Remote Developer Guide

Everything You Need To Know About Getting Hired By U.S. Companies

Many developers, designers, and programmers working in areas that make up part of the nearshore region (Latin America) know that honing your own talents and skills are only part of the equation for finding professional success. While picking your favorite tech stack and developing technical talent obviously come first, where do you go next once you are ready to keep advancing in your career? While there are plenty of successful software companies and start-ups emerging throughout Central and South America, it makes sense to look beyond those borders to the north for new opportunities. From Silicon Valley to Boston, America’s tech scene continues to lead the world in innovation, opportunities, and naturally, hiring. 

So how do you get your name out there and find an exciting company in the U.S. to work for? First, it’s important to know what U.S. companies are prioritizing and searching for when they consider using nearshore developers for their needs. Second, it’s important to know the social, cultural, and professional norms of these companies and how they mesh with and diverge from those in Latin America. With this in mind, we have developed a comprehensive guide to help you get hired by U.S. companies, and more importantly to find the right professional environment to continue to grow and succeed in your own career.

Why is the U.S. a good place to look for employment?

If you are just beginning to consider U.S. companies for employment, there are a few key benefits to doing so that you should know about:

  • U.S. companies are accustomed to paying the exorbitant hourly rates that domestic developers command - often over $100/hour, even for junior developers. While there are many small startups that won’t have that kind of capital, bigger U.S. companies have deeper pockets to incentivize your work compared to their overseas brethren.
  • U.S. companies are leaders of the field in most aspects of tech, from new innovative apps to technical fields like database design and programming language. Thus, these companies usually offer better opportunities for you to grown and hone your own technical skills that Latin American companies might not be able to provide.
  • Anyone in business knows that networking is critical for both personal and business growth - meeting talented and innovative people, hearing their ideas, and learning from each other is how everyone gets better at what they do. The chance to connect with U.S. employers and employees for future job references, recommendations, and opportunties can pay off tenfold for you down the road.

What kind of perks do U.S. companies offer for Latin American developers that local companies don’t?

Obviously, there are plenty of companies around the world that offer high salaries even for remote developers. However, there are some specific incentives for employees that don’t always appear in your paycheck, but are equally important to long-term happiness and work productivity. Here are a few of the things that U.S. companies often provide their nearshore employees that make working for them even more enticing:

  • Many U.S. companies also offer incentives as part of their hiring process - anything from paying for coding courses to covering the costs to attend coding conferences and travel. This could also include paid trips to company headquarters or offices throughout the U.S., or even corporate retreats if you land with a bigger firm.
  • U.S. companies often understand that remote developers work best with autonomy and freedom of schedule - they are more concerned with you delivering your work on schedule, but less concerned about constant oversight. While every company is different in this regard, most are happy to let you work on your own schedule as long as specific deadlines and requirements are being met.
  • Unlike companies located in Asia and Europe, where both time difference and cultural norms differ from the Western Hemisphere, U.S. companies believe in reliable communication. This goes both ways however - this also means that if you have questions, need feedback, or are seeking new opportunities or projects, you can expect quick and reliable communication to keep you informed and on track.

OK, you like what you hear - but what are these U.S. companies looking for? How do you impress them and let them know you are what they need?

While the wide range of U.S. companies means an equally wide range of needs for developers and designers, there are some common needs and wants that most U.S. companies share when they are evaluating and hiring nearshore talent. You should always do your research into the specific company you are considering when you have settled on one, but some general tips to help groom your professional portfolio include:

  • Reliability, reliability, reliability - one of the biggest frustrations for U.S. companies that hire overseas are developers who embellish their resumes and can’t deliver technical skills they promise, as well as developers who are not responsive or easy to communicate with. Make sure you familiarize yourself with common networking and collaborative platforms like Asana, Slack, Trello, and others. These are the common tools that these companies use to manage nearshore developers.
  • Honesty - this was mentioned above, but be forthright with a U.S. company about what you can and can’t do. Often, companies will be happy to help you learn more (whether through mentoring or paid training) as long as they know you can deliver what you said you could. Don’t apply for a position that is above your skill level.
  • Work ethic and desire to improve - U.S. companies appreciate hard work and dedication to learning more and delivering more. While you can get away with filling a need at a particular company, the best method for getting more work or better opportunities in the U.S. is to prove that you are always ready to handle and deliver more when needed.
  • Another perk that many U.S. companies are happy to provide is access to top-notch computers or smartphones if you need them to connect more easily - who doesn’t love a new Macbook as a work benefit?

