Last Updated March 5th, 2018

How Much Information Should You Share When Looking For A Work At Home Job?

How Much Information Should You Share When Looking For A Work At Home Job?

You’re looking for a work at home job, and you think you’ve found something. But they’re asking for some information you aren’t sure that you should share. When is the right time to share the information they’re asking for? How do you know which information you should share when looking for a work at home job?

This isn’t always easy to answer. It can depend on the kind of work you’re looking at and how confident you are that the opportunity is legitimate.

When In Doubt, Don’t Share

We all worry about being scammed when looking for stay at home jobs. It’s normal. There are a lot of scams out there.

This makes sharing even normal personal information requested on any other job application more difficult when you’re talking about applying online. You just don’t have the reassurance that you get from applying with a local company. Most local companies you can drive by and see their actual location. You know they’re real because you’ve been there.

You can do a pretty good job of researching potential employers if you know how. Look up reviews for them online. Many companies are reviewed by current and former employees on sites such as Indeed or Glassdoor. You can learn about them on LinkedIn as well. Make sure you know the company’s name and do a little research on them before you apply for a job.

When in doubt, see if you can submit the online application without all the information filled out, and use the comment box (if available) to explain why you have left certain information out. A Social Security Number, for example, is necessary for a company to deal with taxes, and may be requested if a background check is being done. It’s really not necessary to share it otherwise, and you can take the chance of offering to provide it only if you make it that far in the hiring process.

Information You Shouldn’t Share Immediately

There is some information that you should not share with a potential employer until you know that the opportunity is legitimate and that the employer needs it. This would include your social security number and banking information.

An employer only needs your social security number once you’re hired or to run a background check. They shouldn’t need it sooner than that. If they want your social security number sooner, find out why and decide if you’re comfortable with their reasoning.

Your banking information can be very high risk to share. It’s wonderful when your employer lets you sign up for direct deposit so that you get paid sooner, but there is a risk in giving them access to that information.

You also don’t need to share information about your family or personal situation more than absolutely necessary. Talking about your kids or other parts of your family life can make you look less professional, and make it less likely that you will be hired for the job. It doesn’t matter that you want to work at home to have more time with your kids. Potential employers want to know what you’ll do for them, not what they’ll do for you.

In general, not just in your job hunt, you should never share your contact information, social security number, or birth date publicly. This includes on social media. Putting too much information out there in general sets you up for identity theft. And of course, never share your mother’s maiden name or any of the other information you may have used to secure your bank account.

Is Professionally Embarrassing Information Already Out There?

A lot of people have discovered that information they’ve shared online socially can impact them professionally. More and more employers check applicants out online to see what’s out there. Employers may expect you to give them links to your social media accounts so that they can check them out easily. If they want this, take some time to make sure your social media accounts won’t mess up your job hunt.

No one has perfect control over what appears on a search for their name online. I’m not currently on the first page for my name, one of the curses of having a very common name. But since I’m not exactly going for the guru thing I’ve never stressed about getting my name up there in the rankings.

But the factors you do control you should take into consideration. Look at how you’re presenting yourself on social networks and anywhere else you appear online. Work at home jobs will mostly be concerned with your professionalism, and depending on the position you’re applying for these things can be quite relevant.

Keep It Professional

One important thing to do when you’re looking for a job online is to make sure you give a professional appearance with the information you provide. This means you don’t want to have an email address that’s fun to have socially but might make a potential employer lose interest in you. An email address based on your name is best for most purposes, and it can be nice to keep your job hunting emails separate from the usual personal stuff anyhow.

Potential employers also aren’t going to be interested in your home situation. Even if they’re hiring you for a home based position, they don’t need to know about your kids or how you’re going to handle caring for them while you work. That’s your problem and the expectation is that you’ll handle it.

What they do want to know is why you’re the right employee for them to hire. Make a good impression in that area by emphasizing your relevant skills. Potential employers need employees who know how to separate their family life from their work at home life. If you can’t do that in the application process, they may feel that you won’t keep them appropriately separated when you’re working.

Don’t Speak Poorly Of Current Or Previous Jobs

Never speak negatively of your current or previous jobs. If you worked for a company and it went out of business, you can say that. It even gives you a good reason for leaving.

But don’t go into problems you had at your old job. Potential employers will only care in that they will wonder how you will speak of them outside of work or when you leave. Speaking ill of an employer, past or present, reflects negatively on your professionalism, not on the employer you’re talking about.

Don’t Be Desperate

You may be desperate to land a job. I hear it all the time from people contacting me about finding ways to work at home. They need money, badly.

