Last Updated October 2nd, 2018

How to Create A Kickass Work At Home Mom Schedule

How to Create A Kickass Work At Home Mom Schedule

Being a work at home mom is more challenging than many people imagine. Sure, you can always be there for your kids, but then again, you’re ALWAYS there for your kids. It can get in the way of being productive. How do you find that balance that makes a kickass work at home mom schedule happen?

It’s not always easy. A kid gets sick, the fridge breaks down, and will the phone ever stop ringing? What is that smell? And when the kids are little, there’s always something more they need. When they get bigger, they give you new worries.

But for normal work at home days, you need to set up a routine. Something that helps you be productive at work as well and lets you be a mom when you need to be.

Sometimes your work at home mom schedule will be set for you by your employer. If they say you have to work 9-5 every day, that’s pretty much going to be your schedule. Do your best to be productive during your official work hours and teach your family to respect that.

But if you have more flexibility open to you, setting up your schedule can be more challenging. More flexibility leaves you with more room for procrastination. That can destroy your productivity and keep you from being a good employee or running a successful home business.

So how do you set up your work at home mom schedule?

Figure Out Your Best Working Hours

The first thing you need to do is figure out what your best working hours will be. This may take experimentation or may be set by the needs of your employer. Here are some of the things you should consider as you pick your hours if it’s up to you:

  • When does your family need you most?
  • When do you feel you will be most productive?
  • How many hours do you need to work each day?
  • Do you prefer early mornings, late nights, or daytime work hours?
  • Split shift or work straight through with occasional breaks?
  • When will someone else be available to the kids?
  • When do the kids need to be picked up from school or activities? Is that your responsibility?
  • Are weekends for work or for the family?

These are all very important considerations. Having someone else available to the kids, for example, can help cut down on how often they interrupt you as you work. This is vital if you aren’t allowed to have background noise when you’re on the phone. But even if background noise doesn’t matter, it helps a lot if you can keep the kids from being distractions in general.

This is not a “set once and forget it” kind of deal. You will want to review your schedule regularly. Sometimes you’ll find that your most productive hours aren’t when you thought they would be. Other times you’ll come to realize that the needs of your family have changed so much that your schedule isn’t working anymore. Be open to change as necessary. If your daily schedule is kicking your ass rather than helping you be amazingly productive, there’s a problem.

work at home scheduling

Set Your Office Hours

Whether you have a home office with a door you can close or you work on the couch, set your office hours. Make sure your family understands what you expect from them when you’re working.

The better you stick to your office hours, the better most people will be about respecting them. If you constantly allow the kids, friends, or your spouse interrupt you when they know you’re supposed to be working, they’ll learn that your office hours aren’t firm.

Plan Your Work Day

Having a plan for every work day is a huge help to productivity. You’ll lose much less time to indecision if you have a plan in mind.

Some people prefer to plan out their next work day at the end of the previous one. This works because you know exactly where you are with what you were doing. Hopefully, you also know what needs to be done next.

Others will plan things a week or more in advance. This is a huge help when you have a project that needs to be done by a deadline. Take some time to figure out where you need to be on the project each day and avoid a scramble to get it all done at the end.

You can mix these up, of course. You can have a plan laid out for a week or more, but make changes as needed if you fall behind, get ahead of schedule or realize something needs to be added in.

Don’t Avoid The Jobs You Dread

As you work at home, you may find that some parts of what you do just aren’t fun. In fact, you may even hate them, even if they’re important to your overall success.

The key to succeeding with these is to get them done first, according to Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time. If you get the difficult things out of the way, the things you enjoy doing more are all that are left. This can make for a much more productive work at home day.

If you’re running a home business, of course, another option is to hire a virtual assistant to handle some of the jobs you dread. Then you don’t have to avoid them – you just have to assign them. The money it costs can be well worth it if you become more productive as a result.

Set Up Efficient Routines And Systems

Having efficient routines and systems can make a huge difference in your life. They can keep you from having to worry about a lot of little things. Here are some of the things you can do:

  • Set bills on autopay.
  • Use appropriate automation for social media.
  • Choose the best day of the week for running errands.
  • Schedule chores so everyone knows when they need to do their share.

hourglass

Plan For More Than Just Work

One of the problems with working at home is how easy it is to work too many hours. Your work is always right there, in easy reach. If you don’t plan for more than just your work, you may find that you’re neglecting yourself and your family.

Some of these plans may be things you want to do daily. You may want to put aside time to play with the kids or to make meals, for example. Sure, they sound like things that should just come naturally, but if they aren’t happening and you want them to, find a way to make them happen.

Exercise is another good item to put into your plans. Keeping fit is a generally good idea, and it doesn’t have to cost a fortune. You don’t even have to get a gym membership, although there are advantages if you can afford one.

Plan for a family walk around the block each day, for example. You get exercise and family time all in one shot that way.

If a local playground is close enough, you can make that a part of the routine as well. You can exercise while the kids play.

Make Time For Sleep

If you’re like me, your least productive days are when you’re tired. For one reason or another, you didn’t get enough sleep the night before.

Maybe you stayed up too late on social media. Maybe one of the kids woke up sick in the middle of the night. It might even be your spouse’s fault (wink).

Whatever the reason, you didn’t get enough sleep and you are tired!

If this happens once in a while (and it probably will), that’s just the way life goes. But if you’re tired from lack of sleep every day, you need to do something about it.

Helping your kids get enough sleep can help you get more work and more sleep. When your kids are napping age, that’s a great time for you to be productive. You might need those naps in the early days for a little nap yourself (babies are exhausting!), but otherwise, take advantage and work. It’s one less excuse to stay up late at night.

Plan Your Chores

Odds are good that you will do at least some chores during the day when you work at home, especially if your hours are flexible. It’s so hard to put them off.

The key is to keep them from taking up too much of your workday. Consider this situation:

You’re about to start your workday when you realize last night’s dishes weren’t done, so you empty and reload the dishwasher.

This leads to the realization that the countertops are filthy. So you clean them.

