February 5, 2009

Reader Mailbag: Part-time Jobs for Full-Time Moms?

We’re starting a new tradition here at the JobMonkey. Every Thursday, I’ll be answering a question from our growing stacks of emails from our readers. This week we have a great question about part-time work-at-home opportunities.  Even if you’re not a full-time, stay-at-home mom, working from home can be a great way to find long-term professional fulfillment — or just to cover the gaps of an extended lay-off.

Dear JobMonkey,

I am a full-time stay-at-home mom to three little kids under the age of 5. Next year, my oldest will be in kindergarten half days and I am thinking about starting to look for a part-time job that I can do from home. In all honesty, I’m also motivated by the fact that my husband works in a very insecure industry (finance, ugh!) — so I think we may soon need some added income. I started looking in my local paper for some leads, but they all seem like a bunch of scams. What kind of legitimate opportunities are out there for someone in my situation?

Thank you,

Dear SAHMommy,

Thanks for your question. I have a feeling that you speak for a lot of our readers. This terribly shaky economy is definitely encouraging/forcing a lot of stay-at-home-parents to consider returning to the workforce.

You mentioned the Work-at-Home scams and boy, are you right! You have to be very careful these days. If anyone offers to give you job but requires that you pay them a commission first, run — don’t walk — in the other direction. As added protection from the less transparent scams, you might want to think about opening a new email account (get a free one from gmail or hotmail) for all your job applications.

As for where to find legitimate work-from-home opportunities, here are some suggestions:

Contact past employers — Did you work outside of the home before you decided to stay at home with your kids? If so, do you still have a good relationship with your past employers? Give them a call. They might be interested in sub-contracting to someone for a few hours a week. Or they might know of someone else who is.

Consider consulting — Depending on what you did for a living before you decided to stay at home, you may be able to outsource your services as a consultant. Not sure you worked in a outsource-able profession? Here are some suggestions: Marketing, advertising, graphic design, information technology, computer programming, and accounting. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Freelance — Like consulting, freelancing lets you utilize your professional skills, but with clients of your choosing, on a schedule of your choosing. You will need to invest some initial capital on marketing and perhaps relevant equipment, but going with a skill you already have should keep your overhead down. By the way, if you think you might want to become a freelance writer, be sure to check out a post I wrote on Monday about how to break into the writing industry. And read JobMonkey’s article on where to find writing, editing and blogging jobs.

Become a mompreneur — A growing number of stay-at-home moms are opening home-based businesses. They are selling goods they make at home, like cloth diapers, diaper bags, and embroidered kids’ aprons. If you don’t already have a skill or hobby that lends itself well to online sales, don’t spend a lot of time learning one now. But if you are already making all your kids’ clothes, you might well have a highly marketable product on your hands. (You might also be able to make some money as a freelance seamstress!)

Do data entry, medical transcription, etc. — If none of the above options appeals or applies to you, there are still non-scammy options out there.  JobMonkey’s Work at Home section is chock-full of ideas for people like you who want to work at home. Be sure to read the articles on data entry jobs and mystery shopping. These gigs may not be high paying, but they will put some cash in your pocket and give you some time to decide if working from home is the right choice for your familiy.

I hope these suggestions have been helpful, SAHMommy. I know, personally, how difficult it can be to balance full-time motherhood with a part-time (or more) job. The rewards are worth it, though. Hang in there and good luck to you in your search!

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