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You’ve heard the inspirational stories of people who have discovered how to work from home — everyone from successful bloggers to your neighbor’s daughter. They love the freedom and flexibility a work from home position offers and you want in on the action.
Sometimes it requires starting a business or even a streak of luck. But what people don’t often talk about is how to find a legitimate work from home job. After all, you still want the stability of a steady paycheck to put toward student loan payments and savings. You just want to find a reputable employer who lets you work from the comfort of your own home (preferably in your PJs).
The good news is more and more employers are warming up to the idea of hiring remote workers. The New York Times reports telecommuting rose 79 percent between 2005 and 2012, with more than 3.2 million Americans working from home in some capacity. And finding a well-paying, legitimate work from home job isn’t as hard as it might seem — here are seven tips to help you get started.
1. Make Sure a Work From Home Job Is Right For You
A word of warning before we dive in too deep: Working from home isn’t for everyone. Remote work is still work, and although it can afford you certain benefits you can’t get when you have to show up to an office every day, it also comes with its own unique challenges.
When you work from home, there is no one to look over your shoulder, so you need to be self-disciplined and motivated in order to stay on task. You have to learn to enforce boundaries that keep your work life separate from your home life, whether that’s having an office door you can close or prohibiting your family from interrupting you between certain hours unless there’s an emergency.
Working from home isn’t necessarily easier than working in an office, there is simply a different set of perks and challenges. Understand what they are and ensure you can truly adapt to this type of lifestyle.
2. Find the Best Work From Home Jobs
There are a ton of job postings on the web for telecommuting positions, so where do you begin your search? There are certain job search websites that cater specifically to work from home job seekers. Check out sites like FlexJobs, Working Nomads, We Work Remotely, and Staff.com to see listings posted by companies that are specifically interested in hiring remote employees.
3. Know How to Hone Your Search
That’s not to say you shouldn’t rely on traditional job search sites at all. Sites like Monster, Indeed, and CareerBuilder feature both traditional jobs and remote positions. You’ll need to do some advanced searching to find the jobs that match your preferences.
When browsing listings, check any filters that use terms like “telecommuting,” “telework,” “remote work,” “off-site,” and “flexible hours.” This will prevent you from wading through pages and pages of results that require you to be in office.
4. Seek Out Employers That Are Work From Home Friendly
Some companies are known for being especially welcoming to remote workers. In fact, FlexJobs publishes an annual list of the 100 Top Companies with Remote Jobs. Target your job search toward positions offered by these employers for higher chances of scoring a work from home position.
5. Read the Fine Print
“Work from home” means different things to different people. Some employers still expect their employees to be available during the standard business hours of 9 am to 5 pm, Monday through Friday. Others don’t have rules regarding when employees work, so long as they produce results and remain on deadline. Read every job description carefully so you understand what employers expect.
You also want to be clear on what sort of perks and benefits each employer offers. Positions that are considered “freelance,” for instance, often do not include benefits like health insurance or paid time off. You might also be liable for self-employment taxes. Other telecommuters can be considered full-time employees who work from home. Make sure you know whether you’d be considered salaried, an hourly employee, or an independent contractor.
6. Network, Network, Network
Who you know is often just as important as what you know when it comes to finding the best work from home jobs. So spread the word that you’re looking!
Mention your desire to find a work from home job to friends and family when you get together. Chat up your hairdresser, your neighbors, and go to that alumni reunion you were thinking of skipping.
You never know who might be aware of a position that’s recently opened up and isn’t yet on the job boards — or who can clue you in to companies that are open to flexible arrangements but don’t overtly advertise it.
Finally, consider sharing your search on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn — but be very careful not let your boss or colleagues see this if you’re currently employed! (Set your Facebook privacy settings to only allow direct friends and family to see what you post). If your coworkers follow you on Twitter or other social platforms in which you can’t designate who sees the messages and who doesn’t, skip sharing your search on these websites out of caution.
7. Watch Out for Work From Home Job Scams
People who want to know how to work from home are, unfortunately, often targeted scammers. Protect yourself by knowing the red flags of a potential scam and steer clear of these so-called “opportunities:”
Some of the biggest warning signs of a work from home scam include:
- Jobs that seem to good to be true (they probably are)
- Employers that ask you to spend money for special training, equipment or other costs
- Descriptions that read more like an infomercial than a job listing (“easy money RIGHT AWAY!”)
- Job descriptions that are slim on specifics
- Website URLs and contact email addresses that don’t look professional. (If you’re asked to send your resume to firstname.lastname@example.org, it’s probably not a legit work from home job.)
When in doubt, do a Google search for the name of the company and check out the results that show up first. Top of the list should be a professional-looking website with a sleek domain name (“ABCCompany.com” is a good sign, “Work4ABC.net” probably isn’t). If anything looks or feels amiss to you, trust your gut and move on.
A work from home position can be the perfect way to live a more flexible lifestyle while earning steady income to reach financial goals. Be sure you do your due dilligence in researching the best work from home jobs available in your industry and protect yourself from any potential scams.