‘JT & Dale Talk Jobs’ is the largest nationally syndicated career advice column in the country and can be found at JTandDale.com. Dear J.T. & Dale: I have been unemployed for the past few months and learned that I enjoy being at home. I need to work, but a flexible schedule, working from home, would be perfect. How do I find at-home jobs that aren't scams? — Annette Dale: I just met someone who'd recently become a "remote employee," meaning that he now does his job from home. He told me, grinning, "I get up in the morning, put on my bathrobe and 'commute' down the stairs to my office in the dining room." Naturally, a lot of folks would like to score those jobs. Hence, the scams. J.T.: The most common way people are earning money is through being "affiliates" for advertising. They post ads from various sources on Web sites and earn income when visitors click on the ads. Unfortunately, unless you are super-savvy about Web traffic, you may not see the income you desire. What I'd suggest instead is to identify your skills and figure out which ones could be done from home, then build a personal brand that will enable you to market your business-of-one to companies. For example, a woman I know who's very adept at data entry on the computer wanted to work from home. She started networking with everyone she knew, asking about challenges involving data entry. Eventually, one friend mentioned that there was always a huge pile of data-entry work at the end of each day at her company. She got her friend to connect her with management, and now she regularly does the data entry that the full-time day staff can't get to. Dale: The businesses I've owned through the years have always used at-home employees to supplement the regular staff. My market-research company employed at-home report writers, data-entry clerks and interviewers. It amazes me that more companies don't do this; having employees who work from home means less office overhead and fewer HR emergencies ("Did you see what Jennifer was wearing today — she's practically naked!"). Companies large and small are figuring this out — airline reservation agents, salespeople and many others are going "remote." However, these jobs are so desirable that not only do they not get advertised, but companies have internal waiting lists. So, J.T. is right about marketing yourself as an independent supplier. This economy, where employers are uncertain, is perfect for you, because employers can get your help without making a commitment to full-time employment. Jeanine "J.T." Tanner O'Donnell is a professional development specialist and founder of CAREEREALISM.com. Dale Dauten's latest book is "(Great) Employees Only: How Gifted Bosses Hire and De-Hire Their Way to Success" (John Wiley & Sons). Please visit them at jtanddale.com, where you can send questions via e-mail, or write to them in care of King Features Syndicate, 300 W. 57th St, 15th Floor, New York, NY 10019. © 2009 by King Features Syndicate, Inc.
January 10, 2010