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Balancing Your Priorities with Your Search for At-Home Work
Once you've surfed the web, you can't help but notice all the ads and websites meant to hook the hordes of 'work-at-home wannabes'.
Understandably, there's no shortage of people who want to make their living from home. Many parents want to be able to stay at home with their children while contributing to the household expenses. Others want to ditch the world of long commutes and corporate politics. Still others have disabilities that may prevent them from working a 'regular' job.
Regardless of the reasons, 'work at home' is undeniably a hot topic. The International Telework Association and Council (ITAC) states that 19.6 million teleworked in Q3 1999. By 2003 that's projected to be a whopping 137 million worldwide!
Two ways to pursue a career from home are to either telecommute for an employer, or start your own home based business.
As the editor of three newsletters, I regularly come into contact with people looking for at-home work. A large percentage of them prefer to work for an employer -- they like the idea of having well-defined responsibilities and a regular pay cheque. They're not interested in the ups and downs of building a business.
Thus many websites have sprung up claiming to offer telecommuting jobs. While it's possible to land one of these highly competitive positions, it's certainly not easy.
One of the problems is simply oversaturation of the market. Many people seeking at-home work are looking for clerical or administrative jobs; yet when I look through posted telecommuting jobs, I see primarily technical positions available. That said, would you be willing to go to school to get an education that may improve your chances of landing a work-at-home job?
Telecommuting positions are usually 'perks'; something offered (or hard-won) by employees with proven track records.
Consider working in an office first in order to reach your final goal of working from home. If all goes well, you can present your employer with a telecommuting proposal after you've established yourself -- perhaps just one telecommuting day per week first, then gradually build up to several days a week. An excellent site for help on how to create a telecommuting proposal is http://www.telecommutingproposal.com/.
Of course there are companies that hire telecommuters from outside as well. Be aware, however, that some of these companies (not all) may take advantage of the desire to work from home - for example, with low pay and few or no benefits.
Keep your options open! You may have to consider jobs that you otherwise would not. Consider freelance or contract work in addition to 'permanent full-time' jobs. An excellent site for freelance jobs can be found at http://homebasedwork.com/freelance.html.
It all comes down to what your priorities are. Telecommuting can be a wonderful thing for many people, but you may have to 'sacrifice' some things in order to get it. How much work are you willing to put into your desire to work from home? What are you willing to give up in order to achieve this goal?
I'm not saying that you can't find rewarding telecommuting work at a company for which you've never worked before ... far from it! However, it's highly competitive and employers can afford to be choosy. Your best best is to be prepared, stay open to new possibilities, and do your research.
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