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You're staying at home to care for your children. It's intense, tiring and rewarding work. Rewarding, that is, unless you're talking finances. While smiles, hugs and "I love you's" are priceless, sometimes we all need a bit of money in our pocket.
So, how can you go about earning money if you want to stay home and care for your children? Here are some things to consider when looking for at-home work to fit around your child-minding schedule:
Know your personality
The terms "part-time," "flexible" and "at home" may sound like a dream come true, but the reality can be quite different. It's important to take stock of your personality and situation before taking on even more responsibilities than you're already shouldering.
Laurent Lapierre, an assistant professor at the University of Ottawa with a specialty in work-life balance, says working from home, or "telework," requires the right mix of a good work environment, strong self-discipline and the ability to put aside the enough time to complete your work properly.
If the above aren't in place, Lapierre warns you could face trouble. "You're not going to be able to get your work done," he says, "which means you're going to make an unfavourable impression -- and that is certainly not going to be conducive to a successful career."
If you've thought it through and decided to go ahead, there are a few things you should know.
The jobs are out there
Louis Gagnon, vice president of marketing for Monster Canada, says an emerging labour shortage in Canada is forcing employers to be increasingly flexible, while advances in technology mean home offices are easier to set up than ever.
Look for telework opportunities under two main categories:
Work at home
Gagnon says jobs advertised specifically as work from home positions tend to fall under the categories of sales, administrative, clerical, customer service and recruitment. A search on Monster using the key words work+from+home can get you started (the plus signs narrow your search and cut out irrelevant postings).
Enter "part-time" into the Monster search engine and more than 1,000 opportunities appear. These opportunities are wide-ranging and include IT, graphic design, e-commerce, copywriting, translation and many more. While working from home may not be written into these job descriptions, Gagnon says employers will make concessions if they're convinced you're right for the job.
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Watch out for scams
While telework is increasingly becoming a recognized mode of work offered by mainstream employers, there's no denying that scams still abound. Promises to "Earn $1,000 to $7,000 a Week At Home" and "Make $339 Every Day" with "No Selling, No Inventory, No Risk" don't just sound too good to be true -- they are.
Not all scams will be this obvious. Here are some steps to take to protect yourself:
• Know what you're getting into
Gagnon says telework positions with established companies offering salaries and benefits are rarely of concern. It's the commission-only jobs or those requiring an investment on your part that are more problematic. Monster has created search categories called "Business Opportunity/Investment Required," and "Sales -- Commission Only" to help job-seekers identify positions that may carry more risk.
• Ask questions
Lots of them. "Ask about the company's origin, history, revenues, the outlook for the company and their plan," says Gagnon. "This is something everyone should do regardless of the opportunity but is especially important when you're going to be working from home."
• Go to the experts
If in doubt, ask for a reliability report from your local Better Business Bureau or contact the fraud department of your community police force. Canada's Competition Bureau also provides helpful advice online.
Negotiate with confidence
The bottom line, says Gagnon, is employers want good employees. If part-time work from home is what you want, ask for it. "It's more and more difficult to find competent people," he says. "If a competent person is willing to work from home part-time, it's definitely something an employer would consider over a less satisfying candidate full-time in the office."
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