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Wayback Wednesday: Sometimes it really ISN’T your job

A new bowling alley opens up near the office where this IT pilot fish works, so he and his co-workers decide to try it out — and their manager tags along.

“Unfortunately, we managed to break out of the screen while entering our names,” says fish. “We decided the best course of action was to leave it alone and get the people at the alley to fix it.

“This wasn’t good enough for our manager, who decided since he worked in IT that he could fix it. At this point we tried to hide and pretend he was not with us.

Result after much typing and hitting of the screen: All games in the 24 lanes stopped for 20 minutes. Every game is cleared and has to be restarted from the first frame.

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Flashback Friday: Snow job | Computerworld

This pilot fish runs a small computer store where all repairs come with a guarantee: “If you experience any problems within two weeks of completion, bring it in and we will take a second look with no additional labor charges,” says fish.

So it is that, shortly after a big snowstorm, fish gets a call from a customer who has recently brought in his PC to get rid of a virus infestation.

Customer explains that, in the time since fish worked on his computer, he’s no longer able to get his CD-ROM drive to read disks.

That doesn’t seem likely to be connected to the customer’s original problem, but the guarantee is the guarantee.

So fish says, sure, bring your computer back in and we’ll take another look at it.

Customer’s response: “Well, I was wondering if you could come onsite and take a look at it. I have a really long driveway, and it will take me a while to clear it so that I can get out.”

Sighs fish, “So if he couldn’t get out, how did he expect me to get in? Yep, you guessed it.

“I politely declined his request, and informed him I would be happy to look at the computer once he was able to get out of his driveway and bring it in.”

Sharky’s always ready to dig into your true tales of IT life. Send them to me at [email protected]. You can also subscribe to the Daily Shark Newsletter.

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.



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Throwback Thursday: Apparently it’s just not in their job description

This company upgrades all its printers to lasers, and they’re pretty slick, says a net admin pilot fish on the scene.

“They report to the manufacturer, automatically ordering supplies when they run low,” fish says. “I also receive emails when the devices report a toner cartridge running low, and I take a replacement to the printer and leave it for the users to replace.

“This way, if I’m unable to be there when the toner runs out, users can change it out themselves. This works well for all of the printers, even in the administrative area where users are not very technical.

“But one area seems to have a problem: our engineering department.”

Case in point: Fish returns from a brief vacation to discover that an engineering department printer has stopped working days before. First clue as to the problem: The printer is flashing “Toner out.”

And right where fish left them next to the printer are two clearly labeled but unopened boxes — the replacement toner cartridges.

As fish mutters to himself about tasks that are simple enough for secretaries but too complicated for the engineering staff, one engineer walks by and grumbles, “Are you guys still working on that printer? It’s been down since last week.”

Fish points out the toner cartridges and the display that clearly says “Toner out.” Did it occur to anyone to replace the cartridges?

Reports fish, “The response I got was, ‘I told Ted about it. We’ve just been using another printer.’

“I replaced the cartridge, and two days’ worth of queued jobs began spitting out.

“Another engineer walked by and grabbed one, remarked, ‘I’ve been waiting for that’ — and walked away.”

Sharky’s waiting for you to send me your true tales of IT life at [email protected]. You can also subscribe to the Daily Shark Newsletter.

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.



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Tired of the Daily Commute? Here’s How to Find a Remote Job – LifeSavvy

A man relaxing with his feet up on his desk in front of a laptop.
Roman Samborskyi/Shutterstock

The average U.S. worker’s commute eats up over 200 hours of his time each year. What would you do with all that time if you could get it back?

With a remote job, you take back the time you usually spend trekking to and from work. It can also help you expand your job horizons, avoid workplace drama, shorten your workdays, and much more. Lots of people want to work remotely for obvious reasons. But not everyone knows how to start the search.

We’ve put together this guide to help you transition into working from home (or the cafe, the beach, or anywhere else you want).

If working remotely sounds like an upgrade from your current job, here’s what you need to know.

The Best Industries for Remote Work

Not all industries are suitable for remote staff. If you’re a barista, you won’t find any remote work options—at least, not yet!

However, there’s a long and growing list of industries that employ remote workers. If you have some untapped skills or are willing to put in some training time, you might be able to transition into a new career that allows you to work remotely.

