. To save time by addressing possible issues early, avoid asking for input.
 
Remember to pay attention: Be a good listener. Avoid interrupting others and try to repeat what they've said to make sure you're both on the same page.
 
young woman in a remote team meeting

4.2. About time management.

Software projects are frequently held to stringent timelines, and depending on the project type, you may encounter a variety of change requests from time to time. As a result, you'll need to learn to prioritize things and manage your time effectively. Boost your output by following these steps:
 
Lists: Keep your task work and to-do lists organized, clear, and visualized. Breaking down large projects or complex activities into small work intervals, for example, allows you to see distinct actionable items. 
 
Collaboration within a group: You must be comfortable working with software that facilitates the process of working with a team, whether you select Trello, ClickUp or any other management tool. Remember that as a senior remote developer, you must communicate your work, progress, and requirements to the rest of the team. 
 
Maximize your productivity: You'll probably spend a significant portion of your day going from call to call. Be critical: Does this need to be addressed over a call, or can I provide a video recording of my explanation? You will save a lot of time this way.
 
Try to always understand your priorities, schedule, and plan your daily tasks. If by any chance you feel you could be doing better, don’t hesitate to discuss this with your employer.
 
scrum methodology to organize daily work

4.3. A few more skills to keep in mind.

Becoming a skilled coder is an important part of being a good developer, but it isn't the only requirement for being a successful senior developer
 
No matter your seniority, developers will always look for stuff online. An implicit engineer skill is knowing where and how to search for queries, code solutions, or debugs. Of course, the first step will always be to discuss it with your team members, but sometimes taking advantage of forums like StackOverflow will save you time and help you gain more experience. Which programming languages are the most demanded nowadays?
  1. React.js
  2. AWS
  3. Node.js
  4. Python
  5. SQL
  6. Typescript
  7. Javascript
  8. GraphQL
  9. Ruby on Rails
  10. CSS 
You will also require business abilities. To get what you desire in your work life, you'll need to empathize with your boss and stakeholders. Let’s review some scenarios that either you already have been through or you will probably have to face at some point:

Negotiation skills: Are you looking for a promotion? Are the holidays approaching? Skills in negotiation will surely be essential.

Financial planning skills: Do you want to suggest a new project? Do you have an idea to improve a process? Your key answer is financial planning.

Marketing and Communication skills: Remember that as a remote software engineer, you must be able to sell your work; marketing and communication skills are essential when presenting your work to team members who are not developers.

Leadership skills: Last but not least, you will become a leader at some point, and communication and leadership abilities are crucial for this.
 
developer negotiating her salary

5. You stepped up and now you are managing the team: Designing the best experience for your team members

As a team leader, you probably want your team to go the extra mile, either by contributing to the project's success, feeling satisfied with each company winning, or owning their part of the responsibility.
 
To make that possible, you need to prioritize your remote team. Be an active player; take part daily. Firstly, pay attention to their needs, desires, requirements, and doubts. The second move should be planning your management actions: ensure their satisfaction with the tasks involving their role and try to make them feel like one with their team.
 
Working and leading teams remotely requires practice. Rather than trying to recreate an office, a more deliberate strategy utilizes remote work's own qualities and benefits: fewer distractions, easier focus, and performance-based feedback.
 

5.1. Being present while working remotely.

The topmost challenge faced by remote workers is isolation. Remote workers feel left out and drained without regular human interaction and socialization opportunities with fellow team members.
 

That being said, check-up and comply with all of your remote team members to ensure they don’t have any pending issues. Prioritize reviewing the questions and issues raised as much as possible. 

Create moments for teams to interact and connect. Socializing in front of the camera is more difficult than meeting in person. Turn on the camera for your team to see your face and encourage them to do the same... It is important to consciously organize team-building activities that connect teams beyond work.

 
hikers working as a team to climb a mountain

5.2. Access to required tools for team members.

Giving the team correct access and authorizations to every communication and productivity tool is one of your responsibilities. For them to feel like a team member, you must first make them feel like an equal and a part of something greater and more distinctive. Some management tips that might help you: 
  • Assist with the IT requirements. 
  • Apps and solutions for productivity should be used and promoted. 
  • Allow users to utilize shared resources. 
  • Share some firm stuff (such as merchandising or online rewards, apps, or platforms) so that everyone has a sense of belonging. 
  • Use wikis, forums, or documentation to let team members share information. 
  • Select a clear method of communication: Video conferencing and chat (Slack, Discord, G Suite, Zoom, Skype)
tools for working remotely

6. Conclusion

After going through our guide, you should have a better understanding of the different aspects that can improve your experience as a remote software engineer, whether it is renegotiating salary, improving soft and hard skills, or managing your day-to-day.

remote developer working at the beach (1)

 

Getting your dream job without missing the important moments of life is possible with Nexton. Change your life by finding the perfect job opportunity for you in a top US tech company. 

Improve your lifestyle, and fulfill your career goals today.