Telecommuter's Guide to Safe Job Hunting by Brett Krkosska

If you are a newcomer in the hunt for a telecommuting position this information will help you avoid the "not so promising" jobs and the outright scams.

Once you spend some time browsing for home-based job openings you soon discover there are gobs and gobs of "jobs" that are... well, not really jobs. In fact, work-from-home scams are so prevalent that many people simply give up searching.

watch out for cleverly worded “job” postings which are nothing more than advertisements for an “opportunity”

There are real jobs out there for telecommuters, but the playing field is large and the sharks are plentiful. So if you want to get that job you must be determined and knowledeable.

Know What You Want From A Job

You should be clear about what you want before you begin searching for work. Are you looking for a job as an employee, a freelance contract job, or would you like a start-up business? Are you looking to be your own boss and invest in an opportunity, or do you need the predictability offered by an employer? Recognize what you want as a home-based worker and you are better able to spot what is worth checking into and what you should avoid.

Look at the list below for descriptions of the various ways people work from home. With this information you can cut through the "job search clutter" and focus on job options better suited for you.

1. Transitioned Jobs

The vast percentage of today's home-based employees, or "virtual" workers, transitioned into the home from the job they formerly performed solely in the office. Many split time between working in the office and working at home. If you are currently employed and feel your job can be done at least partly from home, you may want to consider presenting the idea to your boss.

2. "Off-Site" Teleworker Jobs

Many companies have employees of the "off-site" designation. These are teleworkers who may or may not work in a home office. For instance, their work may involve some combination of traveling in the performance of their duties, working in the office, and working at home. You'll find that job postings requiring travel, in fields such as engineering or sales, are often telecommuter friendly.

3. Telecommute-Option Jobs

While more and more companies are adopting telecommuter friendly policies, the majority of telecommuters still spend some time in the workplace. You see this in job postings with a "telecommute option." The option is viewed as a benefit of the job and usually is not an invitation to work from home every day of the week. So if you're not against having a traditional job, with the idea of working into a telecommuting arrangement, then your job possibilities greatly expand.

4. Telecommute-Only Jobs

Companies that hire employees to work exclusively from home are harder to find. Not all jobs are suited for this arrangement and many employers are simply not comfortable throwing untested employees into a full telecommuting position. You need to be cautious if looking for this type of employment. Scams artists love to prey upon telecommute-only job seekers.

“ Without specialized knowledge you encounter more competition, less earning power, and more scams ”

5. Contract Work

According to a survey by the Dieringer Research Group, more than half of all people who work from home at least one day per month are self-employed. Contract providers, also known as freelancers, fall into this self-employed group. They work independently and are paid upon completion of a specified service.

Freelance contracting can provide an exclusively home-based work environment which many people prefer. You have a greater degree of flexibility in terms of where, when, and how you work. However, because freelancers are not employees you don't get some of the benefits a job might offer, such as group health insurance and tax payments to the IRS on your behalf.

It's worth noting that many companies are recognizing the benefits of "homeshoring" rather than "offshoring" their outsourced work. This is especially evident in the teleservices industry, with contractors stepping in to fill jobs formerly performed overseas. Home-based contractors are utilized by companies such as Willow, Alpine, LiveOps, and West At Home with great success.

If you can get by without traditional job benefits you may want to follow the lead of other successful contractors and consider a freelance lifestyle.

Beware Of Opportunities Pretending To Be Jobs

Now that you have an idea of the direction your search will take, it's time to get your guard up. The first thing to watch out for is cleverly worded "job postings" which are nothing more than advertisements for an opportunity.

There's nothing wrong with legitimate opportunities. However, opportunities are not jobs and scams are often advertised in ways that mislead you into believing they are jobs.

How can you tell the difference between an opportunity and a job?

A job pays you. Simple as that. If you are asked to send money, no matter how legitimate the reason may appear, then it's not a job. A company seeking employees or contract providers will screen your qualifications through a resume, interview, or portfolio, while an opportunity promoter doesn't necessarily care who you are or what you know.

If you have limited computer expertise, lack marketing knowledge and a marketing budget, or simply don't have the background or experience with opportunity solicitors to discern what's real and what isn't, you shouldn't hastily jump into foreign territory. It takes time, patience, and perseverance to develop a sound business.

Scam Artists Target Unskilled Workers

If you have expertise in a field you have more job options. With specialized knowledge you face less competition and command greater earning power. Without specialized knowledge you encounter more competition, less earning power, and more scams. Specialized skills enable you to earn a living wage, while low- skilled work is best at providing extra income.

There are thousands of job seekers looking for those elusive low-skilled, high- paying jobs. The truth is, to be paid well you must bring some skills to the table. But that doesn't stop people from looking for easy work and high pay. Scams fill the void by offering false promises to unskilled workers looking for a pot of gold.

Those companies who do have openings for low-skilled work rarely post those jobs, primarily because the applicant pool is so large. A company can post an opening on a job board just once and will literally be swamped with applications in a matter of hours - applicants to last for years.

What's the trick to finding those low-skilled jobs?

Bypass the job listing boards. Ignore the ads floating around the Internet and you can avoid the scams. Instead, locate and directly contact companies who hire low-skilled workers.

With a little patience and some online research it's possible to track down the websites of companies hiring low-skilled workers. The most productive method of doing this is to network with other job seekers. You will find many seasoned job seekers hanging out at discussion forums on popular home business websites. Use your favorite search engine to locate these sites. Get involved in the boards, ask questions, and follow leads.

Ten Tips For Safe Job Hunting

Let's boil this down to the nitty-gritty. Pay attention to these points in your search for home-based employment:

1. A job never asks for money. You are the receiver. 2. A job pays you if training is required.

3. Know what you want before looking for it. Research the type of job you want and the skills and equipment needed to do that job.

4. Know the difference between a job and an opportunity. Beware of those using the J-O-B word where none exists.

5. A job will want to know more about you either through an interview and/or resume. An opportunity doesn't necessarily care who you are or what you know.

6. There is no such thing as easy work and high pay - unless you are Paris Hilton. But then you wouldn't be searching the job boards would you?

7. Jobs smell like roses when you have job skills. Consider technical, vocational, or college training in your chosen field to improve your chances of getting the job you desire.

8. Be patient, not desperate. Desperation leads to desperate acts. Desperate acts drain the pocketbook. It takes longer to find telecommuting positions than it does finding traditional employment. If you need money now you may be better off finding conventional work while planning for a telecommuting future.

9. No matter what your skill level, be persistent while keeping your guard up. Start with what you know and move forward cautiously. The prize goes to those who step into the challenge with guarded persistence.

10. Network. Get out there and mix it up. Chat with like minded folk, email experts, hit the forums, post questions, get advice from others, strike up conversations. Approach your search for work from a position of knowledge.

With this information you can now go forth and job hunt with confidence. Be positive and assured in your ability to locate the right job for you - without fear of being the victim of unscrupulous job posters.

Brett Krkosska provides how-to advice on small business and home-based work issues. His site, [ site can't be reached] helps small businesses reach their full potential. He is also the publisher of Straight Talk, a fresh and original newsletter that offers a unique perspective on today's business issues.

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