By Nancy Collamer

Previously posted at

I am asked a wide variety of job related questions, but none is more popular than, 

“How do I find an employer to hire me to work from home?”

There is no easy answer to that question. 

But, let me share with you five key points to keep in mind when embarking on the home-based job hunt:

1. Target work that can be easily handled at home.

In general, jobs that can be completed independently, using basic home-based office equipment (personal computer and a telephone) tend to be best suited for telecommuting. 

Examples of these jobs include:

  • Accounting Tasks  (e.g., bookkeeping, loan processing, and mortgage processing)
  • Clerical Duties  (e.g., data entry, transcription, or word processing) 
  • Computer programming
  • Desktop publishing 
  • Customer service
  • Internet related tasks (e.g., research, web design, writing copy, etc.)
  • Market research/ telemarketing 
  • Recruiting 
  • Sales
  • Writing, proofreading and copyediting

2. Be realistic about finding quality work-at-home positions.

As much as I would like to tell you otherwise, the vast majority of professional level work-from-home jobs are assigned to in-house employees who have proven their capabilities over time (and even those tend to be a mix of in-house and home-based assignments).

While there are some legitimate work-from-home jobs open to new hires, notably customer service and sales agents, most advertised openings are for relatively lower-level opportunities. 

That said, certain industries tend to employ more telecommuters than others. Companies that have a large need for telephone-based customer service jobs (think airlines, insurance, and software firms) can be good bets for home-based employment. 

Other examples of telecommuting-friendly settings include banks that hire home-based mortgage brokers, home inspection companies that hire licensed inspectors, and executive recruiting firms that hire home-based research assistants. 

There are also a handful of companies that recruit customer care agents who work out of their homes as contract employees.

3. Phase into a home-based job.

Because companies tend to give home-based work to employees they know and trust, consider working for a telecommuting friendly company initially as an in-house employee, with the possibility of gaining a full-time telecommuting spot down the road. 

This is a question you can carefully ask as part of the interview process. Ask if any current employees work “remotely” or “from home.” If the answer is yes, ask if the job you are interviewing for qualifies and how the process works for this employer.

4. Persist (with caution) in your hunt for work-from-home jobs on the web.

As with any job search, it pays to be persistent when looking for jobs online. Plug in keywords such as “telecommute” or “home-based jobs” into the search filters to narrow your search results. 

Focus your efforts on job boards that you trust, but Google the employers to be sure they are legitimate. Don’t forget to look at the openings posted directly on individual company sites.

Always be cautious when responding to posted openings. Remember the adage “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” 

Avoid any jobs that require you to purchase lists or “inside information,” and don’t accept any opportunities to be a package reshipper.

5. If all else fails, go entrepreneurial.

If you find yourself frustrated by the lack of quality work-at-home postings, think about ways to  sell your skills and services directly to companies as an independent consultant. 

For example, you could market your administrative services as a virtual assistant to companies who want to outsource their data-entry work or you could offer medical transcription services to local physicians. 

While choosing to go the entrepreneurial route might take more time and money initially, you will likely enjoy greater profits, flexibility, and control over the long haul.

The Bottom Line

Working from home is a good option for many people, but caution is needed right now. As time passes, opportunities will probably increase.

Nancy Collamer, M.S., is a career coach, speaker and author of Second-Act Careers: 50+ Ways to Profit from Your Passions During Semi-Retirement (Random House, 2013).

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