Is Remote Working for Me?
For almost every person who’s emigrated, and is still looking to work, unless you have moved for a job then finding work is probably the most challenging part of the whole experience. At some point or another it’s very likely that you’ve looked at the possibilities around Remote Working.
Everyone’s talking about it, right? It’s the new thing that’s supposed to be taking employers workforce by storm. The reality is that it’s not that easy to actually start doing. It feels as though it’s a chicken and egg situation. You can’t get the work without the proven feedback, yet you can’t get feedback until you’ve done some work. It feels like you’re starting out as a school-leaver again, not somewhere I ever thought I end up.
Before you even consider going down this path there are some things you need to think long and hard about:
Are you OK living with no idea where or when your next paycheck is coming from?
Especially when starting out, you will probably be doing small quick tasks/jobs that last for a week at most. They will often have a promise of further work if you do well, so you can’t really take on any more work until you’ve actually finished that one.
Are you prepared to start at the bottom, working at way less than the minimum wage till you start to get some history?
Despite you knowing that you’re the best thing since sliced bread, employers aren’t going to just take your word for it. Sadly, there’s a lot of competition, so they can pick and chose the best candidates who already have good feedback history.
Are you prepared to work at unsociable hours?
A large proportion of the available work will in all likelihood not be from the country your are now living in. So you’re going to have to be available at whatever time is most suitable to your employer, which may be a 2 pm in the morning.
Are you good at juggling lots of tasks?
The ability to manage your time effectively is critical for successful Remote Workers. You can often be working to 3 or 4 employers at the same time, and they may all be on different time zones from each other and you.
So, that’s the negatives out of the way. Still reading? In that case, Remote Working may just be for you. There are a lot of rewards that come with working for yourself on lots of different projects. Most of these come when you’re established, though as with most things in life:
If it’s worthwhile, then it takes time and effort.
So, how do you actually find work, and where do you start?
The first thing to do is find a Remote Working Portal. There are dozens of these around these days: Freelancer, Upwork, and Guru are just three of the ones I’ve been involved with. All of these sites are free to join, free to search for jobs, and most importantly, free to apply for jobs. There are many more some free, but others that charge you for either searching or applying for jobs. Personally, I steer clear of these. You can find perfectly good jobs on the free ones without having to invest any money.
For an in-depth review of Upwork, you’ll find it on my writing blog Writing Addict
When looking at the site, make sure that they have the type of work that you’re interested in doing, some cater toward different types of work. For instance, Guru is heavily biased towards creative writing, while Freelancer is more IT and data entry orientated. Not that you won’t find other types of work on these sites, but that seems to be where the majority of their work lies.
Once you found a site that you think fits you and offers the type of work you’re looking for, then it’s time to create your profile. Don’t be tempted to dive straight in and apply for jobs you think you can do. You’re highly unlikely to be offered any positions until you have a readable profile. Take your time, think about how you’d like to present yourself.
Presenting a Good Front
The following section may vary from site to site, but they are generally in all of them is some guise or another. I have taken the heading from Upwork, which is currently the site I tend to use most often. You can think of this as your CV, as that is what its purpose is.
Keep the language simple, and whatever you do make sure you use a grammar check. If there’s one thing that will put a potential employer off, it’s bad grammar, especially if you’re applying for creative writing type of work.
Charge per Hour
This is a tough one. Too high and you will price yourself out of the market, too low and you’ll get offers of work that you really won’t want to do for that sort of wage. The good news is that this isn’t a definitive figure. When you put in a proposal for a job you can set the rate at the time. The only time this figure comes into play is as a default rate, or if an employer is just trawling through profiles looking for someone in particular.
This is the first thing a potential employer sees when browsing your profile. It needs to stand out, easy to say and hard to do. But if nothing else, then make sure what you say about yourself is clear and unambiguous.
- stick to key characteristics and skills
- tailor it to the type of work you want to do
- short paragraphs well spaced out
- use bullet points
- if allowed, use HTML to create headings etc.
- Don’t try to be all things to all employers
Work History and Feedback
This section will be filled in for you as you complete tasks.
As you haven’t completed any work on the site yet, this is where you can put past projects that you’ve worked on. It doesn’t matter how long ago the project, try to at least put in the details for 2 or 3.
Add any certificates that you have, it doesn’t matter how relevant they are, you never know what an employer might be looking for. Obviously there’s no need to put things like swimming certificates in.
