PODCAST S2/E4: 5 Places to Find Remote Work

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This podcast was inspired by a very encouraging statistic, indicating that remote job vacancies have increased three-fold during the course of this year.

We discuss how this has come about and – most importantly – how aspiring home workers can find these jobs. It’s significantly easier than some might think. 

Included in this podcast:

  • Remote-first companies (04:29)
  • The HomeWorkingClub Job Board (10:58)
  • Traditional Job Boards (12:50)
  • Non-traditional/Specialist Job Boards (14:54)
  • Premium Services: FlexJobs and Virtual Vocations (19:43)
  • Why things will always change (27:08)

Supplementary Links and Information

Full Transcription

We have edited some repeat words and unclear sections to enhance readability.

ALEX: Welcome to the HomeWorkingClub podcast. I’m Alex. And with me, as ever, is Ben.

Hi, Ben.

BEN: Hello Alex. How are you today?

ALEX: Not too bad at all. Today we are talking about five ways to find remote work.

We were chatting just now that one of the great perks of working remotely or being freelance is you have the ability to pop outside and enjoy the sunshine… which outside my window is absolutely glorious at the moment. How is it there, Ben?

BEN: It is here as well. I’m only about 30 miles away, so… no big surprise. But yes, it is lovely. A last little burst of summer today. So yeah, loving this.

ALEX: Fantastic. This is finding remote work rather than freelancing. Tell us a little bit about why we’re talking about this today.

BEN: Okay. I wanted to do a remote work based podcast. HomeWorkingClub does cater to remote workers as well as freelancers. And so we try to switch between the topics frequently, so we make sure we please everybody.

I was actually going to do a completely different subject this week, but yesterday I read in the news that LinkedIn has discovered that since March this year remote job postings have nearly tripled. Now, given that we’re surrounded by doom and gloom and talk of recession and stuff like that, I think it’s quite nice to see something as positive as that.

Obviously, a lot of this is due to COVID and the fact that companies are now allowing a lot more remote working.

For anyone thinking, “Oh, it’s such a grim scenario out there.” Well, actually, there are three times more of these jobs out there to find than there were before. And that to me is absolutely massive.

I thought, with that in mind, let’s talk about where you’re going to find these jobs.

ALEX: I think that makes sense. Obviously, I would suggest, using my incredible powers of deduction, LinkedIn might be one of those places we’d look.

BEN: It is. You know what… of the five that we’ve listed, it is not one of them.

ALEX: It’s not actually, is it? I’ve just looked at my notes.

BEN: No.

I mean… Yes it is, and I’m certainly seeing people post jobs.

I think the interesting thing is that companies now have decided “The remote working experiment has worked. We’re going to carry on doing it regardless of what governments want.” And we’ve discussed that in one of our recent podcasts… that the remote work genie is out of the bottle and it looks like companies and people are going to carry on doing a lot of remote work.

But it does also create a massive opportunity, which is… the companies that were previously fully office-based that have now decided to allow remote working can now recruit from different states, different countries.

So you may well find opportunities that simply didn’t exist a year ago. And I think that’s really exciting.

ALEX: I’ve certainly had that recently with a client. We’ve been talking for a while and one of the big issues was the sheer geographical distance between me and them as the nature of some of the stuff I do requires a bit of face to face. And actually, now, all of those issues that were big issues before Christmas suddenly have melted away.

Everybody is on (Microsoft) Teams and various other things. So, you know kickoff meetings can happen virtually. Whereas that would have seemed a bit weird and impersonal a while ago, now its’s the norm for a lot of people.

It is not even a case of companies suddenly getting rid of their office. It’s just a case that work is changed for a lot of people.

BEN: Yeah, and I think for people listening to this… obviously, the site is called HomeWorkingClub… presumably people listening to this want to work from home. So, it’s looking pretty good.

I mean, there are a lot of freelancing roles out there at the moment. I mean, we can’t deny that there’s a lot of doom and gloom about recession in the press and stuff like that. But there are opportunities out there.

There are a lot of opportunities out there, so, hopefully, this podcast will help you find some.

ALEX: Well, talking about the way things were… just before lockdown, I believe, we put together an article about remote-first companies. Was that just before or just at the beginning of…?

BEN: I think it was just before. Literally just before.