So how do you choose the best U.S. company for your particular experience, interests, and needs?

While the perks above are all great benefits of working with a U.S. company, as we said before, not every company is the same. While most companies have the same expectations, relationships, and incentives for remote developers, as with any industry there are some simply looking to wring the most work out of a remote developer without compensating them fairly or treating them right. This is the downside to the distance that comes with remote work - but, it can be an experience that you can fairly easily avoid if you look for the following qualities when searching through companies hiring on remote platforms and advertising positions:

  • Are they an established business or corporation, or a new startup? Established businesses not only have track records and previous employee reviews for you to browse and learn from, but also often have hired other nearshore employees that can give you feedback on the work experience. Once you have honed in on a company, see if you can find these through some Google searches to get a better sense for the company’s reputation and experience in hiring and working with remote developers.
  • While startups don’t offer the ability for extensive background research, they often offer bigger opportunities for advancement since they are just beginning to develop and release their product. This is a higher risk but higher reward situation - while you may find the startup to be disorganized at times, getting in on the ground floor of an app’s development offers the chance to help grow the business and possibly the chance to even own part of the business as it emerges.
  • Does the company offer a minimum compensation level for your local currency? While a company may offer an enticing salary month to month, the currency that you are compensated with and the method of compensation could cost you hundreds or thousands of dollars if you aren’t careful, due to transfer fees or currency fluctuations. Make sure to discuss this with the company, so you know what you are guaranteed in pay and aren’t subjected to any nasty surprises, either within or without the company’s control.
  • What is the company’s expectations for communications availability, delivering and checking in work, and providing feedback? Most successful U.S. companies have well-organized and tested systems for these things, which make it easy for you to learn and plan for as you continue to work for them. A company that doesn’t have systems for these important components of remote work can be stressful and frustrating to work for.
  • As noted above, which of these incentives is the company willing to provide for their remote workers? If money and using your existing talents is all you care about, this may not be as important. However, if you are planning to work with a U.S. company to grow your own technical skills, access to coding courses or conferences or the newest technology should be something else you seek out.

Some final tips for remote developers seeking to work with U.S. companies

Now that you know more about U.S. companies, what they expect, and what they can offer, the final step is presenting yourself in a way that makes them want to hire you. Here are some easy steps to take to help easily and clearly present yourself in a professional, thoughtful way that makes U.S. companies want to take a chance and work with you:

  • Develop a professional portfolio from your previous work experience, even if it has only been in Latin America or on personal projects. U.S. employers want to know they can trust that you can deliver what you say you can - so if you can provide examples of projects you have worked on, and especially previous successes, this makes it easier for them to see. Creating a simple, personal website that showcases your talents and previous experience adds a level of professionalism that can set you apart.
  • Create a resume and cover letter - just like any job at a brick-and-mortar store, U.S. companies like to know why you are interested in working with them before they decide who to actually interview and devote resources into pursuing. A well-written cover letter that lays out what your own professional goals are, why that company interests you, and what you hope to gain from the experience can go a long way.
  • Become familiar with collaborative technology - we discussed this earlier, but the more collaboration and conferencing platforms you can be comfortable with beforehand, the smaller the learning curve will be when a company asks if you can conference via Slack, Google Hangouts, or the dozens of other commonly used U.S. co-working tools.
  • Finally, if you are fairly inexperienced or haven’t proven your technical skills in a corporate environment yet, make sure companies know you are willing to learn. While some companies may prefer candidates with previous experience, some are willing to let you do test projects or start on a smaller project with opportunity for advancement after success. Be willing to get your foot in the door, and often more responsibility (and bigger rewards) can follow down the road.