Show Your Support for Work Flexibility

Why is work flexibility important to you? Whether it’s working from home, being a freelancer, starting your own home-based business, or taking advantage of other flexible work options, the ability to choose when, where, and how we work is becoming more of a necessity than a perk. As more people like you start to request–or demand–flexibility, an exciting initiative is organizing and growing support for workplace flexibility of all kinds, telecommuting included.

1 Million for Work Flexibility is a place for everyone–professionals, companies, and related organizations–to come together in support of flexible work options. Home-based jobs are one of the key components, and the movement also cites flexible and alternative schedules, compressed workweeks, job sharing, and even freelance contracts as important flexible work options for today’s workforce.

Professionals showing their support for 1 Million have a lot to say about why work flexibility is important to them. Many have cited the freedom that working from home provides them. Others have talked about how work flexibility makes it possible for them to be better parents, siblings, caregivers, spouses, friends, and citizens. And business owners who support 1 Million say it’s because they see how work-life balance and flexible work options have helped their businesses grow while keeping their employees happy.

If you’d like a more flexible job, the ability to work from home, the chance to set your own schedule or work alternative hours, and the satisfaction of work-life balance, support 1 Million for Work Flexibility today!

— Brie Weiler Reynolds

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5 Tips to Get Started as a Freelancer

Freelancing is a very attractive career field. For one, it’s a quickly growing space, with freelancers estimated to make up almost half of the U.S. workforce by 2020. That’s 60 million people who will be freelancers over the next five-or-so years. If you’re someone who wants to work from home, there’s a good chance that you’ll be freelancing!

Freelance jobs are appealing because they put a lot of control in your hands. Freelancers largely choose the who-where-how-what of their daily work lives. They pick the projects they want to work on, the clients they want to work for, and the space in which they work. Most of the time, freelancers work from home, but some also set up camp at their clients’ offices, or rent a coworking space.

But how does one go about getting started as a freelancer? Is it something you magically jump into? What are the steps you need to take?

Here are five tips to get started as a freelancer.

1. Take it slowly.

The nice thing about freelancing is that you choose your workload and schedule. When you’re just starting out, keep your day job and look for side-jobs in the industry you want to freelance in. You’ll find a variety of work-from-home, part-time, and flexible schedule freelance jobs out there. There’s no need to quit your day job just yet.

2. Get your personal brand in order and start learning to self-promote.

You’ll need to coordinate your social media profiles to support your freelance business–because freelancers are business owners, after all. Use LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, Instragram, and any other sites that make sense for your business. Make sure they all match each other in terms of how you present yourself. And try creating your own basic website or about.me page.

3. Consider yourself the Problem-Solver-in-Chief.

Freelancers are ultimately problem solvers for businesses. As a freelancer, no matter your expertise or industry, you’re helping a business overcome or eliminate a pain-point. Start thinking about the services you office in a way that helps solve problems for potential clients.

4. Gain experience through volunteering.

Most freelancers will tell you that when they first started freelancer, they offered their services for free. It’s a great way to get your foot in the door, amass a client list, build your portfolio, and make mistakes before you start charging. But have an end-goal in mind. If you want to be a successful freelancer, the “free” in freelance shouldn’t be that way for long.

5. Search for freelance jobs.

A lot of first-time freelancers (and even experienced ones!) dont realize how often companies advertise their need for freelancers. So even though networking and self-promotion are critical to a successful freelance career, you can also continue to job search for freelance jobs.

— Brie Weiler Reynolds

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FlexJobs Offers 50% Off Thanks To Yahoo!

In response to an internal memo leaked to the press that Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer plans to cut the technology company’s telecommuting program, FlexJobs is offering 50% off their subscription services that help job seekers find flexible employment, including telecommuting jobs.

“We’re flabbergasted that any company would prohibit employees from telecommuting,” said Sara Sutton Fell, CEO of FlexJobs. “Time and time again, studies show that employees are not only more productive, but also happier.”

Our own research shows that, too. Companies around the world have adopted remote work strategies and profit from them, and so do their employees and the surrounding communities.

Practicing what they preach, the entire staff at FlexJobs telecommutes, too.

If you want to take advantage of FlexJobs special discount enter promo code “YAHOO” when you sign up. You’ll get half off on a job search membership that lets you find telecommuting job opportunities and part-time jobs in 50+ career categories. In addition, you’ll get resume help and skills testing, to name a few other benefits of joining. This coupon code is valid today and tomorrow, so sign up now.

(Yes, FlexJobs pays us a little when someone signs up. No, we wouldn’t recommend them if we didn’t think they were your absolute best choice. CNN, Fox, NPR, Wall Street Journal and dozens of other organizations trust our opinion, and we hope you will too.)

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Scams vs. Real Work-From-Home Jobs: A Job Seeker’s Story

noscamsthumbnail.jpgIf you want to work from home, you’re going to come across a lot of scams during your search for a telecommuting job. As mentioned here before, 95 out of 100 search results from the phrase “work from home” are scams, which is a scary statistic indeed. Even the F.B.I. has joined the fight against work from home scams, designating “work from home” as one of the top scam phrases to beware of.