That has actually segued nicely into what we were going to say is our first one, hasn’t it?

ALEX: It’s almost like that was deliberate, Ben.

BEN: Yeah, it is. It is like we’ve got notes in front of us or something.

Yes, remote-first companies… Do you know what? I’m going to flip the script here because Alex wrote the article about remote-first companies.

So, what interesting things did you find?

ALEX: Well, the first thing is… actually thinking back to when it was… was what a lot of the companies had in common.

When you find brands… where they are big brands that you’ve heard of… they will quite often be places that will have large call centres or be in the kind of industries like insurance or travel… where, even before the world of COVID, being a remote-first company was a significant advantage. Where you have customers spread out all over the world, all over different time zones.

And it’s certainly a solution that a lot of these companies came to… “If I have customers in different parts of the world in different time zones, how do I best serve them 24 hours a day?” And that is not to run a call centre somewhere in Europe 24 hours a day. It is to have agents all over the world in the same time zone as my customers. And the best way to do that is for them to be remote workers.

I think that was how remote working grew organically for a lot of these companies.

The other sort of big bucket that these companies fall into is probably the more techie startup type companies. This actually means it goes across different industries. So you would have people in legal services or health care but they are slightly newer companies… where again they’re taking advantage of tech solutions to be able to offer a service to people.

The legal services companies that do it… they want to be able to serve people over a massive geographical area, which means that they have to be able to be remote. Whereas perhaps that kind of advice would rely on being very much part of a local community and having a shingle up on Main Street. You know it’s more a case of… actually, we can serve the same number of customers over a much wider area.

So remote working very much for these remote-first companies came as a solution as to how they either find or serve customers over a much more diverse geographical area. And actually, that is to have a remote-first workforce over that same sort of geographical area.

That’s a broad overview of the two trends.

In terms of specifics, we obviously spoke to one of the companies in one of the podcasts. I spoke to James from Tyk in one of the podcasts… and he was really, really interesting… about what it’s like to run a remote-first company and what it’s like to work there.

The other thing that I picked up from that is… almost every single one of them spent a huge amount of time talking about the benefits that they offer. Both health care benefits and financial benefits. But also the benefits in terms of parental leave or flexible leave arrangements… and also getting together as a company as well and having away-days. That was the sort of more social side of it.

BEN: Yeah.

ALEX: I don’t think I’ve ever spoken that long on this podcast before, it’s amazing.

BEN: I know! That was completely unplanned, me flipping it on Alex. I’m here looking at him looking like “What have you done?!”

But quite interesting to hear your take on it as obviously, you researched that. I will put a link in the show notes… we’ve got an article on 31 different, fully remote companies.

Now, I think also for these companies, a lot of them love the fact that they can get talent from all over the world. They’re not restricted to finding the very best people within a certain geographical area.

Another thing I would say is… I did wonder when Alex was researching this, “Are we going to find that all these companies are tech companies?” But I think the thing is, even these tech startups, they still need human resources people, they still need customer services people.

So, just because a fully remote company is a tech company, it doesn’t mean that you need to be a techie person to find a job at one of them.

ALEX: Absolutely.

BEN: So, coming back to what our main subject here is, remote-first companies… if you really want a remote job, it’s a really good place to start looking because these companies have been doing this since long before COVID.

They’ve got really good systems in place. They’ve got ways to ensure that their staff can socialise over special Zoom calls, and walking meetings, and stuff like that.

Some of these are really, really inspirational places to work. I get really quite excited about some of the things that these companies do. They just sound like great environments because they’ve had an ethos right from the start that includes work-life balance and making sure that their staff have the right kind of support for their mental health… They’re really exciting places to work.

ALEX: It is. And I think that that’s something you start to notice. Going back to your LinkedIn stat of there being, you know, an increased number of remote-first jobs or companies willing to hire people remotely… some of the conversations I’ve noticed… you start to ask that question of people who have been doing this for a while… it really flips it in terms of what managers, senior managers, in these companies do in terms of their man-management.

They cannot be walking around the floor checking to see if everybody’s working, which is kind of the traditional view of management. What their job is… which, you know you could say, perhaps should always have been their job… is to make sure that their staff are happy, healthy and productive. And focus on the output rather than whether they’re in the office at 8 a.m. or still there at 6 p.m.

