Let’s assume your job fits the teleworkability criteria discussed , but your current employer won’t let you do it from home. In theory, all you need to do now is find a telework-friendly employer with a job opening. Maybe you’ve already scanned the listings and found no openings in your field that mention teleworking. That’s not surprising, nor is it bad news.
Most employers prefer that new hires start out working onsite. It makes sense. Being in the office gives you a chance to get some training, the employer a chance to develop trust in your work, and both of you some time to get to know one another. After you’ve proven yourself (say, in six months), the employer may approve or even encourage you to try
But back to your job hunt. You’ll probably have to do more than read the ads to separate the telework-friendly employers from the rest.
The first thing to do is to make a list of telework-friendly employers in your field. Start with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Best Workplaces for Commuters database, which recognizes over 200 employers for outstanding telework programs. It’s at www.ergweb.com/projects/ccli/search/search_for_bwc_telework_results.asp.
No luck with this database? Check the website of any company in which you’re potentially interested—either those that have placed ads or those worth sending a resume to anyway. Many employers with telework programs publicize these benefits in the recruiting section of the company website.
Look for words like “family friendly” and “flexible.” To find out what companies are advertising, check online job sites like Monster (www.monster.com), CareerBuilder (www.careerbuilder.com), and Craigslist (www.craigslist.org). There are also more specialized job resource websites like YourOnRamp (www.youronramp.com), which caters to professional women reentering the workforce and seeking to maintain a work/life balance. Finally, don’t forget to ask your friends, business contacts, and acquaintances—anyone who might know about companies that allow teleworking.
When you get to the job interview stage, go in with the assumption that you’ll start working onsite. But at some point, whether in your first interview or final negotiations, ask about the employer’s policy regarding telework, and explain that you may be interested in trying it out at some point.
If you’re worried that this will tip your hand and turn off an employer who perceives teleworkers as slackers, remember that this is a dealbreaker for you—the potential for telework is the main reason you’re looking at this job. You wouldn’t go into an interview knowing that you absolutely need to make $75,000 a year and then just take the job without an actual salary discussion.
But don’t push too hard, either. You want the employer to promise to consider a telework arrangement—after you’ve
proven yourself on the job. At the negotiation stage, a promise to actually let you telework may not happen.
Once you land a new job, put your nose to the grindstone. Work hard, learn the ins and outs, and bend over backwards
to impress your new employer. Keep it up for at least six months—a full year would be even better—before once again raising the topic of telework. At a minimum, wait until you’ve had at least one positive performance review before making your formal request This approach to finding a telework job requires patience and planning. However, we can think of no better way to secure a wellpaying work-from-home job that meshes with your interests and experience. It is the scenic route, but sometimes that is the only path worth taking.