Dear Matt: I would love to work from home but am having a hard time finding opportunities locally. Do you have any advice?
Matt says: With advances in technology and more companies promoting work-life balance, telecommuting and flexible schedules allowing employees to work from home are more common than ever. But according to FlexJobs.com, which promotes flexible work opportunities, only 4.9 percent of Minnesota workers telecommute, slightly above the national average of 4.3 percent.
For now, many Minnesota companies seem to prefer having workers onsite, says Twin Cities recruiting consultant Jena Brown (@talentjunky). Most companies aren’t going out of their way to advertise remote/telecommute opportunities. Instead, once hired, or as part of negotiations, they will work with a candidate who needs flexibility and allow them to work from home one or two days a week.
“This surprises me,” says Brown, “due to the number of technology companies and other innovative industries we have. While they realize the trend is to accommodate flexible schedules, they seem to not want to promise it outright, which clearly speaks to their culture and the types of people they’re wanting to hire.”
Locally, UnitedHealth, Walden University, Edmentum, 3M and Ecolab were named to FlexJobs’ Top 100 Companies to watch for remote job opportunities in 2015. But you should not say you are only interested in the company because you want to work remotely. Looking for remote work is similar to any traditional job search, says Brie Reynolds, Director of Online Content for FlexJobs. You’ll need to do your research, tailor your résumé and cover letter and apply for job listings based on your skills, experience and qualifications. When searching for jobs, use keywords like telecommuting, remote job, virtual job, home office or distributed team. “Steer clear of ‘work from home’ which is actually a phrase commonly used by scammers,” says Reynolds.
Job titles to look for include consultant, customer service representative, account executive, case manager, writer, graphic designer, business development director, marketing manager, systems analyst, software developer and faculty/teacher. Next, reach out to your professional network to find out who’s already working from home, how they got there and what tips they have for you, says Reynolds.
More Minnesota companies will allow workers to telecommute or work remotely, but for now, expect it to be on a case-by-case basis.
“Remote work isn’t for everyone,” says Brown. “Some people can’t stay focused and will get distracted at home, while some people will push out more productivity for you if they’re out of the office. I think leaders simply don’t know how to manage the fairness factor within their workforce and don’t want to deal with it. It’s all or nothing.”
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