My Office is Wherever I am
Sometime at the end of 2009 my boyfriend and I decided to plan an epic trip that has taken us virtually around the world. We love to travel and more importantly we love to be mobile. We don’t want our jobs to dictate where we live and I love that I can pick projects and jobs that I am really interested in. Our home office, as we travel, is pretty simple. We are connected to the Internet, have laptops, and have cell phones, which we use only in an emergency. We are currently both working virtually while driving around Australia in a van. This lifestyle is not for everyone but we really LOVE it.
As a recruiter I am noticing more and more companies, big and small, looking to hire remote or virtual contractors. This is great news for me but I don’t know how many people even know that this way of working is possible. This is the reason I have decided to write this post. I hope this post helps some people realize their dream of working at home (or anywhere in the world really) and introduces this subject to others who have never thought of remote/virtual work or think it’s only possible if you live in India.
The Perks of Being an Employee
Here are the “perks” of being an employee: the regular paychecks, health benefits, and of course job security. Why are these things really considered “perks”? Getting a regular paycheck is pretty nice but why let a company dictate how much you should make? You’re the only one who can figure out how much your time is worth. Health benefits are handy when you want to take maternity leave or are sick but most people hardly use these benefits, which they pay into every two weeks or per month. If you saved up the benefit deductions that are taken off your paycheck I think most people would have no problem paying for their own health benefits. No job, be it a regular employee or independent contractor, is secure so you can definitely cross off “job security” as a perk.
More and more companies are choosing to outsource and automate some of their departments. According to Dictionary.com Outsource is 1. to send out (a job) to or obtain (goods) from an outside supplier or source. It’s a common mistake to think of outsourcing and think of call centers in India and/or the Phillipines. Thanks to the Internet you can find many consultants or virtual workers who are from Canada, US and yes even India.
Companies usually decide to outsource a department or a function because it would save the company a lot money. Renting office space, paying benefits, training, retention, group retirement funds etc. is a big expensive. Human Resources is one of many administrative departments that can easily be outsourced and why not? A contractor could do the same job as a regular employee. Most HR departments that I have worked in have always stressed that HR is an essential component to a successful company. This is true but as HR professionals we do not increase revenue for a company.
HR is not the only function that is being outsourced. IT, Finance and Payroll are also seeing the increased use of contractors instead of employees. If companies can find a way to have the same level of customer service but with the added bonus of lowering costs then the decision of using a contractor is becoming easier and easier.
What is a Virtual Recruiter?
After many years working in a cubicle I have witnessed HR departments shrink and HR professionals lose their jobs (so much for that job security). So I decided to start working from home. I found companies that would allow me to work 2, 3 and sometimes 4 days at home. Now I work full-time as a virtual recruiter.
As a virtual recruiter I use the most effective strategies, which can help find the right employees for a certain position. Strategies include: sourcing through websites, blogs, various job posting systems and social media sites. I work with hiring managers to post jobs, screen resumes, handle preliminary phone screens, interview (via telephone) negotiate salaries, conduct reference checks, terminate etc. A virtual recruiter is usually an independent contractor, which means that you are responsible for setting up your own hours, managing your own taxes, creating a home office and working independently.
If you’re asking yourself “what’s the difference between an in-house recruiter and a virtual recruiter?” The answer is nothing. They both do the same job and provide the same level of service but a virtual recruiter works from home and home can be anywhere in the world.
The best part of being a virtual recruiter is that my office is where ever I am so I can work virtually anywhere. Posting on blogs, job boards, and generally using social media sites is not confined to the hours of 9:00am-5:00pm or restricted to only EST (time zone). This means that I am able to work with any company around the world.
Working in different time zones is not a problem but something you need to understand and get used to. For example a client can send a request for work in one evening (EST time zone) and by the morning an email awaits the client with the work completed. This is because while the client is sleeping I (at UTC + 10 hours) was hard at work; screening resumes, posting jobs etc. Now that’s a what I call a quick response time 🙂
When working in teams that are or can be spread around the world you need to learn to communicate well. Communication is important in any working relationship but its key in a virtual relationship. For example emails need to be concise and everyone needs to understand each other. When a task is given by a hiring manager it’s always helpful to reply with your understanding of the job. I can go on and on on how to better communicate virtually but I think you get the point.
Most virtual recruiters are paid on a commission only basis. This is great because you dictate how much your time and expertise is worth. You can also be hired as an employee and work remotely or virtually but this would depend on how the company wants to pay you and what your ideal situation would be. Do you want to be an independent contractor or a regular employee?
Tools of the Trade
As an independant contractor you need to create a home office. These are the basic things you will need:
- A computer
- High-speed internet
- A professional email. Your “firstname.lastname@example.org” will not cut it.
- Long distance phone plan. I use Skype for all my long distance calls.
- A multifunctional scanner that has the ability to fax.
An extra tool specifically for a virtual recruiter would be using an applicant tracking system to manage full cycle recruitment. Here is a list examples:
Some of these applicant tracking systems are free to use and others give you a free trial for a month. I’m currently using smartrecruiters but think I might change and look into zoho or chemeleon i.
Finding a Job
Looking for contract work is just like looking for any other job and networking really helps. One good idea is to talk to companies that you use to work with and explain the advantages of using a contractor. You can also check out these sites:
Some of these sites help you to market yourself, which is extremely important when you’re working for yourself.
At the End of the Day
More companies are seeing the advantage of using virtual contractors. Some main benefits as stated in Work Shifting include; increased employee empowerment, improved work-life balance, and reduced need for overstaffing to accommodate peak loads. If you want take charge of your career then consider going virtual and if not then continue to enjoy decorating the walls of your cubicle in the job that is not secure.
Photo by: thelastminute
Have you check out the job board?