Tag Archives: job hunting

Adventures in Job Hunting: When You Want to Work from Home

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I’ve been at this for about a month now, and despite the existential crisis, I have learned some things. I’ve been sharing them with a friend, but as I did I realized that what I know might be helpful to other people in our position. So here’s a roundup of some of the most important stuff so far.

AS A CSR

When Indeed and CareerBuilder only turned up responses from work-from-home jobs that required I pay for my own training, I got creative. The way the world is now, I knew there just had to be better options for at-home customer service positions.

Before I go on, though, I’d like to take a moment to talk about paying for your own training. It’s not as scammy as it looks at first glance. Paying for your own training is a good way for companies to keep costs down while reducing the impact of high turnover on their bottom line. Before you commit to anything, do your research. At the very least, read reviews from current and former employees on sites like Indeed and Glassdoor.

Another thing to keep in mind is that a lot of places are not hiring employees, they’re hiring contractors. You’ll be responsible for your own taxes. If you’re not familiar with paying your own local, state, and federal taxes, you’re going to have to hire someone, or invest the time to learn.

But there are other options for at-home CSR work! I actually found some really great ones in a negative review for Arise, and when I explored them, I was much happier and much less skeptical of what I found.

Things to Know:

  • You have to meet their basic requirements. I had to bump up our Internet speed tier with our ISP to get the required upload speed for Sitel. It was an extra $15/month ($10 for the next speed tier + $5 for the wireless router modem with the extra ethernet port), and the job Sitel hired me for is full-time at $9/hr, so it’s cost-effective for me.
  • My equipment met the requirements for Convergys before the bump, but my ISP did not. That sort of compatibility requirement may eliminate a lot of people in areas with only one ISP option (like for us, here; when we first moved to Lawton, Fidelity was our only option, and they’re a local-to-several-states ISP), so that’s something to be aware of.
  • Some positions/companies require hardwired landlines, either Plain Old Telephone Service or VoIP lines, without any added features. I’m going to be honest, I have no idea who to even contact about getting a POTS line, but had I not gotten a response from Sitel I probably would have at least gotten a VoIP line just to qualify for other positions. If you already have a POTS, you’re probably ahead of the curve.
  • You’re probably going to need a wired headset. I bought this one from Amazon and I love it. It has a 3.5mm headphone jack, so you can use it on your phone (awesome for while I’ve been job-hunting and needed my hands free to write down info) and a USB plug so you can use it on your computer. The USB attachment has volume and mic control right on it, so you can adjust volume and mute/unmute the mic. The noise-canceling is fantastic and the mic only picks up your voice, not background noise. (For an added bonus, I paid for it with a couple of gift cards I earned taking surveys through the QuickThoughts app.)
  • If you need or want a new computer, but you’re looking at new computer prices and your face looks like you’re having a stroke: refurbished work computers. If you’ve ever held an office job you know what workhorses those can be, and refurbished usually means upgraded, and it’s possible to get a whole system (monitor included) for $200 or less. Sitel requires I supply a monitor for their equipment, so I ended up getting another one from the same guys I bought my computer from, and a nice big flat-panel monitor was $65.
  • Apply to all of them! The absolute worst that can happen is you get job offers from all of them and have to decide who to go with, and in the grand scheme of things, that’s not a bad problem to have.
  • Get on their notification lists. If you don’t see the job you want currently listed, let them email you when they might have something.

 

OTHER WORK

My favorite resource: The Penny Hoarder Work-From-Home section. I’ve gotten two extra gigs so far from here, plus an invitation to go further in the application process for another.

Outsourced, in-depth research and analysis. I just started this and my first job wasn’t accepted, but there are so many tips and guidelines, and I got great feedback, so I’m pretty comfortable with my ability to learn and succeed here. The group chat is really nice, because you immediately get to see what other researchers are doing and how they feel about the work. You can also get immediate help and support, so you’re working at home, but it has the useful social component of office work.

