“Believe in yourself and be prepared to work hard.” – Stella McCartney
“What you do is less important than the difference you make.” – Tiffany Dufu
There is a massive trend happening in the workplace right now, where more and more employees are deciding to work from a home office. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of online jobs available that allow you to work from home. At some point, if you haven’t already, you might ask yourself – “Could that really work for me?”
This past May, I took the plunge. I left my full-time teaching job and began working from home instead. In my case, I didn’t have much of a choice. My son was having serious behavior issues at school, and it was becoming virtually impossible to get through my work day without having to have my entire world come to a screeching halt so I could go and deal with his latest outburst. The solution for my wife and I was to work from home and homeschool our son. This way, we’re both there to talk him through any outbursts, and then I can go and pick up my work activities right where I left off.
I have learned, however, that there is serious prejudice out there against work-at-home employees. People assume that if you don’t commute to an office and sit in a cubicle each day that you aren’t really doing anything. They imagine you sitting on a couch, munching on Cheetos for hours on end. Others assume that you are always free and should be at their beck and call. I can tell you, however, that nothing is further from the truth.
Are you wondering if working at home can work for you? Here are a few tips that will help you successfully wade these overwhelming waters in today’s online workplace:
Make Sure You Have Traditional Work Experience Under Your Belt
As with any job, your previous work experience and references is what is going to set you apart from all the other applicants. Companies that offer online work are literally receiving hundreds of applications every single day. If you’re a young person who wants to start working online right out of the gate, you just need to know that this is not going to happen.
This principle will also guide you into what type of online work to apply for. What kind of previous work experience do you have? Think about what you’ve been good at in the past and look for an online version of it. You’ll probably find it!
Don’t Put all Your Eggs Into One Basket
This principle applies to the application process as well as your work day. Earlier this spring, I applied to six online companies and was hired by three of them. No matter how experienced and awesome you might be at a particular job, your name might still get buried beneath a sea of hundreds of other applicants. If one company turns you down, don’t sweat it. Just find another company with good reviews and start again. Expect that you’ll only get positive results about 50% of the time.
If you’re trying to support yourself with this kind of work, landing several jobs is an absolute must. I have learned very quickly that online jobs fluctuate from week to week. Some weeks will be extremely busy and offer a lot of hours, while others may not have as many hours to offer you. The beauty of online work is that you get to set your own schedule. So if things dry up at one company for a particular week, you can just schedule yourself some extra time elsewhere and keep yourself afloat. The name of the game is “organization” and “flexibility.” You have to be willing to think outside of the box, try new things, and keep yourself super (and I do mean super) organized!
Look Before You Leap
When considering different online companies, just know that not all are created equal. Read the Glassdoor reviews for a company before applying to avoid a situation where you aren’t paid what you’re worth.
Also, just know that this is not going to be the most lucrative work you’ve ever done. You’ll probably have to pay for your own medical insurance and save for your own taxes. As an online employee, you’ll be considered an “independent contractor,” which is no different than teaching music lessons/doing tutoring from home or running any other type of home business. This just means that you’ll need to plan ahead and save up for tax season and other rainy days.
In a Nutshell
To wrap it up:
Is online work a joke? Absolutely not – it is completely possible to make a living doing this type of work.
Is online work easy? Absolutely not – don’t be fooled! It may sound like having a home office would be easier, but in many ways it’s actually more challenging. Holding down multiple jobs with multiple companies means that you’ll need to juggle a variety of different assignments at any given time and keep everything straight. You will also need to be very good with computers. If computers aren’t your friend, you should run for your life!
Is online work respectable? Yes! If you get hired, then you will be a qualified professional doing excellent work in a timely and helpful way. But very few people will agree with you on this point. They will most likely misunderstand what you do and judge you from afar. My best advice? Just don’t worry about them. Let them be entitled to their own opinions and old-fashioned ideas, shake it off, and focus on being an excellent employee that day. With this kind of focus and drive, you will go far!
Are You an Online Employee or Otherwise Self-Employed?
What Advice do You Have for Us? I’d Love to Hear From You!