That’s not the potential employer’s problem. Some might even take advantage and offer you a lower rate of pay than they might otherwise because they know they have the upper hand.

Any situation that isn’t relevant to that employer is something you shouldn’t share. That goes double if it makes you sound desperate for a job. Needing a job badly won’t make them more interested in you as a candidate. It might make them consider paying you less if they decide to hire you.

Hunting for a job always means sharing some personal information. Someone offering you a job (not a business opportunity) without wanting to know about your work history probably doesn’t have a real job to offer you. Make sure you know what the appropriate limits are, and if it feels wrong to share a particular piece of information, find out if it’s really necessary to share it.

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 January 16th, 2018

How Do You Get Started Working From Home?

How Do You Get Started Working from Home?

I get a lot of people asking me how to get started working from home. They know they want to work at home, but have no clue where or how to start looking, even after finding this site. Sometimes they don’t have the foggiest notion of what kind of work they want to do from home.

Saying that you want to get started working from home is really vague. People who ask that and give no further information can be difficult to help sometimes. They have no idea what they want to do and expect me to come up with the right job without knowing anything about their skills or interests.

When I have very little information, I usually give very basic answers. Sometimes that’s all that is needed anyhow. If you’re wondering where the work at home job leads are, take a look at the Work at Home Jobs section of this website.

Ah, but that’s not terribly helpful to those who really don’t know what they want to do. How do you get to the point where you can start looking for a particular work at home job?

Look At Your Expectations Before You Get Started Working From Home

Despite the myths, working at home isn’t easy. So many people just want to be pointed in the right direction and have it handed to them, and that’s just not going to happen. When you want something in life you can’t sit around waiting for it to happen. You have to do what it takes to get started working from home.

Expect to have to work at looking for a job. You probably wouldn’t get the first outside the home job you apply for, so why should you expect that for a work at home job?

Don’t assume that you’ll be making big bucks from a work at home job. That’s one of the big reasons people get scammed so easily. Visions of easy money make people lose all common sense. Many work at home jobs don’t pay spectacularly well unless it’s a more in demand and hard to find skill. And most home businesses can take anywhere from months to years to become profitable, IF they ever do… no matter what the hype says.

What Do You Want To Do?

Just as in looking for an outside the home job, it really helps to know what kind of work at home job you’re looking for. What are you qualified for? Do you have any relevant experience?

It’s all well and good to say, “Well, I’d like to do customer service, or maybe data entry or even assemble stuff from home, just so long as I get paid.” That is, if you want to fail.

Don’t be vague. And don’t just think about the classic work at home jobs. There are a lot more possibilities out there.

Software developers work at home. Graphic designers work at home. Medical coders work at home. There are many work at home jobs that require significant education and experience.

Really Look At Your Experience.

It’s extra hard landing a work at home job if you lack experience. There’s rarely any face to face training unless the company has strict location requirements.

Experience always helps. It doesn’t matter what kind of job you’re looking for. Employers love experience. This doesn’t mean you have to have experience before you can work from home, but it’s a help.

You don’t necessarily need the exact job title as the one you’re going for. Some companies get very creative with their job titles. Other jobs have a number of common variations.

Work On Your Resume.

The best resumes are targeted to the individual job, not just a generic resume for a particular field. But you should have one that is generally targeted toward what you’re seeking so that it doesn’t take too long to customize it for each application. You want to target it to each individual employer’s needs.

If you’re considering two or more very distinct types of jobs to do from home, create a resume based around each. A software developer who would also consider working as a technical writer at home will need a different resume for each of those, to emphasize the very different skills those two jobs require.

Work On Your Cover Letter.

You may not always need one, but it’s good to have a cover letter available as a way to introduce yourself when possible. Don’t talk about wanting to work at home for more time with your family and that kind of stuff; it’s not relevant to potential employers, any more than saying you want to work to support your family would be for applying to an outside the home job.

Just as with your resume, have a generic one you can customize as needed.

Put A Salt Shaker On Your Desk.

No, you don’t have to do this literally. But when you’re about to start looking at work at home opportunities, you need to be prepared to take things with a grain of salt and a whole lot of skepticism. Probably go through the entire shaker pretty fast.

Work at home scams outnumber legitimate opportunities by far. I try to keep things clean here, but I can’t promise to get it perfect. And if you’re searching around and about the internet, you’re probably going to run into a lot of scams.

When in doubt, start by reading the job ad carefully. Does it sound too good to be true? That’s a red flag. Does the visible contact information match up with the actual employer? Some scams use a real employer’s name to fool you but have a Gmail or other email address for the contact. Be careful out there.

Start Looking.

