Freelancing in the Wild West

Last week I wrote about some of the many great tech start-ups (and businesses) I recommend to friends looking for work in Bozeman. Included in the mix were a few options for remote work, like, StackOverflow Careers and several other job boards dedicated to remote positions.

Working remotely is a great experience for those who can do it. Programmers, designers, digital marketers, recruiters and many others can do their job from nearly anywhere with an internet connection. Remote work is an especially great option here in Montana where it can mean earning a higher wage than working for local companies.

The Challenge

Working remotely is no longer the biggest challenge when it comes to working remotely. It's easier than ever to communicate with a distributed team thanks to the internet.

Many companies are now OK with a distributed team. A quick scan of the job boards I posted show many household names are interested in remote workers.

The biggest challenge these days is finding great remote positions/employees. As a freelancer it's tough to find great positions, at great companies. And as a company it's time-consuming to weed through resumes to find great employees.

The Shifting Landscape

With the demand for great remote positions and employees on the rise it's no surprise there's a lot of innovation in this space. Companies and candidates are moving beyond job boards and professional profile sites to stand out from the crowd.

There's a new breed of platforms being created to connect great companies with great employees. They offer value by (mostly) skipping the overly-editorialized resumes to ensure candidates and employees are who they say they are.

One of my personal favorites, StackOverflow Careers uses their question/answer site to rank candidates in various knowledge areas. Answering more questions (which are vetted by the community) raises a person's reputation. Each profile on StackOverflow Careers displays the person's ranking. Here's mine:

Toptal takes this a step further, conducting an intensive screening process involving personality, communication, live-coding exercises, test projects and more. Only 3% of applicants pass the screening process.

While it's extremely selective the screening process means employers can have confidence in an applicant's abilities. Employees get the advantage of jumping to the front of the line, reducing their job-search time and connecting with top companies It's a win-win for both parties.

I'm currently in the process of trying to join the Toptal's Top 3% of Web Developers. I'll update this post over the coming weeks as I move through (or fail) the screening process.

These new breeds of platforms, designed to efficiently connect employers and candidates are extremely useful if you're in the market for a remote position and I highly recommend giving them a try.

UPDATE (8/24/2015): Crossover is another Toptal-like platform.