is it better to quit or get fired, being associated with a difficult client, and more

It’s five short answers to five short questions. Here we go…

1. I don’t want to be associated with a difficult client

I am currently the lead person working on an account that is causing some issues at my company. Some back story – I got this account in January of 2012 and was told there wouldn’t be too much activity on it. Fast forward two weeks and business began to come in. The key person at the company I’m working with really likes me and I’m the only one she wants to deal with (that’s a whole separate issue that I can’t do much about). Anyway, this account went from no activity to one of my department’s biggest clients. Which was great for me because I got recognition for the hard work I put in to grow the business.

Unfortunately, as we are in the midst of contract negations, the client that really likes me is causing major issues for my boss and the sales team involved in the negotiation. She’s being absolutely unreasonable and if I had my way, I would start to say no to her, but that’s not my decision to make.

The issue I have is my boss was telling me the other day that he’s been referring to the person who is behind all the problems as my “bestie,” as he put it, to the powers that be. When I said, that’s not the case at all, he was like “Well, that’s what I’ve been telling people. She’s your bestie!” Odd language choice aside, this began to worry me. Let me tell you, this woman is not someone who I want to be associated with that way. She can be very rude, difficult to manage expectations with and has on more than one occasion made me cry at my desk. Which I know isn’t professional on her part, but it is what I deal with. Do you think I should be concerned about her reputation being tied to me? And if I should be, how should I go about addressing this with my boss?

Maybe. It’s possible that your boss is referring to how the client feels about you, rather than the other way around. But to make sure, I’d say to him directly: “Actually, would you be sure to make it clear to Jane and Bob (or whoever) that I’m not in any way allied with Amanda? I’m concerned about ensuring that they don’t think I’m connected to or approve of what she’s asking for.”

2. Is it better to quit or get fired?

A couple months ago, my boss approved me working 30 hours a week instead of 40 hours a week so that I could go to school (in an unrelated field — there isn’t really a way to move up in this company unless I moved to the south). Things have picked up at work — it isn’t anything crazy but my boss is treating it that way, and is insisting I work mandatory overtime. I only have the weekends to study since I work 10-hour days 3 days a week and am in school for the entire day the other 2 days. At this point, I am already overwhelmed with schoolwork while working 30 hours, and if necessary I wouldn’t mind not working and taking out more loan money.

I’ve told my boss (via email, she isn’t on location) that I’m sorry but I am not able to work any more hours than I already am. I was thinking about letting her know that I can either work 30 hours or not work for the company anymore, but my husband says I should stick around until they fire me (so that I’ll get unemployment instead of nothing). Do you think it looks better for future employers if I leave on my own terms due to school, or get fired because of school? If it’s better to get fired, how do I continue a conversation with my boss? “I’m sorry but I’m not willing to work more than 30 hours. Accept it or fire me” …?

If you’re planning to include this job on your resume in the future, you do not want to get fired from it. Having been fired can hurt you in reference checks, and it will mean you’re forever having to answer “yes” when online applications ask if you’ve ever been fired from a job. If you’re not planning to include this job on your resume, it will matter less.

Regarding talking to your boss, you could simply say, “I would like to be able to work the extra needed time, but after we agreed I could cut my hours, I enrolled in classes based on that agreement. I can’t work more hours and also meet my school commitments. I’ll gladly do all I can in my 30 hours a week here, but I’m not able to work more hours than what we agreed. Is there a way for that to work on your end?” If she says there isn’t, then you can say, “If there’s no way around that, how would you like to proceed? Do you need to replace me?” And from there, you can explore what the path forward (and possibly out) looks like. This won’t be a firing or a resignation so much as it should be a mutual agreement that your hours don’t fit her needs.

Also, I would call her for this conversation; this is too important a conversation to have it through email.

3. I can’t get through to my office’s HR department

I keep calling my office’s HR department and every time I call the receptionist says they are not available, and she asks me what I need to talk to them about. Don’t they have to be available to their employees anytime during working hours?

