Tips for Finding Legitimate Work-From-Home Opportunities

By Emily Guy Birken on 21 March 2008 28 comments

Being able to work from home is the dream employment scenario. You get a flexible schedule, no commute, and pants are optional. What more could you want?

The trick is finding a job that will let you work from home. If you don't already have a boss who is willing to let you telecommute, how do you go about finding such an employment opportunity? There are plenty of sites out there claiming to offer work-from-home jobs, but a number of them are nothing more than scams.

Thankfully, it is entirely possible to find a legitimate work from home employment, if you know where to look. Here are some tips for finding the job that will fulfill all your employment (and pants-free) dreams.

Know what scams look like

To find a legitimate work-from-home opportunity, it's likely that you'll have to wade through a number of scams first. That's why it's important for all potential work-from-home employees to have a thorough understanding of the most common scams. There are five major red flags that should warn you an "employer" isn't on the up and up. (See also: 11 Signs the Job Is Too Good to Be True)

1. The pay is too good

If the opportunity is for an easy or unskilled job that pretty much anyone could do (like data entry or envelope stuffing), but the offered pay is amazing, this is likely a scam. You can find really well-paying work-from-home jobs, but they are generally for highly skilled individuals with past experience in the field.

2. The company contacts you first

Emailed offers of employment are pretty fishy, since most job openings (especially those for work-from-home jobs) will receive a deluge of applications.

3. You are asked to pay an upfront fee

No legitimate employer will ask a prospective employee to pay for the opportunity to work for them. However, some employers may ask you to pay for a drug test or background check. This is reasonable, and it will be clearly spelled out. A scam will not explain precisely what the fee is for.

4. You are offered an advance for "supplies"

A common scheme is to offer a prospective employee a check for office supplies before starting work. The scammer will ask you to deposit the check and wire some of the funds back to them.

5. Vague information

If it's unclear exactly what kind of job you will be doing, and there is little to no contact information for the company you would be working for, you don't want to risk it. Legitimate companies offer much more clarity and transparency. While searching for a work-from-home job, it's a good idea to check out any company with the Better Business Bureau and Glassdoor to make sure they are on the up-and-up.

Know what kind of work you want to do

There's a reason why there are so many work-from-home scams out there: Many people dream of being paid to stay home, but far fewer have really thought about the kind of at-home work they'd enjoy.

It's not enough to search for work-from-home gigs. Doing a generic search for jobs you can do from home will result in a number of illegitimate or otherwise sketchy "job opportunities." But the more specific you can be in your job search, the better your search options will be.

There are a number of industries that lend themselves to working from home, and each one tends to have its own dedicated websites and forums for finding jobs. (See also: 8 Terrible Work-From-Home "Jobs" You Should Avoid)

Writing

Writing is the oldest (work-from-home) profession, and as such, it can be one of the easiest at-home jobs to break into as a freelancer. However, becoming a freelancer doesn't mean instant riches, fame, or glory. You will be consistently on the lookout for new clients, and you may or may not be able to make a full-time living to start.

To get started, the job board site Freelance Writing Gigs aggregates all of the writing jobs in one place, and does its best to filter out the scammers. (You should still be cautious with jobs found on this site, however.)

For writers looking for a salaried position, Media Bistro has an excellent job board that features work-from-home salaried positions, freelance opportunities, and traditional jobs. (See also: 6 Places to Find Freelance Writing Jobs)

Education and tutoring

You don't have to have a background as a teacher to become an educator from home, although it does help. If you know a subject well, you can become an online tutor for students looking for help with their school work. You can find legitimate opportunities at online tutoring sites such as Tutor.com and Chegg.

Another alternative is to work as an ESL (English as a Second Language) tutor. While you may need to have a background in English or English education, many sites are simply looking for native English speakers since many of the students you will be helping just want to practice their conversational skills. Sites like Italki can help you find students to teach all over the world from the comfort of your home. (See also: How to Earn $1,000 a Month or More as an Online Tutor)

Virtual assistance

If you have a gift for organization and time management, or a job history as an administrative assistant, becoming a virtual assistant can be a great way to work from home for an employer. There are a number of legitimate sites to find virtual assistant work, including Belay and Zirtual. In addition, potential virtual assistants can find work on forums like VANetworking. (See also: How to Find a Legit Virtual Assistant Job)

Customer service

Answering customer questions over the phone can be done remotely, and many companies now staff their customer service phone lines with at-home workers. Sites such as LiveOps can help pair potential customer service reps with companies. Alternatively, you could look for job postings for remote call center work from major companies such as Amazon and Xerox, both of which have made plans to hire work-from-home customer service agents.