Actually, you know, “Are they happy? Are they productive? Is there anything I can give you that makes you work more effectively?” perhaps should always have been the mantra of every manager. And now I think that’s increasingly going to become the way it is.

BEN: I think so. I think it was probably the mantra of better managers.

So the first thing on our list: remote-first companies.

I will put a link in the show notes to our list of 31 of them. But, Google is your friend here… you will find plenty more than the 31 in our list. It’s a really good place to start your search. To start to learn about the types of firms out there who routinely offer remote jobs – and plenty of them are recruiting right now.

ALEX: Yeah, and as Ben said as well, it’s not just tech jobs. There’s quite often with these companies… finance, marketing, customer service and actually, of course, as always, there’s always some writing roles as well.

BEN: Yes, quite often there is.

Okay, so what have we got next?

ALEX: Well, I suppose it should be me that introduces it so it’s not just a shameless plug. One of the great places to find remote work would be the HomeWorkingClub job board.

BEN: Yes. We do have a job board on the site, which is homeworkingclub.com/job-board (I kind of wish I hadn’t put the hyphen in now I’ve had to read that out).

It is run in league with ZipRecruiter. Currently, it is only for people in the US, so sorry for those elsewhere.

If you go there, you should find lots of home working and remote jobs. Well, it doesn’t matter if they’re near to you anymore, really, for most of them. It does work on quite a simple system… it searches job listings for strings such as home-based and remote.

It isn’t perfect. Sometimes it will throw up job adverts that aren’t home-based or remote. Unfortunately, there isn’t an awful lot I could do about that. But you will find plenty of inspiration on there and hopefully some things that you could apply to as well.

ALEX: Now, to be fair, I know Ben was slightly wary about plugging his own website’s job board in this podcast because, as ever, being the decent chap he is… [mimics Ben] “I don’t want to be plugging away, I want to actually be helpful.”…

But the reason that you set the job board up on HomeWorkingClub was because people were asking for that. And you wanted to provide a place where they could perhaps search in the safe environment of HomeWorkingClub, wasn’t it really?

BEN: Yes, I think so. We’re going to talk about… spoiler alert… traditional job boards in a minute. But, it was to emphasise the fact that if you search the boards in the correct way, there are remote home working jobs on all the job boards… there always have been. So, you just need to search them wisely.

ALEX: Well, shall we move on to the traditional job boards… in a slight departure from the notes that we’ve prepared, since you’ve segued into it?

BEN: Yes, I think so. I could tell I was in trouble there.

On traditional job boards like Indeed and Monster, and stuff like that, it’s exactly the same technique. Open up those job boards and just type “home-based” or “remote” in the search box.

Obviously, you’re going to find jobs that just mention “remote” in some other way, or even “based” or “home” in some other way… but you will find plenty of homeworking positions among them. And obviously, going on this LinkedIn study that says there are now nearly three times as many of these roles out there as there were in March, you’ll probably find quite a lot of them.

So there’s not really much we need to say about that, but don’t assume that job boards like Indeed and Monster are exclusively for office jobs or site-based jobs. They’re really not. And if you use the right search terms, you will uncover jobs in plain sight on those boards.

ALEX: Yeah. I think the thing from companies like Monster and Indeed is that they… at the time when they were set up, they were disruptors in the recruitment world.

You would imagine from the way that they’ve been set up and the way they’ve gone, that they will be looking… I know certainly with Monster that they are always looking for what the next trends are and where it’s going to be. I would imagine that these huge traditional job boards will be very alive to the remote working possibilities.

I think it does go back to some of the conversations we’ve had about how the world of work is changing and what’s going on. When you see the number of jobs posted on LinkedIn increases, I think you’ll start to see it on these ones as well.

Part of the reason is that people will be typing in “remote jobs/home working” on all of these sites. I bet that information has been flooding back to the head office in these companies, where they’re going, “We’ve got a lot of searches on remote work. Let’s go and find some.”

So, I think it’ll probably just snowball from there.

BEN: Absolutely. Yes. So, don’t ignore the traditional job boards, as I call them. They are well worth a look.

ALEX: So, non-traditional job boards… we’ll take those as a pair… specialist job boards.

BEN: Yes. So, another article I’m going to put in the show notes… Karen has written an article with 15 different places to find remote jobs.

