I believe that the best workers are the ones that sincerely appreciate having a job that fits their unique life circumstances. They will do anything to please their employer and keep that job, because they know it will be hard to find someone else to accommodate them. Who are these people?
Part Time Workers
The first group that comes to mind is parents who want a flexible or part time schedule to stay home with children. There are some highly skilled professionals with time on their hands, but they probably believe that a part time position, that is not the normal 9-5 set schedule, is impossible to find at higher levels. If you can be flexible with them, they can bring some excellent skills and experience to your organization. And I can tell you from personal experience that a very motivated part-time worker can produce just as much as a full-time worker. (A little secret: I have only worked a “normal” full time job for 2 years out of my career and I hope to never do it again.)
Americans Living Abroad
There is a second group that is a bit more unusual. I know many Americans who choose to live in a foreign country to do volunteer work. But they need online work to support themselves. Typically, this group may not already have the experience that you are looking for, but that should not stop you. Appreciation for the job can be more important than experience.
Think about this; these are people who are willing to leave their “comfort zone” and learn a new language in a new country often under difficult circumstances. The skills they need to do this are the same skills that can make them a good employee.
People who move abroad to volunteer typically are:
- Highly motivated and determined to accomplish their goals.
- Outgoing and good with people.
- Organized and resourceful.
- Not afraid to learn new things.
- Willing to accept a challenge.
Often these workers do not need to make a lot of money to support their lifestyle in a foreign country. They are not expecting benefits. You as the employer get a worker at a lower rate, and they get a secure income that allows them to stay abroad and do what they want to do.
I really don’t think you can put a value on the power of appreciation. It is difficult for these volunteers to find online work. They are usually willing to invest their own time to learn new skills. If they find a situation that works, they will do whatever it takes to keep that job. And if they need to give it up, they will often train someone else to take over the job for them.
I have seen it happen. They will do whatever it takes to make the job a success.
Does it really work?
This has worked for me personally. From both sides.
- I hired an American living in Honduras to do social media management for me. He had never worked with Twitter before, but I knew he could learn. I gave him some training, then he read books and blogs and trained himself. Two years later he is now managing the social media for all of my blog sites and for other Microsoft Dynamics partners too. He has turned this into a business that allows him to stay in Honduras. Check out Mabbit Marketing.
- I hired an American living in Mexico to do admin work for my business. I can send her work sporadically when I have it. She is happy for the extra income and I am happy I have someone to rely on, on just an as-needed basis.
- I hired an American living in Micronesia to write blog posts for me. She had never written on ERP topics in the past, but she had a writing background, and she was eager to please.
- Right now, I am sitting in a coffee shop in Bulgaria. But I am still working for CAL Business Solutions. I will never stop being appreciative for the flexibility my boss gives me, which has allowed me to travel all over the world with my laptop.
With today’s technology, it is easy to have a local US phone number anywhere in the world. I would advise that you confirm the worker lives in an area with a reliable internet connection. Since you are working with expat Americans, payments can be made in US currency to US bank accounts (or via Paypal) with proper tax reporting. It is all above board.
Some concerns, like time zone issues, may be realistic in certain cases. Other concerns are merely subjective because they can be easily overcome; where there is a will there is a way. But that will has to be a two way street.
What is the problem?
In my opinion, employers need to be a bit open-minded to hire workers with “unique circumstances”. Usually when I suggest an American living abroad, it just seems “too strange” and the idea is dismissed. I realize that their life choices may not appeal, or even make sense, to most people. But to them it is the best life ever. And in the end, what matters is the results, not the location.
Let me give you an example. Recently, a colleague was looking for someone to do inside sales/cold calling to prospects and clients for a Dynamics ERP business for 4 hours a week. Job involves following up on interest, reminding clients about renewals, inviting people to events, those sorts of calls. I think a decent wage for this would be about $25 an hour.
Tell me honestly, what worker in America is going to be interested in working just 4 hours a week for $100? It is not enough and they would soon be looking for something better. But an American can live very well on $100 a week in other parts of the world.
I know a girl from Ohio who is a dental assistant. She wants to move to Bulgaria but she is trying to find an online job. I think she would be a great fit for this position. She is eloquent, outgoing and fearless. Perfect for a job requiring phone calls to prospects and clients. It is true, she has never worked in the ERP industry. And “on paper” she doesn’t have the right experience. But in my opinion, that can be learned. A few training sessions, a FAQ script and practice calls. Someone like her, who really wants the job, and values the money, is willing to go online and do the research, learn the lingo and take it seriously. I don’t know very many people who would do that for a job that is only 4 hours a week. Do you?
Where can you find these workers?
Finding these people can be a bit tricky. It is usually a “word of mouth” type thing. However, if you put ads online for part-time flexible workers, this can flush out some good people. As long as you determine WHY they want a unique working arrangement. If it is for a worthy reason, and they will truly value the job, that is the right fit. You don’t want someone who just wants to work a few hours so they can lay on the couch and play video games the rest of the time.
I also know quite a few people in this situation and have a network I can call on. So, if you are willing to entertain the idea of hiring a worker with “unique circumstances” let me know.
By Anya Ciecierski, Collaboration Works Marketing
Follow Me on Twitter: @AnyaCWMktg