Thousands of employees are coveting the chance to clock in from their home office. A fortunate few have earned this position through their workplace, while their co-workers are murmuring under their breath. Others are tired of waiting for their employer to offer this opportunity, so they are jumping ship and abandoning the job that once held the promise of security, for instability-- and trading in the title of payroll employee for independent contractor. But, before you take that dive into the home employment waters. Have you weighed out what it will take to make it to your destination? You should have a tried and true plan to become a telecommuter, or you will be like so many others who have taken the dive and are now aimlessly flopping around.
First of all let’s talk about your source of income, in short-- if you do not have a spouse or significant other that can carry your finances, you need to hold on to your day job. I have seen to often people unable to make ends meet because they were suddenly caught off guard when their job search out lasted their savings. Second, how’s your attitude? Do you have a strong tolerance for the tedious? How well do you handle rejection? Can you work independently? Are you open to stretching your skills?
Tolerance for The Tedious
Why do you need a strong tolerance for the tedious? Well if you are not of that fortunate few whose current job lends it’s self to telecommuting. You will need to consistently search and purge job postings. In order to get a job, you need to be doing this day & night, and then guess what! You do the same thing again tomorrow. I’m not telling you this, to discourage you-- it’s actually exciting when you think about your ultimate goal, and the personal reward, working from home is going to give to you.
Assuming that you are new to the idea of telecommuting, I’ll briefly explain to you why you have to purge. I refuse to go into all the different scam scenarios you should look for because it has been done to death in almost every telecommuting article you can think of. The word S C A M has been thrown around so loosely by what I call “Scam Phobics”, even the image of legitimate work at home companies have been tarnished, just because the position did not turn out to be the dream job they thought it would be. So we want to focus on purging without being paranoid. To start you need to be clear on what you are searching for, your goal is to find a real job for a reputable company, so you are going to have to purge the posting that does not fit this profile. Some examples of this are; job listings that post over and over again, jobs that ask for money and what ever says start your own business… because you do not want a “business opportunity” you want a home based or telecommute job. For best results try key words like-- telecommute, home based, virtual office, outsource, independent contractor and freelance. For more information on scams, just go to Google and search “work at home scams” you’ll find endless information
It is important that you know, you are entering a job market that is incredibly desirable to many. You may not get a job from your first application-- second, third, fourth, or fifth. The truth is, it’s not likely, that the employer will ever get back to you to let you know they received your application, not trying to intentionally offend you, companies just do not have the time or man power to call every potential candidate to let them know the position has been filled. Nevertheless, you always approach the job with the attitude that you will get it and eventually you will. To cut down on the number of rejections you encounter. Here are some rules to follow:
1. Always follow the instructions that the company have set for applying for the job. If they say, do not send your resume as an attachment, don’t do it anyway and think they will accept it--they won’t!
2. Now that you are seeking a telecommuting position customize your resume to meet telecommute qualifications, you can do this without padding your resume with false information. Pin point positions where you have worked independently, owned your own business, show manger or leadership skills etc...
3. Always have a cover letter ready, it’s fan mail for your resume. The C L’s job is to convince the employer to read your resume; Each C L should be tailored to the company and position.
4. Make sure your contact information is accurate and once an employer calls you, they do not reach a voice mail with 5 minutes of your favorite song before the beep to leave a message, remember you always want to project a professional image. If possible give the employer more than 1 way to contact you.
5. Get prepared for a telephone interview. A telephone Interview is the most common way to interview home based or virtual candidates.
3. Quick Telephone Interview Techniques
1. Post your resume by the telephone. 2. Illustrate your skills with actual on the job experiences. 3. Demonstrate the ability to work independently.
Get more Tele-Interview Techniques (see resource box below)
Can You Work Independently
Working at home means working independently, no co-workers to vent with or talk to about the latest gossip. The IT guy is no longer a few cubicles away to trouble shoot your system when it kicks you out. You can’t have some one fax a document for you or take the call you have avoided like the plague. You need to be able to manage your own time. When you work from home you should work as if the supervisor is watching over your shoulder. Log in on time, take breaks when scheduled and don’t over do lunches. Please do not be mislead into thinking the boss does not know what you are doing, it’s true they may not know what you are physically doing, but they definitely will know what you are “not” doing by your work production--whether it’s sales, customer service, or transcription. It’s the “not doing” they care about. So, you need to make sure that your family and friends understand that when you are in your home office, you are working. You will not be going on shopping sprees, golfing during work hours or catching a movie, until you sign off for the day. Some people have told me that they even put a sign on the door that says, daddy’s at work or gone to work-- it helps to communicate the message better.
Do You Know How to Stretch Your Skills
Consider the skills and experience you have, now think about how you can stretch some of these skills to another job. Leaving your options open to other jobs, will increase your chances of finding a telecommuting job quicker. For instance, if your outside job is data entry, you may consider home based coding or transcription jobs. Here is another example of stretching your skills. Veronica has been a family child care provider for 10 years. Veronica is ready for a career change, but she still wants to work from home. Veronica sat down with her husband and created a list of her skills. After this list was complete, she formed a second list that shows how she can stretch her skills into other work from home positions.
Veronica’s 10 Strongest Skills
• Strong verbal and written communication skills
• Excellent customer service
• Ability to set appointments
• Good Marketing Skills
• Ability to write lesson plans
• Knowledge of Microsoft windows, with the ability to access and input data
• Experience in retaining clients
• Strong ability to close clients
• Self-Starter, works well independently
• Bilingual- Spanish, English
10 Telecommute Jobs That Match Veronica’s Skills
• Home Based Call Center Agent:
Answering inbound calls and processing orders for customers or making reservations
Making outbound calls in order to generate business or make a sale
• Appointment Setter:
Calls made to companies only or residents to set up appointments for memberships or sale of products.
• Free-lance Writer:
Use expert experience to write for columns, newsletters, blogs, and magazines
• Telephone Interpreter:
Third party on telephone line helps communicate customers’ needs through bilingual or multilingual tongue
• On-line Concierge:
Ensure hospitality services for customers of hotels, restaurants, car rental agencies etc…via email and phone
• Expert Child Care Advisor:
Advice line for new child care providers, Conduct teleseminars for parents or providers
• Home Based Dispatcher:
Dispatch calls from home for trucking and delivery companies
• On-line Tutor:
Tutor children on- line in Math, Reading, English etc..
• Virtual Assistant:
Perform receptionist duties from home for CEO or small business owner
I encourage you to do this exercise at home, try to see how far you can stretch your skills-- your mind will begin to see job opportunities that were hidden to your eyes.
Telecommuting offers the temptations of, never having to see your child cry for you as you walk out of the door, sitting at the dinner table as a family, home cooked meals instead of fast food and no more sitting in 2 hour bumper to bumper traffic while your $2-plus! a gallon gas--slowly slips away. Yes, it is very tempting, but before you take that dive into the work from home waters, use these strategies to make sure you stay afloat.