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Techniques for Finding Telecommuting Employment

By: Pamela La Gioia
It seems everyone wants to do it: Work from home, that is. Whether it’s being able to work in their pajamas, or getting to spend some extra time with their children, something is prompting people to consider giving up their day job to look for this "alternative" form of employment. The only problem seems to be actually finding a work-from-home job! Where are these companies that have openings for telecommuters? In the paragraphs that follow, you will learn how to research and find home-based employment.

SCAMS
The first thing to be aware of is scams, such as when a person or company poses as an employment firm, yet requires you to pay X amount of money in order for you to be placed. Or, a company claims to be a hiring company, but requires you to pay X amount of money in order to “process your application”.

If you are looking for a home-based job, you should follow the same procedures that you did when you sought traditional employment: send a resume, get an interview, fill out some tax forms, and agree upon wages or commission.

JOB CATEGORIES
Thanks to the widespread use of computers and the Internet, working from home has come a long way since envelope-stuffing and craft assembly, To demonstrate, I’ve broken down different types of telecommuting arrangements into four categories.

1) 100% REMOTE OR VIRTUAL
Virtual or Remote work typically means that you will never personally meet your employer or your client. Your location is irrelevant. You will go through the entire application and hiring process online. Obviously, jobs under this heading will require that you are very computer literate.

Typically, this is the hardest category of work to find because there are trust issues. You will need to be very good at selling yourself on your resume. Competition in this category is extremely high.

2) HALF IN/HALF OUT
This category refers to work that is based from home but requires you to leave your home to complete important functions of the job. You still might never have to visit your company’s office, or even personally meet anyone that you work with or for. However, portions of your job must be performed away from the home. Jobs in this category will usually allow you to create your own hours, work at your own pace, and work around your own schedule.

3) MAKING AN OCCASIONAL APPEARANCE
some jobs may require that you physically check in from time to time. Or you might need to receive your initial training in person, or attend weekly, monthly, or yearly meetings or conferences. If you aren’t local to the company’s headquarters, you need to be prepared for occasional travel, sometimes including overnight stays to accommodate meeting or training schedules.

When you show up for a company meeting, be aware that you will be re-evaluated. Be prepared to continue to sell yourself as a valuable employee. Your boss will be asking him or herself, “Why should I keep this employee?”

4) LOCAL CANDIDATES ONLY
Some companies may allow you to work from home, but want to make sure that you are physically accessible. Either that’s how they feel comfortable or, perhaps, there are assignments that need to be delivered to you in person. In this category, you will more than likely be under an employee status, rather than an independent contractor, which is common within the other categories. You might have to pick up your work assignments every day or week, and then deliver completed work to them personally at a determined time

Once you have learned the various types of work arrangements that exist, and you are able to avoid the scams, the next step is to actually locate an actual job. For most people, this is the hardest part. There are several good sources to use when you look for home-based employment. They include:
1) Job boards
2) Staffing firms’ web sites
3) Fee-based job sites
4) Work-from-home sites
5) Freelance web sites

The first place most job seekers look when they want to find employment is in their local newspapers. However, if you find even one legitimate work-from-home job ad there, you’ll be lucky. Companies rarely advertise at-home positions in newspapers.

The Internet, word-of-mouth, and creating a job are the best ways to find a home-based job. For one reason, the Internet is the primary way a home-based worker and a company communicate. It also offers the widest array of job-hunting sources. So, if you aren’t Internet savvy it’s time to get that way.

JOB BOARDS
The most common online source that’s used to find jobs is what I call Mega Job Boards. Monster.com and Careerbuilder.com are a couple examples of Mega Job Boards. These are general job boards and they will post any job, in any occupational category that a company pays them to post.

While it is possible to find some good job leads here, you will have to do a lot of screening. A simple keyword search such as “work from home” will yield hundreds of results that are usually spam, scams, or something in between. (We'll talk about how to do a quick scan in a following paragraph.)

Fortunately, there are other job boards worth looking into. One type is the NICHE job board, which only advertises jobs within a particular industry or category. Retailjobs.com is an example of an industry niche board. This site posts only job leads from companies seeking retail-related workers. NetTemps.com is an example of a category Niche board. Rather than posting jobs within a particular industry, they post for any industry as long as the job are all for temporary or contractual positions.

Another type of job boards is what I call SUPERNICHE job boards. These boards focus on a single profession within an industry. IHireNursing.com is an example. This site focuses strictly on nursing jobs, and does not post jobs for the entire medical field. IHireAccountants.com is another example. Niche and Super-Niche boards carry a lot less junk than the Mega Job Boards because moderators of these boards screen ads more carefully before posting them. Therefore, these are good sources for finding work-from-home jobs.

Now, when viewing search results from Mega Job Boards, you can scan these ads without actually having to read all of them. Look for some common denominators, so to speak. For example, if you have 50 job results on one page, and most of them start with “Work from home! Easy work!” you know to ignore it. Or, if you see that one company is posting dozens of the same ad for areas all over your country, you should probably avoid those, too. (Such ads are probably ads posted by a Webmaster or affiliate in an effort to lure to you a site to purchase something.) Look for ads that advertise specific positions, posted by a real-sounding companies or staffing firms. For example:

Case manager needed for adolescents.
Orange County Appraiser needed.
Account executive for Northern territory

Legitimate jobs rarely put “work from home” in their job title. Why? Because working from home is a benefit, or perhaps a requirement. It is not a job! So, scan past all the amazing results and focus on the jobs.

