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Earn A Living Without Leaving Home

AARP's Susan Weinstock joins Bob Edwards to talk about working from home and part-time work

Woman working from home

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Bob Edwards: Hello. I'm Bob Edwards with An AARP Take on Today.

Flexible hours, 30-second commutes and slippers for shoes. No wonder so many people are intrigued by the idea of a job they can do at home.

The trend toward a gig economy is in full swing and the study by Intuit predicts that by 2020, 40 percent of American workers will be working independently, many of them from the comfort and convenience of their own homes.

 Joining us today is AARP's Susan Weinstock to discuss steps to take if you're thinking about leaving the rat race for home-based or part-time employment.

Welcome Susan.

What are the advantages to this type of work and who's the best fit?

Susan Weinstock: Well, there's lots of advantages. You can work flexible hours and decide when you want to work. You don't have to factor in a commute time. There's no commuting costs. You don't have to worry about car maintenance or transportation or parking or public transportation costs. You can wear comfortable clothing, as you said. You know, you wear your slippers or your pajamas all day. No one will know the difference. There's lots of opportunities out there and it can be a good way to supplement your retirement income, if you're feeling a little squeezed once you've hit retirement.

Bob Edwards: And the disadvantages?

Susan Weinstock: Well, you have to be aware of scams. There's one estimate that as many as 60-70 fake jobs for every one legitimate job out there. It could be lonely. You're in your house all by yourself, if you don't get out and talk to people. I've also heard stories of people who work from their home in call center positions and if they're in customer service positions, you have people yelling at you about a product or service that they bought in your own home and these are strangers that are screaming at you, so that could be kind of uncomfortable.

Bob Edwards: You need a low maintenance pet.

Susan Weinstock: Exactly. Something to calm you down, yeah.

Bob Edwards: If people were to find opportunities to work from home, what do they need to get started?

Susan Weinstock: There's a bunch of websites that you can go to. I'll list a few of them. Aarp.org/jobs. We have some on our own job board. There's an organization called Worked At Home Vintage Experts. It's wahve.com and that places older professionals in work-from-home jobs. There's a website called ratracerebellion.com that links to home-based job listings, retiredbrains.com that looks at part-time jobs for the 50-plus and skipthedrive.com which lists full and part-time telecommuting jobs.

Bob Edwards: What are some of the most common opportunities out there?

Susan Weinstock: Well, a lot of them are call center jobs, customer service representatives and sales. You could be a virtual assistant, like an administrative assistant, so if you've done that as your career, that might be a good option. A bookkeeper, a medical coder or an online tutor to teach English as a second language or a new language to people who don't know it and are learning.

Bob Edwards: What about seasonal jobs?

Susan Weinstock: Yeah. For the holidays, there are definitely seasonal jobs out there. There's warehouse positions and fulfilling online orders and then there's more customer service jobs. Usually the hiring for those jobs begin in August for these positions, so watch for that if that's of interest. And then also for tax time, there are some tax preparers that are looking to get help for helping with tax preparing and that starts around December, January.

Bob Edwards: Are employers especially interested in hiring older workers who are looking for part-time or work-at-home positions?

Susan Weinstock: We hear all the time from employers about the qualities that 50-plus candidates bring to the workforce. They have the soft skills that they've gained from years of being in the workforce and these are skills, like the ability to problem-solve, they stay calm under pressure, they work well on a team, they're collaborative, they're empathetic and they're a good listener. All of these are really good qualities to have in an employee.

Bob Edwards: Where can people learn about employers who value the experience that older workers bring to the table?

Susan Weinstock: AARP has developed an Employer Pledge Program, in which employers affirm that they value older workers and a multi-generational workforce and that they hire based on ability, regardless of age. And we have almost 800 employers which have signed the pledge. If people want to go to aarp.org/employerpledge, they can see a list of our signers.

Bob Edwards: Now, scammers, of course see the trend as a way to dupe home-based workers with fraudulent money-making opportunities. What should people look out for?

