Says….!” Telecommuting Ranks High On Job Seekers’ List
By Pamela La Gioia
It’s tough to find employment in today’s job market, especially if a
person lacks a formal education or has minimal work experience. Still,
even without such background deficits, attempts to find home-based employment
may be fruitless at best, financially and emotionally draining at worst.
According to the International Telework Association and Council (ITAC)
of Washington, D.C., there are more than 19.6 million people who reportedly
work from home (1999). The ITAC estimates that by 2010, there will be
around forty million people working part- or full-time from their homes.
Sage Research, Inc. reported that companies will continue to initiate
telecommuting programs. The use of remote workers will become a necessity
as overhead costs continue to rise. (http://www.sageresearch.com/)
Yet, even though the trend of telecommuting (working from home) has
steadily grown over the past two decades, it remains an untapped benefit
for the majority of North America’s workforce. This makes many job seekers
ask: “Where are the companies that allow individuals to work from home?
What does it take to land a home-based job?”
With a bit of thorough research, this information can be found. Without
proper research, however, there are plenty of unscrupulous people trying
to make a lot of money from others’ need to find home-based work. Through
tricky advertising they take millions of dollars from the very individuals
who are trying to earn a living. These scammers, as they are commonly
called, are all too aware of how desperately people want to earn a paycheck
from their homes. And their target market grows by leaps and bounds
Compared to the amount of misinformation out there, the amount of reliable
information about working from home seems scarce. That’s why it’s important
to search it out and take advantage of it when it becomes available.
To learn what it is like trying to find and actually land a telecommuting
job, Telework Recruiting, Inc. surveyed dozens of people who frequent
online E-mail groups that focus on telecommuting issues. The results
of this survey will help give job seekers an understanding of what’s
involved in a search for a telecommuting position. These results should
also help employers realize the value that having a telecommuting option
has for so many candidates.
Although telecommuting is a work option that increases each year across
North America, it is still not the norm. According to Telework Recruiting,
Inc.’s survey, the average length of time a job seeker spends searching
for a position that allows telecommuting is two years. For individuals
who want to start out with a new company as a teleworker, it can take
longer than for those who try to persuade their current companies to
allow them to telecommute full- or part-time.
The number-one reason survey respondents believe that it takes so long
to find telecommuting work with a new company is that they simply can’t
find legitimate companies to work for. Their research usually takes
them to companies offering bogus job opportunities or scams. These supposed
hiring companies either want people to pay for information about the
job or to file an application or, they want people to perform idiotic
activities such as sending spam E-mail or posting advertisements all
over the Internet.
The second reason is that they believe companies are afraid to trust
them to perform their work from home. Despite numerous studies that
indicate that teleworkers are actually more productive, it still seems
to be a concern for employers that home-based employees will be sitting
around watching television, rather than working.
The third top reason people feel they can’t find work from home employment
is there are simply too many people competing for the few telecommuting
opportunities that are out there. This may be true, which only reinforces
the point of how it is important for job seekers to invest in creating
a top-notch resume and to continually hone their skills.
Other reasons attributed to the inability to find telecommuting opportunities
-- Lack of training or experience for the jobs they are seeking
-- Not being open to other types of work; that is, being too narrow
in their job seeking focus
-- Not looking hard enough
-- Or not actually having a home situation conducive to telecommuting.
(I.e. Having a child around that requires almost constant attention.)
For survey respondents who have been successful in finding and keeping
telecommuting positions, we asked for their input on what were some
factors related to their success. The number one reason they gave: Diligence.
They believe they were successful mainly because they didn’t give up
looking. They researched everything. As one person put it: “Leave no
Another top factor for their success was having a good employment track
record. These days background checks are almost always performed. (The
growing number of background checking services out there evidences this.)
Maintaining exceptional references by previous employers is extremely
The third top factor for successfully finding work from home is being
able to demonstrate how they could perform their jobs from home just
as well or better than if they worked onsite. However, they didn’t wait
for an interview or meeting to start coming up with reasons why they
felt their company should let them stay home. Each person came prepared
with a proposal. A well thought-out proposal that would answer any questions
or objections an employer might have. Bringing samples or examples of
work already done from home was an added bonus to a proposal.
