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.