How to Find Legitimate Work-at-Home Jobs

Get a Telecommuting Job That Isn't a Scam

Young woman working on laptop in balcony
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Many people want to work from home, but they aren't interested in freelancing or starting a business. Fortunately, there are many opportunities to get hired in a home-based job. More and more people are employed from home in roles ranging from teachers and writers to nurses and bookkeepers. Well-known companies like Amazon, Aetna, Humana, American Express, Capital One, and Hilton all hire home-based employees.

While the opportunities are out there, that doesn't mean they'll be easy to seize. Landing a work-from-home job will take persistent effort. Along the way, you'll have to keep an eye out for scammers who prey on desperate job-seekers.

Pros and Cons of Telecommuting

Before you commit to seeking out a telecommuting job, make sure it's really what you want to do. While there are some perks to working from home, there are drawbacks to be aware of, as well.

Telecommuting can be great because it could help you have greater flexibility to set wages or salaries since you aren't limited by average wages in your hometown. You may also get to set your schedule or work flexible hours. For those who live in major cities, a huge perk is not having to commute—no more rush hour traffic jams or crowded buses.

On the other hand, and especially if you're from a big city, you may find that working remotely comes with a pay cut. Wages are averaged out based on the cost of living in a variety of areas, and they may not keep up with big cities like New York. You may make more money freelancing or running your own home business, but that comes with a lot of extra work. Competition is also fierce—many people would rather work from home, and you've got to beat all of them during the job-seeking process. That fierce competition creates another downside: you've got to prepare for a long job hunt. You can expect to spend six months or even a year of serious job searching before finally landing something steady and well-paying.

How to Get a Legitimate Work-at-Home Job

The key thing to remember about getting hired to work from home is that telecommuting job searches are done just like traditional job searches. You won't simply sign up somewhere and then have a job (if a job posting promises a situation like this, proceed with extreme caution, it could be a scam). Instead, you'll need a resume or application that shows you've got the skills and experience the employer is looking for. Often, you'll need to dazzle the recruiter with your cover letter, then keep the good impression going through several rounds of skills tests and interviews via phone or video chat.

Once you've prepared your resume, outlined a cover letter, and practiced your interview skills, then there are a few routes you can take to start your job search.

Ask Your Boss to Let You Telecommute

If you're a valued worker and have a job that is conducive to working from home, write a work-at-home proposal that outlines your contributions to the company, how working at home can help the company (i.e. save money or boost productivity), and present it to your boss or manager. If you're already committed to working from home, you might as well try to save yourself the job search and attempt to make your current job remote.

Search for Work-At-Home Opportunities in Your Industry

Maybe your boss won't let you work at home, but another company in the same industry might. You can contact similar companies directly and inquire about telecommuting options along with sending your resume, or you can search for jobs in your industry.

Perfect Your Job Board Searches

Don't use Google to search for telecommuting opportunities. Instead, visit legitimate job search websites, such as CareerBuilder, Indeed.com, and Monster.com. Use telecommuting keywords ("work at home," "telecommute," etc.) or filter options to find the jobs that allow you to work from home. Note that these keywords will bring up listings that also say "no telecommute." Also, remain vigilant about scams. Legitimate websites help cut down on spam and scams, but they still sneak onto the site on occasion. 

Because different companies refer to telecommuting and working from home with different terms, it pays to be aware of some variations and work them into your search. Examples of relevant search terms include:

  • Telecommute
  • "Work from home" and "work at home" (use quotes around search phrases)
  • Remote
  • Virtual
  • Telework (this is more common on job sites outside the U.S.)

You may need to try multiple words to find all jobs. For example, on Careerbuilder, "telecommute" and "work at home" both yield results, but they're different results. Telecommute usually brings up a more professional level or technical jobs. It pays to try several keywords, even if the first one you try gives you good results.

The best sites for finding work-at-home jobs are traditional job sites such as CareerBuilder and Monster.com, but sites like Craigslist can be a source, as well. You'll just need to pay even more attention to potential scams and business opportunities disguised as jobs. Job aggregators, such as Indeed, SimplyHired, and ZipRecruiter, can be good resources because they'll pull jobs from multiple areas into one site. But again, you'll need to stay informed about scams and other non-job schemes. Finally, don't forget to try LinkedIn to find work at home.

Follow Directions for Submitting Your Resume or Application

This seems like a no-brainer, but sometimes applicants try to stand out by submitting more or less than what the employer asks for. Failure to send what is asked only shows you don't know how to follow directions. Employers get more submissions than they need, and the fastest way to trim down their options is by immediately eliminating those who don't follow directions. 

Spruce Up Your Resume

Tailor your resume to the employer's needs to increase your chances of getting noticed. A resume is a sales document, so the more you can show you have the skills and experience the employer is asking for, the better your chances are to get an interview. The same goes for a cover letter—if the employer asks for one. Both should be individually crafted to fit a specific job (based on a general outline you use to start all applications). After facing a slew of rejections, it can be tough to put in the work to customize your resume and cover letter, but it's always worth the extra effort to show you carefully read the job posting.

Avoiding Work-At-Home Scams

Scammers are clever and it isn't uncommon to find their schemes on legitimate sites. You need to do your due diligence to protect yourself from scams.

Legitimate Jobs Will Never Charge to Hire You

Any job asking for money for anything other than a background check is not a job. It might not technically be a scam, but it definitely isn't a job. You should proceed with caution, even if the money is for a background check—most jobs pay for this out of their own pockets.

Keep Abreast of the Most Common Work-At-Home Scams

The quicker you can recognize a scam, the quicker you can get back to searching for legitimate jobs. Assembly work, rebate processing, email processing, and envelope stuffing are all scams. In time, these scams will be replaced with new ones. Every few weeks, search for common work-at-home opportunity scams so you can remain aware of them as they crop up. The more you know about work-at-home scams, the easier your job search will be.

Beware: Traditional Job Titles Can Be Used to Trick People

There are real job opportunities related to typist and data entry work. However, there are also lots of scams that pose as these types of jobs. If you want to pursue a job in one of these fields, research them carefully.

Never Bring Your Bank Account Into the Application Process

Your bank account shouldn't be part of the application process whatsoever. These are fake check scams that can cost you thousands of dollars, loss of bank privileges, and possibly jail time.

If You Think You've Been Scammed, Report It

There are several ways you can report a scam and hopefully get some recourse. Depending on the details of your situation, you may want to involve a company, a government agency, or both.