The job, the myth, the legend: is remote working a reality, or something made up by scammers on the internet? How can you find out if work-from-home jobs are real?
This article began as an investigative piece. I wanted to know more about working from home as a long-term concept, beyond the lockdown.
No, I don’t mean freelance work. I mean jobs advertised as remote working.
So I set about creating a fake profile which I used to apply to jobs; I had a new email ID, a spare phone number that belonged to my partner, and a resume pastiched from that of a co-worker.
Armed, I set about applying for those jobs we see littered across Google job searches and the job portals we all only kind-of trust.
I tried to apply for a variety of jobs, from writing to proofreading to transcription to data entry. I even applied for those ambassadorship-type jobs where they sell you products for wholesale and have you sell them at MRP using brochures and home visits. All in all, I must have mass-applied to about 30 jobs across the span of two weeks before I sat down and waited.
And waited. And waited. No replies were forthcoming. Spam calls from the job websites, though, certainly were.
But hang on, that’s not the limit of my research. I started reaching out to people on my LinkedIn network, hoping to figure out how people started working from home. It didn’t really pan out (my network is limited).
I kept hitting one roadblock after another. Eventually, after a month and a half, I put my hands up. Not because work-from-home jobs are a myth. But because those thousands of listings probably are.
So what can you really do to start working from home?
Don’t Fall For The Scams
First things first, learn how to tell a legitimate opportunity from a trap.
1. A real organisation will not ask you to pay in order to start working. The ones that do ask are probably multi-level marketing scams, and must be avoided at all costs (pun intended!).
If a job offer seems extremely lucrative to the point of appearing detrimental to the company, then it really is too good to be true. Plus, keep an eye out for those listings which seem to fall over themselves to prove their legitimacy.
2. Scams are created to prey on those who can be manipulated. If you are desperate for a job, then you are a prime candidate for these scammers.
They feed off your emotional state, and use it to get either your data or your money. Keep your emotions at bay when going through these kinds of listings.
3. Do your research. If a company is offering a remote working opportunity, then they are bound to have an online presence. The listing should not say things like “Company name will be revealed once you apply.”, “The company doesn’t want to share its details.”, and so on.
If a company wants employees, it cannot remain secretive about its identity. That’s a scam! A real company will have a real-life registered office of some sort, and legitimate contact information which you can use to contact them and check the offer out.
Pro-tip: Peep into a company’s social media presence and do a quick Google search!
A lot of such scams will use the keyword bait of work-from-home to lure you in, but be a smart fish: don’t get caught on their hook!
If Your Job Can Be Done Remotely, Request For It
This one is simple. We often forget the fact that a contract is not a handover; it is a negotiation.
If you find an opportunity you love, don’t hesitate to make your requirements known as well. I am not saying it’s a sure shot, but it is worth bringing up the possibility of working remotely, even if it’s a partial waiver of office-going.
If your work can be done remotely, a company has the ability to offer you the option. Find out their reasons for not doing so, and have a conversation.
If nothing, you will definitely get an idea of the kind of top-down culture that exists in that organisation.
Plus, more and more companies are relying on the internet to get work done. Everything from Google Suite to cloud storage to video call tools have made this option more real than ever.
Assert yourself from the start, and negotiate a contract you are happy with!
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Find Agencies That Offer Remote Work Opportunities
While it is hard work to vet every listing on those employment websites, it is easier to check the legitimacy of agencies which recruit people with specific skills.
Instead of applying endlessly for jobs online, search for agencies which offer contractual work, such as transcription, translation, and more. Such agencies often provide verifiable testimonials and have a roster of clients whom you can reach out to and validate the opportunity.
You might even find reviews on Indeed and Glassdoor, which can make your path to remote working easier!
A lot of these agencies also have physical offices and contact details, which means you can contact them and speak to them before applying for positions with them.
Okay, so this is probably not what you wanted to hear, but trust me when I say that a lot of people across the world are able to freelance successfully.
I know I said at the beginning that this was not what I was looking for, but nonetheless, it’s one of the most successful work-from-home models to have taken off in the last decade or so.
There’s many ways to approach freelance work; including web portals, cold pitching, reaching out to local businesses, dropping a message to connections within organisations who could offer you consultancy work, and so on.
Kool Kanya has a ton of articles and resources about how to start and sustain as a freelancer, so it’s worth the try.
Here’s a non-exhaustive list of guides on starting out as a freelancer:
Build A Network
The best tip off I received through my research was the existence of work-from-home networks.
People who have successfully found verifiable remote work opportunities, especially women, often mentioned that it was because they were networking.
By joining these networks, whether on Facebook or WhatsApp, women were able to find work. It isn’t simple, of course, and requires as much effort to be put in. But it did work for some people, and it could work for you.
I would recommend searching for these networks, reaching out to members and speaking to them about their experiences, taking the time to observe the kind of opportunities that show up, and then partaking.
It doesn’t even have to be a pre-existing network; you can build your own by reaching out to friends, family, as well as former peers and colleagues, and let them know you are on the lookout. You never know: they might give you some leads, or keep an eye out for you.
In fact, you can start today on the Kool Kanya community!
Remote working is like one of those video games where you have to jump from one block to the next, without knowing whether that block is going to crumble under your weight.
But work-from-home jobs are not a myth; simply less available, especially in a country like India. But if this lockdown has shown us anything, it is that there are several fields wherein it is not only possible, but successful and cost-effective for both you and the company.
The key is to be wary of the fake stuff, and assertive with the real opportunities.
You’re invited! Join the Kool Kanya women-only career Community where you can network, ask questions, share your opinions, collaborate on projects, and discover new opportunities. Join now.