I did my first test for them and got a four-star review, and for a first test? That’s not bad. Tests pay about $10 each for about 20 minutes of work and you get paid seven days from approval. It’s not steady work, but I keep checking back and taking screeners, so it’s probably going to be a nice way to just get a little extra. You could also check out this list from The Penny Hoarder.

I just got my invitation this morning to complete the testing for a client here. I’m pretty excited about it because I keep thinking about my parents and grandparents and how they use search engines, and the idea of making the experience easier and better for people who aren’t as serious about research and finding the right information, but still need the right information, is incredibly appealing. There are other search engine evaluators, and for most of them you can only work for one at a time, but it’s like with the CSR job: apply to all of them, the worst that can happen is you have to decide who to work for.

These HITs are a lot like the surveys and videos you do on survey sides like InboxDollars in that they don’t pay much per HIT. The work is way more interesting and engaging, though. You won’t get rich and it probably won’t pay all of the bills, but over time it’ll add up pretty decently, I think. I mean, $5/day isn’t a lot of money, but $5 every day for a month is a phone bill. (And for at least the first ten days, you have to complete HITs every day.)

Things to Know:

  • These side gigs in particular require attention to detail and even some studying.
  • Read instructions.
  • Give yourself time to learn what they expect of you, and use all the resources they offer you.
  • Ask for clarification if you need to, but there are so many opportunities that you’ll find the right one, so if it’s too difficult, move on.

Work is out there, and it pays well enough to make it worth your while, it just depends on your skills and interest and how far you go in your searches.

Adventures in Job Hunting: Am I… Done?

I had a phone interview a couple of days ago, and I submitted my information for a background check and this morning I took a drug test. I’m in the middle of the onboarding process. A legitimate onboarding process, full of so much paperwork, and… a contingent offer. A contingent offer detailing the position and pay and expectations.

Am I… done?

I don’t want to get too excited, because this whole journey has been a real emotional rollercoaster, but everything I’ve researched, everything I’ve done, totally checks out.

So I’m tentatively excited about this.

Adventures in Job Hunting: Saltier than the Dead Sea

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photo by lehollaender on pixabay

That’s the Dead Sea. Isn’t it beautiful? Apparently the Don Juan Pond in Antarctica is saltier, but the Dead Sea is more popularly the salty standard. There’s a whole meme about it. I laughed.

It’s me.

Some of these companies think so highly of themselves and have such strict requirements, and that’s fine! Except, of course, when the job listing is badly-formatted and poorly written. Then I just want to email the hiring manager to ask, “May I apply to help you not look like a joke to the kind of people you’re hoping to attract?”

Then there’s the one place that emailed me after searching for my resume on CareerBuilder or Indeed, and when I responded that I was open to talking more to their hiring manager, I received an email response directing me to a series of awful, boring YouTube videos that I had to watch before I could request an interview appointment. I’d like to state just one more time: they contacted me, but I had to request an interview appointment. After watching their YouTube videos. I barely even like YouTube videos I want to watch, why the hell would I be interested in theirs?

The most frustrating has to be the insurance agent in OKC who has emailed me at least three times, has had his assistant email me, and has had an assistant call me to ask me to come interview for a manager/coordinator position. I have extremely limited management experience. It’s so limited it’s not even on my resume, and in fact I’ve only referenced it once, in an email introduction for a volunteer managing editor position for an indie publisher in Dallas. I’ve politely turned him down every time, stating “I don’t think I’m a good fit for this position.” I just got another email from him. This persistence isn’t flattering and it doesn’t make me interested in working for him.

But the thing that makes me want to start drinking is when the application has a place to upload my properly-formatted .pdf resume, and on the next screen, I have to enter all of my information in text boxes, anyway.

Why did you give me hope if it was just a lie? (See #14)

Adventures in Job Hunting: Scammy Scammers

The one thing that bothers me the most about the job scams is the knowledge that these lying thieves are successfully scamming people. If you’re in the position where you’re looking for a job and posting or responding to ads on Craigslist, chances are you’re in a pretty vulnerable position, and instead of help or legitimate opportunities, you’re finding fraud, theft, and potential criminal charges.