If a job involves working on a computer, you can almost certainly do it from home. Here are some of the top industries you should check out:

  • Customer Service: Modern customer service is handled via phone, email, or social media. This means it can all be done from home. However, depending on the position and the company, it could require that you work odd hours.
  • Marketing: As most modern marketing involves email and social media, most of these positions are work-from-home (or soon will be).
  • Writing and editing: During the average workday, most modern writers and editors rarely touch a piece of paper. Everything is created and sent online. From writing marketing content to editing blog posts, there are lots of remote jobs under this umbrella. If you have other content-creation skills, like creating promotional videos, you’re even more marketable.
  • Web and graphic design: Often available as remote positions, design work blends creative skills with technical knowledge, which keeps things interesting. And you can learn most of the technical skills you need online, too.
  • Tutoring: Although it’s difficult to find a full-time remote tutoring position, you can often tutor from home part-time to supplement your income. Some of these jobs don’t require any specialized knowledge beyond standard English.

While this list will get you started, many other industries also offer remote opportunities. As new tech solutions are developed, there will be more new ways to work from home.

So, don’t count out your dream job just yet. If you do a bit of online research, you’ll see what your possibilities are.

Full-Time or Freelance?

Before you start your search, you also need to decide whether you’re interested in full-time or freelance positions.

Both work well for remote jobs; it’s just a matter of what’s available in your industry, and which suits your lifestyle best. For example, most remote tutoring positions are freelance, while you can find a full-time remote customer service job easily.

If you want to delve into the freelance world, it’s best to start slow. You might want to wait until you have a couple of steady clients, or a significant amount of money saved before you quit your day job.

If you find a full-time remote job, though, you can dive right in, just as you would if you’d found a new traditional full-time job.

Where to Start Your Remote Job Search

woman searching for remote work jobs using her laptop
Jacob Lund/Shutterstock

So, you’ve decided you want to work from home. Now you have to find a job.

While you can scan the usual job-search forums and websites you always have, you’ll probably have better luck on platforms specifically for remote workers. For remote work, you have to learn how to leverage the power of the internet, and that starts with the job search.

Here are some suggestions on where to start your search.

Company Websites

If you don’t have any specific companies in mind you’d like to work for, you can skip this step. If you do, research whether they offer any remote options.

Check out their websites and social media pages. Familiarize yourself with their brand and tone. You can impress them with your in-depth knowledge when you write your cover letter.

LinkedIn

A lot of people mention how helpful LinkedIn was during their job search. If you’ve never successfully found a job on there, though, this might seem hard to believe.

However, as an online business networking resource, LinkedIn is a great place to begin your remote job search. Not only does it allow you to sift through a long list of possible jobs, but you can also impress potential employers before you even send your resume.

You can search LinkedIn job listings using keywords, like “remote” or “virtual.” You should also reach out to people at the companies to which you decide to apply. On LinkedIn, it’s normal to send a professional message to a stranger in your industry—and it can help you get a job.

First, fill out your profile completely, and then send a note to a few people in the work-from-home positions you hope to get, at the companies you want to work for. Ask them if they’re open to a short call to tell you about their work experience, and how they landed their job. You can even offer a small gift, like a coffee gift card, to thank them for their time.

This networking idea can give you valuable insight into how to get hired. It can also help you get your foot in the door at your dream companies.

Remote.co

This online remote-work hub has a searchable list of potential jobs in many industries. It also offers a blog section all about working remotely, as well as other community resources. We especially like the remote Q&A section, where you can find answers to popular questions about working from home from real remote workers.

Remotive.io

Remotive offers a helpful blend of searchable jobs and community resources. While some of the content requires paid access, you can get a lot of mileage out of the free offerings. We suggest you sign up for the email list, so you get weekly messages about jobs in your field.

We Work Remotely

We Work Remotely uses a similar concept to the other options we’ve covered. It pairs job listings with educational resources for remote workers. You can also join the We Work Remotely community on social media, where you can make valuable new connections that might lead to new jobs. And, of course, a community of remote workers is also helpful to answer any questions you might have as you transition to working from home.

Since We Work Remotely is also the largest of all the online remote-work communities, it offers you a longer list of possible jobs than most. You can search by category or use the helpful Resources tab to narrow it down.

Tips for Getting Hired

A man sitting at a desk behind a desktop computer screen and a laptop, holding a coffee mug.
Rawpixel.com/Shutterstock

Once you’ve found a few work-from-home jobs to apply to, how can you increase your chances of getting hired?

While many traditional recommendations about resume editing and interview skills apply, remote work also poses some unique challenges. Here’s how to help yourself stand out as a candidate.

Social Media and Websites

When you apply for remote jobs, your online and social media game needs to be super-strong.

The hiring manager isn’t going to meet you in person, so her first (or only) impression of you comes from what she sees online. Your online presence should be professional but also show your personality. Your future boss wants to know what kind of person she’ll be bringing to the team.

Before you submit any applications, take a quick inventory of your online presence. Try to view it from the perspective of a hiring manager. It’s fine if you have vacation photos and funny tweets, but it’s also helpful to have some posts about your professional abilities.