Nope. There’s no legal requirement for that. And it sounds like your HR department’s set-up is that calls are screened. While you can certainly debate the merits of this idea, that seems to be the case there. I’d give a general topic, like “benefits,” but if it’s something more sensitive, try saying, “It’s a sensitive matter and I’d prefer to talk to someone in person about it.”

4. Are there legitimate “work from home” jobs?

Wondering if you know of any legitimate opportunities to be able to work from home. Would like opportunities other than transcription and such that you would have to go to school for. I work best when by myself and do not have to be in the middle of the “social crowd or cliques” at work. Have any ideas?

It’s hard to recommend particular jobs without knowing anything about your skill set, but in general, it’s much easier to negotiate for telecommuting after you’ve worked somewhere for a while and have proven yourself. It doesn’t work for every job or every office, of course, but that’s the best path to it. It’s much harder to find a telecommuting job that telecommutes from the start — although they do exist. (If anyone has specific suggestions, please leave them in the comment section!)

5. Contacting a past employee of a company where you’d like to work

Is it ok to contact a past employee, say via Linkedin, from a company you want to work for? Or would that just be awkward? Personally, I wouldn’t mind if someone, even a complete stranger, wanted to know more about a position that I’d worked in the past. But I am not sure if that mentality would apply to everyone else. If you think it’s ok to do so, what (crucial) questions do you think I should ask? I was hoping to know about their experience working there, insights on the job and possibly any advice they could offer about the position.

I think you can try that, as long as you have very specific questions for them — don’t just say “tell me what this company was like” because that leaves them to do too much of the work of having to figure out what you might be interested in hearing about. As for what those specific questions should be, it really depends on what you want to know — it could be anything from what the culture was like to what the downsides were to what they look for in new hires for a particular type of role.

Some people will reply and others won’t. But if you can find anyone in your network on LinkedIn to introduce you, that will up your chances of a response.

{ 58 comments… read them below }

  1. Angelina Retta

    #4 – My actual proper-use-of-the-term bestie works online teaching English to Chinese children. Sits in her PJs for a few hours Mon-Fri for low pay. Caveat, she worked as a teacher in China for 4 years. But at-home jobs do exist.

    1. Marmite

      I know several people who tutor for extra money, some online, some with clients coming to their home, and some who meet clients in libraries/coffee shops/at clients homes. Some of them have teaching degrees or experience, but some of them just have an undergrad degree in a specific subject (maths, for example).

  2. vvondervvoman

    Re #4, my partner works from home full time for a company based in another state. He is a web developer and was hired on remotely from the start. Caveat, he has a specific skill set that requires a degree or 1-2 years of experience and the position lends itself to not needing to be in a physical office. And even though the “office” is far away/remote, there are plenty of office politics/personality clashes/alliances etc. That stuff doesn’t disappear just because you’re at home vs. in an office.

    1. CAA

      I also have remote software developers who report to me who were remote from the start. Some are really remote, not near any of our offices; while others form a team that is clustered around a satellite office and they are required to meet up at that office one day each week. All these people have at least a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science or a related field and between 5 and 20 years of experience.

      You can find jobs that are open to telecommuting on Dice.com, just check the box on the advanced search screen for telecommuting jobs only.

  3. vvondervvoman

    Re #2, Aside from not wanting to have to be “fired,” you’re really not going to be. Your employer is changing the requirements/duties of the job, and you’re saying no to it, technically quitting. If you filed for unemployment, your employer would most likely fight it and would have a good chance of winning the dispute.

    1. long time lurker!

      I thought that leaving a job due to substantive changes in location, work hours, etc was one of the few instances in which you WOULD get unemployment if you quit.

      1. ConstructionHR

        Prior to the latest crash, the employees seemingly always won. With state & federal UI in the red, the decisions seem to be going more towards the employer.

    2. MissDisplaced

      Very true!
      I many states, you cannot receive unemployment if you were offered reasonable work and you refused it.

    3. Observer

      Actually, you have it backwards. Quitting due to a substantial change in work conditions (going from 30 hours a week to “mandatory overtime” certainly qualifies) is generally something that is considered legitimate. Yes, it’s totally legal for the boss to make that change, but it’s also considered perfectly legitimate for an employee to feel pushed out, and therefore eligible for unemployment.

