I often get asked how a job seeker can find a job working from home or at least telecommuting part-time. The truth is, there is no magic formula. Job seekers should be leery of advertisements on the internet offering you 100% flexibility and the ability to work from home fulltime. Most of those ads are scams and will not lead you anywhere. So how do you do it? Here are my tips:
- Understand your own needs and objectives. What is it you really want? I have friends that say they want to work from home but they really just want better work-life balance or more flexibility. Do you want a more flexible work schedule to balance family commitments? Do you live in the exoburbs and want to reduce your commute? Do you just hate the office environment and feel more productive working from home? Would you be willing to commute to the office part-time? If so, how many days a week is acceptable? What about business travel? Asking yourself these question can help you better understand what you are really looking for and what you would be willing to accept.
- Search jobs that interest you or that you are well suited for. There’s an old adage about never taking a job solely based on the salary offered. The same goes for flexible work options. If the only reason you are accepting a job is because the employer lets you work from home, you may be disappointed in the long run. If you don’t like the job, working remotely is not going to make it any better. In your initial job search, forget about the working arrangements and look for something that you really want to do.
- Don’t get discouraged if the job doesn’t list WFH or telecommuting as options. Many employers don’t advertise their flexible work arrangements. You may not find out about their specific policies until you are well into the interview process. Alternatively, companies may be flexible on their location requirements if they find the right candidate. Once you find an attractive job opening (see #2 above) do a little research on the company to see if the company has flexible work options. It’s even better if you can network with people that work or have worked at the company and find out directly what’s offered internally.
- Don’t ask about work arrangements in the initial interview. The first interview with a company is like a first date. Both parties are really looking for compatibility but not necessarily diving into specifics. I used to know several recruiters that would always tell me, “The first person that brings up money, loses.” They basically meant that you didn’t want to ask how much money you were going to make during the first interview because you could scare off the employer. The same can be said for all benefits, including telework. Let the employer get to know and want you before you get into specifics around working arrangements. However, if the employer brings it up during the initial interview then it’s usually fair game to talk about it.
- Be able to demonstrate how you have effectively worked remotely in the past. Although many employers are still old school in their management practices and are just starting to implement telework or flexible work options, other innovative companies do this naturally as part of everyday business. In some cases, employers are specifically looking for individuals to work from satellite offices or work from home at least part time to conserve on office space. These employers will look for you to provide examples of how well you worked in a virtual environment in the past. If you’ve never worked remotely, you can use your experiences from participating in a virtual team or at least be able to explain how you’ve been able to be effective without needing to sit in front of your manager or peers.
There are some trustworthy websites and online resources for virtual job seekers. Check out the websites below in addition to the popular sites like Monster, CareerBuilder, or Indeed:
Happy job hunting,