Other important elements to successfully finding work from home include:
-- Opening doors for themselves by starting out as volunteers.
-- Knowing how to network.
-- Having self-discipline and good management skills.
-- Having a supportive supervisor or manager.
Before starting any type of venture it is always helpful to be clear
on what that venture is and to have a plan for that venture. Very often
people decide they want to work from home (for various personal reasons),
yet they aren’t sure what type of work they will do, or even if they’re
suited for a telecommuting life. Our survey respondents offered some
suggestions and ideas to look at before even beginning a job hunt. In
order of their most common responses, these suggestions are listed below:
1) Be able to recognize a scam. If you plan to use the Internet at all
for your job search, save yourself a lot of time and energy by knowing
the different types of scams out there so you can bypass them altogether.
2) Locate sources of legitimate telecommuting opportunities. This, of
course, is easier said than done. But it is possible.
3) Learn how to research a company. Don’t just browse a company’s web
site. They won’t tell you on their site if they have a problem paying
their workers, or if this is a third attempt to start this company,
or if the work they have for contractors is extremely inconsistent.
Look at the company from other sources, such as the Better Business
Bureau, Rip Off Reports.com, message boards that focus on the type of
business that you’re interested in, and even Google.com will have information
4) Understand what are realistic earnings for each type of profession
when performed as a telecommuter. Do not be surprised if as a counselor
you made $30,000.00 at your local rehab center, but only make $10.00
as a home-based, telephonic counselor. (Approximately $19,000 a year.)
Companies that use home workers know that you won’t have the usual commuting
costs and work expenses. Working from home is NOT a way to get rich
5) If necessary, get resume assistance. If you think you have a great
resume, look at resumes of other people and compare. Chances are you
could use a resume expert to write one up for you. Remember: Your resume
will be what determines whether or not you even get in the door to make
a proposal for telecommuting.
6) Be sure you have an up-to-date home office. Up-to-date does not have
to mean “top of the line”, “super expensive”. It means that you must
have: a computer with at least WIN98, a fax machine, a printer, and
usually high-speed Internet access. None of these things are luxuries
anymore. They are basics. Also, part of having an up-to-date home office
is actually having a workspace that is separate from the rest of the
house. The dining room table will not do.
7) Know the realities of a telecommuting life. Some most common ones
are: constant interruptions by children or non-work-related phone calls,
and distractions of the home such as laundry or the lawn. For some teleworkers,
they have to constantly struggle with family and friends to convince
them that just because they are home, they are still at work and cannot
be at everyone’s beck and call. Their time at the computer needs to
be treated as work time, without interruptions.
8) Companies who hire telecommuters do so to save themselves overhead.
Part of saving money is hiring independent contractors rather than employees.
This eliminates the need to pay employment-related taxes such as unemployment
and workers‘ compensation. This means that you will be responsible for
your own taxes. Learn what it means to be an independent contractor
from the IRS’s perspective.
9) Another part of a company‘s telecommuting plan is often not having
to pay for benefits. Be prepared to fend for yourself when it comes
to health insurance. If your husband or wife works outside the home
and receives benefits, this makes things a bit easier. However, health
insurance options are still something worth researching in the event
you end up being responsible for obtaining healthcare for the family.
10) Finally, the life of a telecommuter can be a lonely and independent
one compared to those who work in a company’s office with all the hustle
and bustle of fellow workers. Not only do you not have someone close
by to share the latest jokes with, but you also do not have a conveniently
located person around to bounce ideas off of or discuss work-related
Taking all these things into consideration, as well as all the bumps
that come with finding a telecommuting position, how important is working
at home for our survey respondents? On a scale of one to ten (one being
the lowest), almost every one said “ten”. Having their independence
makes it all worthwhile. Being able to spend more time with their family
instead of on the highways outweighed any downside of telecommuting.
Having a personal life, even if it wasn’t an exciting one, was of more
value to them than any other benefit a company could give.
Copyright 2004, Pamela La Gioia