Are you… yes, you are. You are completely out of dishwasher detergent. A quick run to the store won’t take that long, will it?

Home again after buying far more than dishwasher detergent (why waste a trip, after all?), you put the groceries away. Can’t leave that job halfway done.

As you can see, it doesn’t take much for small chores to pile up into something that eats up an hour or more of what should have been productive working time. The whole situation quickly becomes an “If You Give A Mouse A Muffin” kind of situation some days.

Sure, your home and family benefit, but when you need the money, you need the work hours.

You’re far better off if you plan out your chores in advance so that you know how much time you’re giving up to chores.

Ideally, most chores should be divided among family members as appropriate. Your kids and spouse should do their shares. Do your share of the housework outside of your working hours. That’s what you’d do if you worked outside the home, after all. It should be just as possible to do that when you work at home in most cases.

Of course, crises happen. When my fridge broke down, I lost a big chunk of work time figuring out what was safe to keep, what had to be tossed, and moving the safe stuff into the other fridge. Thank goodness for that second fridge, or I would have had to toss a lot more! But that was not a chore I could put off until a more convenient time unless I was willing to give the food more time to go bad.

work at home distraction vortex

Don’t Waste Time During Work Hours

It is so easy to waste time when you should be working. There’s so much you can do that isn’t productive but is far more fun. Video games, streaming services, and social media are major culprits.

The best way to avoid these is to not use them, or use them as little as possible during your work hours. Sure, there may be times when you need to go on social media as a part of your job, but it’s up to you to keep focused and not fall into the distraction vortex when you should be working.

This can be challenging if you aren’t in a space where you can close the door while you work. If the kids are watching a show while you’re working on your laptop in the kitchen or living room, odds are you’re going to pay a little attention to it. This is especially true as they get older and their tastes in shows get better.

I won’t even mention how bad it can get if you start binge watching a favorite show. You know that part already.

Sample Work At Home Schedule

Here’s a general idea as to how your work at home schedule may go. I’ve made up a printable version for if you want something you can print. Change it around to suit yourself, of course. If you’re an early bird, start early. If you prefer to work at night, work at night. And if your job requires certain hours, plug them in.

I don’t have to plan time for the kids during much of the day because mine are all in school. If you have children at home with you all day, you have to plan around their needs as well, of course.

work at home schedule sample

6-8 a.m.

Get up, take a shower, eat, and get the kids off to school. All this stuff takes a lot of time. The older and more independent the kids get, the easier the first part of your day will go.

If you have a small amount of extra time, this is a good part of the day to drop a chore or so into. Nothing that takes a lot of time, but getting those breakfast dishes into the dishwasher keeps them from distracting you later.

You can do a little work if there are quick blog or business tasks you can perform. If I have extra time in the morning, for example, I may find and post a few job leads. It’s something I can start quickly, and stop just as easily when I need to.

8-9 a.m.

This is the part of the day when I like to run errands or exercise at the gym. I’m already out and about because I dropped the kids off at school. Both the gym and the grocery store aren’t far off that route, so it’s a very convenient time to do these things.

If you don’t want to go to the gym, you can exercise at home, of course. There are lots of great exercise videos on YouTube to help you get started.

9 a.m. – noon

Time to get serious about working. Posting job leads, managing my social media and planning blog posts. I only occasionally write in the morning because I rarely have a solid block of time to focus on it and I hate having my train of thought interrupted when I’m writing.

Noon – 1 p.m.

Lunchtime. Time to eat and take a brain break. If I watch a show, it’s something that won’t tempt me to keep watching when I should be working after lunch.

An hour is longer than it usually takes me to make a quick lunch and eat, of course. Breaks are important when you work at home, and you should give yourself appropriate breaks as you work. You will probably be more productive.

This is also a good time for those quick chores you want to get done. Don’t only do chores during your breaks most days. Sometimes everything will be a mess and it’s necessary, but you deserve a real break just as much as someone who works outside the home.

1-3 p.m.

Time to focus on writing. Some days it’s easy to finish an entire blog post in this time. Other days there’s too much writing and thinking to be done.

I like to get as much done as possible before it’s time to get the kids from school. How I miss the days when we lived walking distance to the school!

3-4 p.m.

Help kids with homework as necessary. Usually only my youngest needs help anymore, and her needs can run anywhere from a few minutes to more than an hour. It depends on how well she understands the subject and how cooperative she’s feeling. If she’s tired, it won’t go well. This is why I’m open to having her take a nap if she’s too tired for homework. It will go so much faster if she isn’t exhausted.

If no homework help is needed, I work. The kids go off and play.

4-5 p.m.

With any luck at all, I can continue working for a time before making dinner.

5-8 p.m.

Time to make dinner, eat dinner, and have some family time. How long that all takes depends on what I’m making, how much homework the kids have to do, and what we feel like doing as a family.

If we’re being really good, this time often includes a family walk around the block. It’s some light exercise as the day cools down. Summer heat tends to break this habit, but fall can bring it back.

8 p.m. onward

The kids are ready to do their own thing by this point most evenings, so I work on making images for blog posts and social media. It takes how long it takes.

Depending on my plans and mood, I may kick back and relax after, keep working, or try to learn something new for my business.

Be Ready To Change

The times in this schedule are really not as solid as they may look. The whole thing depends on how long each activity really takes, as I am in charge of my own time.

Getting the kids to and from school are the most solid things on here, although I skipped the part about how their activities can change when I pick them up after school. There are days when I have to make an extra trip out to deal with the differing schedules.

Some days I’ll have a late lunch. Sometimes errands take more of the day than I want them to. And some days it seems like almost nothing goes right. You just have to deal with it all as it comes.

Don’t be too hard on yourself if you set up your own work at home mom schedule and then it doesn’t work out. If you’re in charge of your own schedule, take advantage of that fact to figure out what works for you.

