What kind of job can I get that involves working on the telephone from home and is challenging in some way?
August 18, 2007 7:15 PM   Subscribe

What kind of job can I get that involves working on the telephone from home and that is challenging in some way?

For very specific reasons, I'm looking for a job for the next month or longer that consists of working on the telephone from my home. I have two main criteria:

(1) The telephone interactions must be challenging to a certain degree. I'm referring to things like making high-stakes sales, dealing with disgruntled customers, or tutoring. (I even saw a job ad for psychic work, and I think this would beautifully satisfy my "challenge" requirement.) Nothing mind-numbing.

(2) The business and the work involved must be legitimate. I looked for telephone jobs on Craigslist, but a lot of these telemarketing places come across like shady "Boiler Room"-type operations that could result in the customers (or me) being defrauded.

Can anyone think of types of work that satisfy these two criteria? Where would I look to find these jobs?

As for my qualifications: I'm currently studying math and computer science in college. I am articulate and have a very strong resume, so unless the job strictly requires a specific advanced degree or specific work experience that I don't have, I would likely be considered a good candidate.
posted by lunchbox to Work & Money (15 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
If you speak a second language fluently, particularly a less-common one, you could work for a service that does interpretation over the telephone (for hospitals, for example).

LanguageLine is one company that does this.
posted by bijou at 7:49 PM on August 18, 2007

Work for an insurance company? Collections agency? Airline Customer Service? Political campaigns?

Some small periodicals often want ad salespeople who can work from home.

Do you go to a big university ? You might be able to survey people over the phone for research projects, or call people for the alumni association for donations.

The possibilities are endless, since many people don't want to do these jobs. But very few legitimate phone jobs let you work from home.

Another tip, Craigslist is mostly a lost cause for legitimate work. See if your school has a jobsite or check out company websites for openings. Even better, is the old-fashioned method of asking around.
posted by deinemutti at 8:16 PM on August 18, 2007

The company I work for recently hired someone several times zones away to do tech support from home, so that nobody had to get up at 5 am here. You'd be a good match for that with your background, assuming what you're supporting is complex enough for the job to be challenging.
posted by cali at 8:45 PM on August 18, 2007

You could work for Jet Blue...
posted by blue_beetle at 8:49 PM on August 18, 2007

Best answer: One idea might be to offer your services as a one-person boiler room. A number of businesses can benefit from having someone do the cold-calling to set up appointments. Although the individual calls may not be high-stakes in themselves, the overall idea of starting and running this as a successful business can be a good challenge. Your call list can be anything from the phone book to leads provided by the client.

You'd likely work for one client at a time for a set length of time, and line up another client after that. Some examples:

Photography studios often collect names of graduates, brides-to-be, etc, by collecting names in drawing for a free sitting. The non-winners become leads.

Insurance companies.

Health clubs get leads the same way as photo studios.

Fund-raising organizations.

Good luck.
posted by The Deej at 10:18 PM on August 18, 2007

Become a LiveOps teleservices agent: http://www.liveops.com/become_an_agent.html
posted by zachlipton at 10:19 PM on August 18, 2007

Best answer: Quick note on the psychic work:

I did this for awhile to develop my cold-reading skills (I'm a part-time magician / entertainer) and it was the most emotionally draining work I can imagine. I say avoid it, unless you don't have a conscience... then, enjoy!
posted by MrHappyGoLucky at 10:32 PM on August 18, 2007

phone sex operator

have made several friends in the past several years, that I later found out were making a living doing this from home!
posted by Salvatorparadise at 10:57 PM on August 18, 2007

So, all The Deej's suggestions sound like something I would respect a person less for if I found out their job was based on telemarketing things in this way. (As well as "psychic work.") I'd respect someone who was doing an honest phone sex operation much more. Just to put that out there for the "legitimacy" consideration.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 11:17 PM on August 18, 2007

You could work as a headhunter / recruiter. If you think you have what it takes to do high-stakes sales, you might as well work for yourself - I don't know who would take you on if you're only going to commit for a month or two. Typical fee is 20-30% of the first year's salary of the person you place. You'll first have to sell the HR rep at a company on your services, and then identify and sell candidates on the opportunity. You could specialize in recruiting people with a math/compsci background.

Alternately some recruiters will pay sourcers to do names generation for them -- calling in to companies and identifying the people who are in specific roles.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 11:27 PM on August 18, 2007

I was a freelance writer, and interviewed people for stories over the phone. My best-earning story was 90% phone interviews.
posted by atchafalaya at 8:01 AM on August 19, 2007

Seconding phone sex, especially if you're playing something other than yourself.
posted by box at 9:08 AM on August 19, 2007

Best answer: I suppose this goes without saying but unless TheOnlyCoolTim is the one who might be hiring you in the future, it might be a good idea to stay away from the phone sex lines. Phone tech support would probably do the most for your future resume. Something in legitimate sales for a legitimate business might be okay, too, if the name was recognizable. Alternately, most employers won't bat an eye to a gap in your job history while you were in college, assuming you were living on loans or some benefactor.

Good luck -- trying to find something in this field that isn't scammy or appears scammy sounds pretty difficult. Be sure to walk away from anything that seems goofy.

You're only doing this for a month? In that case, I'd set the bar pretty low, avoid scams and try to make as much money I could make in a month and then walk away. (Or, I'd reduce my expenses such that I could afford to enjoy life for that month and then move on.)
posted by amanda at 10:23 AM on August 19, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks for the great replies.

sevenyearlurk -- that is a very interesting idea. How do I go about becoming a headhunter? I looked online, and couldn't find any information about how I could do this on a freelance/temporary basis.
posted by lunchbox at 11:26 PM on August 19, 2007

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