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        In principle, yes, absolutely. In practice, it will depend on how big the shift in work hours is and whether a reasonable person would feel they had no choice but to quit. (Just feeling pushed out isn’t enough on its own.)

        1. Mike C.

          I would bet that receiving permission. For reduced hours to attend school, having paid for school and them being told to drop those classes at employee expense or lose their job is a bit more than simply feeling “pushed out”.

      2. Anna

        However, she would only qualify if she either COULD work 40 hours or lied and said she wasn’t in school. Most states do not award unemployment if you’re a student and unable to work full time.

    4. Vicki

      I had a job like that. They asked me to leave. I talked to a lawyer who recommended that I get a signed document stating that the company would not fight an unemployment claim because, but changing the parameters of the job beyond what was originally agreed upon, they were effectively laying me off (eliminating the position I had joined with.)

      1. Anonymous

        Just as an FYI many of those documents (in most states in the US at least) are worthless. It is actually the state (or their Unemployment) who makes the decision so even if either you or the employer sign something it isn’t legally valid. (Now if you don’t say anything to the Unemployment people that will raise red flags and the company doesn’t object then it’ll go thru without any notice most likely.)

  4. MentalEngineer

    #4: I have had two different telecommuting jobs that did not require specialized education. In my previous one I worked for a company that basically spot-checks Internet search results for various companies (that you have heard of) to ensure that the software is actually helpful. My current position is creating close-captioning transcripts for audio and video applications. There was training involved for both, but no certificate or anything like that needed. Another field that I’ve seen entry-level telecommuting in recently is basic-level customer service and/or tech support (Apple was recently advertising for this in my area, for example). You just hook into the company’s phone system over the Internet, and it’s like you’re in a call center – or you just do it by chat. If you do some research, you should be able to find multiple reputable companies that do these kinds of work. And you’re in luck – improving Internet speeds and such mean that it’s getting cheap and easy to outsource more and more basic knowledge work to telecommuters.

    Caveats:
    1) These positions and others like them in related areas are exclusively 1099 contractor positions. Even if you get promoted (both companies I worked for had growth opportunities), you would still only ever be a contractor. No insurance, no PTO, no retirement. If you’re not comfortable with this, these positions are not for you.
    2) Since you’re a contractor, you’re paid essentially ‘by the piece’ for your work. This means that your wages will be tied to your work speed. To make a satisfying amount of money for the time you’re investing, you will need to work quickly. If you are trying to earn a full salary’s worth of money, you will need to work a full-time job’s worth of time.
    3) You can make decent money at this ($15 to $20/hr, maybe a bit higher), but to hit that you really have to be a top performer in both speed and quality. Since you don’t have any sort of relationship with your employer, who gets raises and promotions is basically determined by speed, quantity, and quality metrics. Do well with those, and your pay rate will rise, maybe even to a point that will allow you to work 5-10 hours less each week. Do really well, and there are supervisory-level positions that can actually look like a real asset on your resume.

  5. Kara

    #4

    I actually work in a legitimate work-from-home situation that required telecommuting from the start. I started with the CPA firm I work for about a year ago making cold calls to set appointments. I soon after began copy-editing the firm’s website, after I pointed out a few errors and potential improvements to my boss. I then moved on to designing marketing materials, all completed at home. So, there are several industries you can work from that allow you to work from home, even if you haven’t been with the company for a long time. One of the sites I suggest to people is FlexJobs.com. There are legitimate jobs in many industries listed on the site, and a large portion of them are full-time virtual positions. Writing, editing, translating, marketing, sales, client relations, call centers, HR, finance, etc. are all available. Hope this helps!

  6. Anonymous

    #2 If your main concern is with unemployment eligibility, then look up your state’s laws on the matter. Don’t listen to your husband on this, as it doesn’t sound like he is familiar with the requirements.

