How to Work AND Have a Life

The job market for full-time traditional jobs is a tough one at the moment, but there are some alternatives jobs that are great for college students and recent grads: telecommuting (or work-from-home), flexible, part-time, and freelance jobs are excellent alternatives to traditional nine-to-five positions, especially for grads who want to work, but also want to have a life. We’re going to break down the what, where, why, and how of telecommuting and flexible jobs.

What are telecommuting and flexible jobs?

Telecommuting jobs are also commonly known as work-from-home, remote, virtual, cloud-working, and geographically-neutral jobs.  This type of job is done outside of the employer’s office. Telecommuting jobs can be full-time or part-time, freelance or permanent, and can have set or flexible schedules. The defining characteristic of a telecommuting job is that the work is done from a home office or another locale (coffee shop, library) away from the employer, and is primarily conducted over phone, e-mail, and other electronic forms of communication. Telecommute jobs may require no face-to-face interaction, or some, depending on each situation.

Flexible jobs, on the other hand, could be in-office or at-home jobs, but they offer a flexible schedule of some kind. Whether it be setting your own hours, working early or late, or working in a results-oriented environment that doesn’t care when you work as long as your work gets done, flexible jobs have flexible schedules. 

Where can you find telecommuting and flexible jobs?

Home-based and flexible work exists for all types of professions, and the job search process is very similar to a regular job search except that your search can be expanded if location isn’t a consideration. Examples of telecommuting and flexible jobs include finance, case management, customer service, marketing and sales, web and graphic design, recruiting, writing and editing, teaching, consulting, accounting, nonprofit management, and even nursing and other medical professions (really, we’ve seen listings for neurosurgeons!).

If you already have a job, you might consider whether your current employer would accept a telecommuting or flexible arrangement. You might suggest a trial run to demonstrate your ability to be a work superstar even when telecommuting or working a flexible schedule.

Why should you consider telecommuting and flexible jobs?

There are some serious benefits to telecommuting and flexible schedule jobs. One that we’ve already discussed is the ability to arrange your work to fit your life, instead of the other way around. Studies are continuously showing that people who work from home or who have flexible jobs are more productive, happier, less stressed, and more likely to continue working for their employer over the long-term.

How can you find telecommuting and flexible jobs?

Searching for these types of jobs is very similar to searching for any type of job. It’s important to reach out to your already-established network of friends, colleagues, family, and professors to see if they might be aware of opportunities and resources. You can also search for jobs online, but be ready to spend some serious time researching because you’ll need to weed through the numerous scams. Sites like FlexJobs offer pre-screened, legitimate job listings to help job seekers cut down on their search time.

Job searching should become part of your routine – make time every day to further your search. Consider similar or related careers to the ones you’re searching for to expand your possibilities. Make sure your resume and cover letters are up-to-date and reviewed by professionals. As college students and recent grads, you’re probably able to use your college’s career office for help. Your materials can be refocused on the traits that will make you a successful telecommuter or flexible worker: self-discipline, working independently, communicating well over the phone and in writing, and being responsible and trustworthy.

How can you spot a telecommuting or flexible job scam?

There are a number of quick ways to determine if a job opportunity is legitimate or not.  Does the listing sound too good to be true?  Is the company’s name listed in the job listing AND do they direct you to apply via a website domain or email domain that matches the company name?  Are you being asked for identity information such as bank account, credit card, or social security numbers?  Are you being asked by the employer to pay to apply?  If you answer yes to any of these, consider it a red flag that the job might be a scam job.

If you’re uncertain, do a quick search for the company.  Check to see if they’re registered with the Better Business Bureau. Also, do a search for the company name and the words “complaint” or “scam” to see if others have voiced concerns about them. The more research you do up front, the less likely you’ll fall victim to these types of job scams.

Telecommuting jobs and flexible work arrangements are a growing segment of the job market. If you find yourself drawn to the idea of loving your job and having a life, why not get out there and see what’s available for you?

Sara Sutton Fell is the CEO/Founder of FlexJobs  and she has over 15 years of experience in the online job market. Sara founded FlexJobs in 2007 after her own challenging experience looking for legitimate, professional, flexible work inspired her to start a business that would help other people searching for the same thing. FlexJobs is the leading career website for telecommuting, flexible, part-time, and freelance work opportunities. Check out the FlexJobs Blog for more info and advice on searching for telecommuting and flexible jobs.

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