Finding Remote Work. Being a Digital Nomad. |

One thing that the pandemic has taught us is that many more of us have the capability to do remote work and, even, be digital nomads. My guest, Juliana Rabbi, has been doing that and much more. When I spoke with her, she was in Portugal. When I did my pre-interview with her, she was in Bulgaria. Anything is possible.

You may also find, “Finding Remote Work Jobs” helpful.

Read Full Transcript

Jeff 00:01
My guest today is Juliana Rabbi, a recruiter turned him career coach. Do you believe someone would do something like that? She's worked for more than 15 years as a recruiter and part of the human resources teams in multinational corporations all over the world. She's been working remotely for the past eight plus years. By the way, you'll understand more when I say this is with the other view goes up. Remote does not mean working from home in Dallas. Now she helps professionals create a career and a lifestyle that makes them happier. Juliana, how are you today?

Juliana 00:43
I'm great. Happy to be here. Thanks for the invitation, Jeff.

Jeff 00:46
You're very welcome and where in the world is Juliana Rabbi today?

Juliana 00:52
Right now I’m in Portugal. Sunny Day here. Almost 30 degrees or even more than that. It's quite hot.

Jeff 01:08
Translate that for the US audience.

Juliana 01:12
I have no idea how much is that in Celsius.

Jeff 01:15
And where were you before this?

Juliana 01:18
Before I was in Bulgaria, also in Europe, a small city called Bansko in Bulgaria.

Jeff 01:24
The sun and fun capital of Eastern Europe, Bulgaria. Like I said folks, I told you this was not about working at home from Dallas. How did you become involved with being a digital nomad like you are?

Juliana 01:41
I started working remotely in 2014. It was not a choice at the moment; there were some internal changes in my company. From one day to the other, my boss told me you have to start working from home, you cannot come to the office anymore and I was like, Okay, let's see how do I do that. I started working from home and doing so I realized I could organize my time. I enjoyed not going to the office every day. I was more productive. I was having more time to spend with my friends and with the people I chose to. I like that. Then I start testing out like traveling for maybe a weekend, and it's a Monday and Tuesday working from somewhere else, I start testing this, if I can work from home, I can work from it from anywhere. Then I changed jobs. My second job, I could also work from home. But then I was like, I know I'm ready. I can work from home. Now, I want to work from anywhere. I wanted to travel more. My main motivation to be a digital nomad is I wanted to travel more. The way I found to do it was to quit my job and started my own business. But it was a long process. I was like two years in this career slash life transition before I quit my job to build up something that I could make money out of there that I enjoyed, and that I could work from anywhere.

Jeff 03:03
I understand you made a transition two years after you start to work from home. I'm just going to take a moment and pause. When you were building up to making the break, what were you trying to accomplish during that period of time that allowed you to feel comfortable making the break from your previous firm?

Juliana 03:24
There were so many things. It was a process. First was my mindset, like, Can I do it? Can I live the lifestyle that I want to live? Is it real? Is it dreaming too much? Is it achievable? There were all those fears at the beginning, but behind that there was my desire to travel more. There was the thing that was motivating me all the time. I started doing some Freelancer work to test out which kind of services can I offer out of a corporate environment because I was working as a corporate recruiter for 15 years. I was like, what else can I do with my life to make money to be able to pay the bills. I started freelancing, resume writing, interview, preparation, linking writing things that I knew how to do that I was doing already, but then offer them to people you know, outside of my formal nine to five jobs, so I started doing some freelance gigs, then I start having direct clients. It was a process of seeing other possibilities, testing out things in the market to start selling myself as hey, that's Julia and I'm a professional. I'm not the only one that I'm not only the one working for a company. It was also kind of identity change and a lot of personal branding in the process and building up my business was like, wow, I never really thought about having a business and I was not grown up in an entrepreneur environment. This is all very new for me. But it was the way I found to live the lifestyle I wanted to live so it was very intense.

Jeff 04:57
I noticed that you have a non-Brooklyn accent? Where were you from originally that you picked up this accent?

Juliana 05:10
I was born in Brazil.

Jeff 05:17
I'm not going to go down that. What you started to do was look for ways that you could run money apart from your company and how did you pick up some of this work? Were you working with marketplace sites? Were you just promoting yourself with friends and family? How did you get some of this additional work?