    If I understand you correctly, you probably have better odds of being eligible for unemployment if you quit because the newly-required work hours conflict with your education than if you are fired for not showing up to those extra required hours. It varies a lot by state, but in some places you’d be eligible under both circumstances. In other places, you wouldn’t necessarily be eligible under either condition. It can also depend on whether the company contests the claim.

    Generically, I would suggest that you not make major decisions based on whether you think you will be eligible for unemployment. It is a safety net for when your life decisions don’t work out, not a goal to achieve. Aim for another job if necessary, or look for a scholarship / student loan / whatever.

      1. Stephanie

        Agreed! As someone who’s received UI, it’s really not that much money. Absolute highest weekly benefit I’ve heard of is $400 and that’s in DC, which has a very high COL. Plus, it’s not “free” money, you do have to report work search contacts.

        1. Vicki

          The highest has gone up a little but. was getting $450. It’s definitely better than minimum wage, and in the case off the OP, better than taking out another student loan.

          1. Lora

            Well, Massachusetts is just made of awesome then. Maximum benefit here is $674/week. Of course, you have to be making decent money to be eligible for that much, but it’s better than a kick in the teeth.

            Depending on your state you may have the option of calling it a General Discharge, which is sort of like you and your employer both saying, “it’s not you, it’s me”. Those tend to get used when it was just a bad fit, sort of thing–not that the employee is incompetent or that the manager is evil personified, but when it’s just not working out for whatever reason.

        2. some1

          When I was on Unemployment (for the first time after being continuously employed for 13 years) for a couple months in 2012, I got a letter from my state telling me I had to attend a “re-employment seminar” at my County’s Career center or I would stop getting the money.

          Because I had got a severance when my previous company laid me off, at the time I got the letter, I had actually only been receiving money for about 3-4 weeks; it’s not like I had been on Unemployment for months and months.

          1. Ask a Manager Post author

            Those are pretty common in a lot of states (and from what I understand, they’re universally terrible). The idea is good (to make sure you know how to job search, a reasonable thing to require in exchange for receiving money) but the execution seems horrid.

            1. Stephanie

              Yes. They are pretty horrid.

              I met with a job search counselor at my county’s workforce development office once:

              “Wow, your resume looks really good. Did we teach you how to do this?”
              “No, just wrote it on my own.”
              “Huh. This is impressive. I wonder why you can’t find anything.”

              *facepalm*

    1. Contessa

      Great point. And even if you’re eligible, there is no guarantee the state will actually send you the money. My husband has been “on unemployment” for three months. We’ve gotten three payments in that time, one of which was for $15 (inexplicably made in one $10 deposit and one $5 deposit on the same day). Needless to say, I don’t recommend counting on that money.

    2. Anna

      Then there’s the whole thing about being in school. Most states will not award unemployment if you’re in school because you cannot be available to work full time – which is exactly the issue the OP is facing.

  7. Anonymous

    For working from home, you might have better luck doing something as an independent contractor. My mom has been a bookkeeper for 30 years working almost exclusively in her home office. She occasionally has to go to her clients’ offices, but she doesn’t get involved in office politics because she is not an employee. She learned to be a bookkeeper by taking a few classes at a community college (she has a college degree but in something unrelated). I think she worked at an office for a little bit initially but has worked at home for most of her career.

    I also have a friend who has a “virtual” personal assistant. The assistant I think lives in another state and they have never met in person. She mostly sets appointments for him.

    1. tcookson

      Elance.com is a website for people who want to work from home. I signed up on it a long time ago, but have never done anything, because I don’t think working from home is for me. I see other people on there who seem to be pretty successful at it though, and it appears that some of them have been able to make a full-time living at it. It seems that the ones who do, though, have to put a lot of entrepreneurial effort into promoting their services (which is what killed it for me; I’d rather do a job search once and have a permanent job, vs. having to constantly search for clients).

      1. Vicki

        The problem with Elance.com, from my point of view, is that it seems to be a sort of craigslist for short-term jobs. Too many “Build my website; I can pay $150 (total, not hourly).” and not enough legitimate longer-term possibilities.