With a good notion of the kind of job you’re looking for, it’s time to quit preparing and start looking. You’re not going to get anywhere if you don’t take action. This is the most important step to successfully get started working from home.

Don’t pay to apply for a work at home job. Very few legitimate companies charge applicants for a background check – only consider these companies if you really think you’re a good match and can risk the cost of the background check.

Once you’re applying, it can be quite the waiting game. It is not at all uncommon for work at home job hunts to take months, sometimes over a year. I’m not going to promise you an easy time finding a job. Lots of other people probably want the same jobs you do, and you can’t all have them.

It can pay off to apply to some employers every few months. Don’t overdo it or you’ll be an annoyance, but a time can come when sending in a fresh application is the right move.

Finally, if your family is desperate for money, do consider an outside the home job if that’s what you need to keep financially afloat. I see too many people saying they need a work at home job desperately so they can pay their bills. If that’s you, consider finding an outside the home job while you hunt for work at home.

You may have to work at night if you’re married and can’t afford childcare. You may have to find a friend to trade childcare with if you don’t have any way to pay for childcare and no one else to help you.

If you need income be realistic about it and remember that you can find work at home later, without such extreme financial pressure. Desperation means you’re more likely to make stupid mistakes.

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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 April 10th, 2017

Is Your Job Title The Best Keyword For Your Job Hunt?

Is Your Job Title The Best Keyword For Your Job Hunt?

When you’re searching for a new job, it’s easy to look for jobs with the same titles you’ve had before. They’re jobs you know you probably qualify for. It’s easier to match your skills keywords to the job keywords when the titles are the same. That doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to use your job title when looking for a new work at home job.

Use Your Skills

While the job titles you’ve held can be helpful, what matters more are the skills you have, even if you haven’t yet held a job that used those skills. A hobby you have, a class you’ve taken, whatever the case may be, the skills from those may help you get a better or more interesting job.

Use your skills in your search terms on search engines and job boards. If you’re a web developer and know PHP, that’s often a better search term than “web developer.” A medical coder may want to use his or her certifications or specialties in a search. Employers care quite a bit about the skills you bring to the table, not just what titles you’ve held.

If you’re using a skill you gained from a hobby as a qualification, think carefully on how you’ll present it. It’s often more difficult to convince employers to try you on skills you haven’t used in the workforce, but it is possible. It’s easy to provide links to anything you’ve done online. You can list a relevant hobby and how long you’ve done it – just be sure that it’s relevant. A social media job won’t care that you carve wood as a hobby. They will care if you’ve built up a huge following based on that hobby and can show them your accounts.

If you aren’t sure what you qualify for, use My Skills My Future, a website sponsored by the US Department of Labor, Employment and Training. It will give you more job titles to consider, typical wages, typical education required, and even some job listings. You might be surprised where it leads you.

O*NET may be useful as well. It’s also by the Department of Labor. Use the Occupation Search to find jobs related to the job title you put in. It also has a listing of hot technologies used in job listings, which can lead you to job titles which might use those technologies.

Titles For The Same Basic Job Vary

Some employers get really creative with job titles, and if you limit yourself to the common title for that position, you’ll miss out. Sometimes you have to read the job description to figure out what they’re really after.

Don’t let a fancy job title scare you off. Read the description and figure out if it’s something you can do. Most companies won’t expect that you match the job description perfectly.

To figure out which titles may work best, use Indeed’s Job Trends page. You can put in a few title keywords, and see how often Indeed has seen them used over the past few years. This can tell you if the title you’re searching is current or if an alternative is likely to be more fruitful. Think about the differences between “Virtual Assistant,” “Administrative Assistant” and “Executive Assistant.”

You can also use Indeed to come up with new job titles by searching on your current job title and seeing what else comes us. Some of these will be worth searching on their own.

Use Industry Jargon

If there are terms specific to the industry you’re looking in, especially if it relates to your skills, it can be a very useful search term.

Consider Other Job Categories

The skills from one job may translate well to jobs in other categories. Your customer service skills, for example, may translate well into other jobs dealing with people, such as sales or marketing.

You may be able to combine skills you’ve demonstrated in the workplace with skills you’ve learned in school or as a hobby to jump into a better job. Don’t assume that a lack of work experience or formal education in a job category means you can’t consider it – look for positions you believe you can do, and convince an employer to give you a try. So long as you have a lot of the skills posted and convince them you can learn the rest promptly, you have a chance.

Check Other Industries

You can take a jump into an entirely new industry if you focus on the skills you have rather than job titles. Just because you’ve worked in the insurance industry, for example, doesn’t mean you can’t jump to a technology company or something in the healthcare field that isn’t directly about insurance.