Juliana 05:39
No marketplace sites at all up to today, I never use that. I started freelancing with one company in Ireland, they were offering the same things I was doing a read like resume writing LinkedIn right into the preparation, this kind of serves. I started freelancing for those for this company. They got the clients and they were outsourcing the service to me. The company was doing all the marketing and client attraction, and I was doing the work itself. Then I also start having direct clients that knew me that heard about this freelance gig, and we're coming directly. Then I started also doing my second freelance gig, the same thing, resume writing interview preparation for a company in Spain. I was doing pretty much the same thing into three different pillars apart from having my job. It was pretty much connected with people, the Spanish company, they found me on LinkedIn, they made a direct approach, like do you want to work for us as a freelancer, the company in Ireland. I approached them and then direct clients would just come in my way.

Jeff 06:49
Fascinating. In terms of living outside of the US, and I'm not sure if he ever spent time in the US because I'm doing Brazil, Bulgaria.

Juliana 06:59
Yes, but I did. I was in New York two months ago.

Jeff 07:04
Did you work for US based firms as well?

Juliana 07:08
I worked for an American company. But the office was in Barcelona, in Spain. I had a Spanish contract. But it was an American company, a cruise company.

Jeff 07:18
I was curious if you had a sense of comparative wages for people, like if you're working remotely, you're a freelancer and thus, I was curious as to whether you had a sense of what compensation is like as a freelancer versus doing some of the work you do as a quote employee.

Juliana 07:43
Yeah, I'm not working as a freelancer anymore. Now all my clients are direct clients. I can't actually compare with the way to the US, because when I was working for the American company, I had my nine to five job.

Jeff 08:03
It's okay. I wasn't sure. But I had to take a shot at asking. What sort of things should people be aware of in making the transition from full time to the life that you're living now? Where you live and work anywhere you want?

Juliana 08:23
First thing I would say having clarity about what they want. This lifestyle, a lot of people mislead it and imagine that you're going to be on the beach all the time with a laptop, having typed it in, yes. It's not the way it is. It's not perfect, it's still alive, you still work, you still have commitments, you still need to deliver results. Understand that this is a lifestyle with the good and the bad side. It's not like a perfect life. Have clarity about why you want that and which price? Are you willing to pay, as I said, my position to build up that took me two years, not everybody takes three, it can be way faster. But for me, it was important to have income in a way that I didn't have to touch my savings, or generate any debit. I was like, I want to be making money in Dutch what I have already. I would say first thing is clarity. What you want, where are you at the moment? Which are your short term goals, your long term goals? Which are the options that you have? Do you need to start from scratch? Do you need to go back to university or to a technical online course wherever? Or can you use your background experience to do something, the same thing you do, but online, so check the option, see what makes more sense to you, and then create a plan to start implementing that. But it's not just start doing stuff without knowing where you're going, because then it's going to be a waste of time, money and energy. Take some stack steps behind and define what do I really want and then start creating a strategy to get there.

Jeff 09:57
What sort of surprises that you run into along the way, during this transition, or once you did transition.

Juliana 10:06
I think like a lot of people I met on the way that from the outside, they look like they have a very solid business, they're making so much money while this person is like an inspiration to me. Then when you get to spend more time with the person, the person is still very lost. He doesn't have any income for like moms. Sometimes what we see online on social media, and Instagram is not the reality about people that are living this lifestyle. It's important to create the databases, and sometimes you were doing well. But it's not showing that much, because maybe you're just not spending that much time on social media, or you don't have super cool photos on Instagram. There is a difference between what we see online, and the reality that it gets when you spend more time with people. This was one of the bad surprises, but I think like a warning also. Don't compare too much with other people, because you might not know what is going on, on the other side.

Also, not a surprise is that, for me, at least because as I said, I didn't come from a family that was around this intrapreneur mindset. My parents are both doctors. They both worked for the same job their whole life, and they got retired. Very traditional family, and creation for me. Having my own business, it opened up a lot of things and it's hard. There are so many aspects of the business that you have to take care of. It's not only do what you're good at what you like to do, but there are so many other aspects until you start delegating, but then you delegate, you still have to supervise it, and all of that. Having a business is a whole new world. If you don't want to go through it, I think it's just easier to find a remote job that aligns with your purpose, what you want to do, the kind of skills that you have, but then you don't need to take care of the other side. Because it's a lot of work apart from just do the job run a business. It's a lot of fun. But for me it has been an interesting journey, this process.