The whole point of setting up a schedule is to give your day more structure and to help you be productive. If it’s not doing that, it’s not working. Figure out why your schedule isn’t working, and make changes until it does. You’ll be more productive once you have these things figured out.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

Last Updated September 24th, 2018

How to Improve Your Chances of Landing a Work at Home Job

How to Improve Your Chances of Landing a Work at Home Job

Are you having trouble landing a work at home job? It’s not an easy process for most people. There’s a lot of competition for most positions. But if you’ve applied to a lot of work at home jobs and haven’t landed one yet, odds are that there’s something you need to change in your work at home job hunt.

Following these tips won’t guarantee that you land a work at home job. Nothing can do that – it’s up to the employers, and I am not an employer. What these tips can do is help you look better as you seek out the right work at home job.

Set Up A Spreadsheet

This part is optional, but setting up a spreadsheet can help you to keep track of where you’ve applied, when you did so, and what you heard back. I’ve made a sample job application tracking spreadsheet you can use with Google Sheets.

Knowing where and when you’ve applied can save you a lot of trouble. You don’t have to rely on your memory for how long it has been since you applied.

You can add a lot more information to your spreadsheet than what I’ve done here. As you think of things you would like to track while applying for jobs, put them into your spreadsheet. It will save you a lot of frustration.

Know The Scams

If you don’t know how to spot a work at home scam, learn.

Now.

Being scammed while looking for a way to earn money is incredibly painful and humiliating. But if you’re alert, you can avoid a lot of them.

Many scams fall simply into the category of “too good to be true.” If a remote job opportunity looks too good to be true, look more carefully before applying. You might just be staring at a scam.

Others are more subtle. Some scams use the names of legitimate remote employers to gain your trust. Make sure you know for certain that the person you’re dealing with is who they say they are and that they’re representing the company you believe you’re dealing with.

Falling for a work at home scam wastes your time. It makes your job hunt more miserable. Do everything you can to avoid falling for a work at home job scam so that you can avoid that frustration.

work at home job hunt

Are You Qualified?

Before you start searching for a work at home job, go over your skills and experience. You need to narrow your search down to the jobs you are qualified to perform. I hear of a lot of people applying for work at home jobs with no consideration for what they already know how to do.

Think of it this way. Would you expect to get hired for an outside the home job if you had no qualifications for it?

Probably not.

Sometimes this means you have to get training before you start to search for jobs at all. I had to get training in medical transcription before I got my job doing that.

Training can cost money when you do it yourself. Career Step, for example, provides good training for medical transcriptionists and medical coders, but it’s not cheap. If you put in the effort and get a job after, it should be worth it. Kick back and do a poor job of training, and you’ve wasted your money.

It is not a scam to pay money for high quality training. You can get scammed if the training isn’t what it claimed, but good training no different than attending school for an outside the home job. Sometimes it’s just what you have to do.

There are some remote jobs that require no experience. If you don’t want to get training and you lack experience, these are the jobs you want to apply for.

Don’t go applying for jobs that want lots of experience – you’re wasting your time. Many employers use software to sort applications to see who has qualifications, and if you lack them, odds are that no human will even look at your application.

So just skip it if you are completely and utterly unqualified. I can’t repeat that one often enough. Companies that hire people to work at home get very tired of unqualified applicants. I’ve even had one tell me so.

Does Your Resume Show That You’re Qualified?

Your resume can ruin all your chances of landing a work at home job if it doesn’t do a good job of representing the skills and experience you will bring to the job. It’s the first impression most employers will have of you.

Write a crappy resume and you can expect crappy results. It’s really quite simple.

The first thing your work at home resume must do is show that you have the skills the employer is seeking. Look at the job description. Do you think your resume is a poor match, a good match, or a great match for the job as described?

You want it to be a great match. Failing that, a good match will do.

Look at the keywords used in the job description. If the employer is using software to sort applications, odds are that it’s looking for those keywords. Use them in your resume to improve your chances of getting an interview.

Make sure you follow directions when you apply for a work at home job. I can’t tell you how many people have contacted me after reading a job listing here on this site, thinking that I’m the employer.

I’m not. Nor do I have an “in” with these companies to help you get a job.

They also want to see that you can work independently. Anything you can do with your resume or cover letter that shows that you can work with little to no supervision will help.

Never, ever, minimize your skill with a computer. If you’re working remotely, odds are that you will be using a computer a lot, even if the job requires little to no experience. Employers don’t want to hold your hand as you learn computer basics.

Get ready to work at home

Are You Following Instructions?

How you apply for the job tells the company a lot. If you can’t follow their instructions, if your resume is a mess, they aren’t going to be interested. They’ll find someone else out of the thousands of applications from other people who want to work at home.

Some employers, for example, will have their job posted on a job board but want you to email them directly rather than apply through the board.

They may even have you use a particular subject line in your email to show that you’re paying attention.

But following instructions goes beyond applying on the right site. It’s what you do after you apply.

Many employers specify that they do NOT want you to contact them to find out the status of your application. They get a lot of them. It takes time to go through all those applications and they don’t have time to answer the questions of a bunch of hopefuls every day.

Yes, that means you have to wait and wonder about your application. Keep applying to jobs until you get one, and don’t spend so much time wondering about individual ones.

Are You Prepared For Interviews?

Be prepared if you should make it as far as the telephone interview. Even if you won’t be on the phone as a part of your job, you will need to sound professional on the phone.

Yes, you will often be going up against some heavy competition.

Whenever your interview is, find a quiet place for it. Have someone keep the kids and pets away. Keep the television and radio off, and no surfing the internet while you talk.

Preparing for a phone or video interview is much like preparing for any other interview. Have some questions ready that you can ask your interviewer.

A word of warning: Just because you get an interview doesn’t mean you should let your guard down about work at home scams. Be aware of the signs of a work at home job scam interview. They count on your eagerness for a job to get past your defenses.

home office ready

Have Your Workspace Ready

Many remote jobs have specific requirements for your workspace. If you don’t have this ready to go before you get an interview, you’re at a disadvantage.

