Monday, October 16, 2006

Skills That Pay the Bills

As a researcher of the work at home marketplace, you are hopefully paying close attention to the many differences between the brick and mortar job market and the WAH job market. There will be times when it seems like everything you've learned is as useless as a spoon at a slaughterhouse (and yes, I totally just made that up on the fly-- if you don't beleive me, go ahead and Google it while you still can, I'll be applying for trademark rights soon). This doesn't mean you should just flush all common sense down the toilet, which is what some people seem to do.

There are some things that will probably always be as applicable at your home office as they are out in the rest of the world. Here's the main one: Most of the work that can be done in this world can be categorized broadly into a very few categories. The first is referred to as unskilled labor, and yes it is a crude term. This type of work can be pretty much anything that doesn't require much education or experience. Unskilled labor is also categorized as usually paying a relatively low wage.

Then of course there's skilled labor. This usually pays incrementally more than the unskilled varieties, and having some kind of degree or related experience usually helps here.

Other than skilled and unskilled, you really only have a couple of big ones left. There's what I like to call pseudo-skilled labor. You may never have heard of this, but there are people out there who can bullshit their way through a resume and greatly increase their chances of finding some decent paying work without all the bother of getting a masters in middle-management or some similar nonsense.

That brings us to the point where all we really have left is working for oneself. This can mean a lot of things, of course. Be aware that it's always these entrepreneurial personalities that end up making the big bucks. That's right, always.

Okay, I really do owe my readers an explanation about the common sense remark. I'll explain: Working from home has evolved over the last few decades from a crazy notion, to a wonderful solution, to something else altogether. Kind of a potentially wonderful solution, with a lot of misinformation and crazy ideas going around.

In the beginning, technology started making it possible for certain office functions to be performed remotely. Employers large and small (mostly large, initially) started allowing people to spend some of their work days at home on an experimental basis. Then, all of a sudden, it became all the rage to judge which were the best corporations to work for based on things like the possibility to work at home, in-house daycare facilities and gyms.

Today, technology has reached the point where an employer doesn't have to be large by any means to take advantage of homeworkers. Anything that can be done with a computer or a phone, can and more and more often is being done entirely with a force of workers that work from the comfort of their own home. This is great when it works. Do be aware of the following conversation, however:

"How can I make money working from home?"

"Well, what's kind of experience/skills do you have?"

"I want to or need to work from home."

"What are you good at? What do you enjoy doing?"

"So long as I can stay home, I'll do anything."

My point here is that if you don't have a skill or group of skills that you are able to demonstrate via experience, a degree or by being a good enough BS artist to get your foot in the door, you may well end up as unskilled work from home labor if you don't start either expanding your range of skills or get into entrepreneur mode.



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