Who Do You Want To Work For?

If there’s a company you would really love to work for, take a look at the jobs they’re offering and figure out what you’d qualify for. Research the company (you should do this for any company you’re considering anyhow) and learn about the company culture and open positions.

If you want to work at home, pay attention to who lets people work entirely at home or partially at home, if that works with your needs.

Don’t limit yourself to a particular company in your job hunt overall – you might not get a job with them. Take the time to see if you qualify for any positions with them, absolutely! Just remember that focusing on them to the exclusion of all other opportunities may be a huge mistake. You can always check back with them over time as a long term goal if you can’t get the job you really want just now.

Target Your Resume

A resume should always be targeted to the particular job you’re applying for. Change your basic resume to better match the employer’s needs when you send it to them. It should highlight the skills you have that they’re seeking. Make it easy for potential employers to see that you have what they need.

The keywords you use in your targeted resume should reflect the keywords the potential employer used in the job description. Many employers search resumes for their keywords first, and if you haven’t used their keywords, they may miss you entirely, even if you’re highly qualified for the position.

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 February 8th, 2017

Social Media Checklist For Job Hunters

Social media is a vital tool for job seekers these days. Not only can you find job leads through social media, employers and recruiters may look at what you’re doing on social media. You need to know how to use social media and how to make your accounts look good should a potential employer take a look during the hiring process. Here’s a checklist to help you prepare your social media accounts for your job hunt.

Have an account on LinkedIn.

LinkedIn is the most important social media website when you’re looking for a job. The Jobvite recruiter survey in 2015 found that 87% of recruiters use LinkedIn. Some employers and recruiters seek people out on LinkedIn. You can set up a resume on there so that they can see your work history and experience. Some employers will allow you to apply through LinkedIn, making it all the more important to have a resume prepared there.

LinkedIn is not a place for socializing with your friends, although you should connect with people you know there. It’s for networking. Don’t share anything there that you wouldn’t want a potential employer to see. Building your network may also help you land a job – 78% of recruiters in that survey said they get their best quality candidates through referrals.

Use job related keywords.

Use keywords and phrases relevant to the jobs you would like to have. If a recruiter is searching LinkedIn for candidates, these will improve your chances of being noticed.

Join LinkedIn groups.

Join groups on LinkedIn that are relevant to your career. Participate. Show your knowledge.

Get references.

Get LinkedIn references for your skills. You can ask your connections for references. You may want to them edit it if they don’t phrase it with the right keywords. Be polite and understanding, even if someone chooses not to give you a reference.

Follow their social media.

Follow companies you would like for on their social media accounts. Include their LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter or other relevant accounts. This will help you keep up with what they’re doing and may help you spot openings. It also shows your interest.

Know which social networks employers will want to see.

If there’s a social media network that’s relevant to the kind of work you would like to be doing, make sure you have a visible presence on there. Instagram and Pinterest are good if you want to work in a highly visual or design oriented field, for example. Make sure such accounts look professional. It’s one of the places you can show off your skills on your own terms.

Review your photographs and videos on all social media accounts.

It doesn’t matter if you’re not listing your social media accounts when you apply for a job – clean them up anyhow. You never know if a potential employer is going to look you up online, and you don’t want embarrassing photographs or videos to ruin your chance at the job.

Don’t forget photos your friends may have tagged you in. You may need to ask them to remove the tags while you look for work.

Most important would be your profile image and cover image. These are the most prominent in your account and will be one of the first things visible. Make sure these look professional.

Clean up posts about drinking, drugs, sex, guns or anything else a potential employer may find inappropriate.

It doesn’t matter if what you’re doing is entirely legal – most employers consider social posts about drinking, drug use and so forth a negative when considering an employee. You want them to see the best of you.

Inappropriate comments about race, gender and so forth should be removed.

Hopefully you aren’t saying awful things about people based on race, gender and so forth. Even if you think it’s nothing more than a joke, employers don’t want to see these kinds of things, and they can leave a very poor impression.

Review your political posts.

You may also want to use caution in what political posts show up. You have the right to express yourself, but potential employers are deciding if they want you to represent them. At the very least, make sure political posts are politely phrased and don’t involve name calling. On the other hand, if that’s who you are and you’re proud of it, leave it up while knowing the risks.

Nothing negative about current/former employers or coworkers.

If a potential employer sees you bad mouthing an employer or coworker, they may assume that you’ll do the same to them. It doesn’t matter if you didn’t name names. It doesn’t matter if you have a good reason. It doesn’t matter if they really are that awful. Take it down when you’re looking for a new job. Also think carefully about such posts in the future. Venting in person or on the phone with trusted friends may be a better choice.