  8. Ann Furthermore

    #4: There are great things about working from home, but there are things to be aware of, if you’re working for a company where everyone is at the office all or most of the time.

    When you’re 100% virtual, it’s easy for people to forget about you because they don’t see you every day. So you need to be sure that you always meet your deadlines. Sometimes the expectation is that you’ll accomplish things faster because your manager will say, “But you’re virtual, so you shouldn’t have any distractions which means you should be more productive.” And there are some people, even in the virtual, global, 21st century who, deep down inside, think that if you’re not at the office, at your desk, then you’re not really working, and that working from home means that you’re watching soap operas all day and occasionally checking emails.

    I usually work from home 1 day a week, or more than that if I have a specific reason. Lately I’ve been doing a lot of virtual training sessions with my European software users, and it’s easier to do those from home since it’s quiet, I don’t have people stopping by my cube, and there’s no background noise. Luckily, my boss is great about this.

    But when I’m on my one day a week routine, I’m right on top of emails, I make sure I return calls as soon as I can, I respond to IM’s quickly, and I keep my boss in the loop about what’s going on, when it’s appropriate. I don’t want to give anyone a reason to think that for me “working from home” means I’m really just taking one day a week off. Sure, I’ll throw in a load of laundry here and there, or go take something out of the freezer to thaw for dinner, but for the most part I’m at my desk working, all day long, and I have to work harder to make people know that since they don’t see me in my cubicle.

    My company did some layoffs a few months ago, and in one group the only guy who was let go was the virtual guy. I heard rumors that there were some performance issues as well, but my friend in the group told me that everyone kind of forgot about him since he was never in the office.

    Sure, there are some annoying things about being in the office — the social, clique-y stuff that you mentioned is definitely on the list. But that social interaction can be beneficial to you — it makes you known to your co-workers, and you also hear what’s circulating on the office grapevine. And I’m not talking about who’s sleeping with who or other salacious rumors, I’m talking about rumblings about layoffs, who’s leaving, how the company is performing financially, and so on. That’s good information to have, and much harder to get if you are 100% virtual.

    1. Dan

      I worked for a company with a liberal telecommuting policy. I would work from home when I wanted fewer distractions so I could get more stuff done. And I did.

      I once asked my boss if it was a failure on my part if I needed a work-from-home day to catch up. He said, “No, that’s how you know you hit the big leagues.”

      So yeah, I expect telecommuters to be more productive. I expect them to have reasonable child care during the day, and be responsive to communication.

      1. Ann Furthermore

        +1000 to the childcare issue. People who work from home and don’t have daycare issues taken care of give the rest of us telecommuters a bad name. Sometimes I’ll work from home if my daycare provider takes a day off, but I’m up front with everyone and tell them that I’ll be on and off all day long, and either use PTO as required, or work later in the evening after my daughter is in bed.

  9. AdAgencyChick

    #1, of course you can guess better from tone of voice and other things we can’t see, but I strongly suspect your boss saying that you’re tied to this client is a positive, not a negative. As in, “Good god, nobody can deal with Evil Client except OP. Thank goodness we have her!” Unless you hear the remark made with a nasty tone, or side comments of “OP always sides with the client against our internal team,” I think you don’t have a thing to worry about.

    Well, with the exception of the fact that this client likes YOU, but you don’t like HER. That’s an incredibly tricky situation, because if you want to move to other accounts, you’re likely to be told no unless a) the key client contact moves on to another job or b) you come in with a resignation letter. I feel for you in that respect — in 10 years of working in advertising I have not seen a solution to that problem other than one of those two things :(