Some job seekers are lucky enough to spot the scams and avoid them, but far too many are duped by the ever-more-convincing scams that keep cropping up. Irene L. of North Carolina is one of the many job seekers victimized by job scams, and her story proves that just about anyone can fall victim to the scams. However, Irene’s experience also teaches us that you can find legitimate, professional work from home jobs amid all the scams if you know where to look. Thankfully, Irene agreed to share her story to educate fellow job seekers, help people avoid scams, and find real telecommuting jobs. As Irene said, “In this job market, people need all the good stories they can hear!”

One Job Seeker’s Scam Survival Story

In 2012, Irene marked her 15th year of telecommuting in various customer service, sales, and problem resolution jobs and was looking for her next work-from-home job. But even a telecommuting veteran can be tricked into a work-from-home scam. So, how did Irene fall victim? Here’s her story, in her own words.

“A while back I had been ‘hired’ by a small company in Florida that had contacted me through my LinkedIn profile. To make a long story short, I worked for them for three weeks, they never paid me a dime and I was VERY discouraged.” Irene said that for her three weeks of work, she was owed $1,000.

Even when using a reputable professional networking site like LinkedIn, job seekers need to be aware of potential scams. Irene told us, “The sales manager contacted me through my LinkedIn profile and the owner interviewed and hired me. It was all outbound calling. I worked for them for three weeks and two days, and out of the blue got a phone call they decided to ‘go in a different direction’ and said they would send my paycheck. It never arrived.”

Job Scams and Independent Contractors

One of the important parts of Irene’s story is that she was hired by this scam company as an independent contractor, often called a “1099” after the tax forms that self-employed professionals must fill out.

“I found out the hard way that a 1099 has no rights whatsoever as an employee – no matter what you got in writing! The Department of Labor, the Florida Attorney General’s Office, and every organization I contacted said they couldn’t help me, that all I could do was sue them in court. The reality is that, to sue, it would cost the average person more than the company owes them, so they will continue to pull this scam on many more people that are desperate for a work from home job,” said Irene.

While contractors do have very different rights than at-will employees, and in many cases inadequate rights when it comes to getting a client to pay up, they do have some rights. For example, independent contractors have the right not to be told where and when to work, what tools to use, who they can hire, where they can buy supplies and services, who has to do what work, and what order tasks have to be accomplished.

If you are considering independent contractor jobs (aka – freelance jobs, self-employment, 1099s), be aware that you are responsible for protecting your rights as a professional. Because you are not considered an at-will employee, you will not have the same rights that employees traditionally have. Here are some tips on What to Do if You Don’t Get Paid as a freelancer.

How can job seekers who want to work from home protect themselves from job scams?

  • Do Your Research: Always search for a company’s name along with keywords like scam, bad, ripoff, and other negative words to see if others have reported the company as being a scam. Check with the Better Business Bureau and RipOffReport.com to see how they are rated.
  • Use the Right Keywords: Phrases like “work from home” and “work at home” are commonly associated with scams. Instead, use words like telecommute, telecommuting, and remote work to find more real, scam-free job listings.
  • Be Wary of Instant Job Offers: Be skeptical of out-of-the-blue job offers you receive on LinkedIn or other job search websites. Most employers will not offer you a job right off the bat if they contact you through job search websites or LinkedIn. Instead, they’ll request a job interview.
  • Don’t Accept Offers Quickly: Scammers will usually pressure you to accept their job immediately and give you little or no time to think it over. They don’t want you to be in a rational state of mind when making your decision, and they don’t want you to have time to research their offer. Take your time and be clear about exactly what you are accepting before you do so.
  • Protect Yourself as a Freelancer: Use Reputable Sources to Find Jobs: After being scammed, Irene decided to sign up for FlexJobs, the only telecommuting job search site recommended by Undress4Success.

Irene signed up for FlexJobs after being scammed because she was looking for a safe place to find legitimate work from home jobs. FlexJobs lists only pre-screened, verified, and legitimate telecommuting jobs and other jobs that offer flexibility (flexible schedule jobs, freelance jobs, and part-time jobs).

Of her experience job searching through FlexJobs, Irene said, “FlexJobs really does work. I decided to pay for a subscription to FlexJobs and within four days I found a posting. I submitted my resume, took their online assessment tests, and they hired me. I had two weeks of training and after six weeks I can say this is looking like the best work from home job I have ever had. That’s saying a lot as I have worked from my home office for 15 years.”

Hopefully, Irene’s experience can teach fellow job seekers to be alert when it comes to work from home jobs, learn to spot scams, and avoid frustrating situations. There are definitely real telecommuting jobs out there if you know how and where to look.

Guest post by Brie Weiler Reynolds, Director of Content and Social Media at FlexJobs and a former career advisor.

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