For example, if you’re a writer, do you have an online portfolio of your published work? If you’re a marketer, does your LinkedIn profile show off your ability to market yourself as a candidate?

Resume and Cover Letter

Your cover letter and resume don’t need to look much different when you apply for a remote position. However, you might want to make a few small changes.

For example, you should definitely highlight the skills and qualities companies want in remote workers, as well as the skills needed for that particular job. If you have remote-friendly tech skills or creative communications solutions to offer, those are worth a mention. You might also want to highlight your ability to stay self-motivated, meet deadlines, and communicate effectively on online platforms.

Interview

With time and careful attention to your applications, you should start to get some interview requests. Next, you need to prepare to interview well via phone or video.

If you’re interviewing via video, dress professionally—and, yes, wear pants! Be sure you’re in a quiet location with a nice-looking background. You then approach the experience just as you would an in-person interview.

For phone interviews, remember to smile so your voice sounds friendly and make sure you have a good connection for the call. You can also check out this guide to prepping for a phone interview to get some more detailed tips.

Your Dream Job

When you work remotely, your entire life can change for the better.

Suddenly, you can eat fresh food from your home fridge, instead of debating which fast-casual restaurant to grab lunch from. You can stock up on comfy athleisure clothes instead of office separates. You can sign up for 11 a.m. yoga classes, instead of trying to squeeze in a workout before your 8 a.m. commute.

While working from home affects everyone differently, many people find the change is for the best. With these job search tips, you’ll be well on your way to finding a remote job that works for you.

After you start your new remote job, be sure to check out our guide on how to stay organized when you work from home!





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Want to Work from Home? Watch out for These Common Job Scams – LifeSavvy

woman looking at her laptop, stressed because the work from home business turned out to be a scam
Everything Is Stock/Shutterstock

Almost three out of every four people in multi-level marketing jobs make no money or actually lose money. Of course, most people would never knowingly take on a job with such a high risk of not getting paid. But when that job promises to let you work from home, it can suddenly seem worth a try.

Thanks to the internet, work-from-home scams have increased in recent years. And they look far different than they used to. The days of pyramid and Ponzi schemes are mostly over: now, you’re more likely to get recruited for multi-level marketing or fake virtual assistant jobs.

How can you tell a scam from a real work-from-home business opportunity? And what about those gray areas that aren’t quite scams, but aren’t quite profitable either? We’ve got the answers—read this before you commit to something you might regret.

Pyramid and Multi-Level Marketing Schemes: What’s the Difference?

Most people have heard of pyramid schemes. These now-illegal scams promise to pay members for merely recruiting more people, instead of selling products or services. As more people join, recruiting becomes impossible, so new members can’t profit.

Since they’re widely mistrusted and mostly illegal, you don’t run across many pyramid schemes these days. But in some ways, the multi-level marketing (MLM) model has taken their place.

MLMs are one of the most common misleading work-from-home “jobs” available today. But as anyone trying to recruit you for an MLM will tell you, “It’s not a pyramid scheme!” And they’re right—it’s not.

MLMs hinge on selling products or services, while also trying to recruit new members to work below you. The model marries the pyramid idea with actual products to sell. You may also see MLMs referred to as networking marketing opportunities.

And to be clear: it is possible to make money through an MLM. It’s just that only a small fraction of people who join make money, while the vast majority makes nothing or loses money. So even though an MLM may not be a scam in the same way a pyramid scheme is, we recommend avoiding these high-risk “opportunities.”

Why do so many people lose money with MLMs? It has to do with the way these companies are structured. People who join have to buy their own inventory to sell, and they often get pressured to buy larger stocks than they need. Then, they make money through commissions from their sales. They can also profit by recruiting new people and getting a commission from each of these members of their “downline.”

This means that for new members, part of the profit from each sale is going into the pockets of the people in their “upline.” And, while they’re pressured to buy inventory, there’s often little guidance on how to sell that inventory effectively. Many people join MLMs, sink funds into their inventory, and then leave when they realize they can’t sell it fast enough to make a profit.

However, because MLMs usually involve a friendly-sounding community, promises of big bucks, and lots of pressure to stick with it, people often invest hundreds or thousands of dollars before they leave. While it is possible to make a profit with an MLM, the numbers are not on your side. Better to steer clear and look for a job that will reliably pay you for your time spent.

Other Common Work-from-Home Scams

young man making phone calls for a fraudulent telemarketing company
Jacob Lund/Shutterstock

While MLMs are one of the most pervasive scammy work-from-home options, you may well run into others on the job search. Here are a few of the most common scams to watch out for.

Virtual Assistant Scams

In this kind of scam, someone posts a great-sounding job opportunity for a virtual assistant. It sounds simple: get paid well to respond to emails, field phone calls, and other generic tasks. But then, they offer to send you a large up-front payment—they just need a few of your financial details first.