These vary both in type and price from site to site. Currently, Upwork doesn’t charge for tests, and you can take as many as you want. However, you can only take the same test once a month, so if it’s a test you really want on your profile make sure you know it well. One good thing about Upwork is that if you fail or receive a low score, then you can make the result private, so at least any employer won’t see how badly you’ve done.
As the other sites charge for tests, I haven’t taken them, so I can’t give any advice. Some jobs have a requirement of passing certain tests, and you can’t apply without them. They tend to cost around the $5 mark, so it’s up to you whether they are worth it or not.
Like a CV, it’s generally acceptable to just list the last 5 to 10 years, or 2 to 3 jobs if they are long term ones. As in the Overview keep it clear and unambiguous, stick to short facts.
As the title suggests, a simple list of the educational faculties you’ve attended
This is where you can put any relevant work experience, hobbies, or volunteer work that you completed. It may be that you’ve completed jobs on another Remote Work website, so put that information in here.
Time to Look for Work
Most, if not all of these sites you a credit based system. That is, you have so many credits you can use per month, and every job you apply for uses x amount. At first it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of jobs being advertised. All of the big Remote Working websites generally have a lot of jobs posted on them, often the same jobs. It’s easy to start firing off proposals for every job you see that you think you can do. Don’t! Take your time, be choosy about what jobs you apply for. Using a scattergun approach will just end up in you running out of credits.
There are generally two different types of jobs offered; fixed price, or hourly rate. When a job is posted it will generally have some or all of the following information:
- Fixed Rate or hourly – the figure will follow this, often as a budget amount
- Timescale – how long the employer thinks the jobs will take. This is a delivery timescale rather than actual man hours
- Skill Level – how much experience the employer is looking for
- Job description – sometimes this is just a one-liner, other times there may be a page of information. They may also be attachments or hyperlinks used as reference material.
- Client information – this is where it may list whether the client has a verified payment system, and /or any feedback employees have given.
- Skills required – this is a list of skills the employer feels the job requires to complete
You will see all types of jobs being offered, ranging from Write my Thesis through Rewrite my Upwork profile to write 20 blogs a day. I saw the profile one listed on Upwork the other day, made me smile. What jobs you see depend on what skills you have put down. There are literally hundreds of data entry type jobs listed every day, if that’s your aim then you’re in luck. However, because they are fairly low skilled and therefore, low paid, there are often over 100 proposals for each job posted.
Offering a Proposal
So, you’ve found a job that you think is the right fit for you. The first thing I check is who the client is. Sadly, there are some fraudsters working these sites. I’ve personally not been caught out by one, but I have heard some horror stories. So, things to check:
- has the client any feedback or history
- do they have a verified payment method
- Do they feel ‘right’
The last point is not one to ignore, sometimes you just get a bad feeling about a client. Obviously even if the client doesn’t meet any of the above checks, you can still put in a proposal for the job.
Stop, take a deep breath, and think long and hard about how you word your proposal. Don’t be tempted to rush a submission, most of the jobs are open for at least a few days if not longer. This is the equivalent of a cover letter, so it needs to be tailored exactly to the job you’re applying for. One thing I’ve found useful is to have several versions of cover letters ready-made for different types of work that just need tweaking depending on the job description.
In your proposal make sure you answer every one of the skill requirements that are mentioned in the description. Give examples of work you’ve done in the past. There may be other sections in the proposal that you need to fill in, sometimes the employer asks for separate answers to their questions such as; What do you think will be the most challenging aspect of this task?
Next up is the rate you are proposing to do the job. As mentioned above, this can be fixed price or per hour. There’s nothing wrong in offering a fixed price for a job that’s being advertised as hourly, it shows you are confident of finishing the work on time and to budget. How much do you charge? Well, that’s a tough question to answer as it depends on an awful lot of factors. Some of the Remote Working sites show you what the average is of the proposals so far. Some sites even show you who has applied and what they’ve proposed. If you’re just starting out, you may be tempted to put in a very low bid. Don’t! Price yourself fairly, you don’t want to end up doing something that you resent doing because your rate is too low. Do bear in mind that as someone with little or no feedback, you may have to charge a little lower than you normal would.
Well, that’s it from me, if you have any questions or comments, then please feel free to post them. And good luck in your search for Remote Working.