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Job Hunting Tips

Strategies for Building a Remote Career

Have you ever wished you could work from your own home office? Imagine ditching the nine-to-five grind with its early wake up call and traffic-filled drive, and replacing it with a remote job. It's nice work if you can get it, and you certainly should be able to find your own niche with a bit of research.

Having a remote job is more realistic these days since so many people fulfill their job responsibilities at a computer workstation. Some of the top work-at-home jobs are content writing, social media marketing and web design, and the latest trend has been to outsource customer service duties as well.

Check Out Your Options

When you start researching the possibilities, you'll find that there are three initial categories for remote jobs. Working for a company as a contractor or as a direct employee are the first two choices. The third option is starting up your own online business.

Many of the online jobs in marketing and writing involve signing up with a content company. A job like web design is a good fit for going it alone, but you'll need to network, and possibly advertise, to find clients.

Here are some of the possibilities for working remotely:

Marketing

  • Copywriting
  • Editing
  • E-mail marketing
  • Social media marketing

Journalism

  • Freelance writing
  • Editing
  • Web design
  • Graphic design

Online Services

  • Crowdsourcing
  • E-book publishing
  • Photography and video

Customer Service

  • Call center
  • Tech support

Language

  • Translating
  • Closed captioning
  • Medical coding

Academic

  • Teaching
  • Tutoring
  • Academic recruitment

Professional Services

  • Nursing
  • Accounting
  • Engineering
  • Data Entry
  • Computer Analysis
  • Consulting
  • Therapy

Online Marketing is Booming

This is one area in which you can find remote work fairly easily. There are several reputable companies that employ contract writers to meet the needs of their marketing clients. Copywriting is a staple of this type of work, and prior experience will help you land a job.

If you have a strong grasp of grammar and excellent writing skills, you can even start out with no marketing background and learn as you go.

Expect a learning curve either way, though, with up to a year before you start getting regular work and decent pay. Sometimes, content writers can go on to become editors once they gain experience.

Many companies have switched to automated e-mail marketing, but there's always a need for social media marketing. If you're adept at communicating with online apps like Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, you may be able to find a remote job in this marketing niche.

Put Your Journalism Skills to Work

Hundreds of newspapers across the country are switching to a primarily digital presence, and they need freelance articles as much as ever. You'll have a better chance of success if you already have a body of work that showcases your writing ability.

If you're starting from scratch, however, one way to get a foot in the door is to work as an unpaid blog contributor until you have writing samples to offer. Online editing jobs are harder to find unless you've worked in the journalism field for a few years.

Digital newspapers often outsource web building and graphic design, and it helps if you have experience and samples of past work to share. Advanced knowledge of HTML is needed for website creation.

Start a Web Services Business

Another way to use your writing and organizational skills is to assist others in their online endeavors. Non-profits, social justice organizations and aspiring entrepreneurs often use crowd-funding sites like Kickstarter and GoFundMe to raise money. A crowd-sourcing manager is someone who's talented at crafting a message and has the marketing savvy needed to encourage contributions.

It's easy to self-publish a book today, with websites like Amazon, Smashwords and Kindle Direct offering free publication in both print and e-book format. It's more complicated, however, to follow all the steps necessary to get a book to market. As an e-book publishing expert, you can charge for formatting, proofing and publishing e-books for those who need assistance.

There's also plenty of demand online for a skilled photographer or videographer. Tap into the demand for professional quality photos and promotional videos to start your own business, and hire your skills out to companies that need marketing materials.

Provide Remote Customer Service

Today's call centres are sometimes actually staffed by people sitting in front of their own computers. With a headset and the right software, you can perform all the duties of a customer service representative: open and close accounts, register complaints, answer questions, etc. Tech support is another good choice for those who want to work remotely and have the computer skills and knowledge necessary for the job.

Use Your Language or Teaching Skills

If you're proficient in another language, you may be able to find online work as a translator or language tutor. Medical coding and closed captioning are other opportunities, although both of them require training.

