The day dream is a familiar one; you’re sitting on a white sand beach by the crystal clear ocean, a soft tropical breeze blowing as you sip your third mojito and finish up the day’s work – which took a grand total of an hour on your laptop.
Read the rest of Part 1, 45 Jobs You Can Do From The Beach.
Virtual careers are a reality, and with today’s amazing technology, global marketplace, and increases in outsourcing, there are plenty of on-line jobs you could do to earn a living while traveling, living abroad, or just working from home.
However, I’ve seen a ton of websites that go that far and then stop, not giving you the nuts and bolts of WHERE you can find these jobs and HOW to get them. It’s hard to even do research because most links bring you to other links, paid sites, people selling you stuff, or downright scams. To be honest, it’s incredibly frustrating! There are virtual job sites, like FlexJobs.com, that prescreen employers for you, and their small fee might be well worth it in wasted time.
So I did a little research for you (because I care) to offer some good resources to actually find a legit virtual job and get hired. I do not have any affiliation or get paid by any of these sites (I wish). I’ve clicked on all of the links to see if they were live and looked like credible job services, but I can’t vouch for their validity.
So feel free to email me with any updates or experiences you have when you go to these sites and start your job search.
There are a lot of scams out there in the world of virtual work because the bad guys prey on the anonymity of being online and the dream of “quick money from home” that many job seekers buy into. Here are 5 ways to make sure your virtual job is not a scam:
I had a friend who found a great job on Craigslist that paid $20 an hour and allowed him to work from home. He submitted his resume, got the job, and even talked to someone who was supposed to be his manager. They said they would ship him money to order a special computer and software for him to use. A cashier’s check came in the mail, but when he deposited it to his bank there was an automatic 7-10 day hold on it. The company made it clear that he needed to start immediately to keep the job, so he would have to front the money to get the laptop sent to him, and then of course the check would clear and he would be reimbursed. He was so excited to get started at an easy job that paid $20 an hour that he almost fell for it – until he asked me, and I told him to pump the brakes.
Well, it turns out the check never cleared because it was bogus, and if he had sent money to buy that laptop, he would have lost $2,000 and the job never existed – it was a scam.
How will virtual work be different from a regular job?
Instead of face-to-face contact with your coworkers and clients, you will have to do everything online. That means it’s so important to have a quiet place to work with a great Internet connection (which can be more difficult than it sounds in foreign countries.)
Since you won’t have managers looking over your shoulder, you’ll be tempted to go take a siesta instead of working. But to be successful at virtual work you’ll need to be organized, self-motivated, and have a great work ethic. Sometimes people mistakenly assume virtual work is easy just because you can do it from home, but most virtual professionals I know work even harder, for longer hours, and sometimes for less money. But if you factor in that they don’t have to sit in traffic, get dressed up, or pay for parking and lunch, and the flexibility to take care of the kids – or travel abroad and sit by the beach – it’s well worth it.
Your laptop will be your best friend as you travel and work abroad. In addition a great Internet connection is a must. Most restaurants, bars, and cafes have free Wi-Fi abroad, but you will also want to get a home connection. Your new job might require a printer, and definitely get an external hard drive to backup all of your important documents and work. A good quality headset with a microphone will be needed if you are making frequent calls. Skype and teleconferencing software will replace personal meetings, and there might also be work-specific software or applications. Keep your U.S. (or home country) bank deposit for direct deposit and a Post Office Box to collect any essential mail.
How do I get the job?
You will need an organized resume, just like any other job, but a digital version. Since you won’t interview with your boss or Human Resource folks in person, the way you present yourself on paper (or computer screen) is extremely important. Take full advantage of testimonials, references from past clients, or employer recommendations. Highlight any education, certifications, professional awards, or projects you worked on.
A web page with a service page also makes for a great online resume center, or some sites like eLance or LinkedIn let you to set up your own profile. Take advantage of every tool they allow – professional photos, work samples, uploaded videos, etc. A short video of you in professional attire, introducing yourself and talking about your job skills, experience, and goals for work is a wonderful tool, and the link can be emailed to any potential employer.
Expect a Skype interview, possibly more screening, writing samples, or even a skills test with a virtual job.
Note: Because of the lack of personal contact, expect your employers to do a Google search for your name and probably also look you up on Facebook. Take down those half-naked pictures of you doing tequila shots and stop talking about how you make out with your cats sometimes.
Code of Conduct:
If you are traveling or living abroad, do you have to tell your employer where you are? Is it okay to work in your pajamas? At midnight with the television on? The fine line between professionalism and sloppiness often gets blurred with virtual work, but here is the bottom line: do the job well, exceeding expectations, and you’ll make your employer happy. It’s all about results, and if you need a babysitter to do your work, then you shouldn’t have a virtual job. Communication will key – there’s nothing that freaks your boss out more than if they email you for something important and you don’t get back to them for a long time.
If the job is 100% virtual, you don’t have to disclose your whereabouts (they don’t know if you are sitting home in the next town, the next state, or halfway around the world,) BUT you should ask to review their specific workforce policies before you start. If something is going to create a conflict or become an issue in the future, then honestly address it with your manager ahead of time. Remember that there will also be a time change if you are out of the country, so you may have to work some strange hours!
