Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Legitimate work from home opportunities

This week's post comes from Christine Gertz, Library and Information Specialist with CAPS.

Last week, I completed a series of webinars on how to find work from home opportunities, offered by CERIC and taught by Anne-Marie Rolfe at the Education & Employment Centre. At CAPS, we get either one of two questions about working from home: the first, is this ad I saw for real? and the second, can I work from home? This course answered both of those questions and an additional one that clients ask about rarely.

Is this ad for real?

Yes, there are plenty of work from home opportunities that are legitimate. They involve real paid work, from low-skilled occupations to professional services for which you would need a degree in a specific field to offer. Based on what I learned from the training, I would also say that there are plenty of work from home scams. With some training, you can learn to recognize them.

First, you can call or email us if you see an ad that you are curious about but you want more information. If you haven’t seen a specific ad but you are interested in opportunities in this field, you can read up about scams in The Little Black Book of Scams from the Competition Bureau of Canada and on the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre Scam Types website. The Federal Trade Commission of the United States also offers resources on their Consumer Information site.

A background in recognizing common frauds will answer many of your questions about a job ad you find online. After all, most of the scams are just copied and adjusted cons--they even copy spelling errors--so if you see one you will have enough information to recognize other common attempts to defraud job seekers.

Can I work from home?

Yes, you can work from home doing legitimate professional work. You may even be able to negotiate full and part-time work from home with your current employer, though this will depend on the nature of your employment.

There are companies that offer only work from home opportunities, such companies that either want a highly flexible work force as in they need to offer services 24/7 or that don’t want to pay for office space or have a centralized office. The firm may also be multinational and need employees with a wide variety of cultural and linguistic skills, so having an office in one country may not be the best choice for their business. An organization may also decide to close their local office but retain their local employees through a telework arrangement.

Other work from home opportunities include entrepreneurship, such as becoming a service provider (e.g. tutor); freelancing (computer programming, sales and editing are examples); or becoming a consultant (e.g. consulting engineer, anthropologist). In this case, your office is your home and you need to market your services and find clients that will pay your fee for service.

What Work Will I Do?

If you have ordered a pizza by phone recently or contacted customer service about your rental car or the plane tickets you just booked, you may have spoken to a person working from home. Some call centres have opted for the work from home model, which means their employees may be happier and they don’t need to pay for office space.

Work from home opportunities include, but are not limited to:

· In-bound call centres. This is not sales or telemarketing (though you may have to make sales calls depending on your employer’s needs) but answering calls when customers call the company for service.

· Transcription. Transcription involves taking the spoken word and turning them into written notes or specifically formatted documents. Most people think of medical transcription, but you can also find employment transcribing research and classroom or business discussions.

· Teaching and instruction. You can teach or tutor students in a wide variety of topics, whether as an entrepreneur or by listing with a broker or school. You may also be able to find specialized or niche employment as an instructor, by offering cooking lessons, personal training or guided walkthroughs on video games for example.

· Translation. If you can translate documents or interpret conversations, especially if you have higher level training in a specific language or lack training but speak a “rare” language, you may be able to find work from home employment as a translator. Adding subtitles to movies is a popular work from home activity.

These are just examples of some of the legitimate and more common work from home opportunities that are available.

Are you interested in this topic?

I took this training so CAPS can offer training to students, alumni, postdocs and interested members of the public on this topic. If you are interested, send me a “yes, I’m interested” message. If we decide to offer training in this area, we will email you with dates and times, or send you a link if we develop a class. You can also provide us with any comments or thoughts you have about this topic, such as I want an in-person class, or tell us about an experience you had while working from home. We will use your comments to decide how we will offer training on this topic.