Home-based study options have increased over the last decade for students at every level. If you have a bachelor's degree, you may be able to find remote work as an online teacher or tutor. Academic recruiters also work independently much of the time, and sometimes travel is involved in that line of work.

Practice Your Profession Remotely

If you're employed as a professional in any medical, tech or business field, chances are good that you can find an opportunity to do remote work. For nurses, there are remote jobs that involve screening, advising and checking up on patients through phone calls.

Online psychological counseling has also begun to be more common, giving people more options for therapy. Accounting is a profession that works in almost any setting, and other business and tech jobs, like data entry and programming, can often be done in a home environment.

Bring Your Job Home

One option for making the change to remote employment is to check with your current employer to find out if the company will allow you to work remotely. More businesses have begun to offer flexible employment terms such as working from home all or part of the time.

If you decide to go this route, prepare a written rationale for the move to give to your supervisor. Be sure and spell out how you would communicate with others at work, and include any other relevant details about your proposal.

Why People Work Remotely

One of the main reasons people cite for choosing to work outside of an office is the desire to have more flexibility in their lives. Remote jobs don't necessarily have to be done at home, for example. The motto for some remote employees or self-employed business owners is "have laptop, will travel."

Some people choose to work outside the traditional office environment for health and wellness reasons. Working on a project without the distractions of co-workers, ringing phones and meetings can boost productivity and job satisfaction. For many, it's a much less stressful environment.

Working outside of an office setting also provides more alternatives. A person completing a project remotely can do it on a sofa or at their favourite coffee shop. Also, if you work at home, you can take a walk or a nap as needed. You make your own schedule and work in a way that's the best fit for you as an individual.

There are also co-working options available for freelancers, entrepreneurs and remote workers. These spaces often provide office supplies, snacks and comfortable working conditions, but workers have more autonomy and privacy than in a traditional company setting.

Possible Drawbacks of Remote Work

Concerns about working remotely include:

  • Communication barriers
  • Security concerns
  • Productivity issues

Remote and on-site work both have advantages and drawbacks. Lack of effective communication is one issue that might crop up if you're working outside a company's physical environment. That's why some companies allow remote work but require employees to attend regular meetings.

One boon to communication is the capability of today's smartphones to transmit real-time video. Client and provider or supervisor and employee can speak regularly and even show each other elements of the job over the phone.

Security issues can crop up when a worker is using a laptop that's outside of the company network. Fixes to alleviate this concern include strong passwords, encryption programs, and virtual private networks (VPNs). Common sense measures like keeping antivirus programs up to date and locking your phone and laptop also help.

As far as productivity, the best way to ensure it is through written expectations and clear objectives agreed upon between the manager and employee. As long as a worker is meeting deadlines and producing useful work, there should be no issue with their level of output.

Benefits of Working Remotely

Some of the benefits of remote work are:

  • Lower stress
  • Higher productivity
  • Stronger morale
  • More autonomy
  • Cost savings

Having the ability to use your own initiative and methods to get the job done is a stress buster compared to working with someone who's always looking over your shoulder. When you're in business for yourself, you can also arrange the scheduling and details of the job to your own liking.

In an office environment, morale can suffer when employees are micro-managed or forced to follow directions that don't work for everyone, or worse, don't make any sense.

It also costs less when you work at a remote job. You don't have to spend money on clothes for the office, keep filling up the car with gas to get there and back, or eat out constantly because you don't have any time left over after the commute from the office to home.

Make the Most of Your Remote Job

Fit your work around your lifestyle, not the other way around. There's often no reason to sit in a chair at a desk in an office building to do your job. Remote and work-at-home jobs are more common now than ever before. People are happier, more well-adjusted and maybe even healthier when they have more control over their work. For businesses, finding good people and giving them the autonomy to do the job can end up being an investment that pays off in worker creativity and productivity, not to mention a better bottom line.