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Work-from-home jobs offer convenience, but are hard to find

Dear J.T. & Dale: I am 50 years old and have been the full-time caretaker of my 23-year-old daughter since she sustained a brain injury when she was 16. Alimony and Social Security have sustained us, but we require more income. Going back to work full time outside my home has proven to be difficult, as my daughter’s condition requires me to be available at any moment. I have 30-plus years in a variety of construction companies and last worked for an architectural firm in Contracts/Specs. I’ve been able to pick up some work but it’s not steady enough or frequent enough to count on. – Hattie

J.T.: The staffing industry has yet to master a method for seeking and posting viable work-from-home opportunities. The problem seems to be that most hiring managers believe it to be more trouble than it’s worth because the person who wants to stay at home and work usually has a set of unique circumstances that employers find too hard to work around. They decide it would be easier to hire someone who can show up at the office on their terms. I hope this is changing.

Dale: Well, if a job can be done at home, it can be done in India, so I wouldn’t be optimistic. What is catching on in corporate America is flexible work. That means setting your own hours, job-sharing and so on. But it rarely means working exclusively from home, with total time freedom. Such jobs do exist, but they are so desirable they are usually filled word-of-mouth. So finding such an arrangement would take a lot of digging, followed by a lot of selling yourself. And if you’re going to dig and sell, you might as well continue to develop the business you’ve got started.

J.T.: To do so, Hattie, you would need to stop thinking like an employee and start thinking like a consultant. Look back on all of your work experience and redo your resume to reflect what you are most valuable at doing.

Dale: From there you can start to find a target market and a positioning, which basically comes down to deciding which of your skills you can best sell to companies. The best book I’ve found on this process is “Consulting for Dummies” by Bob Nelson and Peter Economy.

J.T.: The first person you have to sell on the consulting idea is yourself. Make a list of the advantages to a company to hire you: they’ll have no on-site overhead, no employee commitment or benefits and so one.

Dale: Most of all, you can free up their current employees to do more of what they do best. Go to the companies you’ve already done work for and ask them what they liked and didn’t like about using you. From there, your marketing will develop itself. You’ll soon learn that offering to help businesses is easier than asking for a job.


Dale Dauten & J.T. O'Donnell
Dear J.T. & Dale: I’m curious: I am leaving a company I have worked for long enough to accrue vacation time. I have given significant notice of my departure and have requested that the vacation time be paid. Am I correct in believing that it should be paid? – Curt

J.T.: Yes, in the typical case, you are entitled to a payout of your vacation time that has been accrued up until the date you gave notice. Unless company policy is otherwise, sick/personal days are not required to be paid out. The difference is that vacation is earned, whereas sick/personal days are granted.

Dale: There isn’t a federal law requiring companies to offer paid vacation time; however, in several states, if a company offers vacation time and allows it to accrue, then it has to be paid when you depart. Check your employee handbook. If vacation-pay policy is not spelled out there, then ask the folks in human resources. Expect them to be reasonable and helpful, because, odds are, they are legally obligated to come through anyway.

Jeanine “J.T.” O’Donnell is the creator of www.careerjuice.com, founder of the career coaching company, www.bluekilowatt.com and author of “Find Your Career Path.” Dale Dauten is the founder of The Innovators’ Lab. His latest book is “(Great) Employees Only: How Gifted Bosses Hire and De-Hire Their Way to Success” (John Wiley & Sons). Please write to them in care of King Features Syndicate, 300 W. 57th St., 15th Floor, New York, NY 10019, or dale@dauten.com.

Archives
 
Published Date: 6/20/2007
Choose wisely when disclosing information in an interview

Dear J.T. & Dale: I am an avid reader of your column. I finally got the guts to ask you about an issue I am currently experiencing. I was transferred to a facility where I had difficulty fitting in. Then, I was terminated for sexual harassment. I did not say or do the things I was accused of. The attorney I consulted said I could pursue the issue, but it would take a long time. Now I face the interview process. It scares me to death, because that is not the type of person I am. (I’m a former Marine and a family man.) When asked about my last employment, I inform the interviewer that I was terminated due to allegations of harassment. They then ask what kind of harassment, and I answer sexual. I never get a return call.
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Published Date: 6/13/2007
Keep resumes to one page and focus on an expertise

Dear J.T. & Dale: Why are jobs so difficult to find? Everything is based on image management – how you walk and talk. Sort of like the Aerosmith song, “Walk This Way, Talk This Way.” I’m wondering if my image, as seen through my resume and cover letter, is holding me back.
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Published Date: 6/6/2007
Don’t let hiring prejudices or discrimination set you back

Dear J.T. & Dale: I have been in the insurance business for 25 years and am 56 years old. I earned an associate’s degree in paralegal studies with the idea of retiring from insurance sales and starting a new career. Since Hurricane Katrina, I have had to relocate to a small town. There are few positions available and with my lack of experience, it is particularly difficult to obtain an interview, much less a position. I have sent resumes for insurance sales positions and can’t even get a call back. I am confused – mainly because I never thought age discrimination would happen to me, especially when mentally I still think I am 36.
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Published Date: 5/30/2007
Wife must make work situation with husband bearable

Dear J.T. & Dale: When I met my husband, he owned his own business. I had another job, but I eventually came into his business. Now we are married and I have all these titles: secretary, A/P, A/R, customer service, interior design, courier, finisher, scheduler, problem-solver, digging him out of holes, and I get yelled at all day by him. I only get paid $8 an hour. He’s fine at home but as soon as he hits the shop door, he changes into a beast. The problem is when I told him I was quitting, he told me to pack my crap up at the shop and our house and get out. We are going to have the shop for another five years and then retire. Should I wait it out or move on? The shop and house are mine, too.
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Published Date: 5/23/2007
Companies have a choice to de-hire instead of fire

Dear J.T. & Dale: I work for a brilliant man, but he isn’t the most personable guy. Yesterday, he told me to fire an employee he feels isn’t doing a good job. I’ve never had to fire anyone. Ironically, that night I went home and saw a story on TV about a man who had been fired and went in and shot several people in his office. I don’t know what to do.
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Published Date: 5/16/2007
Losing a bad job could be a blessing in disguise

Dear J.T. & Dale: I just got fired. I’m sad and hurt, I can’t imagine looking for work right now. What makes this even more upsetting is that the job I was in was very stressful, yet I was sticking it out and doing my best, because I needed the money. It’s just not fair.
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