Susan Weinstock: Yes, unfortunately this is always something that people need to be careful for. As I said, there's a lot of those scams out there, so steer clear of jobs that they ask you to put money up front for you to work for them. That's got to be fishy and you need to be scared for that. And if the income from the job sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Bob Edwards: Anything people can do to avoid the scammers?

Susan Weinstock: Sure. Check the Better Business Bureau, both where you live and where the company's headquartered to see if there've been any complaints. You can also check with your state attorney general's office and search complaints and the name of the company and see what comes up. As I said, don't pay any money up front, ever. And don't give the employer your credit card or your Social Security number.

Bob Edwards: This is also the time of year when many people are searching for a new job. What steps should people take if they're looking to make a change?

Susan Weinstock: Well, you know, first of all I would say it's time to re-look at your resume and your LinkedIn profile. Make sure they're both up-to-date and they focus on your accomplishments and your skills. AARP actually is sponsoring an online networking career expo on January 24th from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. eastern time and you can register for the online career network at aarp.org/parttimework.

Bob Edwards: AARP just launched a new resume advisor. Tell me about that.

Susan Weinstock: That's right. We just launched it last week and it gives you a free critique of your resume and then based on the critique, you can choose to purchase one of three packages of assistance with AARP members getting a discount. One, a professional will rewrite your resume for you. Another package is that they'll rewrite your resume and they'll write a cover letter for you. And in the third package, they'll rewrite your resume, they'll write a cover letter for you and they will write and update your LinkedIn profile and these are all professional resume writers who know how to do this sort of thing. So, if people are interested, they should go to aarp.org/resume to learn more.

Bob Edwards: Tell me about the online career expo.

Susan Weinstock: Right, it's going to be January 24th at 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. eastern time. We have over 40 employers already signed up. It's going to focus on part-time work. It gives you the ability to talk to these employers, to upload your resume, to talk to other people looking for jobs and to talk to AARP experts about age-proofing your resume and age-proofing your career.

Bob Edwards: Well, thanks for joining us.

Susan Weinstock: Thank you.

Bob Edwards: That was AARP's Susan Weinstock. For more, visit aarp.org/work to find innovative tools and tips for experienced workers, including those seeking part-time and seasonal work and the AARP job board helps you to jumpstart your job search. And visit aarp.org/resume to get personalized recommendations and feedback on how your resume communicates your skills and expertise.

If you have vowed to make 2019 the year to find a new job, it's not as bleak as you might think, especially if you're prepared and well-positioned to move forward in the current and competitive workforce. It starts with understanding the current trends in recruiting, from the rise of temporary positions to the importance of soft skills that can help you find the job you want and it's a matter of using some tried and true tactics, no matter your age or the type of job you're looking for.

Start with who you know. Sixty percent of job seekers have referred a friend or contact to a company they've worked for and 35 percent of job seekers obtained their current or most recent job from a referral, according to a 2018 Jobvite report.

Be flexible. Consider weaving together part-time and gig work. Understand that recruiting and interviewing is a tech game now with virtual interviews and social media backgrounds are just being fair game.

But don't discount social or soft skills like problem-solving, time management and communication, either. These qualities are actually hotter than ever. Finally, remember your resume is your hardcore calling card. Make it stand out. This might be a good time to check out AARP resume advisor powered by Top Resume and recently launched to help experienced workers rise above the competition. The best part, the objective feedback and personalized recommendations are free.

For more, visit aarp.org/podcast. Become a subscriber and be sure to rate our podcast on Apple Podcast, Google Play, Stitcher and other podcast apps. Thanks for listening. I'm Bob Edwards.

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Flexible hours, 30-second commutes, and slippers for shoes. No wonder so many people are intrigued by the idea of a job they can do at home. AARP’s Susan Weinstock to discuss steps to take if you’re thinking about leaving the rat race for home-based or part-time employment.

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