Jeff 12:15
Yeah. I'm curious from a tax standpoint, do you pay taxes proportionate with how long you're in the country? How does that work?

Juliana 12:26
I am registered in Spain, because I lived there for 15 years. I pay my taxes in Spain. I'm still resident there, I pay all the tax there. This is my case, but digital nomads, there is this aspect, like how long they stay in a certain country. Normally there is these 181 days, which is long, six months. If you stay more than that, then you are considered resident in the country, and you have to pay taxes but there are differences between countries. There are some variations. This is also something that whoever wants to be a digital nomad needs to think about and make the choice and consider all of that.

Jeff 13:07
I'm going to go back now to the time you were an employee, and you were working remotely. Did you stay working for one firm? I heard you talk about starting to affiliate with companies that we could pick upside work. I heard that correctly?

Juliana 13:26
Yeah, that's when I started doing the freelance gig. But my remote work journey as an employee, I worked for two companies. Apart from that, I was doing the freelancer work with some companies that I associate and I was starting my own business. But as an employee for two different companies.

Jeff 13:47
We're recording this during the I don't know if it's the tail end of COVID. It depends on where in the world you are. The US is getting concerned and started to do the mass conversations again. Who knows where we are in this brain. But you were doing it, you were trying to find remote work during a time where that was not the norm. How did you get these additional remote work jobs?

Juliana 14:16
I remember conversation with my father before I started working remotely. I was like, I want to do that actually, it was like I want to travel more it was always the thing. I want to find a job that I can work from anywhere. He told me this is not real, right? This is just what very few people like you shouldn't dream about it. There was years ago, and I still remember this conversation because that's what the majority of people were thinking this is a dream. This is not real. It was not the norm. It was not the majority. But my first remote job. As I mentioned before, there was some internal change in the company. I was forced, let's say to go and start working from home not remotely was from home at the time. I had to. There was some internal change in my contract.

So, I had to work remotely from one day to the other, I could not go to the office. I didn't choose it in the first place. But very soon I was like, I like that. This works for me very well. Then I remember I also moved to the seat later on to the city where the office was the new office, the one I could work from, and I went back for like a month. I said, I don't want to do this anymore. The first job, I didn't really choose it. It was this internal change and then the second job, I chose it. It was actually my requirement. When I was applying for jobs or doing job interviews, the first question I was asking people is like, can this job be done remotely? Or from home at least? And if the answer was no, I was like, Okay, thank you very much, but I'm not interested. It becomes like my main requirement. Actually, in my own job searching process when I was searching for the second job and they existed. I mean, not the majority, but I could find them.

Jeff 16:05
It's interesting. Folks, you probably figured out, when I worked in recruiting initially, when I started to record my content, I was employed by your firm as a contractor. I would actually go to their offices, and I looked like an employee, I cracked like an employee. I was paid as a self-employed individual. Eventually, I moved to a location about two hours from New York. Initially, I commute a couple of days a week, and then start to pull back from there. That is a more of a breathing room. Then we moved to North Carolina where it was impossible to commute to New York, and just work remotely at that point. I have that experience of pulling away from but never looking for something. I've always been the entrepreneurial mindset of find it, help it, kill it, find something, get the next project, do something next. If you're giving advice to people about this lifestyle, and you're giving them your mental checklist of things you would be looking for, in evaluating situations, like I'm the employee, the ideas come to my mind, like what's the mental checklist for them, that they should go through to evaluate whether this is realistic for?

Juliana 17:34
What I mentioned about clarity also applies here. Understand what you want, what exactly you want, your goals, the options you have, what are you willing to do to get there and then creating a plan and this plan would probably include, if you are working at the moment, have a conversation with your current manager to see if it is possible that you keep doing what you were doing for the same company for the same clients remotely. This during slash after COVID times that the times we live in now, might be even easier, because you probably worked remotely for part of last year. Maybe you're back now to the office or companies are saying that you should be back soon. But in any case, this conversation is one option that we should ignore. Instead of searching outside, let's check inside the company if there is a possibility, and then there are ways to prepare to better prepare for that. But this is one option.

