Make sure the Work from Home job offer you’re about to apply for is legit.
by Alexa van Wilgen
I’m old, it pains me to say this but it’s true. I could tell you stories that would make me sound older, but instead I’m going to talk about something none of you, no matter what age, has really experienced yet. Remote workers.
Very few of you will have had parents that worked “from home” for one day a week, and from the office the other days, and I would like to bet none of your grandparents did. Working from home used to mean your job could be done completely at the house, such as taking in laundry to iron, folding flyers or darning clothes. It wasn’t until the Internet became commonplace that you could start taking work home that went beyond the occasional report. Now the Internet is almost as old as I am, so obviously occasionally working from home, or working remotely full time, should now be the standard around the world, right?
So why isn’t it? Well, no one has the definitive answer. Some of it is companies not trusting you will work as hard when not being supervised, some of it is employees just not thinking to ask for it, and of course some may simply prefer to get out of the house daily.
Part of it unfortunately is a lack of trust on both sides.
When email first appeared, spam mails, chain letters, and email viruses were quick to follow. So the inevitable abuse of new technology also reached remote working. When we took our jobs home, it quickly became a risk for the company as USBs were lost, hard drives were stolen, and sensitive information was hacked. However on the other side, many workers were promised seemingly perfect roles in new companies to work remotely, and were swindled. Translators, secretaries, data entry staff, planners and designers who invested their time and effort often worked for a month or longer before wondering why the pay check wasn’t arriving. A canceled email address, a fake office location, and a vanished website the only traces left with dozens, to hundreds of people having been defrauded.
Now I’d love to say that this no longer happens, but unfortunately it is all too common even today for companies to try and get an extra buck out of a naive employee. If you work from home only one or two days a week and spend the rest at the office, rubbing elbows with colleagues it’s pretty unlikely your office will disappear. After all, you often live in the same community and you can see early warning signs should they appear.
So how to protect yourself if you don’t visit the office? In other words: how can you tell if a work from home job is legit?
And that is a question that fortunately is starting to have very good answers.
Is it too good to be true?
Sad as it may be, no one is going to pay you top dollar when you don’t bring any skills.
Beware of ads that don’t ask you for anything, but just mention how much money you can make. Lack of punctuation, overuse of the caps lock key and vagueness about the job are big no-no’s!
- Bad: MAKE $$$ FAST / I made 200K in one month, ask me how/ Earn from home, no experience needed!!!
- Good: Offering remote positions for individuals dedicated to customer service / Seeking experienced customer service rep able to work from home/ Offering work from home roles, details at …
Is there an interview process?
No company would hire you without at least doing basic checks, unless they don’t care about their reputation, which is a big red flag.
- While appearances may not matter too much for working remotely, your voice or typing skills might be key. Depending on the role offered, a company would probably ask you to perform a typing test while monitoring, or talk with them through Skype. Instead of just aiming to get the job, make sure you WANT the job.
- The interviewer should look and act like a professional (after all, they are reflecting they company). They should be knowledgeable about the position, the team, and at least the basics of the work they expect you to do (or else how could she judge your merit?).
- The interviewer should be able to provide you with contact information for the company such as a website, LinkedIn profile, or address. If you work for them they will have your personal banking information and personal details, so there is no reason you shouldn’t know theirs!
- Your interviewer should also be aware of local guidelines enabling them to answer questions such as: do I need a W2 to work here, will I need to start a pension plan for this job, etc.
- Last but not least, your interviewer should know their company. What are the goals, core values, and successes of this company? And who owns it? If someone can’t answer basic information, it’s fishy!
Are they registered?
Every company is required to be registered in any country they operate. Don’t feel shy, just ask them. The company should be impressed, no one should want to hire a stupid employee, and asking them shows you’re no dummy!
What do others say?
After all there is no reason for you to conduct this entire background check by yourself. A company that hires remotely and has work from home agents, has an online presence.
- Can you find people that work there on LinkedIn?
- Does the company have a Facebook page?
Google the company and feel free to use words such as complaint, hire, payment, ex-employee or other interesting words to get the results you need. No company will have a perfect record, but a company which does not pay on time, treats employees badly, or has lawsuits pending should give some interesting search hits.
In closing I want to tell you that the most important tip can be to simply follow your gut feeling. Don’t discard how a company makes you feel, from the initial contact, to the offer they make you. I, and many with me, have found great work from home positions that fit with our hours, our lives and our skills, and I sincerely think you can be just as fortunate!
Interested in working remotely?
Alexa van Wilgen
Alexa is a Work from Home employee at 5CA. She started working remotely in the United States, and now she lives in South Korea.