Finding Telework

I’ve gotten so many comments lately that ask about finding ‘real’ work from home jobs that I figured it was time for another advice session here. This post is not for the faint of heart. If you want to hear that you can make thousands every week while you sleep, you’re in the wrong place. If you want some cold and harsh advice about the reality of finding telework, read on…

Here are 8 Things You Can Do in Your Efforts To Find Telework:

1. Be Proactive

I’m not talking about the pimple cream, I’m talking about the behavior of controlling a situation by causing something to happen rather than waiting to respond after it happens. To find legitimate work that you can do from home YOU have to go out looking. I can guarantee you that no one is just going to send you an email with the perfect opportunity online just like no one is going to come knocking on your door with the perfect job offer while you’re sitting at home watching TV in the real world. If someone you don’t know does knock on your front door, they’re trying to sell you some magazines or a new, over-priced vacuum cleaner, right?! The same is true in the virtual world. Anyone who contacts you with an unsolicited email (or snail mail letter) has that same purpose of selling you something. Stop waiting and start ACTING like you want a job.

2. Job Hunting NOT Search Engine Surfing

Job hunting is quite different from Internet surfing. In the real world, whether you realize it or not, you’re mentally defining your set of tasks as you circle classified ads you think you could get and you decide to go after. Today, you can search a much wider scope than your local want ads, but you’ll need to search smarter! Going to Google and entering “work at home jobs” and expecting to find a legitimate opportunity pop up is not doing you any good. You’re spinning your wheels and opening yourself up to scams of every kind. Some just want your email address, while others are just hoping they can convince you to spend a small fortune to buy into their program. You COULD spend another hour, week, or year refining your searches, but you’re still not likely to find an actual telework position that you can immediately apply for and get. You’re search is too broad! You’re searching an index of millions of websites looking for the elusive needle in the Internet haystack.

3. Define Your Skills

Take that honest look and determine what it is you bring to the table. Jot down everything you can think of (as stupid as it might sound) and come up with a pretty strong list of your assets. If you’ve got a phone and know how to use it, it goes on the list. If you have broadband Internet access, it, too, goes on the list. You don’t necessarily have to have a resume, but you DO have to know exactly what you’re working with. Have MS Word or Excel and know how to use them? List those, too.

4. Define the Skills You Lack

When you find a job with requirements listed and are about to click away, discouraged because you don’t meet some of the qualifications on the list, look again at the list and make notes! If there’s a skill or equipment listed there that you DO have, write it down on your skills list. If there’s something there that you don’t have, but COULD learn more about, write it down on a separate To-Do list. For example, if you have a wireless internet connection and the job requirement specifies either DSL or Cable – you can look into DSL but it may not be available or desirable for you. So it wouldn’t go on your list. If, however, one of the skills listed is the ability to send and receive faxes and you don’t have a fax machine, that’s something worth looking into. There are fax machines you can purchase pretty reasonably these days and that would be a good investment to make towards a teleworking lifestyle. You could also look for an alternative, web-based solution that might fulfill that ability.

5. Sharpen What You’ve Got to Offer

Stop dwelling on needing to find the perfect opportunity and start honing your skills and assets (the ones noted on your To-Do list would be a good place to start). Commit to doing one proactive thing every day that will further your efforts of finding and getting a telework job. If you’ve got an email account that includes your ISP and is nearly swamped with spam, sign up for a brand new, professional-sounding email account. If it’s web based you’ll be able to check it from anywhere and store your correspondence there (instead of on your desktop or laptop computer). Don’t give the email out casually, guard it with your life. Use it only if you’re certain you’ll not then begin to fill up with more spam offers. If you have to provide an email address for something you think MIGHT result in spam, use the old one. If you’re contacting an actual employer who’s posted what appears to be a legitimate job, use your new, more professional email. Many job postings will require you to contact someone at the company who will then give you further information about the opening (and requirements for applying for the job). Who do you think that employer would take more seriously and actually consider hiring, honeybunny at hotmail or firstname.lastname at gmail?

6. Read, Read, Read

The Internet is a wonderful thing, especially for those of us who remember having to go to the library to research anything. Current information about nearly everything imaginable is right at your fingertips! There for the taking! This site and many others revolving around telecommuting, teleworking, working at home, jobs, careers, skill sets, resumes, and on and on and on. Whatever you need to do to be more proactive in your job search – you can find information about right here online. Hear me? You’re not spending hours online searching Google for work at home jobs, you’re spending those same hours reading information and honing your skills.

If you can type but your speed and accuracy is below where you think it should be (or don’t even know what your typing speed is) search for THAT via your search engine of choice and brush up on those skills. If you keep looking at job sites and seeing work related to graphic design, find graphic design tutorial sites and start learning. Look for sites like this one, sites that are there to help you remain proactive in some way (advice, information, tools – not a packaged answer to all your problems for $39.95).

7. Be Creative and Resourceful

If you want to work at home, you’d better already be creative and resourceful. Look for IDEAS for finding work at home. There are lots of ideas here on this site that don’t include selling Avon or signing up with the latest MLM or pyramid scheme.

  • Already working at a job you think you could do (at least in part) from home? Think of approaching your current employer with a telecommuting proposal. But don’t just wing it – research it and provide a well thought out proposal in writing of how you think it could work and benefit the company!
  • Have a few favorite sites you like to haunt? See if they post job openings on their site. Find new sites that interest you and see if they have job openings posted there.
  • Have mad bookkeeping skills? Look in the local want ads (and in want ads online) for small companies looking for help with keeping their books up to date.
  • Type really fast and accurately? Consider asking around at a few local doctor’s offices to see what they use for transcription services.
  • LOVE to write, start a free blog over at wordpress.com or blogger.com and see where that leads you. Look and read other writer’s blogs and look at jobs in the publishing / writing industry at large.

8. Tout Your Skills, Not Your Situation

Stop telling people what YOU need and start finding out what THEY need. Potential employers don’t want to know what they can do for you – they’re interested in what you can do for them. So don’t tell them you’re a student, or a mom trying to juggle raising kids and working, or that you have a parent at home you’re trying to take care of. Tell them instead that you’re the perfect candidate for the job they have open and that you possess the skills they’re looking for. Every communication you make with a potential employer is just like an interview. Unless you’re Will Smith in the Pursuit of Happyness, you won’t get anywhere by telling them how badly you need the job.

That’s it.

There was nothing fancy, no secret tricks, no hidden magic keys, no links to the solution I have for sale, no pictures of piles of cash, nothing here highlighted in yellow, no expensive cars or yachts featured, … but every word I’ve written here is absolutely true. So perhaps it’s more of a reality check than a pep talk after all.

The truth about finding telework is that it’s not easy, there are no shortcuts and no governing agencies that list all the good, legitimate opportunities. There are, however, lots of good resources online (many of which are scattered throughout this site) that you may or may not wish to use during your job hunting efforts. If what you’ve been doing in the past hasn’t gotten you anywhere, try a fresh approach. I know listing skills and making to-do lists isn’t very exciting – but that’s the reality of finding any good job.