There are a lot of specialist job boards. As Alex says, companies do look at the trends out there. And, in the last year or so, there has been a significant increase in the number of specialist job boards. A few include Dynamite Jobs, We Work Remotely, and Skip The Drive which are free job boards, although some offer some premium services.

We are going to talk about premium services in a minute, but these are just websites specifically dedicated to listing remote jobs. Some of them are quite new, which means that some of them don’t have the volume of jobs that you’re going to find on the bigger boards. But I will, as I said, put a link to that article in the show notes. And it’s well worth having a flick through.

You’ll probably find some are better than others. But yes, several of these job boards that are dedicated now to remote jobs are well worth a look.

ALEX: What do you get in terms of the view of how those jobs are spread? Are there still quite a lot of geographical restrictions?

I know that with the remote-first companies… a significant number of the remote-first companies were still saying US-only.

BEN: Yeah, I think I’d probably divide them into three categories.

You’ve got companies who will recruit from literally anywhere… anywhere globally… and even those do sometimes say, “But we operate payroll in certain countries.” So it might be, for example, “You can go live wherever you want, but you’re still going to have to have a bank account in a certain US state,” or something like that. So you’ve got those companies that literally you could live anywhere.

You’ve got other companies where they might be US-only/UK-only/Canada-only. And often that is because of the kind of infrastructure they have in place both to pay people and to meet the right legislation and the right compliance for having people working for them.

And then you’ve got jobs that are still fully remote but may require you to go in for meetings… say weekly meetings, monthly meetings, stuff like that. So those kinds of remote jobs are sometimes limited to a geographical area, or certainly to a US state. Something like that.

So three types… sort of from really fully “Go work in Mongolia” remote, to remote but you’ve got to be in Oregon/you’ve got to be in California.

ALEX: I think that’s an important thing. If you are looking for remote work… it’s not the world of, “Oh, I can go and work for this company.” You are still at a significant advantage if you’re based perhaps on the West Coast of the US in terms of a lot of these companies, that kind of thing.

BEN: Yeah. Sadly, I would say that’s the case.

There’s a lot about the whole digital nomad thing and there are a lot of sites about being a Digital Nomad. I’ve always tried to make HomeWorkingClub a little bit different to that because being a sort of true digital nomad isn’t, I don’t think, as straightforward as people say. There’s got to be somewhere where you pay your tax and somewhere where you are kind of signed up to doctors and stuff like that.

I don’t know if this is going to sound right or not… I think maybe being a true digital nomad is a bit of a young person’s game… and I certainly do not count myself as a young person for that.

I think once you’ve got commitments and children and stuff like that… I’m not by any means kind of saying that I don’t believe in the whole digital nomad thing. I think it’s fantastic, but the practicalities related to two weeks on this beach, two weeks in that country… I think are a little bit more complicated than a lot of these sites try to present.

ALEX: I agree. I mean, I like working remotely or being freelance on the basis that I travel less.

BEN: I love the fact… obviously pre-COVID… I would get away 4-5 times a year and go work from somewhere near a beach in Spain, or an unfamiliar city in Europe, or something like that. It was incredible and I miss it tremendously. But that, for me, is remote and freelance enough. I don’t feel the urge to go relocate to different countries all the time.

We’ve gone off on a bit of a tangent there, haven’t we?

ALEX: Well, yes. Going away from wistful reminiscence of working abroad… I’m sure those days will come back again at some point.

BEN: I hope so.

ALEX: We were talking about more premium services and things that you pay for.

BEN: Yes. So I’m specifically talking about two here, which are FlexJobs and Virtual Vocations. So these are premium services, i.e. you have to pay for them. Now when I say you have to pay for them, they really aren’t very expensive.

I’m just having a look on FlexJobs now… so a weekly subscription with a voucher code that I’ll give you a link to is $4.95, a month is under $10, and a year is $44.95 which makes the monthly costs $3.75.

So these aren’t big, big subscription fees. They’re tiny subscription fees. They are the cost of a Starbucks coffee kind of subscription fees.

However, some people really fundamentally object to the basic principle of paying any money at all towards their job search. I’m going to be blunt about this… I disagree with them.

Back in the day… I think in the late nineties… I had a job in recruitment that I absolutely despised. And every Wednesday in The London Evening Standard would be the jobs pages, it was a supplement… big fat supplement in the middle of the newspaper, which had all the jobs.

