you see the ads all the time online: work from home! many thousands of dollars! never leave your couch! if, like some of us, your dream job involves working while you watch old sitcoms in the background and wear your ugliest, comfiest slippers, pitches like those can be awfully tempting. the trick is deciding ahead of time what might be a genuine opportunity for a flexible career, and what’s likely to be a giant scam sandwich.
why seek part time jobs you can do from home?
there are tons of reasons why you might want a job that allows you to be at home, or has a flexible schedule.
- you’re a parent or a caregiver, and being away from home 40-50 hours a week just isn’t feasible.
- you’ve just moved someplace new, and need to pay bills while you look for a more traditional full-time job.
- you need better work-life balance than you’ve gotten from traditional jobs.
- you work well under your own initiative, and want the independence of your own work space.
- you’re on a specific career path that doesn’t necessarily jibe with your current location, because most of the jobs in your industry are elsewhere.
- your experience is in a field that can be conducted via phone or email from anywhere (sales, marketing, etc.).
- you want a second job that can be done in your off hours.
whether you’re looking to find part-time work that you can do flexibly, or a career stepping stone, you’re part of a growing group that wants to create opportunities outside of the usual. companies, too, are starting to realize that having a flexible workforce can be cheaper and more convenient, and lets them find employees who bring skills to the table, but might not be available for a brick-and-mortar location.
what are your options?
some industries lend themselves to flexible work arrangements better than others. for example, if you’re a nurse, you kind of need to be there in person to treat patients. but if you’re a medical billing manager, you might not need to be there in person. according to forbes, some of the top industries that are offering remote work opportunities include:
- information technology
- education (tutoring, online learning)
the internet (and the resulting boom in telecommunications) has really broadened everyone’s horizons about what’s possible outside of the traditional office/cubicle…these days, it’s almost as easy to “attend” a meeting in beijing as it is to attend a meeting in your boss’s office. programs like skype, google hangouts, and webex make it easy to collaborate with colleagues all over the country and world—so why not extend that to people looking to work from home?
although the standard model (the in-person, 40-hour work week) is still the career template for most industries, companies are starting to see the advantages of having a flexible, location-agnostic staff. some of the top companies that offer remote work opportunities include biggies like apple, u.s. government agencies, salesforce.com, insurance companies, online universities, and it companies.
traditionally, many of these work-from-home jobs have been phone-based, where companies have you perform customer service or make cold calls from your own location. the majority of the jobs still fall into this category, but now they’re increasingly including behind-the-scenes work online, or jobs where you can chat with clients or coworkers via video.
how about the freelance life?
if you’re looking for a side hustle or part-time work to tide you over for a period of time, you might want to look at becoming a freelancer, or contract worker. freelancing can be great if you have a very specific sets of skills, and are disciplined enough to set your own work agenda and timelines. it also allows you to take things on a project basis, rather than a set commitment to a job with specific parameters. according to entrepreneur, careers that work well with freelancing include:
- computer programmer
- corporate event planner
- data entry/processor
- financial planner
- furniture restorer/repairer
- grant writer
- graphic designer
- interior designer
- landscape architect
- massage therapist
- medical administration/billing
- package design
- party planner
- political consultant
- private investigator
- professional organizer
- web designer
these are all jobs that require special skill sets, but not necessarily a full-time commitment. if you do go the freelance route, it’s a more challenging road than many part-time opportunities, because you need to go out and rustle up clients, examples of your work, and a process for payment and paying taxes. but if you have an entrepreneurial spirit, and want to create your own part-time job opportunities, it could e the way to go.
beware of scams
rule of thumb: if it sounds too good to be true (stop me if you’ve heard this one), it probably is. if you learned about this great new opportunity in the comments section of your favorite website, approach it with a healthy dose of skepticism. especially if the “ad” doesn’t tell you what the job is, and is riddled with spelling and grammar issues.
***my roommate’s cousin makes $8000 a week for six 6 hours of work at home!!! she used to be broke, and now she’s hanging out with oprah. click here for your ticket to $$$$!!***
scam. walk away. always do your own research. legitimate job listings will tell you:
- the company you’d be working for
- an outline of what the job is
- legit contact information
the safest way to approach this is to search for jobs yourself, rather than take bait left in crumbs around the internet. whenever you do come across a listing that sounds promising, google the heck out of it to see what others are saying about it.
jobs that should set off your alarm bells:
- mystery/secret shopper jobs, which pay you to visit stores and give feedback. i know at least one person who does occasional mystery shopping jobs, but the shady job offers outnumber genuine positions by a crazy amount. you should do a lot of online research first to make sure that it’s a legitimate company.
- job offers that arrive mysteriously in your email inbox, from an address you don’t recognize. (as opposed to outreach emails that might come to you through linkedin or other social media.)
- any job that requires you to invest money up front.
- any job that doesn’t offer direct contact information.
scam jobs are a huge cottage industry for people with nefarious motives, and plenty of smart and savvy people can be taken in by a listing that sounds great at a time when you really need or want a convenient part-time job with little time investment and big rewards. this is especially true for sites like craigslist, where there are legitimate jobs sprinkled in with the scam listings. vigilance and information are your best allies here.
the temptation is real, but again—job listings that sound suspiciously perfect but don’t offer a lot of follow-up information are not likely to be that shining unicorn of a career. let your instincts be your guide, but always, always verify with as much information as you can find. it’s great to have an internet-wide net for your potential new job, but it’s important to take advantage of said internet to make sure that you’re not falling prey to some evil plan. doing this due diligence can also help you make sure that you’re not doing something illegal, because if you’re signed on to a job that runs afoul of the law, you may find that your new “company” is nowhere to be found.
if anything makes you feel uncomfortable at any point in the process of looking for or starting a new part-time/work-from-home job, trust that instinct, and don’t feel like you need to continue down that path.
part-time jobs that let you work from home can be a godsend if you have a lifestyle that falls outside of the traditional 9-to-5 mold. it can be a way to maintain while you’re looking for the next phase of your career, or it can be a way to mold your career around other obligations in your life. as long as you approach the process with the same initiative and critical thinking as you’d apply for the traditional job search, then you’re likely to find some really great opportunities. good luck!
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