Another internet job resource is STAFFING FIRMS’ WEB SITES
There was a time when, if you wanted to apply for a job through a staffing firm, you would have to actually visit a firm in person. Now, you can simply visit their web site. You can browse their lists of jobs--even using search words, like on the bigger job boards--and submit your resume for their database in the event that they have a position that meets your criteria. And, since these companies are hired to find people to fill job openings, they will actively seek you out if you are qualified for a job they've been asked to fill. I suggest that you leave your resume on every staffing firm web site you can find.

FEE-BASED WEB SITES are another option
Due to the growing popularity of telecommuting, there are some people who make it their business to comb the job boards, online groups, staffing firms, and search engines for good job leads; and then arrange all their information into sensible formats so that, for a fee, you can simply log on to their web sites and view nothing but legitimate work-from-home jobs.

Unfortunately, there are also people who think they see a quick profit by promising job seekers that they can help them find this difficult-to-find type of employment. Be careful to research these types of sites before you simply read the sales pitches and claims, and then pay their fee. You may not get what you pay for.

If you do come across the right fee-based site, you are doing well. However, if you buy into the wrong one, you’ll end up in a mess: applying to companies that don’t really hire home workers, or no longer exist, or do not want their job ads posted on work-from-home web sites. Investigate each site before you pay them their fee.

Just like spotting for scams, you should so some research before you join a fee-based job site. You need to check into the following:
1) Their guarantee of employment
2) The type of advertising they do
3) Their reputation
4) The length of time they’ve been in business
5) Verifiable references they provide
6) Contact information

Guarantee of employment
If a fee-based job site offers you a guarantee stating that by joining their site you will get a home-based job, run. Whether home-based or other wise, I think we all know that being employed is probably the last thing anyone can guarantee us!

The type of advertising they do
If you find that a fee-based company advertises itself on job boards as a company that is hiring, be wary. Advertising is fine; however, if they are trying to lure you to their site by posing as a hiring company, take that as deceptive advertising. If they can’t be upfront in the beginning, then don’t trust that they will be upfront throughout your membership.

Their reputation
Before you invest in a fee-based site--no matter how low the fee is--ask around. Visit telecommuting message boards and chat groups and ask members for their opinions of a particular site. Does the company respond to customers’ questions or complaints? Does it refuse to give refunds when reasonable?

Length of time in business
Just because a site is new doesn’t mean it isn’t valuable. However, if they make claims that they’ve helped thousands of people, yet they’ve only been operating for three months, then you should stay clear. You can usually check a site’s age by looking on Whois.net. While new companies might have the best intentions, due to unforeseen circumstances they might not last. If you invest money into a membership with one of them, and it folds in three or four months, you’re back to square one.

Verifiable references
Testimonials look nice on web sites, but are they real? Ask a site’s owner/manager if you can actually contact previous and current customers. Is the owner open to letting you hear from other members? There is nothing wrong with doing this. It’s just like any other service. Find out from these references if they ever found work through the site in question. If not, was there at least an ample amount of leads that could have helped someone? Also find out what kind of support was available to members. Was there someone to talk to when they had questions?

Contact information
I can hardly tell you how many times visitors of my own web site have called and were surprised that they were actually speaking to me. It wasn’t a miracle; I simply posted my real contact information. If a site is asking you to pay for their service, yet doesn’t provide a way for you to reach them, be leery. You have the right to know who’s behind a service you are paying for.

Take the time to look into these points before you sign up with a fee-based job site.
It’s your money; don’t lose it trying to make it!

WORK-FROM-HOME WEB SITES
Another option to consider is the numerous free work-from-home web sites out there. These sites are usually graciously run by stay-at-home moms, for other moms. Although they have only a fraction of the job resources that a good fee-based web site has, and often contain non-job-related content, they are still worth looking into. If you find just one applicable job lead, you haven’t wasted your time.

FREELANCE WEB SITES
A quickly growing type of web site is the freelance site. AllFreelance.com is a one such site. Jobs posted on this site typically are projects, as opposed to long term, steady employment. Companies that have projects to be done, such a writing a manual, sewing a line of dresses, or creating a database, can post these projects online and let freelancers bid on them. The person who seems the most qualified at the right price wins the job.

CREATE YOUR OWN JOB
Staffing firms, job boards, and job lead services are all valuable tools to use when seriously looking for a legitimate home-based job. Another option is for you to create your own telecommuting job.

If you are a technical writer or medical transcriptionists, for example, why not contact a company who is looking for such a person to work onsite, and then meet with them to discuss working from your home? Some companies are leery of using home workers. But, if you get an interview and go in with solid qualifications and a clear blueprint on how this type of work arrangement will actually help them, you have a pretty good chance. This works particularly well with very small or very large companies.

Just remember that you not only have to be qualified enough for someone to hire you for a job onsite, but you must spell out how you will be able to perform your duties just as well--if not better-- offsite. To help negotiate the arrangement, be willing to make a few sacrifices. For example, since you won’t have the commuting costs that other workers have, maybe you could agree to take on a more difficult project. Perhaps you could cover the office for them on Saturdays. This will help you get your foot in the door, at least.

There are numerous jobs that can be performed from home. With a computer, a telephone, and a fax machine, there is almost no limit to the jobs that can be done remotely, partially from home, or occasionally from home. If you are clear on what your skills are and if you can sell yourself properly on a resume and in an interview, you can use the vast online resources to find a home-based job. It takes effort. But if you use the ideas we’ve discussed here, you can find a job that’s suited for you.

Pamela La Gioia is Founder and Administrator of Telework Recruiting (http://www.teleworkrecruiting.com), a premier job-lead web site that provides thousands of job leads and job resources for the US, Canada, and the UK. She is currently writing a workbook on telecommuting, which offers step-by-step guidance on finding real home-based employment. Questions or comments are welcome and can be sent to Pamela at pam@teleworkrecruiting.com

 

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