If the jobs you’re applying for require the use of a wired telephone or internet service, wireless isn’t going to do. Set up in advance, or you may find that you miss out on jobs because you can’t get things installed in time.

Similarly, you don’t want to have to buy a lot of equipment. Some employers will provide the basic equipment you need, but many will expect you to provide your own.

At the very least, you will need a sufficiently current computer of the right kind. Some employers require that you have a Windows computer, not Apple OS. Your operating system should be reasonably up to date as well, and don’t forget current antimalware software!

Don’t forget to set up a comfortable home office. Not everyone can have a dedicated home office space, but do the best you can. Some employers will be very interested in how your office is set up so that they know it meets their standards.

This is especially important if you’re dealing with things that require privacy. Medical transcriptionists and medical coders, for example, have to follow HIPAA. If your home office isn’t sufficiently private, you could get into trouble.

Consider Freelancing

Even if you’re really after a steady work at home job with benefits, sometimes taking on freelance work will be the answer you need. Freelancing has a lot of advantages.

The first advantage is that you can usually get higher pay. Don’t underestimate what you should earn from a freelance gig. Remember that you will have to pay higher taxes on freelance income, as they are not withheld by your employer.

Flexibility is the next advantage. Freelance jobs are usually quite flexible, although they can also be highly demanding if they want a lot of work with a quick deadline.

And of course, freelancing gives you more experience. This is great if you keep hearing from potential employers that you don’t have enough experience. Freelance for a time and get that experience.

Sometime a freelance gig will turn into a regular job. Some employers use freelancers essentially as a long job interview to decide if you’re who they want to hire. This is why you cannot dismiss a freelance gig offhand. It might take you exactly where you want to go.

Keep Trying

Will all this guarantee you the job? Dream on! It’s still a matter of how good you look versus everyone else trying for the job. But if you put your best face forward you certainly can improve your odds.

Landing a work at home job takes time. It can take months to land even an outside the home job, so why expect things to be any different when you want to work at home?

Give it time and improve your odds of success.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

Last Updated September 11th, 2018

What If The Work At Home Job Is Legitimate But Illegal Or Unethical?

What If The Work At Home Job Is Legitimate But Illegal Or Unethical?

Most of the time when you look at a work at home job opportunity, you only have to worry about whether the job is legitimate. If the company is real, and they pay you, most of the time you’re in good shape. But there are a few cases where you may need to consider whether the work you’re doing is illegal or unethical.

It may seem strange that this is possible, but it is. Just because the company treats you well doesn’t mean they’re behaving properly to everyone.

Some issues are a matter of location. Laws may vary from state to state, so what is legal where you are may not be legal elsewhere. It’s entirely possible that it may come back to bite you even if you are somewhere where the work you’re doing is legal if you provide services to someone in a place where it is not.

essay writing

College Essay Writing Services

College essay writing services are one of those special cases where you should really think about what you’re doing. Writing for pay as such is legal, but in some states writing college essays for pay for someone is illegal. Consider California Education Code Section 66400:

“66400. No person shall prepare, offer to prepare, cause to be prepared, sell, or otherwise distribute any term paper, thesis, dissertation, or other written material for another person, for a fee or other compensation, with the knowledge, or under circumstances in which he should reasonably have known, that such term paper, thesis, dissertation, or other written material is to be submitted by any other person for academic credit at any public or private college, university, or other institution of higher learning in this state.”

Or Florida Statutes Section 877.17:

“It shall be unlawful for any person or business entity to sell, offer to sell, or advertise for sale any term paper, thesis, dissertation, essay, or report or any written, recorded, pictorial, artistic, or other assignment which the seller or advertiser knew or reasonably should have known was intended for submission by a student, unaltered to any substantial degree, in fulfillment of the requirements for a degree, diploma, certificate, or course of study at a university, college, academy, school, or other educational institution in the state.”

It’s a second degree misdemeanor in Florida.

Essay writing services try to get around these by saying that the papers are for use as guidelines, or for use in citations. You should decide how much you’re willing to trust these disclaimers before accepting such work.

Illegal or not, you should also consider the ethics of the matter. Are you comfortable with what your work would be used for? How would you feel about someone who had used essay writing services to make it through college, rather than graduating entirely on their own merits? Then there’s the risk to the student if the college catches them using a service. No college allows students to buy papers – all work must be your own.

legal or illegal

Multi-Level Marketing

Multi-level marketing opportunities can be legal or illegal, depending on how they’re done. There are plenty of legitimate companies which focus on making sales rather than recruiting. But there are too many companies which are pyramid schemes and are illegal.

The difference is in the focus. Is the company more interested in how many people you recruit or how much you sell? Some recruiting is necessary for any multi-level marketing program, but it shouldn’t be the main thing. Too much focus on recruiting is one of the signs of a pyramid scheme.

Also look at the claims made about the products you’re selling. Companies, as well as individual recruiters, can make inappropriate claims about the products they sell, and if you make those claims, you may be liable for it.

You especially see this in any products related to health. Any claim about curing, treating, mitigating or preventing actual diseases has to be proven. Don’t make health claims that aren’t backed up by studies. There’s a fine line between stating your own experience with a product and making a health claim that might get you in trouble. If you’re looking at joining a company that makes any such claims about their products, find out how they back it up. Not only are such claims illegal, they’re as unethical as can be when they’re wrong.

Beware of making income claims too. Overstated income claims are all too common, and can get people and companies into trouble. There’s a huge difference between what top earners make in an opportunity and what the average person makes. The FTC expects income claims to be what someone can actually expect to make. Appropriate disclosures must be made before a new distributor can join.

The Business You Start Might Be Illegal

Illegal work at home opportunities aren’t only scams that you fall for. Sometimes people start a home business and don’t realize that they’re breaking the law in doing so.

The first thing you need to do to ensure that your home business stays legal is check the zoning in your area. Check your lease agreement as well if you’re renting.

If your home business is completely online, you’ll be just fine in many places. Not everywhere, so you still need to check.

