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Get a Job Working From Home

Kate Lorenz, CareerBuilder.com Editor

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It hardly seems fair: By the time you've dragged yourself out of bed, showered, ironed your last clean shirt, located your keys, gotten out of the door and, finally, into your office, you've eaten up almost two hours -- and the work day hasn't even begun yet!

If the office job is taking too much time away from your home life or simply just killing your spirit, you may want to consider working from home.

The Upside
You'll be able to set your own hours, work from the comfort of your own home and have more free time to spend with your family and friends.  What's more, you can minimize or eliminate regular household costs like dry cleaning, day care and gasoline.

The Downside
If you're going from a full-time job to a work-from-home gig, expect to take a paycut -- companies that hire telecommuters generally pay a lower rate than "in-house" jobs -- and say goodbye to benefits.  You also may find that you miss the social aspect of interacting with co-workers.  Finally, if you don't have the discipline to separate your work and home life, this set-up could be disastrous. 

Worker Beware
If a company requires you to pay for equipment to carry out the job or pay for tutorial software, consider it a red flag.  Fraudulent companies tend to omit the fact that there will be extra costs to you or that you'll have to work many hours without pay.  Before agreeing to a work-at-home program, ask them to tell you -- in writing -- the specifics of the job duties; when, how, and how much you will be paid; and any extra costs you may have.  Although you can check with your local consumer protection agency to find out if the company is reputable, an absence of complaints doesn't necessarily mean the company is legitimate. Unscrupulous companies may settle complaints, change their names or move to avoid detection.

Opportunities Abound
Jobs that allow you to work from home no longer carry the stigma they once had of not being considered "real" jobs.  There are plenty of legitimate opportunities for both full- and part-time work. Try one of the following:

Customer Service Agent -- If you have high-speed Internet access, a computer and a landline, you can field inbound customer calls for companies like J.Crew or 1-800-Flowers...all from the comfort of your living room.

Home-Based Business Owner - Pull a Diane Keaton in "Baby Boom" and turn your hobby into a business.  Maybe your specialty isn't making baby food to sell to the local grocery store, but consider ways to utilize the skills you do have.  If you're athletic, maybe you could be a personal trainer or teach yoga. Creative? Give music or art lessons.

Freelancer - Much like starting your own business, freelancing allows you to use your talents to earn some cash. Many publications and Web sites are increasingly hiring freelancers to write, edit, design or submit photographs.  Freelance consulting could also be an option if you're an expert in a particular field.  Employment sites like Sologig.com cater specifically to freelancers.

Recruiter -- You can earn money as a recruiter by interviewing applicants over the phone to see if they meet the qualifications of the company you work for or a recruitment firm. In short, you're saving the company time and energy by screening applicants for them. 

Mystery Shopper -- As a mystery shopper, you'd be shopping or eating at restaurants and then reporting back to corporate headquarters regarding the level of service and cleanliness you experienced, information the company will then use to improve the experience of "regular" shoppers. Although it's not the most lucrative job of the bunch, you can earn some extra spending money and have fun at the same time. 

Telecommuter -- If you like your current job, but need or desire more time at home, consider approaching your boss about the possibility of telecommuting a few days a week.  You might be surprised by the result.  More employers have become open to the idea of letting employees work from home at least part of the time.  Be sure that you present a legitimate case, however, for working from home (other than you just "don't feel like" coming into the office).


Last Updated: 07/12/2007 - 10:21 AM


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