Finding other work at home opportunities

Even if your interests and talents do not fit within any of the above categories, it is still possible to find legitimate work from home jobs.

  • Freelancers of any stripe can find clients via sites like Upwork or FlexJobs.
     
  • Filter search results on online job boards using the terms "telecommute" or "freelance" to find the opportunities that will let you work from home. Use online job boards with advanced filters like Indeed, SimplyHired, and Craigslist.
     
  • LinkedIn can be a great resource for finding work-from-home jobs. In addition to using your LinkedIn network for general job searching, you can also follow companies that regularly hire remote workers so you'll know when they are hiring. (The Work At Home Woman has put together a list of companies that regularly hire remote employees.)

Yes, Virginia, there are legitimate work at home opportunities

It is possible to find a great job that lets you work from home. You just need to be aware of the common types of scams and be willing to treat this job search like any other. It will take time for you to find the right opportunity — but once you're working out of your living room and instituting no-pants Friday policies, you'll be glad you did. (See also: 7 Work-From-Home Jobs for People Who Hate Talking on the Phone)

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Guest's picture

On my blog, I'm also exploring work-at-home opportunities - particularly online ones ... real or scam ... I'm still undecided, how about you?

The financial key, though, is if you do find an opportunity that makes you money to save at least 10% of it (if it is your PRIMARY source of income) or at least 50% of it (if it is a new /additional source of income) ...

Guest's picture
Eddy

That was a great article. I totally agree about freelance sites. They're great for people that live outside the U.S. looking to work at home. But for U.S. based employees it's better to focus on some of the resources you provided.

But with that said, there are many more resources than Wahm that provide you a wealth of free work at home information, leads, videos on how to avoid scams.

I would encourage you to visit:
www.WorkAtHomeNoScams.com
www.WorkAtHomeCareers.com

In terms of avoiding scams you should visit the following pages:
www.WorkAtHomeCareers.com/scams
www.WorkAtHomeNoScams.com/scams
www.WorkAtHomeNoScams.com/2008/02/27/work-at-home-scams-video/

Just thought you may want to know about all the other resources available. Wahm is great but it's definitely not the only free and comprehensive work at home resource out there.

I hope this helps.

Eddy

Guest's picture
Monica

Hello,
That was a great article, thanks! However, would you clarify something? Where do you find the "telecommute" option on Craigslist? And is it only for certain larger cities?

thanks,
Monica

Guest's picture
Brian

I have looked on craigslist before too but never found a legit, good job to apply for. You said you did so before, do you have any additional tips for finding someting as you had done?

Thanks so much!

Brian

Guest's picture
Melanie

I found this quick, to the point and informative. Wonderful post! Thanks for the information. Craigslist, I do find useful for many things, and many times, I forget to look there. Thank you for the excellent reminder.

Guest's picture

These all sound really good. I also work from home with Associated Content writing articles. If you would like to learn more you can visit my blog for details.

Guest's picture
andrea

You found real work at home jobs on Craigslist??? The only ones I find ask for money and then tell you to list an ad like theirs on free websites! Such scams! Beware people..... if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is!

Guest's picture

I sometimes feel that finding a legitimate work at home job is a bit like trying to find the Loch Ness Monster - impossible!

Guest's picture
Alex Cavnar

What's the deal there? You're a service provider, yet you still have to pay?

I'll stick with advertising elsewhere, tyvm...

Guest's picture
Seth

My wife is currently looking for a job similar to this, to provide us with extra savings money. I'll have to forward her this link and thank you all who posted extra links and personal experiences.
We will have to do our homework and avoid scams.

Guest's picture
Shabba Dowd

Sounds like "nicole" is fishing for suckers...no, you shouldn't have to put up money for your job and, no, you shouldn't expect to make "six figures in two years" (:rolleyes)

GTFO!!