If you’re seeing clients in your home or if you have products stored in your home, the rules are often more strict. Anything that impacts the traffic in your area is more likely to be an issue.

Most city websites will give some information about how to run a legal home business. They’re common enough, after all. But if you can’t find the information online, you have to go to the appropriate offices to ask.

While you can run a home business a long time in many cases without getting caught, it’s a risk you shouldn’t take. Getting caught can result in fines and you may have to shut your business down until you can make it legal again.

boxes

What About Other Illegal Work At Home Jobs?

Most other illegal work at home jobs I already list in the scams section. Often enough, the illegal part hits victims fast enough that they won’t make money – they’ll be out money.

Take the reshipping scam, for example. You receive goods at your home and send them off to someone else. It turns out that the goods were paid for with a stolen credit card or counterfeit check, and you have now helped them in that crime and can be in legal trouble yourself. They might even pay you with a counterfeit check or money order. It’s just a nasty business all around.

Then there are the classic envelope stuffing or email processing scams. They’re pretty much the same thing – when you respond to the ad, you get instructions on how to place the same ad and have people pay you for the instructions. You might make some money, but the method you’re using is illegal. There are several variations on this theme, but they all amount to the same thing.  Just don’t.

I haven’t names every illegal job you could do at home. If you have your doubts about a work at home job or home business opportunity, investigate it and make sure it’s neither a scam nor illegal, and that you’re comfortable ethically with what you’re doing.

What To Do If A Work At Home Job Is Illegal Or Unethical

Deciding what to do when you realize that a possible work at home job may be illegal or unethical can be hard to do. It may not be easy to figure out how to report it.

You can find some good advice on recognizing scams and frauds and how to report them on the USA.gov site. Most often, you can report to either the FTC or the ICC.

If the legality depends on location, there may be little you can do. Certainly you can try to report it locally, but there will be only so much local law enforcement can do.

Of course, none of what I’m saying here is legal advice. If you’re concerned about any of these issues, take a careful look at what concerns you and decide if advice from an attorney is necessary. You’ll save yourself a lot of trouble if you keep aware of the law.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

Last Updated September 3rd, 2018

How Do You Know When Your Work At Home Job Interview Is A Scam?

How Do You Know When Your Work At Home Job Interview Is A Scam?

Have you ever had a work at home job interview which made you wonder if the job was a scam? That would be a terrible feeling, wouldn’t it? You’ve looked hard for a work at home job, found something you thought was worth applying for, and then boom! You realize that this work at home job interview is a scam, nothing more.

What a waste of time.

The problem is that it’s not always that obvious that they’re setting you up to be scammed. You have to be alert to the signs of a work at home scam anytime you go on a job interview. These scams can start with jobs you’ve found on otherwise legitimate job sites. You always have to be careful in your work at home job hunt.

Here are some of the red flags to consider:

Interview Is For A Job You Never Applied For

If a company contacts you to interview for a job you never applied for, don’t get too excited. It’s all too likely that it’s a scam.

A few legitimate companies will seek out the resumes of qualified people, but more scammers do this. If a company contacts you out of the blue for an interview, do your research before trusting them.

Most often, they will claim to have found your resume on a popular job site. This means the first thing you should consider is if your resume is even on that site.

But even if your resume is there, that’s not enough to trust the person contacting you. If your resume wasn’t on that site, however, you know it’s probably a scam.

They Want Your Personal Information Too Soon

When you’ve been hired by a company, there’s a lot of information you’ll need to share with them. They need your Social Security Number for tax purposes. They need your bank account information to do direct deposit of your pay. This is perfectly reasonable.

A legitimate employer will not, however, need this information right at the start of the interview process. They will need to confirm at some point that you are qualified to work for them, and that may include knowing where you live and that you’re a legal resident, but that only matters if they’re going to hire you.

Share your personal information only if you’re confident that the job is legitimate. Otherwise, you’re putting yourself at risk of identity theft.

computer desk

They Ask For Money

There are very few exceptions to the rule that if a job asks you for money, it’s a scam. You should never have to pay to show interest in a job. But sometimes scammers are tricky. They can make it sound reasonable.

The challenge is that some legitimate employers have potential employees pay for a background check. This even happens with some outside the home jobs; it’s not restricted to work at home employers.

If a potential employer wants you to pay for a background check, get information on who will be doing the check and whether you will be paying the employer or the background check company. You can then do some research to find out if this is truly a normal practice for that company or if someone is pretending to be them.

A few other companies will hire you as a freelancer and you may have to pay for certain kinds of training. This should also be viewed with caution until you know that the offer is legitimate.

I have never seen any other legitimate reason for an employer to ask a potential employee for money. Businesses should make money from their clients or the products and services they sell, not from potential employees.

Legitimate companies will not ask you to give them money for the equipment to do your job. You don’t need to buy software from them. Legitimate employers will either provide these things to you or expect you to have them already.

They Want To Send You Money To Buy Equipment

Some legitimate work at home opportunities will give you the equipment you need to do your job. Some will give you a budget with which to buy your own equipment.

If they say they’re sending you a check or money order for this, be careful. It could be one of the classic scams.

In this scam, they’ll tell you to cash the check, use part for your needs, and send the extra back. The problem is that the check is not legitimate, and you will be on the hook for the entire amount of the check.

They may even tell you that the money is to be sent to someone in particular, who will then send you the equipment you need. If you stop to think about this, you’ll know that it makes no sense. If they have a company they regularly buy from, they could pay that company directly and have the equipment shipped to you.

Interview Is Done Entirely Online

It’s not uncommon for parts of a work at home job interview to be done online. It’s certainly more practical than trying to do interviews in person.

But most do at least a part of the interview by telephone.

The most alarming is if they want to interview you only by email or on a messaging app of any sort. Your typical employer wants to actually talk to potential employees, as that gives them a better idea as to how you present yourself.

Skype is sometimes used for job interviews, as are similar apps that allow you to talk to each other, rather than using only text or email.

If you cannot find a way to confirm that the person who is interviewing you is connected to the company, be careful.