Be organized, professional, and expect to put as much time into your virtual job hunt as any other employment search. I promise you, it will be worth it to live the dream of spending time in a foreign country and still earning a paycheck!
There are a ton more companies, lists, and job services I could offer you, so email me and I’d be happy to help.
An interview with Sara Sutton Fell, the CEO of FlexJobs.com
Sara, how would you define virtual or stay-at-home careers?
Virtual or stay-at-home careers include a wide variety of terms that all come to the same conclusion -- a job where your primary place of work is NOT a traditional office, but your home office. Other terms that essentially mean the same thing include telecommuting, virtual job, telework, and remote job. Each one of these is used to mean slightly different things so it's important for job seekers to pay attention to the description of any job that offers virtual or telecommuting work options.
Do you see a rise in virtual careers?
Absolutely! As technology makes it easier and easier for people to work from a variety of locations away from the office, virtual careers are becoming more popular and more mainstream. According to the Telework Research Network, there has been a 60% increase in the number of people telecommuting for work since 2005. At FlexJobs, we've seen the number of open telecommuting and flexible job listings increase over 50% since the end of 2011 and now, going from around 7,000 active listings to 14,800 currently.
What is the best way to go about finding these jobs?
Of course, we think FlexJobs is a pretty great resource! Unlike other job search websites, FlexJobs specializes in finding, screening, and listing only telecommuting and flexible jobs, and we pre-screen every job and employer before adding them to our site. No matter where a job seeker searches for virtual or telecommuting jobs, they should know to use keywords like telecommuting, virtual job, and remote job. Phrases like "work from home" and "work at home" are commonly associated with scams.
What is the biggest mistake people make or pitfall in getting a virtual job?
The biggest mistake people can make when looking for virtual work is to not pay attention to the scams in this niche. While many legitimate at-home jobs do exist, there are a huge number of scams out there and job seekers need to stay alert and educate themselves on those scams and how to spot them. At FlexJobs, we help job seekers identify the legitimate, professional-level virtual jobs amid all the scams. Our team of job researchers scour hundreds of job listings every day to weed out scams and find the legitimate listings, which get posted on our site for job seekers to view.
Some examples for job seekers to steer clear of scams: Jobs that sound too good to be true, that promise easy money for no work, that ask you to "invest" or pay to get the job, that require wire transfers through Western Union, or that just sound "off" should be avoided.
Where/who are your employers?
We have over 3,300 employers with open job postings on our site, and over 20,000 who have posted jobs in the past. They are large and small, from Fortune 500 companies to start-ups and nonprofits. We mainly have employers from throughout the United States, and we also have companies based in Canada, Australia, the UK, and other international locations. Some of the most widely recognized names of employers who use FlexJobs to recruit virtual job seekers include: IBM, Capital One, AT&T, Rosetta Stone, the IRS, the Clinton Health Access Initiative, TripAdvisor.com, and Kelly Services.
Where are your clients?
Like our employers, our job seekers are located throughout the United States, with some living internationally as well. According to a survey we did last year, 77% say they live near a big city, and California (11.7%), Colorado (7.7%), and Texas (6.6%) had the most respondents, though we do have job seekers from all 50 states.
What advantages do job seekers get by using your company?
To put it simply, we make searching for a legitimate virtual job easier, faster, and safer. Because our team of job researchers is doing the hardest work for our job seekers -- spending hundreds of hours every week searching for, screening, and verifying virtual job listings -- our members can spend the majority of their job search time crafting excellent applications, rather than scouring through hundreds of job listings every day. On FlexJobs, job seekers have access to thousands of pre-screened, legitimate, and professional-level telecommuting and flexible jobs, as well as our Company Database where they can research thousands of employers who offer telecommuting and flexible jobs, and our Community area with hundreds of articles, videos, and advice columns to help their job search and career development. FlexJobs is the leading job search service of our kind, and we are 100% dedicated to our job seeking members.
Thank you, Sara!
Check out FlexJobs.com or email them for more information.
5 Fastest Growing Virtual Careers:
Sites to search for virtual job:
Links, Resources, Virtual Commerce, & How-To Sites:
Your Online Biz
Write Your Revolution
Be a Freelance Blogger
One Spoon at a Time with Paul Wolfe
The Renegade Writer
Your Inside Guy
Active Server Corner
Downeast Dog News
Landscaping ideas online
Tutoring and Educational Jobs:
Online Teaching Jobs
Specific Companies That Hire Virtual Workers:
(Look on their website or contact their Human Resources manager to find out if they are hiring now.)
United Health Group
Home Shopping Network
Beta Test Beauty
I'll keep updating and adding links to this list, so drop me an email if you have feedback!
Don't miss Norm's new book,
The Queens of Dragon Town!
Norm Schriever is a best-selling author, expat, cultural mad scientist, and enemy of the comfort zone. He travels the globe, telling the stories of the people he finds, and hopes to make the world a little bit better place with his words.