  10. Liane

    Ques. 4:
    1) Medical Transcription Editor. I’ve mentioned once or twice here that I held this position as WAH. It doesn’t require medical transcriptionist training (would be a plus), although you use the the same software, or fast keyboarding. You read the finished transcriptions while listening to the original dictation to make sure everything is correct, and fix it if it is not. You also try to fill in any blanks the transcriptionist leaves because she couldn’t understand a word/phrase. You do need reliable high-speed internet and a dedicated computer (due to HIPAA). My employer supplied a computer with all the required software. This job–like being a transcriptionist–was also fairly flexible. I had set hours, in my case early in the morning every day.
    This job is only for someone who is focused, detail-oriented and able to be on for every shift. You’ll need childcare for very young kids.
    (I said above that the job didn’t require training, however I got the position through a friend who already worked there and who knew I had skills that would be a good fit, so this might not be true for every company.)
    2) Insurance Claims Processors. Don’t know much about the details since I’ve not been one. But a good friend works as a Claims Analyst for a health insurer and a portion of their processors are home-based. His position, a higher-level one, is office-based, although he can work remotely if he’s ill or something.

    1. the gold digger

      Insurance Claims Processor

      This job does require training. I went through some claims processor training as part of my job years ago, when I worked for a health insurance company. You have to learn a lot of medical terminology – I still remember the Dean Vaughn medical terminology course I took as part of it. To this day, I know that “oma” means tumor and “itis” means inflammation.

      Not to say that you couldn’t do it, but it’s not a job you just walk into.

  11. Coelura

    #4. Visit the large companies websites such as United Health Group, IBM, HP, Google, ATT, etc and look for positions that telecommute. Many of the health insurance companies have telecommuter customer service positions that only require a high school diploma or GED. They do typically require you to work in the office for six months so you have easy access to coaches while learning the systems, but then you are setup at home.

    1. Anonymous

      I work for AT&T, going to our website won’t give you much information about which jobs are telecommute opportunities. We are telecommute friendly, especially in certain departments (I am in IT and what full time).

      Internal candidates don’t even get to wfh automatically, one has to prove themselves first. Don’t get me wrong, I have seen a few openings that listed telecommute as an option but those are never entry level jobs, more like level 2 management in IT.

  12. Working Girl

    #2 quit/fired – I would call to discuss but also put the comments in writing as you may need it later. Getting fired means the boss has to prove the fire was justified whereas if you quit the onus is on you. I would note also in the email that you previously advised the boss that the hrs were reduced to take courses. As your courses are unrelated to your field you boss may be looking to replace you since they may have the impression that you are leaving anyway. If they pressure you enough you may quit leaving them off the hook to fire you. Some bosses go crazy with loyalty thoughts when they forget they too should be loyal. Good luck.

  13. Not So NewReader

    OP 1. The times I have hear “your best friend” in reference to a client or a customer is usually tongue-in-cheek humor. The inference being that “Yeah, you are not like that at all BUT you do a great job with this difficult situation.” Doing what Alison suggests is great advice- don’t carry this around inside your head- address it, instead.
    I think if the boss actually thought this person was a friend of yours he never would have made the remark.

  14. Not So NewReader

    OP 5. Do you have any knowledge of why the former employee left the company?
    I did this once. I will never do it again. I thought I understood the rational behind the move. It turned out that was a cover story. I ended up putting the man on the spot as he had to come up with positive statements about his former company. Since I was in touch with the same people, he felt he could not speak freely because, well, stories travel.
    I did not get much meat and potatoes out of the conversation. The man was a nice man, so I felt really responsible for putting him on the spot. Alison’s advice about having very specific questions is will help lessen this type of awkwardness. But don’t ask things that are a potential problem- such as “what is the work environment like?” ugh.

  15. Mena

    #2: I think Hubby is wrong. Getting fired makes you IN-eligible for Unemployment Benefits. A lay-off qualifies for Unemployment Benefits. Yikes – you’d better get it straight before making such a huge decision.

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      In many states, you’re eligible for unemployment if you were fired, as long as the firing wasn’t for gross misconduct. (Refusing to work required hours could qualify as misconduct though, if the hours aren’t a significant change.)

      1. De Minimis

        I was fired and had no trouble getting benefits—was open with the state unemployment department about what had happened, what they had said, etc.

        My state allowed benefits for terminated employees if there was not gross misconduct, with a few exceptions…they’d deny benefits if the employer could prove the employee was slacking off in order to get fired, but even then they had to document that the employee had satisfactorily performed the same tasks in the past.