The second option, the second easiest one is seen what can you do what you know, how to do already, which kind of skills, background, things you can do with the experience you have. Instead of reinventing the wheels, just see, can you do what you do now remotely? Or can you do something that you did in your past maybe your previous job or two jobs ago, that you can do now remotely, so check what you can do in the short term. The third option is I can go remote to my current job or I'm not working unemployed. What I have done in the past, or what I do now is for some reason, one of those very few things that cannot be done remotely. The third option is I need to prepare myself to train myself to study something to learn some skill that I can apply remotely. Check which investment makes sense for you how long you're going to need to get the course or the learning done, and then some experience and go for it. Pretty much those three things, check where you are now, check where you can apply with the skills you have. If not then create these reality. But that should be the third option because it takes more time to do that to learn something from scratch.

Jeff 19:47
That makes perfect sense totally. I think about people that I've helped, and it's not radically different than the model I work with. When I help people with career transition, I started looking at what are my internal options? What do I need to know? In order to do this? What don't I know that I should in order to do this job because many people have a fantasy idea of what it's like to do a career transition and you want to talk to people who are doing it. So folks, talk to people who are digital nomads, or working remotely, and see what their experience is like. It should not surprise because I'm sure you'll agree with this surprises are rarely good.

Juliana 20:34
We should minimize them and do everything we can. There are so many things we cannot control in this process in the career changing search for a job interview. It's better to focus on the few things that we can control and make the most of it. Then the rest will unfold us. It will but focus on what we can do and the actions we can actually take.

Jeff 20:56
You are self-employed now, versus an employee of an organization working remotely and you have the pleasures of traveling, when and where you live, you obviously have deliverables with different firms or individuals. Are you tending to work for one client? Or are you more consumer oriented where you're working for multiples?

Juliana 21:24
I have different clients. Not only one several at the same time.

Jeff 21:30
By the way, that's the way I've chosen to approach it, too. How do people communicate with you? What's the communications like for the consumer? I'm sure it's the same as mine, but the audience doesn't know how I do it. How do you communicate with your clients around the world?

Juliana 21:54
Normally, the initial contact when they want to know more about my service, how they work, and all of that it's via email, or a direct message on social media via LinkedIn, or Instagram or Facebook. Normally, it starts from a text message or an email and then in some cases, I do a discovery call. We schedule a call, and we speak via zoom. We talk properly, we see each other on the video and then if we decide to work together, then depend on the program, but most likely, you're going to still exchange emails, and methods and activities and all of that. We're going to have regular calls from time to time, this is the most frequent way. Sometimes I have met the person in person somewhere that I was traveling that I was leaving, and the other person knows me already heard about my services, and then we go from in person to again, back to the circle, like we start exchanging emails, direct messages, then we schedule the call. Then we go to zoom calls. It's a kind of job that I can do literally from anywhere, which was one of the requirements I had when I was creating this lifestyle, but I just need my laptop, good Wi Fi connection.

Jeff 23:19
For me, I'm an aggressive self-promoter. Whether it's YouTube, my podcast, no BS, job search, advice, radio, my channel on Amazon, people get them to know, trust and respect me and find a way that they can message me to start picking up connections, to market myself heavily on LinkedIn in particular, and becomes a way that now I was number 7653 on LinkedIn back in the day. I have lots of connections and lots of people following me. Even so it's not top of mind for everyone all the time. I have to put myself in front of them. They go I should contact Jeff. He knows what he's talking about. That's a lot of what I do is the self-promotion in order to give people a lot of information. Because one thing I believe is people don't know how to choose a coach.

Juliana 24:20
There are so many options out there and even if you go online, you'll find contradictory information, do this and let someone else get no don't do this, do the opposite thing. I understand that he can be confused. I also have a similar approach to what you mentioned, like share a lot of content. I also have my YouTube channel. I also share a lot of content on LinkedIn, Instagram, because people need to know me first and then they will trust me and eventually they will decide to hire me This is the program so probably 20% of my content is paid the other 80%-85% something like that is free but I think this is the way to go. I actually like to share what I know. There is a part of me that I enjoy. I understand its marketing. Also, that's like a funnel, I understand that, but I enjoy the process.