Guest's picture
Ashley

I recently had a work from home job find me. My friend invited me to try what she was doing, and I loved it. I had never thought to ask her if she did anything besides stay at home with her kids. Sometimes, the best ideas come from the people that we know!

Guest's picture

Thanks for sharing!! hope everybody looks and gives it the credit that I did!

Guest's picture
Gene

I love the tip on freelancing, but not everyone works in a freelance field. The one thing that just about anyone (with a little practice) CAN do, however is some freelance writing.

Not only is there a ton of opportunities for freelance writing gigs, but if you start blogging for yourself, before you know it, you could open more doors or even find an independent passive income from it.

Guest's picture
tamaras

There are plenty of problems you encounter when you work from home.Issues regarding stress, support, life balance, and isolation issues can be overcome with careful planning and a good attitude.

Guest's picture

CL is not good any more. 95% of every job on CL is a scam of some kind. Virtual agent companies are full for the big cities and intern jobs is the new employer scam to get people to work for free.

Guest's picture

Be certain you do your homework before jumping on one of Craig's Lists ads. You are correct when you say a majority of them are bogus. Research thoroughly everything you look at first before you make any decisions.

Guest's picture

Its wonderful post! Thanks for the information. Craigslist, I do find useful for numerous things, and many times, I forget to watch there. Thank you for the excellent reminder

Guest's picture

Yes! its true, there are many other resources than Wahm that provide you a wealth of free work at home information, leads, videos on how to avoid scams realated jobs.

Guest's picture

very lovely and all post are very good

Guest's picture

Finding honest people to work with online is just like finding them offline. Knowing that you are good and honest will lead you to like minded people to work with, and when you find them, you simply hang on to that lead...it is sorta like making new friends when you move to a new area. Work from home is a wonderful option, even better when it is your own business, and you can work for yourself.

Guest's picture
Brie

I'd also highly recommend FlexJobs.com, a site which compiles and screens legitimate telecommuting job opportunities so that members don't have to spend as much time digging through scams to find real work-at-home opportunities. They also list part-time, freelance, and flexible schedule jobs and every job is pre-screened before being listed.

Guest's picture
Guest

Melanie

I find it interesting that most of the work at home jobs are scams.
Really sucks when You are trying to find a legit job to do for extra income.
I have looked at WAHM, and got pulled into melaleuca. Which I only buy the products because I like that they are safe.
I am wanting to find something good to do from home. Can anyone suggested something that is working and legit?
Thanks.

Guest's picture

I think one of the toughest aspects of working from home is finding a “Real” opportunity and not a scam. There are a ton of sites out there that claim to be unbiased but usually they are just affiliate marketers trying to make a commission. www.lucrativeminds.com is a research and education website that provides a lot of information on work from home opportunities even what social media is saying about them. It is worth a look if you are looking to work from home they can even match you.
Good Luck

Guest's picture
Bernard

Some excellent tips - thank you!

Working from home is awesome. I have been doing it for years. The important thing is that you find something that you are passionate about, or something where you can help others while taking care of your own needs.

I have been fortunate, and I encourage everyone to keep searching for something that excites you. There is nothing better than spending more time with the family, or taking time off to vacation every now and again.

Best of Luck!

Come visit me: http://www.empowernetwork.com/almostasecret.php?id=bernardb

Guest's picture
monique

I work from home I have been doing it for 3 months now, a friend of mines told me about a work from home listing, as soon as I registered I started working within my first week, doing data entry..I am a stay at home mom, so this has really helped me financially. Oh and I do believe their is a small fee, but it was completely worth it.you can check it out for your self..Good Luck.

http://3b43bdsjsjz8stc2qbl9y44z10.hop.clickbank.net/

Guest's picture
edelmiro

Thanks for the information! Cause finding a legitimate work at home isn't a easy job job when you are a newbie! I came across a lot of scams before I found the one I am in now! Lost a lot of money too! But I got a lot more with this new online job! So I want to encourage you to first take a good look around on the net and read reviews about the different work at homes and then choose of the confidential ones!

Guest's picture
Lola

I really wanna work at home. The main reason for me is I always dislike my boss. Get tired of listening to him. And thanks for the useful tips.