And I used to look forward to Wednesday lunchtimes because I would go sit in the pub and have my lunch, and I would go desperately through this job section trying to find something else.

Well, I had to pay for that newspaper and so I had to pay to look at those jobs!

Now, obviously, it’s a fair comment that you could find the same remote jobs that are on the likes of FlexJobs and Virtual Vocations by searching hard yourself. And we’ve given you four ways to do it for free. But, what these services do is they put them all in one place.

It’s not always perfect. Sometimes you’ll find stuff like out of date listings or slightly sketchy search results… the same as we get on our own job board.

I think where these services really add value is… FlexJobs I re-reviewed recently so I’m more familiar with what FlexJobs offers than Virtual Vocations at the moment, but… they have a lot of training materials.

They have LinkedIn Learning courses that you get free access to. This month they’re actually doing a virtual job fair. And weekly they do kind of workshops to help people with planning for applying for remote jobs and stuff like that.

I think, if you’re willing to actually put the time in and go through all the supplementary stuff that you get… you are paying a very, very small amount of money for access to training materials, access to job fairs, webinars, all kinds of stuff.

If you’re really serious about it, I don’t think… even, say, an annual subscription at less than $50 bucks… if it gets you the job that you want, I don’t think you’re going to look at that as a bad investment.

ALEX: Yeah.

BEN: So they’re worth a look.

As I’ve always emphasized in my review of FlexJobs, no one says you have to sign up for these things. As we have illustrated, there are plenty of ways to look for remote jobs.

I would say, “Yeah, do those first,” but don’t write these off when they are going to cost you as little as a coffee. Even if you are just going to have a look for a week and do the training materials, it’s probably worth a look.

ALEX: I think that’s a fair point. And I think, using your example of the newspaper with the job ads… which I think people of our generation… it gave me a cold chill remembering all we had to go through.

But there’s always the thing that at some point you will be paying for a service that people are providing. And, you know, just as you had to buy a newspaper to get the ads, there were also things that were free where you could get the ads and they would sell other advertising on the back of it. And if you’re going to a job board where you don’t pay upfront, then you guarantee that they will be trying to sell you something in order to pay for the service that they’re providing.

None of these companies do things for you out of the goodness of their heart.

So, I think that it’s more a question of, “Is that price of a cup of coffee actually worth it?” And as you say, you can make your own decision on that. But it does sound like you do get quite a lot for it and we’re all grownups so we can make that choice.

BEN: Yeah, absolutely. What I’ve been thinking with FlexJobs recently… I mean, it is interesting to read the comments under our FlexJobs review… It’s actually one of the most popular articles on the site.

There’s a lot of comments underneath it, ranging from people who are absolutely disgusted about paying $5 for a service, to people who have successfully found a job on the service and are therefore delighted by it.

ALEX: Yeah.

BEN: I think one thing to be aware of is FlexJobs has recently started offering a weekly subscription, which I think is great because with the discount it is less than $5.

However, if you think back to that same analogy of reading the job papers every Wednesday… you’re going to be very lucky if you find the perfect role for you the very first time you look. I think to sort of pay for, say, a weekly or monthly subscription and go, “Well, I looked on there once and I didn’t find my dream job. Therefore, it’s rubbish!” It’s like, there’s a reason why they offer quarterly and annual subscriptions as well.

If you really are looking for a perfect job… I wasn’t lucky enough to find it the very first time I looked in that job supplement and you probably won’t be lucky enough to find the perfect job the first time you look, whether it’s on a premium job board, a free job board, or the remote-first company of your dreams.

Take the process as a sort of slightly more long-term thing. It’s just, as with everything, the people who are willing to put the effort in are the people who find those gems.

ALEX: Precisely. It goes back to that and I think we’ve said this with the freelance job boards and everything else as well… Make sure that your resume is bang on. Make sure that the profile that you create is right, that everything is sorted.

As you say, if you can put some effort into courses and learning and training and all this kind of stuff… it will immediately become much better value if you put a lot more in, as opposed to just thinking “Well, I’ve paid them five bucks. Where’s my CEO job?”

BEN: Exactly.

I was looking at Alex then because I was thinking he’s going to say, “pay your dues” again, isn’t he?

