How to Find Real Work-From-Home Jobs

Smiling woman at home with headset using laptop
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If you are interested in working from home, there are some real, legit jobs available. Some companies actively hire work-from-home employees, and you can find work-at-home job listings online. But they are not nearly as plentiful as you would think considering the amount of interest there is in working from home. 

Due to restrictions prompted by the coronavirus pandemic, many companies now have a completely, or partially, remote workforce. In the long term, this may lead to more comfort with remote employees and a greater willingness to hire people who wish to work remotely. 

Work-from-home jobs can be difficult to find, but there are companies that are hiring now for remote positions. Also, here's a list of the top jobs to work remotely and three ways to find a work-from-home job. Be careful as you job search: There are almost as many scams as there are genuine work-from-home opportunities.

But don't get discouraged. There are work-from-home jobs out there.

How to Find Work-From-Home Jobs

Get details on everything you need to know about working at home, including where to find work-at-home job listings, the best sites for finding work-at-home jobs, and how to research work-at-home opportunities to avoid scams

You're most likely to succeed at a work-from-home job if you have skills that are conducive to freelancing or to working full-time at a position that doesn't require you to be in the office. 

Companies That Hire Remote Workers

Many people who work from home started out working in an office but were able to arrange with their employer to work at home some or all of the time. Here are tips for asking your boss if you can work from home. If you are otherwise happy with your current work, this is a good option. 

There are companies that hire employees directly to work from their homes. See sites that list work-at-home jobs, which includes tips for how to filter any job board to find work-at-home options. Some of these positions are ones in which the employee covers a territory—for an insurance company or a consumer products firm, for example—and spends some time on the road and some time in a home office. There are also customer service, recruiting, sales, scheduling, technical, writing, computer, and telemarketing jobs available. 

In many cases, work-from-home jobs are part-time, commission-based, or pay a lump sum for a completed project. In other cases, you can work as a home-based agent as an employee, providing customer service to client companies. Virtual assistants provide administrative, secretarial, and clerical support as well as creative and/or technical services for clients. 

Work-at-home transcriptionists or closed captioning writers are usually independent contractors who transcribe and edit recorded reports onto their home computer. Online tutors work for internet-based companies that offer help in a variety of subject areas to students of all ages. If you're looking to make a little extra money, paid surveys are a possibility, but do be careful about avoiding scams. 

Full-time jobs that provide health insurance, a pension, vacation, and other benefits while you work full-time from home, especially if you don't have experience, are harder to find.

Be Flexible & Creative

Flexibility is one key to successfully working from home. If you are willing to consider freelance or contract employment or to combine a couple of part-time positions, you'll have a greater chance of success in finding opportunities that are legitimate.

It's also critically important to take the time to search for positions and to thoroughly research those that sound viable. 

How to Find "Real" Work

Despite all the online advertising you see, there aren't that many work-at-home jobs. Those that are available may require that you live in a certain area or spend at least some time in the office. Others may be part-time or freelance, so you will need to be continually seeking potential positions.

Keep in mind that the prerequisites for home employment are similar to those needed for working in an office. You need both the experience and the skills necessary to do the job. You'll also need a home office with high-speed internet, phone, fax, computer, printer, software, and other basic office equipment. In some cases, work-from-home employees who are full-time may be provided with essential office equipment (such as a computer). 

Job Search for Remote Jobs

To get started, consider your job search as your job. Dedicate as many hours per week to your search for employment as you would spend working. If you're looking for full-time work, you should be spending full-time hours seeking employment.

Networking remains the top way to find a job, and it does work. Develop contacts—friends, family, fellow college alumni, even  other job seekers—with people who might help generate information and job leads. You can take a direct approach and ask for job leads or try a less formal approach and ask for information and advice. Contact everyone you know and tell them you want to work from home. You may be surprised by the people they know and the leads you can generate.

Check Job Sites for Remote Positions

Check the sites that list work-at-home jobs, look through all the listings, and remember to take advantage of the resume posting section, if the site has one. That way, companies seeking employees will be able to find your resume.

Use job search engines using terms such as "work at home," "telecommute," and "freelance." Next, search the online job banks using keywords such as "work at home," "telecommute," and "telecommuting." Searching Monster, for example, using "telecommuting" as a keyword generates almost 200 listings. "Work at home" generates close to 1000 positions.

Be Prepared to Apply Online

Be prepared to apply online. Have a resume and cover letter ready to send. Depending on the type of employment you're looking for, you may also need work samples to send to prospective employers.

Track where you've applied. Many of the same positions are listed on multiple sites, so you'll want to be sure not to duplicate your efforts.

Get Ready for a Remote Interview

If you are applying for a work-at-home job for a company that has a local office, you may be expected to interview in person. If you are working for a remote company, you may be interviewed via an online interview system, video, Skype, or even email.

Follow these tips for a successful video interview. Regardless of the type of interview, be prepared to answer a variety of interview questions.

Tips for Avoiding Scams

Theresa Chiechi. © The Balance 2019

There may be work-from-home job scams than there are real work-from-home job listings, so job seekers need to be careful when searching for and evaluating work-at-home job offers.

Take the time to research the position and the company, including talking to other people who work there. That way, you won't be scammed, and you will be using your best efforts and best judgment to find a legitimate work-from-home job.

  • If it sounds too good to be true, it most likely is. If you get an unsolicited email telling you that a company you have never heard of wants to hire you for a job where you don't need experience or skills and can make a lot of money, ignore it. There are lots of scams out there, some of which are personalized and sound quite legitimate.
  • Know the common scam jobs. There are a number of work-at-home jobs to avoid. These include assembly jobs, multi-level marketing, claims processing, and stuffing envelopes. Many of these positions require you to pay a lot of money, and you see little to no earnings.
  • Read the listing carefully. Make sure you know if there is a salary or if you’re paid on commission. Look into whether or not you need to buy equipment and if you will be reimbursed.
  • Research the company. If you aren’t sure the company is legitimate, ask for references. If the company won’t provide references, do not apply.
  • Never send money. Employers should not charge you to begin working for them. Avoid any company that asks you to send money for equipment. Also, don't send money for work-at-home directories or start-up kits. Free information and job listings are available online. Also, never give your bank account information or any other personal information that could help someone steal your identity.
  • Avoid “get rich quick” ads. Be careful of listings that guarantee you wealth or financial success or claim they will help you get rich fast from home. They will probably do none of the above.
  • Evaluate every listing you look at very carefully. Find out if there's a salary or if you're paid on commission. Ask how often you will be paid. Ask what equipment (hardware/software) you need to provide. Find out what support the company provides.
  • Ask for references. Request a list of other employees or contractors to see how this has worked for them.

Below are some more tips for finding legitimate work-at-home positions.

  • Ask your boss. Telecommuting is becoming more and more common. If you have a job you already like, talk to your boss about the possibility of working from home. When talking to your boss, focus on the benefits your working at home will bring to the company, for example, emphasize that you will be more productive.
  • Focus on specific companies. To help avoid job scams, focus on legitimate companies that you might want to work for that support telecommuting.
  • Search online. There are a number of job search boards and engines that specialize in work-from-home positions. Remember to look out for scams.