Email addresses are an easy way to connect someone to a company. They should belong to the domain owned by the company you’re interviewing with. A Gmail address or other free address is far more likely to be a scam. An email address that is similar to, but not identical to the company’s domain should also be viewed with caution, although some companies have multiple domains.

They Don’t Care About Your Qualifications

Any legitimate employer is going to care that you’re qualified for the job. In an interview, they’ll want to know more about your qualifications and experience than what they saw in your resume. They will ask you questions to draw out the details that are important to them.

Someone who is running a scam wants to lure you in as fast as possible, so they can move on to the next victim.

On a related note, they may also be vague about the details of what you’ll be doing in the job. That’s because they’re either more interested in stealing your personal information or because they know you’ll catch on if they tell you too much too soon.

laptop scam

They Offer You The Job Almost Immediately

Very few jobs hire people during the first interview. Most employers go through a lot of interviews with applicants to find just the right employee for the job. Even if you have an excellent interview, employers usually have to review how all the interviews for that position went, and possibly conduct more rounds of interviews before deciding who to hire. This can take weeks or even months.

A scammer knows that they need to land you quickly or you’ll have more time to realize that it’s not legitimate. They also count on your need to earn money and desire to do so quickly and easily. If you’re so eager to find a way to work at home, you’re an easy target.

The Name Of The Company Isn’t Clear

While some scams will claim to be from legitimate companies, others won’t make it clear if they have a company name at all. Often enough, this is done by someone claiming that they are recruiting for another company. They’ll tell you that it’s so you don’t go to the company directly and that the recruiter wants to be paid for finding you.

It has more to do with the fact that if you contact the company, you’ll find out that there is no job.

If you have any doubt about the legitimacy of a job, get as much information as you can about the company and the person you’re talking to. You can look them up on sites such as LinkedIn, and see if the information given matches up.

What Do You Do Next?

There are few things as frustrating as finding out that your work at home job interview is a scam. Your time has just been wasted. It’s a bump in the road of your work at home job hunt. You can’t help but worry about whatever information you shared in that interview.

But you may not be completely helpless. There are things you can do.

If you believe the job opportunity was a scam, you should consider reporting it. The services they used to contact you may be very interested in this information. They don’t want people pulling scams through their services, as it gives them a bad name too.

If the scammer was using the name of a legitimate company, you can contact them as well. They can’t do much to stop the scam, but they’re usually very interested in knowing. This is why some companies have a scam warning on their job pages.

Reporting a scam as best you can is how you can help slow them down. You won’t stop a determined scammer, and arrests are rare due to the difficulty of catching them, but you can make things a little more difficult for them. That’s not a bad thing at all.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

Last Updated August 20th, 2018

How Can College Students Work At Home (Or Dorm)?

How Can College Students Work At Home (Or Dorm)?

One thing most college students need is a flexible job. College is expensive, and most cannot rely solely on parents, loans or scholarships. Can college students work at home or in their dorm rooms, or is that an impossible dream?

So long as students consider the limitations of their living arrangements, it should be completely possible… provided you don’t do anything against the rules of your dorm or apartment. Check the rules for your residence to ensure you won’t get into trouble.

What Makes It Difficult For College Students To Work At Home?

difficult for college student work at home

One of the biggest challenges a college student may face in looking for a work at home opportunity is their need for flexibility. Class schedules vary so much from semester to semester. One semester, all your classes might take place in the morning and early afternoon. The next, you might have one or more classes in the evening.

Finding a job or business which can cope with that isn’t always easy.

Then there are roommates.

Some roommates are great. They’re considerate, and if say you need to work, they’ll keep the noise level down and let you work. Others will be loud and distracting.

If you’re in a dorm or apartment building, it may not even be your roommates causing the problem. Sound travels well in most buildings, and if someone else if having a party, you don’t have quiet time to work.

Don’t forget your homework load. Sometimes college students have a ton of homework, and making time for your work at home job will be difficult. You’d have that same problem with an outside the home job, but being home where you could do homework sometimes makes it feel more like you should do homework rather than work on your job.

What Do College Students Need To Work At Home?

what do college students need to work at home?

The supplies that a college student needs to successfully work at home are much like what anyone else would need. Much of what you need is the same as you need for your schoolwork.

You aren’t likely to have space for a private home office, but you should do the best you can. Some work at home jobs can be done wherever you are on campus, but others will require a more private workspace.

If a job says you need a private place to work, you have to consider if you have that available when you’re a college student. You might not have a sufficiently private place to work. That means you can’t take a job where you’re handling sensitive or personal data.

You usually need a computer and internet connection, of course. Odds are you have those already.

A desk is a very good idea, both for your job and doing homework. You’ll probably work more efficiently if you have a desk with an ergonomic office chair and at least two monitors.

Trust me on the dual monitors if you haven’t used them before. They’re great. Not an absolute must, but truly wonderful if you can get them. They save a lot of going back and forth on some projects.

Most jobs these days can pay by direct deposit, but a few will send checks in the mail. Some companies will pay by Paypal as well. Pay attention to how employers say they will send payment so you’re prepared to deal with it. Don’t send banking details, however, until you’re positive it’s a legitimate opportunity.

Talk To Your Roommates

If you’re going to work at home or in your dorm while at college, you will need your roommates to understand what you’re doing. Most importantly, they need to understand when they need to let you work and when they can interrupt you.

How strict you need to be will depend on the job you get. Some are super flexible, so long as you get your work done. Others need you to adhere to a strict schedule.

But a flexible job doesn’t mean you should encourage your roommates to interrupt you freely. That’s an easy path to working too few hours. Hold yourself accountable for working a good number of hours regularly even if no one else will.

Who Hires College Students?

So long as you have an appropriate place to work, college students should be able to qualify for a variety of work at home jobs that don’t require a degree. There are even a few companies, such as Apple, that regularly hire college students for work at home jobs.

