Editor’s Note: Holly Reisem Hanna is the Founder and Publisher of The Work at Home Woman, an award-winning website dedicated to helping women and moms fulfill their dreams of working from home or becoming self-employed.
Finding a work at home job can be a challenge. Not only do you have to weed through the scams and sift through the various job sites to find the opportunities, but you need to make sure that the job is a good fit.
But with a little elbow grease and some persistence you can find your work at home bliss.
Here are 10 stepping stones to guide you to work at home success.
1: Polish Your Resume
For any job search you need to update and polish your resume. A work at home gig is a highly coveted position and employers are looking for the cream of the crop. Update and freshen your resume, references and cover letter – make sure you stand out from the crowd. Remember to tailor your resume to each specific job that you are applying for; nowadays resumes are first scanned by a computer searching for keywords and phrases that were used in the classified ad or job description, make sure to incorporate these into your resume.
If you’ve been out of the work force for awhile, remember to document this and add noteworthy accomplishments that may boost your creditability; volunteer experience, helping with a family business, personal blogging, social media experience, etc.
For more tips on how to polish your resume, check out this article on the Huffington Post.
2: Take Inventory of Your Skills and Passions
Make a detailed list of your skills, previous job experience, education, passions, hobbies and strengths. Once you have your master list, create another list of jobs you can do be because of your previous knowledge and experience. Remember to think outside the box, try searching for opportunities by your skill set not just your occupation. Your nursing background and love of social media could make you the perfect candidate for a Social Media Marketer in the healthcare industry.
Need more ideas, see Finding Your Niche- How to Find a Career that You Love.
3: Research Job Opportunities and Companies
Take time to research the companies you’d like to work for. What are their qualifications and equipment requirements for virtual employees? Do they offer benefits? Is there opportunity for advancement and growth? Besides looking at the company itself, check out what others are saying about the company. Do they treat their employees well? Are they involved with the community? By finding the companies whose values and interests mirror your own, you can help to ensure the best possible fit.
4: Connect with Your Network
I’m always talking about this and there is a reason why – it’s because networking works! Three out of four of my last jobs I got through networking, and here’s why. First, people are more apt to trust a known person’s recommendation over a stack of totally unknown resumes. Secondly, people enjoy helping other people out, so let it be known that you are searching for a work at home job. Start off by telling your friends and family that you’re looking for a home-based position and if they hear of anything to let you know. With social networks like Facebook getting connected and staying connected is easier than ever. And as they say, it’s not so much who you know, but who your contacts know.
5: Integrate Social Media into Your Search
Get involved in the three big social networks: Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn (all free to join). Here you can connect with old colleagues, friends and classmates, but also increase your reach by following companies you’d like to work for, joining groups and meeting new people.
LinkedIn is a great place to start your job search. You can easily create a professional profile, search for jobs and connect with former employers, co-workers and managers. On LinkedIn you’ll want to make your profile as approachable as possible. One way to do this is by joining various groups, such as alumni groups, professional groups and company sponsored groups.
Twitter is another great social network to facilitate your job search. For more info on how to incorporate Twitter into your job search, check out this comprehensive article by Windmill Networking.
6: Utilize Online Job Tools
We’re all familiar with the big job board sites like Career Builder and Monster, and while these can be helpful in your job search, there are tons of niche related sites and aggregated job board sites that can be highly beneficial to your telecommuting job search.
On sites like Simply Hired and Indeed you’re able to submit a few keywords and a location, and they will pull jobs from all of the major job board sites and deliver them to you in one easy to read search.
The niche site, FlexJobs only posts flexible job arrangements, like telecommuting positions, part-time and freelance positions. Here they hand-screen all of their positions before posting so you can rest assured that they are legit. A FlexJobs membership does cost a small fee, but is well worth the peace of mind you’ll receive from knowing that you’re applying for legitimate work at home jobs.
Need an assistant to keep all of your jobs searches straight? Try using an online career management tool, like Jibber Jobber. Here you can organize and manage your job searches, track your personal and professional relationships, target companies and track jobs that you’ve applied to.
7: Practice Your Interviewing Skills
Even before you score the interview, you need to take time to practice your interviewing skills. One of the best ways to do this is to gather a list of common interviewing questions and practice answering them out loud. Do this over and over again until you’re comfortable answering them on the spot.
Along with this you need to thoroughly research the company and know some background information on them. Many companies will ask you, “Why do you want to work for us?” – And you will need to come up with a good answer. Having this background knowledge will not only help you to answer the question, but it shows the interviewer that you’re well prepared (a quality that most employers are looking for).
8: Dress for Success
Along with practicing your interviewing skills, you need to be prepared for that interview by looking the part. You only have one chance to make a first impression, so prepare ahead and make sure that you have an appropriate outfit or two for an interview. Dressy slacks, a button down shirt a blazer and some heels will do the job. Finish off the look by paying attention to the small details: clean nails (no chipped polish), clean hair (maintain your cut and color) and no excessive accents (jewelry, makeup or perfume).
While many remote positions will require that you interview over the Phone or via Skype, you still should dress up just as you were going to meet them in person. Like they say, if you look good, you feel good – and this will come across in your tone, attitude and mannerisms.
Need more suggestions on how to dress for success? Check out What to Wear on a Job Interview.
After you’ve applied for a job, give it a few days and then send a follow-up message. By doing this you can ensure that your resume made it to its correct destination. It also shows that you are a person that takes initiative. With this said, don’t be pesky. One follow-up message should be sufficient, unless you’re given instructions to call again at a specific time.
Did you score an interview? Awesome – Now remember to send a thank you note within 24 hours of the interview. Handwritten notes tend to score the most points with managers, but if they are making a decision quickly or you don’t have a physical mailing address a thank you email will work just fine.
For more tips on how to craft a well written thank you note – see this post from Work Tree.
10: Don’t Give Up
According to an article by eHow, it takes the average job seeker 21 weeks to find a job. A couple of other considerations to take into account, is those who are older (55+) and those who are looking for higher paying jobs ($100,000+) tend to take even longer. The key is to be patient and persistent. If you start to feel frustrated find a support group – Meetup has various groups in various locations just for unemployed individuals.
How did you find your work at home job?