To answer this question, I enlisted the help of CEO & Founder of FlexJobs.com Sara Sutton Fell.
She says experts estimate that as high as 98 percent of work-from-home job listings are scams.
If you’re serious about finding legitimate work-from-home opportunities, read on…
Sara’s three keys to avoiding scams and finding real jobs:
- Know the typical scam jobs. Perhaps without even knowing it, you’ve already come across a job search scam. Common work-from-home scams include repackaging or shipping products, survey taking, envelope stuffing, data entry, pyramid or sales schemes, wire transfers and money movement, and craft or product assembly. Any of these should raise a red flag and put you on guard. Be careful of the keywords you use to search. “Work from home” is a phrase associated with lots of scams and pyramid schemes. Instead, try safer words like “remote work,” “telework,” and “telecommuting.”The likelihood of a job being a scam also dramatically increase if there is a promise of easy money for easy work, if they require you to “invest” or pay a fee to get the job, if they ask you for personal financial information such as bank or credit card numbers, or if they use all capitalized letters or lots of !!! and $$$ punctuation. E-mails from unknown sources that promise work-from-home jobs should be ignored completely, and of course deleted.
- Use legitimate sources for work-from-home jobs. If you’re currently employed, you might start right there. Employers are more open to telecommuting as a means of work, and if you approach your manager with a proposal to telecommute which lays out how everything will work, you might not have to job search after all. A company called Work Options helps professionals convince their wary bosses by preparing a detailed telecommuting proposal.If you want to find a new job and are exploring job search websites, keep in mind that the biggest job boards don’t pre-screen their job listings, so a scams can – and usually are – mixed in with the job listings (as well as in ads typically integrated on the sites). Another way to find a new job is to go directly to a company’s website. Think of small and large companies you admire and would like to work for, and visit their career websites to see if they’re hiring for any remote jobs. The search process for a work-from-home job is going to be more time-intensive than a traditional job search, but the end result is worth it. On the other hand, there are premium sites like FlexJobs that specialize in providing legitimate work-from-home jobs and pre-screen every job and employer to ensure they aren’t scams.
- Do your research. Once you’ve found a job listing that allows telecommuting, do some follow-up research to ensure it’s a legitimate work-from-home opportunity. Does the company have a working website and phone number? Are they a member of the Better Business Bureau (and be sure to click on the logo to check their rating with the BBB)? Have they been covered by any major media outlets (and if they claim so, be sure to read the article to make sure the claim is true)? Try doing a web search for the company’s name and the keyword “scam” or “rip-off” to see if any of the search results raise an alarm. You can also use the FlexJobs Guide to the Best Companies for Flexible Jobs, a free resource featuring thousands of pre-screened and verified companies that have offered telecommuting or flexible jobs in the past. If your research turns up only good results, it’s probable that you’re dealing with a legitimate company.
Working from home can be the answer to many common work woes. You’ll be rid of the daily commute, save money on gas, car maintenance, and your professional wardrobe, and you have more time to spend with your family, friends, hobbies, and even yourself. By keeping these tips in mind, you’re bound to create a safer job search experience for yourself, and ultimately end up with a legitimate work-from-home job that can help make some of your biggest work woes disappear.
Many thanks to Sara for sharing her spot on advice! Have a tip for working from home? Share your comments, suggestions and questions. Here’s to having both the work and life you crave!