“What are good options for work-at-home jobs?” — Keiko, San Francisco, CA
As the search for an ideal work-life balance continues, more people are considering home-based jobs. A study by the Families and Work Institute (PDF) found 87 percent of employees rate having flexibility to manage work and family life as “extremely” or “very” important, yet just 20 percent say their current jobs allow them to balance the demands of work and personal schedules.
By eliminating commuting time and offering non-traditional hours, work-at-home jobs may provide just the opportunity for balance people like you have been looking for. At-home jobs are available in a variety of fields, including customer service/telemarketing, data entry, tutoring, freelance writing, tax preparation, and general and legal transcription.
While deciding to work at home may be easy, finding the right job isn’t. Scams offering easy, high-paying work-at-home jobs are everywhere — especially on the Internet. In fact, complaints to the Federal Trade Commission about such job offers have doubled in recent years. More than 24,000 complaints were filed in 2010 alone.
While the prevalence of so much fraud can be discouraging, there are a few key steps you can take to protect yourself while you search for legitimate at-home opportunities:
- Remember the work-at-home golden rule: Employers pay you. You don’t pay them. Steer clear of any job requiring an application fee or demanding you to buy special equipment or supplies from the employer.
- Do your homework. Search online for the name of a work-at-home company and the word “scam” and see what turns up. Next, contact the Better Business Bureau and your state consumer protection office to see if any complaints have been filed against the company. Let the experience of others be a guide for you.
- Look for telecommuting opportunities at well-known companies. This is the safest way to find legitimate work-at-home jobs.
- Ask questions. When researching an at-home job, make sure you know what the work involves, what the set-up requirements are for you, and how, when and by whom you will be paid.
- Trust your gut. If an offer sounds too good to be true, it is. Don’t let your desire for flexibility turn you into a victim of fraud. To see what kind of work-at-home schemes are out there, read the FTC’s consumer fact sheet.
There are many positive aspects to working from home, especially when it comes to putting your family and professional lives in sync. With thorough research and a heavy dose of caution, the right opportunity could be out there for you.