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Make $$$ from home!

Are these spams a scam?

Q: I am a technician with a lot of experience in robotics and computerized assembly lines. I am retiring soon and wanted to find out if I could use my computer for my self-employment. I see all these “make money at home ads,” and I wonder if they are for real.

A: If you search the Web for at-home jobs involving a computer you’ll come up with hundreds of sites–all promising to tell you the secret to making tons of money. You’ll see ads for these kinds of schemes in newspapers and magazines, as well. It reminds me of those old ads for making money by stuffing envelopes at home.

I’m not saying that all of these offers are bogus, but you’ve got to remember that old adage: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. You won’t be able to check out these companies very thoroughly, unless you take the time to find where they are headquartered and contact the local Better Business Bureau or State’s Attorney General’s office.

You can make money at home on your computer if you’re patient and willing to build up a client base gradually. Some people do accounting for companies, some people write articles and books. Others design Web sites. With the background in the résumé you sent me, though, it sounds as though you’d be good at writing technical papers and reports.

Search on the Web for sites that are for freelance writers. Here are a few: NewsJobs; Freelance Writing and Freelance Writers.

If anyone asks you to pay money for information about jobs or referrals, don’t do it. Spend an afternoon on the Web and another in the reference section of the local library instead.

Q: I live in New York City and I was laid off from a large financial institution in the wake of Sept. 11. I am an experienced Java programmer and Web site designer, yet I haven’t been able to get a job since I was laid off. What should I do?

A: I know it’s not a permanent solution, but have you tried signing up with a temporary help agency that specializes in IT jobs? You could start earning some money while you are searching for a permanent job. In a city the size of New York, there must be plenty of temporary work opportunities for a skilled and experienced programmer.

Don’t pay anyone a fee to find you a job. The legitimate headhunters and temporary help agencies get paid by the employers.

Once you get a temporary help job, make a thorough inventory of your job search efforts. Are you networking enough? Have you made a list of companies in town that could use someone like you? Are you knocking on their doors? Are you working with an IT recruiter? Also, you must immediately investigate the city and state’s options for low-cost health insurance. That’s something you and your family can’t go without while you are looking for a full-time, permanent job.

Q: I read your column a lot and you frequently mention going directly to companies to see if you can get a job rather than just going by the help-wanted ads. Why would someone do the direct approach and how might I go about investigating companies in my area?

A: Many of the best jobs for IT people never end up in the help-wanted ads because corporate HR departments use other means of filling those jobs: IT recruiters, networking, posting notices on IT job Web sites, and even just asking current IT employees for their recommendations.

Making a list of good companies in your area and working the list enables you to take control of your job search. You pinpoint the best companies and you make yourself known to them. You become proactive.

To identify likely companies in your area, use the corporate directories that are usually found in large public and university or college libraries. There might also be a local business publication for your area.

Some metropolitan areas also have “best companies to work for” lists. For instance, the Michigan Business and Professional Association has a list of the 101 best companies to work for in metro Detroit.

As for what constitutes a good company to work for, check out the list of best companies to work for that Fortune magazine puts together every year.

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