It's something that I like doing most of the times. I also have cases, you might have had something similar, but like people who said, I have been following your content for like a year. I was like, wow, and then this person was quiet in the hallway that was not even a single like, in any pose, but the person was watching me following me consuming my content until they decide to make a step and I understand that because like a career change in any case, like to a remote job or to an office job, it doesn't matter, it's a big thing. There is a big impact in your emotions, in your finances in your family, like being unemployed, there is a very bad connection in the society we live in. Everything related to carry is a delicate topic. I understand why people let me think 10 times before make this. But I feel very powerful, because I know what I do have very big impact in people's lives. I really enjoy this transformation that we can do in our position.

Jeff 26:12
We too are using instant in order to draw people to find you there.

Juliana 26:19
There is a small bio link on LinkedIn, on Instagram. There is a small bio that he put some keywords I put like career code Remote Jobs. People, when they learning my profile, they kind of have an idea about what I do. I share a lot of stories more like the same way I use the LinkedIn stories a bit of the backstage. Today, for example, I said my agenda for today is one interview preparation session and two podcast interviews. I actually have another one after that. I shared a bit the backstage like my human side. I share the same stories on Instagram and on LinkedIn. I like to share this more like Julian as a person. I try to use pretty much the same content on all the social media because they optimize my time and because I ensure that whoever follows me in one channel will have the same content. I play a bit with pretty much the same content I share on the other social media.

Jeff 27:32
What haven't we spoken about yet that we really should?

Juliana 27:41
I want to say one thing. We've discussed COVID situation. There was never a better time to start a remote work career, like if anyone was thinking about it before, but not sure hesitate. This is the time to do it. It might seem obvious, but it's not because the funny thing is that everybody now is thinking about a remote job. But then you go when you see a job offer posted today, and two days later, we have like 500 literally people applied. People get scared. It's like, there's too much people applying for that I have no chairs. I'm not sure if I'm ready. Go for it. This is the moment like there was never a time in our lives, that companies were more open to remote work at companies our strength changing side. The interesting thing that happened in the market is that then the benefits start increasing, because we want to attract the best kind of candidate. So, let's be flexible in this aspect. If the company is not offering good conditions, you can search for something else. I think whoever is considering remote job right now is so powerful in this process, because there are options. There are more options happening every single day. You can negotiate. You can choose what you want. Especially if you're not in desperation mode. But I want something different, or I don't want to go back to the office in the next month. I want to start searching for that. Prepare, create a strategy, but there was never a better time to do that. In this aspect, I think COVID, let's take something good out of that. There is still a lot of improvement to be done. It's not perfect. Far from it. But there are way more remote opportunities right now than they were in 2018.

Jeff 29:48
What has been your favorite place to live so far?

Juliana 29:55
I think I'll choose a Spain because that's where I lived the longest. I lived in and out for 15 years. I kind of know the culture, the language in people when I'm very integrated in the culture, but there was also the same reason that made me leave Spain because I was too integrated, too comfortable. I wanted to challenge myself in the process. If I had to pick a place, I'm going to say Spain because I'm more familiar with that actor now.

Jeff 30:28
Thank you, Juliana. How can people find out more about the work that you do? The courses, you have everything.

Juliana 30:37
You should search for my name Juliana Rabbi. Juliana with one N and then Rabbi. My website is I also have my YouTube channel. Every week I share new videos about career job interviews, LinkedIn, resume, Remote Jobs and all of that. Every week a new video, people can follow the channel. Also, I'm very active, as I said in LinkedIn, and Instagram. Pretty much anywhere you can search for my name and eventually Google will show me.

Jeff 31:16
Terrific Juliana. Thank you and folks, we'll be back soon with more. This is Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter. I hope you enjoyed today's interview. If you didn't, you're watching on YouTube, click the like button. Send me a message through LinkedIn/In/thebiggamehunter. Tell me that you enjoyed the video. I like knowing and helping some folks. If we connect somewhere, just mentioned that you saw this, I really like that. Visit my website, TheBigGameHunter.US. There is a ton in the blog that you could watch, listen to a read. That'll help you. Plus, you can schedule time for free discovery call or schedule time for coaching. I'd love to help. Hope you have a terrific day and most importantly, be great. Take care.


Jeff Altman, The Big Game HunterJeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a coach who worked as a recruiter for what seems like one hundred years. His work involves career coaching, as well as executive job search coaching, job coaching, and interview coaching. He is the host of “No BS Job Search Advice Radio,” the #1 podcast in iTunes for job search with over 2200 episodes.

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