A growing number of employers are willing to use home-based employees, assuming those employees have access to a phone, computer and high-speed Internet connection. That’s good news for people with disabilities or who are caring for children or an elderly relative or who live in an area where jobs are scarce. It’s also good news for people who could find work outside the home but prefer to spend more time with their families and less time sitting in traffic.
The bad news is that there are roughly 60 “work from home” job scams on the Internet for each legitimate opportunity, according to our research.
Here’s how to avoid the scams and land a good work-at-home position…
Tweak your résumé before you start applying for work-at-home jobs. Stress any work experience that shows that you can work productively without direct supervision or handle projects outside the workplace. Be sure to mention any experience you have with communications technology, such as videoconferencing tools and tablet computers.
If your work history is light on projects outside the workplace, consider taking a virtual volunteer position and listing this on your résumé.
Example: The United Nations Volunteers program offers plenty of volunteer-from-home opportunities and looks impressive on a résumé (www.OnlineVolunteering.org).
Interviews for online positions often are conducted via phone or Skype video call. If you are not naturally comfortable speaking on the phone or you lack experience with Skype video calls, practice with friends before the interview.
Helpful: If the interview is a Skype video call, make sure that the backdrop behind you is uncluttered and looks professional.
Among the career opportunities open to the home-based…
1. Customer service agents field calls from their employers’ customers and prospective customers—they do not place telemarketing calls. Major employers of home-based workers in this field include LiveOps (http://Join.LiveOps.com)…Alpine Access (www.AlpineAccess.com)…and Arise (http://Partner.Arise.com).
Other well-known companies that frequently hire home-based customer service agents include American Express (on http://Careers.AmericanExpress.com, click on “Search Jobs” and enter “Work At Home” in the keyword search box)…Amazon.com (on www.Amazon.com, select “Careers” from the “Get to Know Us” menu near the bottom of the page, then enter “Work At Home” in the keyword box)…and the Home Shopping Network (on www.HSN.com, select “Careers at HSN” from the “About HSN” menu near the bottom of the page, then select “Work At Home” from the “Why HSN” menu). To find other companies hiring in this field, select the “Call Center & Cust. Service” listing on the left of the home page of my company’s Web site, www.RatRaceRebellion.com.
Pay typically is $9 to $12 an hour, though it can reach $20 an hour or more.
2. Internet ad assessors conduct Internet searches and make sure that search results are appropriate for the search terms used. Extensive tech skills are not needed—just basic Internet skills. Companies hiring home-based workers in this area include Google (on www.Google.com/about/jobs, search for the job “Ad Rater”)…Lionbridge (on www.Lionbridge.com, select “Jobs,” then “Work-at-Home Opportunities”)...and Leapforce (www.LeapforceAtHome.com). Pay is about $10 to $15 per hour.
3. Web site testers visit Web sites and record their impressions of those sites. It’s like being part of a focus group except that you can do it from home. Employers offering home-based employment in the field include Userlytics (on www.Userlytics.com, select “Join Our Tester Panel” near the bottom of the page) and UserTesting.com (on www.UserTesting.com, select “We’re Hiring!” near the bottom of the page, click the link under “User Tester”).
Reviews typically take around 10 to 20 minutes apiece and pay perhaps $10 per review. But don’t expect to make a lot of money or make this a full-time career—testers typically get occasional assignments, not regular work.
4. Online moderators oversee Web site communities, Facebook groups and interactive online games, stepping in to remove offensive comments or ban troublemakers. Employers that hire home-based moderators include LiveWorld.com (www.LiveWorld.com/about/jobs/moderator) and Zynga.com (on http://Company.Zynga.com/about/jobs, click “US Jobs,” select “Community” from the “Category” list, then choose “Super Moderator”). The job requires tact, interpersonal skills and experience with social media. The pay for this work tends to be toward the lower end of the scale—often $10 an hour.
5. Virtual task freelancers perform chores posted on Web sites such as TaskRabbit.com. Some of the chores require travel and thus are not appropriate for the exclusively home-based—picking up a client’s dry cleaning or assembling new IKEA furniture, for example. But others can be performed from home, such as conducting online research or doing data entry.
Job seekers typically bid on tasks. If their bid is accepted, they are paid directly by the individual or company that needs the work done.
Comparable Web sites include Amazon’s Mechanical Turk (www.MTurk.com) and Clickworker (www.Clickworker.com). Also, the site Fiverr (www.Fiverr.com) lets people post tasks that they’re willing to perform for $5.
6. Transcriptionists type verbatim accounts of board meetings, presentations, conference calls, etc., from audio recordings. Some of the companies that hire home-based transcriptionists include Tigerfish (www.Tigerfish.com/employment.html)…Ubiqus (on www.Ubiqus.com, select “Working For Us”)…and Cambridge Transcriptions (www.CTran.com/employment).
The pay for transcriptionists can vary with typing speed but generally is around $10 per hour.
7. Freelance posters are paid to post content to blogs. Topics vary widely, depending on the theme of the blog. Pay can range from a few dollars per post to $50 and beyond, and usually is made directly to the poster by the owner of the blog. Short posts on generic themes such as lifestyle and fashion generally pay less, while specialized posts requiring more research (on economic issues, for example) pay more. These are listed on such Web sites as Problogger.net (click on “Jobs”) and BloggingPro.com (click on “Job Board”)…Postloop (on www.Postloop.com, click “Join”)…and Wired Flame (on www.WiredFlame.com, select “Writers”).
Some work-from-home scams are easy to spot—they promise big paydays without much effort, feature photos of people clutching wads of cash or require applicants to pay up-front “membership” fees or similar fees—but other work-at-home scams are more subtle and can fool even savvy job applicants.
The best way to avoid these scams is to search for work-at-home jobs only on Web sites that make some effort to weed out scammers. These include Indeed.com (click “Advanced Job Search,” type “Work From Home” without quotes into the “exact phrase” field, and leave the location field blank) and the Work From Home section of About.com (on http://JobSearch.about.com, select “Find a Job,” then “Work From Home Jobs”). We’ve also posted more than 18,000 screened job leads on my company’s Web site, www.RatRaceRebellion.com.
Warning: Con artists are constantly fine-tuning their scams, and occasionally a bogus offer will slip through at Indeed.com and similar “job aggregator” Web sites. Job seekers should always proceed with caution. Use a search engine to research the potential employer to make sure it appears legitimate before applying. Also visit work-at-home forums such as WAHM.com and WorkPlaceLikeHome.comto learn what other home-based employees and job seekers have to say about the employer. If your search turns up little or no mention of an employer, be wary—it could mean that it isn’t really an employer at all.
Source: Michael Haaren, CEO of Staffcentrix, a training and development company with offices in Annandale, Virginia, and Woodstock, Connecticut. Staffcentrix’s clients have included the US Department of State, US Air Force and US Army. Haaren is coauthor of Work at Home Now: The No-Nonsense Guide to Finding Your Perfect Home-Based Job, Avoiding Scams, and Making a Great Living (Career Press). www.RatRaceRebellion.com