Any of the companies that I listed as work at home opportunities for teens will probably also work well for college students. Such jobs can work around school schedules and don’t require a lot of experience. The difference is that there are a lot more companies that will hire you once you’re over 18.

The big thing you need to look at when considering a work at home position is if you can set up a workspace that meets their requirements. If you have that and meet their other requirements, you should apply.

Some people will suggest GPT (Get Paid To) sites and survey sites. These are not jobs, of course, but some people do well enough with them. I’m not listing them because very few pay enough to make it worth the time.

Here are some options to consider:

Tutoring

tutoring

Tutoring is one of the classic college student jobs. It’s flexible and you can share your knowledge with other students. The pay can be pretty good too.

You can go the traditional route for tutoring jobs and look for opportunities to tutor other students on your campus or at nearby high schools. You can put flyers up advertising your tutoring specialties.

But you can also tutor online. This has the advantage of being more flexible, as you can reach a wider range of students.

In many cases, online tutoring involves teaching students in other countries. Helping people learn English is a popular option, as it often involves simple conversations following whatever rules are set up.

One of the most challenging things about being an online tutor can be knowing where to draw the line. It’s pretty easy to work with students who are simply working on conversational language skills. But if you’re tutoring a subject where students need homework help, you may find that some expect you to do their homework for them. You have to learn how to help your students without simply handing them the answers.

You will probably need a webcam and microphone for online tutoring. It’s helpful for your students to see you as you tutor them.

Here are some companies to consider. These require no teaching experience or credentials. Your current GPA may matter:

Customer Service/Tech Support

If you want to do work at home customer service as a college student, you need to be aware of the requirements. Any customer service or technical support position that requires you to talk on the phone will require a very quiet place to work. Even chat based positions where you’ll just be typing your responses will require a place where no one will distract you as you work.

If you have roommates, these can be very difficult jobs to deal with, as roommates are often distracting or loud. Don’t go for a position that requires a completely silent background unless you’re confident you have that available. In general, these aren’t the best jobs for college students who live in the dorms.

AdviseTech: AdviseTech states a preference for college students or retired people. You only need to dedicate 2-6 hours per week, so obviously this isn’t going to pay all of your bills. If you need something to fill in a financial gap, getting only a few hours isn’t a bad thing at all.

Apple: Hires college students for Apple advisor at home positions from participating universities. This is tech support for the various Apple products.

ContractWorld: Hires in the United States and Canada. Positions can be extremely flexible, but you definitely need to have a quiet workspace. You’ll take calls for a variety of companies, depending on the projects you join.

LiveOps: You must be able to have a dedicated business line for this opportunity, as well as a quiet place to work. You can schedule your work in 30 minute blocks, making this nicely flexible for college schedules so long as you can meet the other requirements.

There are a number of other companies that hire people for work at home customer service jobs. So long as their needs fit with your schedule and location, many of them will hire college students.

library

Website Testing

Website testing is rarely a consistent job, but individual tests should pay well enough to be worth the time. How much you can earn overall depends on the tests available at the time. Pay rates when listed are what I find on the sites as of this writing but are subject to change. Check with the individual sites to see what they’re paying per test when you apply.

You may be required to have a microphone for website testing jobs. They want to hear your thought processes as you go through the site, not just read whatever you type. If your computer has a built-in microphone, that is usually good enough. They may have requirements for operating systems and other features.

If you do website testing, you will probably want to sign up for multiple companies. You probably will not get enough tests to make a significant income, but it’s an easy side gig.

Website testing jobs often pay by Paypal and require that you be at least 18 years old. A few accept users as young as 16. Users under 18 may need to talk to their parents about accepting payments for them, as Paypal has discontinued their student account option, which was how people under 18 could previously get a Paypal account.

Try My UI: Pays $10 per test. Each takes about 20 minutes.

User Testing: Pays $10 per 20 minute testing video you create.

Testbirds: Pay averages about 20 Euros. Usability tests pay based on the complexity of the test, while bug tests pay based on how many bugs are found and how severe each bug is.

UserFeel: Pays $10 per 10-20 minute test.

Userlytics: Pay is mostly from $5-20, but they say some projects go up to $90. This site allows testers as young as 16 years old. Tests take 20-40 minutes on most projects.

WhatUsersDo: Pay appears a bit lower than many other testing sites – the site says it’s $5 per test right now.

MyCrowd: Another site that says users can be as young as 16 years old. MyCrowd has testers submit bugs to a list on their application and expects testers to check for duplicates so a given bug is not listed more than once. Pay comes from finding bugs, validating test scripts, or reviewing results reported by others.

Testingtime: Testingtime is a little different from some of the other testing sites. Some tests are done in person at a client’s site. Others are done while speaking with the client on Skype. Tests pay up to 50 Euros, depending on how long the test takes.

UserTest.io: Pays £8 per review. You must be at least 16 years old to sign up as a reviewer.

Intellizoom: Pay ranges from $5-10, depending on the type of study.

uTest: uTest is one of the few online website testing sites where I see reports that some people can make a full time living at it. This is true only for the best of their testers. Most people will not make anywhere near that much, and it will take time to reach that level, even if you’re good at software testing.

Validately: Tests can pay from $5-10 dollars for regular tests, or more for longer tests.

Transcription

I started working in medical transcription back when I was in college. It was a good job. Once I had my skills built up, I could earn a respectable hourly rate from most recordings, although a few doctors were incredibly difficult to understand at best.

But you don’t have to go into medical transcription. You can do general transcription, which takes much less training. Some get into it without any training at all, but I believe that getting a little helps.

The Transcribe Anywhere course is a great resource for anyone considering working as a transcriptionist. You get a free mini course first, so you can decide if it’s worth paying for the whole thing before you risk your money. It’s a good way to find out if being a transcriptionist is a good choice for you.

I have a lot of transcription companies listed in my post about finding remote entry level jobs. I won’t duplicate it here.

Mystery Shopping

While mystery shopping often involves going to a store or restaurant and evaluating their services, it is sometimes also done over the phone. Either can be good when you’re going to college, especially if there’s a lot of shopping in your area.