Check your grammar, spelling and so forth.

If your social media accounts are filled with poor spelling, lousy grammar and a general problem with clear communication, employers are not going to be impressed. I know many people love to use textese, but the ability to communicate clearly in a more traditional manner is what employers want.

Include your volunteer work.

If you volunteer somewhere, don’t be shy about sharing that fact. Volunteer activities not only often go well on a resume, they should be listed on your LinkedIn account.

Check your privacy settings.

You may think you know how well you’ve locked down your Facebook account or other social media accounts, but are you certain? Review your settings so that you know where they’re at. If possible, have somebody who is not on your friends list check it too. Make sure your accounts show what you want them to show. Some social networks give you more control than others.

Don’t share everything.

If you’re sharing everything you do all day long, employers may see that as a tendency to waste time on social media. You may want to rethink the balance between being yourself and oversharing. If you wouldn’t want your boss to see it, don’t share it where everyone can see it.

Don’t delete your accounts.

Don’t feel that you have to delete your social media accounts, especially if you want to work anything related to marketing. If the job has to do with marketing or social media, a lack of a presence is a problem. Social media uses is so common these days, it could be a problem even if the job has nothing to do with social media. Some employers will think you’re hiding something if they can’t find any social media accounts for you. They might also see you as behind the times.

Having a solid social media presence can make you more interesting to potential employers. Take advantage of the good parts to make a good impression when you’re looked up. If you aren’t visible, someone else could be mistaken for you. That could be a problem.

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 November 3rd, 2008

What Do Work at Home Employers Look For?

One key factor to landing a work at home job is to understand what employers want from you. Much of what they need is similar to what jobs outside the home require, but there are some special considerations for when you want to work at home.

The Ability to Work Unsupervised

Even though your work can be tracked by productivity, employers do not want employees that they have to remind to keep working. When you’re at home you need to be highly motivated.

Some work at home jobs will let you work whenever you feel like it, so long as you get a minimum amount of work done. Others want a schedule out of you and expect you to stick to it, just as with an outside the job home.

Scheduled or not, no work at home employer is going to be happy with an employee they have to keep reminding about their schedule. They want you to get your work done. They want high quality work. They don’t want to have to be checking on every piece you send in.

Excellent Communication Skills

It hardly matters if you’ll be dealing with customers or not. If you work at home you need great communication skills.

If you deal with customers, you need to be a great representative for the company paying you. If you aren’t dealing with customers, you need to be able to communicate well with your employer. Smooth communication is key when there’s a problem or if you have a suggestion.

This also means use good spelling and grammar in all communications. You can get away with sloppy spelling when chatting online or emailing with friends. To an employer, to customers, that looks highly unprofessional.

Problem Solving Abilities

Stuff happens when you work at home… especially with computers. Whether you’re solving a problem for a customer or dealing with technical issues on your side of things, your employer doesn’t want to hear from you every time something that isn’t quite routine comes up.

Of course, you have to stick within company policies as you do so. You can’t give customers something you aren’t supposed to without permission. You can’t give someone access to proprietary data. If a problem is too challenging, then you may have to go to your boss for help, but you need to be knowledgeable enough to handle most problems on your own.

Understand the Job You Want to be Hired to Do

Just as with any other job hunt, take the time to understand the companies you are applying with. Do some research. You can look for forums where people discuss the employer you’re trying to get a job with, for example, and find out some general information about what exactly the job entails. Many will have rules about what employees may and may not discuss on public forums, so don’t be surprised if sometimes people won’t discuss much about their jobs. But generalities about duties may be allowed.

Don’t forget more traditional sources. Go over their company website. Look for news stories.

The Ability to Follow Directions

When you’re applying for a work at home job, pay close attention to what the employer wants from you. Have your resume ready not only in Microsoft Word format, but text and/or RTF as well. Include it in the body of your email or as an attachment depending on what is requested.

And if they say don’t call, don’t call!

The ability to work at home should not be your emphasis. Neither should you emphasize your reasons for wanting to work at home. You can mention your skills and equipment that make it possible for you to work at home, but only in the context that would matter to a potential employer.

Do Not Expect Training on Basic Computer Use

If you’re trying to find a work at home job, you should have general familiarity with how to use your own computer already. Know how to use the internet, email, your word processor and any other programs you already own that might be a part of the job.

Your employer may train you on specialized skills for the job, but if you can’t do the basics you’ll probably be too much trouble to bother training.

Even with all these skills and a great presentation of them, there’s no guarantee that you’ll land the work at home job of your dreams. But they can improve your odds by ensuring that you make a good impression from the very start.

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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