I knew that unpredictability would be a challenge when I opted out of my full-time job and dove into the world of self-employment to find a flexible career and better work and family balance. Confident that my professional experience and an entrepreneurial spirit would take me far, I was ready to blaze my own working mom path. But, as many working moms seeking career alternatives do, I quickly found out that finding a legitimate work-at-home gig can be a job all its own.
Spotting the work at home job scams
We've all heard the success story of the "mommy blogger" and "mompreneur" who built an empire based on her passion and a great idea. For a lucky few, it really does happen. For the rest of us working moms seeking a flexible gig, finding the right opportunity is not so simple. Do a Google search for "work at home jobs" and you'll get plenty of hits. Inspect further, and you'll find that few are legitimate. (They're characterized by some requirement to send cash, give your credit card number, complete lengthy applications asking for your personal information, or click from one site … to the next … to the next ...)
What's a working mom seeking flexibility in her career to do? First, know that viable work options really do exist—if you know where to find them. Allison O'Kelly, CEO of Mom Corps, a national staffing firm that connects employers with experienced working mothers looking for flexible career options, offers three tips for moms on how to find the work-at-home gigs that lead can to a brand-new career.
Take it back to the basics
Aspiring work-at-home moms should start by tapping into their own networks for referrals. "Find friends, social contacts, Little League parents, Facebook connections, and the like who have or are working from home, and inquire about their experiences," advises O'Kelly.
Find trustworthy web resources
Yes, there are many work-at-home opportunity scams online, but there are also many credible sources. Sites like Elance, ODesk, SoloGig or professional staffing companies that specialize in finding work-from-home jobs (like Mom Corps) are perfect for working moms who have professional experience under their belt and can add real value to a client's project. O'Kelly likes these services, especially for more senior-level professionals, because "they vet the organization and opportunity for you."
Spot the red flags
Establish direct contact with the employer or client and ensure that the email address is that of the company name -- versus a Gmail, Yahoo, AOL account and the like. If you cannot easily verify the employer or client, it is perfectly acceptable to ask them to connect you with others who have worked with the organization so you can learn about their experiences.
The modern woman is redefining what it means to have a successful career. Rather than feeling torn between climbing the corporate ladder and having a happy family life, many women are choosing to merge the two and transition careers from a traditional role to a more flexible one.
Working Mom 3.0 is reinventing the definition of "working mom," as office hours are held at home and revolve around nap times.
This column begins by chronicling the experiences of Stephanie Taylor Christensen, a former marketing professional turned self-employed stay-at-home mom, writer and yoga instructor, as she strives to redefine "having it all" on her own time and terms.
More tips for working moms
Working Mom 3.0: When you're the team
Working Mom 3.0: Lead by example
Working Mom 3.0: When to say when