photo by Johan Larsson
Guest Post by Emily Howard from Violet’s College Fund
Two years ago I was a working mom of one with one on the way. All I thought about was staying home with my children. I just didn’t want to miss a single thing that they might do during the day while I was sitting at a desk and they were with a sitter. Not to mention, by the time we paid for two children in childcare it almost wasn’t worth it for one of us to work to pay that bill. Just before our daughter arrived, my job started to change. My husband and I discussed it and decided it was time to make a change.
I know there are so many people out there who feel the same way and you just wish there was an alternative. If you’re like us, simply quitting my job simply wasn’t an option. I had to have some kind of income because we were in debt and my husband’s paycheck simply wouldn’t pay the bills. So I got to work.
The first thing anyone who wants to work at home must do is consider what you can do. What skills do you have? What degree or certifications do you have that may lend itself toward a certain type of work? What do you like to do?
There are many types of work-at-home jobs that will require specific training or certification, such as scoping, coding, and medical or legal transcription. But there are many jobs out there that will not require anything more than the training the company provides.
You must also consider what your working environment will be. Do you have an office or workspace that is isolated from the rest of the house? Will you be working while your children are home?
These things matter because there are basically two types of work-at-home jobs: those done entirely online and those that
involve phone work. Online positions are more flexible, because it typically doesn’t matter where you’re working. Phone positions, however, often require specific working conditions, including no background noise.
One of the biggest obstacles for those who want to work at home is not knowing where to find the jobs. I suggest forgoing the do-it-yourself search and going straight to the experts. WAHM.com and Work Place Like Home are two very reputable work-at-home websites with message boards featuring people who are actually doing these jobs.
The discussion all day, every day on these boards is which companies people work for, who is hiring and what is a scam. Once you have a general idea of what you’re looking for, visit these sites. I spent every single night for a month on the message boards at WAHM.com and I covered an entire 8.5 x 11 inch paper
While you’re busy looking for companies and positions, you’ll want to dust off your resume. A work-at-home resume will look very much like a typical resume, but you’ll want to tailor it to highlight any skills you have that will make you more marketable
to companies who hire virtual employees. Highlight your computer and technical skills, your ability to work independently, meet deadlines and any experience or specific skills you may have in the field you’re looking at.
Save a copy of your resume in a text format and make sure it looks presentable that way, so you can easily copy and paste it
into website forms and in the body of your e-mail. Often, companies prefer to see your resume in text format in an e-mail and won’t bother to open an attachment. Pay close attention to the company’s instructions for how to apply, whether it’s through their online form or by e-mail.
A few words on scams; they’re definitely out there. Unfortunately, there is probably no one more vulnerable than someone who is desperately seeking a certain type of job so they can work at home.
First, never pay for a job. I always say you would never pay a bricks and mortar company for an interview, so why would you pay a virtual company for the opportunity to work for them? There are few exceptions to this rule.
Secondly, you can often find out information on a company by doing a simple Google search or checking with the BBB. If all else fails, check with one of the message boards I mentioned. The people on those boards can easily smell a scam. If you’re unsure about a company, search there. If you come up with nothing, ask.
There is just one more important thing you should know about working from home. It’s very important to have a plan for
when you will work and be realistic about it. If your children are in school, then finding time to work should be simple. If you have small children and/or homeschool, you should understand that you will not likely be working if they are at home, unless they’re sleeping or someone else is there to care for them.
If you have a newborn, you should know that the sweet, sleeping-all-day phase lasts about 2-3 months. But don’t worry, the beauty of working at home is that it is often very flexible. Many types of work can be done any time of the day or night. I personally work after my children are in bed and on weekends.
Finding ways to be a work-at-home mom (or dad or grandparent) is not impossible. It just takes work. Sure, there are scams and it might be hard to find a position that suits your needs, but a little hard work will produce results. Regular people do it every day.
If this sounds like something that might be a good fit for your family, don’t be afraid of the unknown. I took my full page of ideas and narrowed it down to the ones I wanted to start with and I started off trying two or three different things to find what
worked best for me. I applied, got hired, and I quit my job. I’ve stayed home with my children for two years while doing my work in my free time. I haven’t missed a t-ball game or a swimming class yet!
Emily Howard is a work-at-home transcriptionist and a mom of two. Her blog, Violet’s College Fund, is dedicated to helping other moms find work at home, as well as other ways to make money, save money, and get out of debt.