Recently, Amazon turned an HR challenge into a PR coup, when it announced it was hiring 5,000 part-time customer service representatives who could work from the comfort of their own homes.
The jobs aren't high paying ($10 an hour), but they come with flexibility--and potentially, health insurance. If social media comments and my email inbox are any indication, there is a ton of interest in these work-at-home jobs--especially from parents with small children at home.
"The demand for work-at-home jobs is huge, but finding legitimate opportunities is difficult," said Adam Jusko, founder and CEO of Proud Money, which maintains a list of work-from-home jobs. "But with Amazon, you know you are getting a company that is hugely successful."
Since I wrote about this two days ago, I've heard from a lot of readers with questions about the fine print. There's also the important point that Amazon is by no means the only game in town when it comes to big companies hiring workers who are free to work from home. So here are some of the key points to consider:
1. The fuller picture.
Currently, there are 243 open work-from-home positions on Amazon's jobs website. In fairness, Amazon said it's planning to add the 5,000 jobs in its press release over the next 12 months.
The broadest ranging of these open positions is for part-time workers who are available on nights and weekends, and for seasonal workers who are available full-time. There are also work-from-home listings looking for people who speak fluent German or Italian.
(There are also more skilled positions available, like for senior financial analysts and risk experts, for which the locations are listed as "virtual (or 'work-from-home')."
2. The state restrictions.
Although these are work-from-home positions, there are restrictions on where you can live. Most are restricted to people who live in only 26 U.S. states:
Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Virginia.
Why? I've asked Amazon, but haven't received a reply. Part of this might be the company's desire to avoid having a legal connection to certain states, so it doesn't have to collect sales tax. But that covers only a few of the prohibited states. Regardless, even if you're living in a place where Amazon won't hire you, there are many other opportunities at other companies.
3. Other opportunities.
While they don't get the attention that Amazon's announcement got, many other companies are hiring people for similar work-from-home positions--sometimes at a higher pay rate.
For example, if you live in my home state of Rhode Island (or perhaps my favorite state, Hawaii), you're out of luck at Amazon--but it turns out CVS is hiring for work-from-home positions. The drug store chain also wants people in Arizona, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, and Florida. (h/t The Penny Hoarder, which also has other opportunities listed.)
You can also find work-from-home positions at companies like American Express, the car rental company Enterprise, Xerox, Nielsen, and many others. (h/t Proud Money, which also has a list of its top 10 work-from-home corporate opportunities.)
4. The military connection.
I have to admit to having been surprised at the excitement over these jobs, since the pay isn't very high. But I'm reminded that one of the core recruiting focuses is on military spouses. I know from experience that there are some incredibly talented and hard-working military spouses who've had to put their careers on hold.
Moreover, while many of these jobs offer health insurance and other benefits, military spouses might not actually need the benefits, because they're eligible through their husbands and wives in uniform.
One drawback, however, goes back to the limited number of eligible states, since some of the largest U.S. military bases are in excepted states (California, Texas, Washington, and Hawaii, for example).
Still, even though we're basically at full employment in the United States, there are still a lot of people who are eager to find work. For them, these work-from-home jobs will be a welcome opportunity.