It is difficult to get enough work as a mystery shopper to make a decent income, but it can be a fun extra. If you do mystery shopping in person, it can be an easy way to get the occasional meal out.

Be careful of scams related to mystery shopping. One of the classics is for a company to send a cashier’s check or money order to you, tell you to cash it, keep part and send the rest to them. Trouble is, the check is fraudulent and leaves you on the hook for the entire amount. Banks and places that wire money are fairly aware of this scam these days, but you should be aware of it as well.

If you want to really get into mystery shopping, you may want to visit the MSPA website. You can access some things for free, but other features require a paid membership. You can see a list of member companies for free, which can help you find legitimate mystery shopping opportunities.

A Closer Look: Shops may be for a variety of services. They also hire schedulers and editors as independent contractors.

BestMark: Requires shoppers to be at least 19 years old. They also hire exit interviewers who talk to customers as they leave a retail establishment.

Call Center QA: Pay $5 per telephone mystery shop and likes to work with students over the age of 18. They emphasize that this is not a part or full time job, just something for a little extra money. I like that kind of honesty.

Intelli-Shop: Shops may include going to a store, calling a business or visiting a website.

MarketForce: Has opportunities for mystery shoppers and theater checkers.

Perception Strategies: Focuses on healthcare telephone mystery shopping. They list the markets they’re hiring for on the application page.

Freelance Sites

college students earn money

Depending on your skills, freelancing can be a great way to earn money from home when you’re a college student. It takes time to find enough clients to keep the money coming in, but freelancing is as flexible as you make it.

Obviously, you have to balance how many clients you take on with your course load. You don’t want to get poor grades because you spent too much time on a client project. Likewise, you don’t want unhappy clients because you needed to focus on your schoolwork.

Freelance sites can be picky about who they allow to sign up. Many will decline to add you to their site if they have too many people signed up already with the same skills. But once you’re in, you can try for projects using whichever skills you choose.

Freelance writing is one of the most popular options. You may find that some sites are overloaded on freelance writers. On the plus side, there are lots of freelance writing opportunities out there.

Fiverr: Fiverr took its name from the price people would pay freelancers on its site for projects. That’s no longer a strict limitation. Freelancers can have addons and higher priced services now on Fiverr, although you have to prove that you do high quality work to use some features. You can offer a wide range of freelance services here, from the traditional to the strange.

There are also more typical freelance job sites such as:

Virtual Assistant

Being a virtual assistant is often a type of freelancing. You usually have multiple clients. The work can range from scheduling appointments to social media management to answering phone calls or emails, and beyond.

I’ve written a post on how to become a virtual assistant, so you can check that out if this might be of interest to you. There are a lot of factors to consider in starting this kind of business.

The great part about a business like this is that you can add to your offered services as you learn more in college. It can also help you build a great resume for your future career or be something you keep doing long after college.

What About Microtask Sites?

There are a lot of websites, such as Amazon’s MTurk and Clickworker, that offer payment to people who do microtasks, that is, tasks that take a few seconds or minutes to complete. Are those worthwhile?

I’m not a fan.

While some people earn a decent hourly rate once they get going with these sites, it’s difficult to get paid that well. Tasks that pay more than a pittance aren’t always available. These sites aren’t necessarily a scam, as they pay you what they say they’ll pay you, but in many cases you’ll struggle to earn even a few dollars an hour at them.

You have better things to do with your time, even if it’s your downtime.

If you want to learn more about microtask sites, here are some review’s I’ve pulled up for you to consider:

If you’re one of the lucky ones who can make microtasks work for you, great. But if you can’t earn enough money at these, move on.

What you really need to consider along with the low pay most people get from doing microtasks is the opportunity cost. What else could you have done with that time that might have given you a greater benefit in the long run?

You could have spent that time looking for a better work at home job or starting a blog or other home business. These may not pay off as fast as microtasks can, but the income you earn in the long run will probably be greater.

Sure, a few people do well with microtasks, such as this fellow. But that’s the exception, not the rule.

If you really want to do microtasks, fine. Do them. But make sure they’re really worth your while.

Blogging

desks

While there are no guarantees that you will earn anything as a blogger, I still like it as a work at home option. It can always be a side gig while you do more reliable things. Then, when/if you build your blog up into a profitable business, you can spend more time on it.

The great thing about a blogging business is that the costs are low and you can do it entirely on your own schedule.

Don’t go for a free blog. The limitations often come back to bite you later.

Paying for your domain name and hosting is quite affordable. I use A2 Hosting, which starts as low as about $4 a month. I don’t use the lowest level of hosting but I still get a really good deal from them.

The great thing about blogging is that you have so many options. You can blog about almost anything that interests you.

The hard part for some is monetizing. A blog isn’t a business if you don’t make money from it.

You have a lot of options to make money from your blog, however. Consider these:

  • Affiliate marketing
  • Adsense
  • Selling ads
  • Working with brands
  • Selling ebooks
  • Selling physical products

What will work for you depends on what you’re blogging about and what you’re comfortable doing. Some things will come more naturally to you than others.

Don’t assume you will have huge success as a blogger, no matter how many ebooks you see trumpeting how this blogger or that makes six figures or more annually. They’re the exception. Take what advice from them that works for you but don’t assume you will get the same results.

Beware Of Scams

You’ll probably be very eager to find a way to earn money from your home or dorm room when you’re in college. Don’t be so eager that you’re an easy target for scams.

The basic rule of thumb is “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” This won’t keep you from falling for all of the scams, but it will help.

Even with opportunities you believe to be legitimate, be careful. Some work at home scams steal the name of a legitimate opportunity and set up their own, very similar website. These can be very difficult to spot, but if you’re careful, you can find the right one in most cases.

When in doubt, ask around. There are a lot of places where you can ask the opinions of other people to work at home if you aren’t getting enough information from your own searches.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

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Disclosure: Home with the Kids is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. I also review or mention products for which I may receive compensation from other sources. All opinions are my own.