Those who know me well know I love the fall season. I know most folks think spring is the time for new beginnings but I look at fall in the same way: kids headed back to school, the memories of the previous school year long gone - try, try again if you didn’t do so well the year before. Learning never really stops but it’s certainly the main focus of conversation in the fall.
I still get excited about back-to-school shopping, buying supplies, organizing binders, finding the right pens. Truth be told, I’m a pen hoarder and a planner addict. Pitiful, I know -- hey, it could be worse, I guess.
I used to homeschool and I absolutely loved it. We had a schedule and most days we were done with schoolwork by noon, leaving the afternoons free for me to work. While we schooled, the crockpot would have the evening’s meal cooking and fill the house with delicious smells. Good times!
I did this for several years and it worked well. And I know some moms with kids headed off to school (or maybe you’re like I was, a homeschooling mom) might want to fill their time with something that can add a bit of coin to their household. You wouldn’t have clicked this post to read if you weren’t curious, right? Hey, glad you’re here! But let’s talk about a few things that I’ve seen in my many years in the online space - some cringey things that might be getting in the way of landing a work at home job.
Before we get into the big fat no’s of applying for a sweet work at home gig, let’s talk about the work at home industry first.
It’s growing. Fast. And it doesn’t show any signs of slowing up. That’s a good thing. There are more folks launching online businesses who need remote help - freelance writing, web design, virtual assistance - to name a few. Companies are finally embracing the whole work at home mentality and trusting their employees to actually get the job done without breathing down their necks in the office.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, almost 4 million US employees work from home and the number of people working from home has increased by 115% since 2005.
Working from home ain’t goin’ nowhere.
If you’re currently a stay at home mom, that’s good news for you.
But you might be feeling some kind of way about working from home or maybe you’ve never done this type of thing before.
It's a mindset thing and you've gotta get that right before you make that all-important move. Make sure to download a copy of my free ebook that talks all about how to change your mindset.
So, let's tackle some mistakes that you want to avoid if and when you're ready to snag a WAH gig - let's go!
Thinking you have no skills and nothing to offer an employer.
Honey, let me just say this first: I don’t care if you’ve been a stay at home mom forever and a day -- you’ve got skills. You didn’t get paid for them, maybe, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have marketable skills. You sure as heck aren’t sitting at home, twiddling your thumbs, are you?
Now, what you might have to do is polish up your skills a bit in order to snag one of those coveted work at home jobs but shoot -- you can do that, right? You’re the same person who helped your tween solve a super-tough math problem with one hand and cooked a four-course dinner with the other while you were on the phone with the cable company. You’ve got this!
You might have found this post on Pinterest -- not judging, that’s where I hang out a lot. Have you ever thought about making a living pinning? Don’t think you can? Well, you’re wrong! You can make a pretty penny pinning (say that three times fast!). If you're already pinning away, try practicing some new skills using your own account. Grab this free workbook to get started.
The point is - you've got skills. Figure out what those transferable skills are and use them to make some money. And if you really think you don't have anything to offer, then learn some new things on Udemy or seek out something that will help you gain skills, like transcription or doing admin tasks on a site like Fancy Hands.
Not considering your personal situation - kids at home, caregiver - before applying
Listen, I know you really, really want to work from home. Shoot, who wouldn’t want to work in their pajama/yoga pants? That’s the work from home uniform! But slow down, girlfriend: have you thought about your other responsibilities - you know, your kids, your ailing relatives if you’re taking care of them? How will a new job fit with all that?
Not trying to discourage you - I just want you to think about everything you have on your plate before you sign on for a new gig. Yes, you can work from home with kids or while you have the responsibility of taking care of a loved one - you just need to be realistic about what you can do. For example, can you really work a 40+ hour per week job while balancing? You might meet all the requirements of the job but if you can’t dedicate the time needed, that’s not really helpful, is it? Take a look at your calendar or jot down the things you MUST do, the non-negotiable stuff before applying for a job.
And while we’re kind of on the subject:
Not talking to your spouse/significant other/children.
I hate to break it to you but this whole work from home thing isn’t all about you. It will affect everyone in your house: kids, spouse, significant other, dog (well, maybe not the dog). If you’re working, that means something you would be doing might get pushed to the back burner. For example, let’s say you’re the chef in your house. Can someone else take over the cooking? Will someone else want to take over the cooking?
Yep, working from home is convenient but it can wreak havoc on your household if you let it. And that can lead to resentment from your family members. Sit down as a family unit to talk about the changes that are coming. And make sure to plan some family time so no one feels left out. The main thing is don’t go into this new journey alone. Talk to your loved ones. They’ll appreciate you even more for it.
Not checking your social media accounts for questionable posts
According to a survey by CareerBuilder, about 70% of employers check out a potential employee’s social media accounts before making a hiring decision. Whoa! Honestly, it’s a free way of conducting a background check so why wouldn’t they? But this is where you can either make or break your hiring chances.
Yes, your social media account is your business and you can take the position of, “If they don’t like what I post, they don’t have to look at it.” But if you want to present yourself in the best light possible for a new work at home job, take a look at your social media profiles.
Is your profile pic one of yourself or a grayed out avatar?
Do you have pics or posts that could be described as scandalous, like nudity, strong language, alcohol or drug use?
Here’s the deal: you’re grown. You can do what you want. It’s all about choices. But don’t be surprised if your email notifications are silent and you’re not hearing back from employers if your social media profiles are kind of shady. You have to decide what’s more important: your all-night bender or a work at home job.
If you’re concerned about privacy, totally understandable. Below are some privacy tips for a few social media platforms.
A boring as heck cover letter/proposal
I've been on the receiving end of cover letters and proposals throughout my career. The ones that made me want to reach out to schedule a chat were the ones that showed personality and addressed the specific needs of the job.
If you've sent out proposal after proposal and you're not hearing anything back, click here for some reasons that could be happening and how to fix them. And here's an article on how to write a cover letter that hiring managers will want to actually read.
I hope this helps and I'm super excited for you as you search for a work at home gig. I send out leads each week so make sure to sign up for one of the downloads and you'll be automatically added to the list. Make sure you have all the tools you need to be a work at home rockstar - download the newbie virtual assistant toolkit below. It's full of free tools (yep, free!) stuff you can use to make working from home a lot easier. Good luck to you and make sure to check in and let me know how your search is going. Until next time!