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Finding Work From Home Opportunities

10 tips for successfully working from home

Why work from home?

Opportunities that allow one to work from home are being sought by many American workers today. It's easy to understand why working from home is such a popular goal when we consider the following questions:

  • Does it seem like you're losing the battle to balance work and family?
  • Do you feel that long commutes in rush hour traffic, choking exhaust fumes, and testy drivers are way overrated?
  • Do you have a burning desire to make a decent living without leaving your house on those cold winter days?
If the answer to one or more of these questions is yes, you're probably considering looking for a legitimate work from home opportunity. Why has working from home (telecommuting) become so popular?

The most common reason cited is that working from home provides parents with a lot more flexibility than conventional employment. They can stay home when a child is home sick. They're able to be home waiting for their children when they get home from school. And they don't have to worry about missing the conferences, plays, games, and other events that many parents are forced to miss due to demanding work schedules.

So how should you prepare for a successful work from home job search? Answer: With great care, and even more patience. Read what Pat, a Mom of 3, who works from home as a Medical Transcriptionist had to say:
"It takes a lot longer to find a solid work from home job than a traditional job. It took me 14 months to find the job that I have now, but it was well worth the wait. Now I'm 100% sure of how the kids are being taken care of because I'm now the one taking care of them. We're all much happier now that I'm able to work from home."

Pat is right. It takes the average telecommuting job seeker at least a year before they find a position that suits their needs, and that's in a good economy.
But you can give yourself an enormous edge over the competition by having a current resume geared towards your work from home employment search. Here are 10 tips to help guarantee a successful telecommuting job search:

  1. Make sure you provide all of the documents that the job advertisement asks for. Include your updated resume and personalized cover letter and make sure that you abide by any and all submission instructions.
    Use postal mail, phone calls, fax, or email only when asked to. If you use a submission option that isn't listed, then you can safely assume that your prospective employer will not look upon your resume favorably.
    One of the most important attributes of a successful work from home employee is the ability to follow written instructions to the letter, so always follow instructions to the letter when submitting a job application!
  2. Have an updated resume ready and waiting to be submitted to the address given in the ad. Unless the employer specifically requests your resume in Microsoft Word format (this is fairly common today), always submit your resume electronically in .txt format. I know that .txt format isn't as pretty as a formatted one, but it may help keep your resume safe from the delete key.
  3. If you have multiple interests in several fields, don't try to list them all on one resume. The result could make you appear to be the proverbial "jack of all trades and master of none." 
    Instead, use multiple resumes, each tailored to the specific field and experience that is related to the work at home position being applied for.
  4. Write a short, but descriptive objective. The objective is what entices the prospective employer to continue reading your  resume. If it doesn't match what she is looking for, or is so vague that she can't figure out what you are looking for, your resume will probably be discarded. A good rule of thumb is to limit your objective to ten words or less.
  5. Write a resume that details any equipment, software, or
    services that you currently have that will enable you to effectively work from home at the job you're applying for. If it comes down to a choice between you and another person who will need to set up a home office, then the job is probably yours almost by default.
  6. If you're looking at local companies and you're receptive to part-time telecommuting, place this on your resume also. Many companies are reluctant to hire employees that want to telecommute exclusively, but they may be receptive to a part on-site, part from-home arrangement.
  7. If you're already a telecommuter, try to demonstrate on your resume how your current (or last) employer benefited from your work from home arrangement. It may help your prospective employer realize an advantage to telecommuting that he failed to recognize or consider.
  8. Localize your work from home job search. Many job seekers overlook their own local areas and tend to focus exclusively on the internet for work from home opportunities.
    While the internet does indeed offer an incredible number of work from home job opportunities, just think of how many others are seeing and applying for the same jobs you are. Compare that to the number of people that read your local paper, or that will find the businesses via the phone book. There's simply no comparison.
    Many local business owners may also prefer to hire only local telecommuters since they can interview you in person, have you come into the office when needed, and train you in a one-on-one setting. So don't be afraid to approach a local business, even if they aren't advertising work at home job opportunities.
  9. Take advantage of word of mouth "reverse recruiting". Tell everyone you know that you're looking for a work from home job. It just may result in exactly the type of job you're looking for!
    If one of your friends works in an office and knows that there is an impossible deadline looming, she may be able to convince her boss to hire you to do the extra work that will be required in order to meet the deadline.
    "That's what happened to me", says Janet, a work at home Graphic Designer. A friend called her on a Thursday and told her that they needed help in order to meet a deadline. Janet was working for the company by 9 AM the following day, even though the company was located over 200 miles away. She did such great work in that job that she still works for them almost two years later as a telecommuter.
  10. Approach your current employer and ask to be allowed to transition your current job to a work from home position. While work from home jobs are in hot demand, in actuality, most of them result from current employers needing to make room in their offices, reduce overhead, or accommodate an employee who needs a more flexible schedule (or even needs to relocate).
    If you believe that your present employer just may be receptive to having you work from home, you may be a step ahead by applying to someone who is already aware of what you can do!
Keep in mind that the average work from home job brings in five to ten times as many applicants as traditional jobs. Anything that you can do to highlight your experience, skills, knowledge, or abilities, coupled with specific examples of how you can benefit the employer will help give you an advantage over the other prospects.

And don't let the competition scare you off! The opportunity to minimize the stress in your life and improve your family life are well worth the probability of a longer job search. Besides, just look at what you'll save on clothing. Sweats (and pajamas) are a lot cheaper than expensive office attire, not to mention a whole lot more comfortable!

Kim Green-Spangler is a successful home-based freelance writer. She runs her own copywriting, ghostwriting, and resume writing business at www.justwrite4u.com.

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