ALEX: No. I was trying to avoid that.

BEN: I think we manage to say “pay your dues” in every podcast. But I think there’s some truth to that.

ALEX: Say your catchphrases.

BEN: I am going to say it.

I think that time you spend… you paid for a premium job search service… so look at the training materials. Actually go through them. Actually log onto the site more than once. And pay your dues on that job board.

ALEX: And of course, the job market, very much like anything else, is famine and feast, isn’t it, Ben?

BEN: No, I wasn’t going to say famine and feast this time. [laughter]

So it’s worth a look.

Premium job boards, we left them until last to make it completely clear that they’re very much optional. No obligation to sign up to them. But they’re there.

There are full reviews of them both on the site (I will put links in the show notes). It is up to you to decide whether it’s worth that investment or not.

ALEX: Excellent stuff.

There was one final point, just before we leave this, and I think you raised it earlier on… but I’m going to say it and pretend it was my insight because… you know, why not? I’ve got the microphone at the moment.

There was something I noticed with those remote-first companies, and I think it’s something that we revisit from time to time… times will change.

Some companies that you perhaps looked at a few months ago will now be hiring. I think that’s always been the way… that sometimes there are options available, and sometimes there aren’t. So, it’s always worth checking back with a company, if you’ve not signed up to updates or anything like that.

But it’s also worth looking at some companies that perhaps weren’t offering remote options six months ago, that now absolutely will. Maybe there’s a case that you go back and revisit those companies you wanted to go and work for… and they would now probably be much more open to a remote job than they would have been six months ago.

BEN: I think so. It’s also a question of jumping on those opportunities, as well.

If you get a contract with one of these companies to work remotely… even if some new CEO comes along in a year’s time and says, “I don’t want everyone working remotely anymore” you’ve actually got it nailed down that that’s what you’re allowed to do. You will be in a very strong negotiating position if things do change in the future.

I don’t think they will. I think, as we’ve discussed in a previous podcast… oh, I’m going to say another massive cliche!… this is the new normal now.

I really should ban myself from saying that.

But yeah, as Alex rightly says, there’s going to be companies that wouldn’t have entertained remote working before. And I think it’s a really, really good time to be looking now.

ALEX: Well, there we go. I think, as ever, just a quick summary.

Have a look at some of the articles on the site. Have a look around as well. There are plenty of places out there.

The main overriding thing, and the reason that we decided to talk about this at the moment is it is a good time for remote work. Companies who perhaps weren’t offering it before are now looking at it. Those companies that are already set up to offer remote jobs are probably finding that they’re getting some great applicants through, and they’re very keen to recruit.

So it’s a good time to be looking for remote work. There are plenty of resources out there. Some are paid, some are unpaid.

Make your decision. Pay your dues. Have a good look at what it is that you’re getting yourself in for.

As ever, if you’re a great candidate and you put yourself out there, I’m sure that there’s a job out there for you.

BEN: Okay. I think that’s about it for today, isn’t it?

ALEX: Excellent stuff.

Well, thank you very much, Ben, for your time.

BEN: My pleasure.

ALEX: And thank you very much for listening.

Do please get in touch with us if you want to drop us any thoughts, experiences, theories… perhaps cliches or catchphrases you’d like us to work into the next podcast.

How can they get in touch, Ben?

BEN: Oh, via my email address.

ALEX: Excellent stuff.

Please do, if you listen to this podcast… whatever platform you find us on… like, review, subscribe, tell your friends… pick up their phone when they’re not around and subscribe to this podcast on their phone. Just do all sorts of things like that.

BEN: That’s a slightly naughty tactic!

I was actually going to butt in there and say… the whole thing with liking and subscribing… there’s an internet marketing podcast I’ve been listening to for probably about two years now… and I actually hit their subscribe button last week. And they say the same as Alex does at the end of every podcast.

It really, really does make a difference in terms of the visibility of it. And I thought to myself when I hit subscribe… I thought, “Why did I not do it before? That took seconds.”

So, I’ll just reiterate what Alex said.

If you do enjoy the podcast, if you could just hit like or subscribe or leave a review we’d be really, really grateful. It’s just it really does make a difference.

Thank you in advance if you are willing to.

ALEX: Thank you. And hopefully, speak to you again soon.

BEN: Bye-bye.

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