    2. Anonymous

      This depends on your state but I can tell you in mine you are almost guaranteed benefits if you are FIRED but NOT if you quit. A lay-off qualifies for benefits in all US states I know of.

      *I work for an Unemployment program but YMMV based on state.

  16. Margaret

    #4 – I agree with previous posters, I have a job with a software company where I worked remotely from the start. I work in a marketing capacity and have no fancy software knowledge :) (Though I’ve learned a lot since starting). And almost everyone on my team is remote so I don’t feel like the one who is left out while everyone is in the office.

    I also agree that you want to make sure a work from home job is what you want. I read an interesting article recently that said that the most engaged and successful work from home employees are actually more extroverted. The reason being: extroverts, who gain energy from social interaction, will seek out that interaction from their co-workers and supervisors even though they don’t see them often. I think that helps employees feel engaged, see how their work affects the larger bottom line/mission of their office, and feel fulfilled long term. Whereas introverts, who gain energy from solitude or small groups, tend to enjoy the solitude of working at home all day, and may not seek out that interaction because they don’t need to, but it could affect how engaged you feel long term, how engaged you SEEM from the perspective of supervisors and co-workers, and keep you from ever leaving your comfort zone of your home. I’m certainly not an expert on employee engagement, but based on my personal experience I’ve found that to be true for a lot of people. Just something to think about!

  17. Anonymous

    #2 – This is too important of a conversation to have over the phone. Do this via email. Get everything in writing.

  18. Colorado

    #4 – my good friend works for AppleCare, which is the tech support division of Apple and she just loves it! She gets the same perks of working for a huge corp like Apple (health insurance, good vacation, salary, etc) and does it from home. Check it out. Good luck!

  19. Jaimie

    #5, my husband did this, and it worked out fine. He had specific questions about the corporate culture, as there were certain things he had picked up on during the interview process. He had two offers at the time and contacted 2 people who had left each company in an effort to help him choose. It was very helpful, and six years later he is still with the same company and very happy with it.

  20. Dan

    #5

    I had a guy contact me on a linked in out of the blue asking me about a previous job I had. We exchanged several nice messages about his questions — something I was happy to do. I didn’t find it awkward in the least.

    I don’t think he ever applied there, but part of my feedback to him was it probably wasn’t an appropriate job, no matter how interesting it sounds.

  21. Cori R

    #4 – On the low-end side of things, many major call centers are opening work-from-home departments. I work for one now (for another 5 days, hooray for a new job!) called Startek that does primarily telecommunications companies. Sykes and Apple also have an at-home division. None of these jobs typically require any specific education.

  22. Lily in NYC

    #4 – I know someone that works for the reservations dept. of a hotel and she does the entire job from home. I think a lot of jobs for the 800 numbers for big travel site are home-based as well. I remember getting a particularly chatty rep when I called Hotels.com and she mentioned she worked from home. I wish someone would pay me to test ice cream flavors from home. I’d be awesome at that job.

  23. Contessa

    OP #2, your comment that ” if necessary I wouldn’t mind not working and taking out more loan money” made me twitch. PLEASE don’t do that if you can avoid it. Unless you already have a job in the field you know you can get, or your can afford the extra expense on your husband’s income as you job-search, don’t count on being able to pay back the loans. You may not find a job right away, or the job may not pay what everyone led you to believe you would get paid. My biggest regret is not working during law school, because instead I took out all these loans based on the promise of a certain average salary. Well . . . this is the only time in my life I’ve been below average at something. I wish every day I hadn’t taken out all of the loans.

  24. Stephanie

    #5

    I’ve had people contact me for past jobs and I’m happy to answer. What usually helps if people are clear what they’re asking about–I don’t mind open-ended questions like “Tell me about what’s it’s like working at X”, but it’s a LOT easier if there’s some specificity to the questions. This also prevents me from sending you a 1000-word response (and a quicker response accordingly).

    Also, be upfront if it’s a job you want. It drives me nuts to be contacted under the guise of informational interviewing, and then to be asked for a referral two emails later.

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