These scams aim to access your bank account information and steal your funds before you know what’s happening. Be wary of any “virtual assistant” job posting: it’s actually pretty rare as a legitimate job. If they offer to pay you before you’ve done any real work, run—and block them from contacting you again. Otherwise, they’ll spam your inbox with fake threats to contact the authorities if you don’t follow through.

Social Media Scams

Many modern scams also prey on people’s love of social media. In these scams, you’re promised hundreds of dollars just for spending time on your favorite social platforms.

However, before you can get paid, the company usually asks you to pay to access training or their platform. Here’s a tip: any job that wants you to pay to work isn’t legitimate. A real job will pay you without asking you for money first.

Data Entry Scams

In these jobs, the promise is that you’ll get paid well for simple data entry done from home. While data entry is also a real job, the scams abound. Real data entry jobs don’t usually get paid that well—so if it promises enormous profits, don’t trust it.

These scams often take your money by requiring you to buy their expensive software before you can start. Again, you shouldn’t have to pay to start a job—a real employer will provide you with the software you need to work with them.

How to Avoid Getting Duped

While these types of scams have become incredibly common, there are countless other work-from-home scams to avoid. Even if you think you know them all, new ones pop up all the time. So instead of trying to memorize every type of scam out there, use these tips to boost your work-from-home scam radar.

Keep Your Head Clear

When you’re dying to leave your drab office and end your miserable commute, it’s easy to let emotions cloud your mind. Your excitement about a promising work-from-home offer can blur your judgment, leading you to sign up for a scam.

Try to keep a level head during your job search. If you find a job that sounds too good to be true, give yourself a day to think about it before you apply. When you come back to it with a calmer perspective, the red flags might be more apparent.

Avoid Up-Front Transactions

Normal jobs won’t ask you for money upfront, and they won’t pay you upfront, either. Be wary of any offer that promises to pay you before you’ve done any work, or asks you to pay for equipment or software before you’ve earned your first paycheck.

Those up-front transactions are putting your financial information in the hands of an entity you know nothing about. Even if the initial transaction is just a small fee, these scammers can add on new, unexpected future charges, or even outright steal your information.

Be Realistic

If the job promises that you’ll make great money without investing any effort, it should sound too good to be true—because it is.

All legitimate remote jobs require actual work. Just because you’re working from home doesn’t mean you’re getting paid to do nothing. If a job promises easy money to people with no marketable skills, it’s not a real job.

Wait for an Interview

A legitimate, full-time remote position will almost always involve an interview via phone or video call. If you don’t have an interview, how can the company know they want to hire you?

That said, many freelance or contract work-from-home positions don’t involve interviews. However, at the least, they will ask you to send your resume and examples of your capabilities before hiring you. If you don’t have any interaction where you show an employer what you’ve got, it’s likely a scam.

Avoid Employers That Contact You First

If it’s a legitimate company, lots of people should want to work for them. So why are they showing up with an unsolicited email in your inbox?

Real work-from-home jobs aren’t desperate for people to hire. They’ll wait for potential employees to contact them with applications. But scammers always need new victims, so they reach out to people first.

Find out How You’ll Get Paid

If a job promises big paychecks but isn’t clear on when or how you’ll get them, that’s another red flag.

Real job opportunities make their payment structures clear. Maybe you’ll get paid every other week via PayPal, or once a month via direct deposit. They won’t leave you questioning when or how you’ll get paid.

Also, avoid any “employer” that promises to send you a big check, and then asks you to take a portion of it for your payment. Real work-from-home jobs don’t expect you to handle large amounts of money that’s not yours.

Do Your Research

Always look up a company online before you start working with them. Dig around, and go beyond the first page of Google results. Check out their social media pages, and check Glassdoor for what former employees have to say. If there’s no information about a company beyond its website, it’s probably not legit.

What to Do If You Find a Scam

screenshot showing the scam tracking map and website run by the Better Business Bureau
Better Business Bureau

If you notice a work-from-home scam, you can help alert others by reporting it on the Better Business Bureau’s Scam Tracker. This is also an excellent place to research anything you suspect is a scam.

However, keep in mind that scammers are always coming up with new ways to cheat people out of their time and money. They can pose as known, legitimate businesses, complete with familiar-looking logos. They can offer realistic-sounding opportunities. The best way to stay safe is always to approach remote job opportunities with caution, and do careful research before moving forward. There are many legitimate remote jobs out there—just don’t get duped while seeking out the perfect one.

Of course, work-from-home scams aren’t the only scams you’ll need to avoid. Next, check out our guide to avoiding common travel scams.





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