Standing Apart as a Home-Based Job Applicant

By: Melissa Brewer


A job with a home-based call center or other virtual employer is an enviable position. It's important to realize that a desire and ability to work from home is NOT considered a skill by potential employers. Home-based employers are looking for good workers that fit their company's ideals, values, and goals. Make sure that your resume focuses on the characteristics your potential employer is looking for. When writing your resume and interacting with your potential employer, keep the following traits in mind: Home based workers need to be able to work independently.

Independence is important because when working at home a person has nobody watching them and making sure they are getting their work done. Independence is more than working alone in an office - it's about problem solving, the ability to think on your feet, and the ability to deal with an irate customer or confused prospect. Most of your calls will be friendly, but the ones that aren't are the ones that make or break a company. After all, it takes a lot more effort to find a new customer than keep a regular one.

You have excellent communication skills - make sure you use them.

As a virtual employee, you won't have the luxury of face-to-face interaction. When communicating with your potential employer, make sure that you are professional in every manner. Emails, online applications, and telephone conversations should reflect your personality and enthusiasm for the position you are applying for. Your resume should also focus on these skills.

Problem-solving skills are a key ingredient of home-based work.

Home-based workers have to be able to think on their feet and provide reasonable solutions or answers to questions. You should be able to improvise without going outside of company policies. When applying for a job, ask yourself - What are the customers' expectations? What issues and opportunities will these calls focus on? What specific backgrounds are necessary to speak with these customers? When you write your resume and have deal with any follow-up communications, keep these questions in mind. If they aren't addressed in the company's website, consider asking the recruiter when they contact you for an interview.

Show your loyalty and commitment to the employer, not just the job.

Potential employers want to know that you are familiar with what they do, and how they want to do it. As a virtual worker, you will need to be trusted with the company's image. This means that you should agree with the goals and values of the company and show that you have their mission in mind. Homeshoring companies want their recruits to act as true extensions of their brand. Before applying for a job, take some time to become familiar with the company and their clients, so that you can properly understand the image they want to project to their customers. It will make all the difference if the question, "Do you know what we do and who we work for?" comes up in the interview. (Although it may not be asked so bluntly) your recruiter is looking for an eager, educated individual that took the time to learn all they could to make sure that they are a perfect match for the company.)

Show that you can meet deadlines, pay attention, and follow directions.

If the website says, "no phone calls," then don't call. The same goes for emails. (If they participate in online forums or there is an ongoing thread online about the company, it is linked to this eBook. Go to the forums to ask questions.) It may be perfectly reasonable to shoot off an email to the HR people. "I was just wondering how long your backlog currently is?" Just don't have hurt feelings if you get no response. After the interview, they may ask you to send them follow-up questions if you have any. This is the perfect time to ask questions about clients, pay rates, and other important job factors. If you are assigned an online task, let them know when you will be able to do it. They may ask you to do it immediately, which means that you'll need to set aside extra time for the job interview. Be flexible and communicate clearly if you have some sort of obligation during the interview process that will prevent you from completing something on time.

Be yourself. Show your personality. If you are good with people and enjoy talking, then go ahead and use those persuasive skills in your interactions with the employer - just don't be excessive when it comes to talk time. If they ask you about your experience with their company or within a certain industry, go ahead and tell them. (For example, if you received a generous bouquet of roses from 1-800-FLOWERS from your boyfriend who proposed, and you accepted, then let them know that's your experience.) Also, of course, mention any specific experience you have in the industry they serve.

Get familiar with essential work-at-home technology. You should know how to work with a laptop, printer, and fax machine, for starters. This means that you should also be able to troubleshoot when something goes wrong with your equipment. If not, take a look through your user manuals and learn what to do when things don't work the right way. As a virtual worker, you should also have knowledge of basic internet security - such as virus protection, firewalls, and spy removal software. You'll want to set it up to automatically update when you are not at work.

© 2007 Melissa Brewer. All Rights Reserved.