Job scams are such a big deal the FTC even has official webspace dedicated to them and how to file a complaint.

There are so many articles dedicated to listing the warning signs of scams that just simply Googling “job scams” turns up 25 million results.

The scammers who have contacted me have been for the car-wrap scam, the smuggling scam, the cashier’s check scam, and one guy who insisted that I work for him, but he couldn’t pay me until I opened a bank account with his “affiliate” bank. I have a bank account. I actually have three, and I’m quite satisfied with them.

I’m not going to list tips for spotting job scams. Seriously there are so many articles. What I am going to say is stay safe and try not to let them get to you, and don’t give anyone any information until you’ve thoroughly vetted them. Also, if you can, sign up for a Google voice number, that way when you’re done fielding those calls and texts, you can just get rid of it, and if you need to submit information to the FTC with your complaint, everything is digital and easily accessible.

Adventures in Job Hunting: The Existential Crisis

I am a very capable person. I learn quickly, am probably a little too eager to please, and have zero problem with work that’s “beneath” me. But job hunting is kind of soul-crushing, isn’t it? I haven’t hunted like this since 2006, after I graduated. I spent five months applying to every job I even kind of thought I could do before I got hired on as an inventory manager with a local Austin company that was a terrible fit for me. That was a difficult year until I got randomly hired on without even an interview for the last company I worked for, and I loved it there. I was great there. Now I’m seven years out of the work force with things like bookkeeping for our small business and self-published authorship on my resume, and while I’ve maintained my skills and learned a few new things since, when I’m feeling my worst–like now–it all looks so shabby and I start wondering what even is the point?

Well, the point is to find work.

But to not get so caught up in the hunt that I forget the good things.

I’m fortunate. I don’t technically need a job. I want one, and I need it for my own sense of well-being and to ease my financial anxiety (there’s no feeling quite like realizing literally all of your money, all of your credit, all of your borrowing power, is sunk into one investment), but things are just tight right now, not dire.

My brain, of course, doesn’t realize that. It sees the bank account and goes so hard into panic mode I wonder if I need to go to the ER because I’m having a heart attack.

I’m taking a step back, at least for a couple of days. Limiting the applications and the Craigslist ads (if anyone is looking for a bookkeeper, btw, please let me know) and spending a little more time breathing. Regrouping. I’ll find work, because I always do, and I’ll find the job I want, because I pretty much always get what I want even if it means changing what I want.

And, in case anyone is in the same boat, here are some tips for battling the existential crisis borne of the job search.

Also, here’s a video of the Chippendales Gladiators show. Obviously NSFW but I’m not at work right now, anyway.

Adventures in Job Hunting

If you follow me on Twitter, you know I’ve been looking for work. I haven’t had a “real” job since 2010, but lately I’ve felt antsy and wanted one, and a little extra income certainly wouldn’t be unwelcome, so I’ve been looking. I signed back up for LinkedIn and made my profile all shiny. I broke out the old résumé and cleaned it up. It looks good. You know what else looks good? My cover letters.

But job-hunting is exhausting and nerve-wracking. I spent most of yesterday feeling like I was going to puke. I’m looking for specific work, and I have the skills and the education for it, but finding job listings that feel like a good fit with companies that I can vet isn’t easy. So I also posted ads on Craigslist.

And boy has that been an adventure. It’s the smuggling scam I’m most offended by, to be honest. I got an email offering me work “receiving and shipping packages” and the scammer outright said they were buying ancient artifacts. I’m not sure if they actually are, but they had a copy of my résumé, wasn’t asking me to smuggle cultural resources a bit clueless? I just don’t understand the real estate scams. The “post this listing” job offers. Are they for finding victims? One “recruiter” was so persistent when I politely and professionally said, “I don’t think I’m the right fit for the position” that I had to tell him the whole first page of Google results for his phone number were scam complaints.

Come on, dude. Have some self-awareness.