Kerry Hannon is a leading authority and strategist on career transitions, entrepreneurship, personal finance, and retirement. She is a frequent TV and radio commentator and is a sought-after keynote speaker at conferences. Kerry is the best-selling and award-winning author of 14 books, including Never Too Old to Get Rich: The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Starting a Business Mid-Life, published by John Wiley & Sons in 2019, a number one bestseller on Amazon and selected by the Washington Post for its Book-of-the-Month Club.
She’s also a long-time friend of FlexJobs! Kerry recently published her fourteenth book Great Pajama Jobs: Your Complete Guide to Working from Home, and we caught up with her to learn more!
1. Your new book, Great Pajama Jobs: Your Complete Guide to Working from Home, is about finding, and thriving in, a remote job. What inspired you to write it?
I’ve been a remote worker for years and love it. I recognized in my work as a jobs expert that remote working was a global movement in the past few years. More and more employers were getting on board with virtual working arrangements and making it work for both employees and the company’s mission and bottom-line. With that as a backdrop, for the 50+ age cohort I focus on, these flexible jobs are precisely what they’re looking for at the stage of the careers where autonomy and a sense of control of where you work and when you work and how you work can create a job you love.
The movement, however, is across all age groups. With the pandemic, we all went home for the great work-from-home experiment. I wanted to show workers how they can succeed as a remote worker and give them a playbook to make it, well, work for them, moving beyond the pandemic.
2. What can readers expect to learn from the book?
Readers will learn about a smorgasbord of great remote jobs to inspire them to think broadly about what is out there for them. They will discover great remote employers that have been on the bandwagon for some time and know the value of this approach. Those employers, of course, are ones the FlexJobs has identified and vetted as top of the line. And readers will learn the tools to land a remote job and to make it a rewarding success for both their employer and themselves. These tools include discipline, time management and communication skills balanced by vital self-care.
3. What do you mean by the term, “pajama jobs”?
These are remote jobs, of course, work from home, or from a non-office environment, and hey, if you want to get rolling in your PJs, why not? I do. You’re skipping the commute, and, if no one is eye-balling you, why not be comfortable? That said, I generally recommend people get out of their PJs to shift your mindset to a more get-down-to-business approach after the coffee hour.
4. As a career expert, have you always been a proponent of working remotely?
Yes. It fits my work style and personality, and the technology is there to make it seamless. I’m disciplined and love what I do and would do it from anywhere, any day.
Not everyone is hard-wired to be a remote worker. The isolation can be a stumbling block. They thrive on the human touch interaction with co-workers and bosses and the energy that comes from the vibe of the office. Remote work simply doesn’t suit them. For younger workers, too, an office environment can be a plus to build a network and understanding of a company culture.
That said, trust and autonomy are essential elements in productivity and what makes people love their job and do their best work. When an employer trusts their workers to get the job done without eyeballing them, it builds a confidence that is hard to put a value on. Everyone wins.
5. What’s the one piece of advice you’d give to job seekers who are looking to land a remote job in the current economy?
There’s so much to this, but here are a few pieces of advice to start with: Show potential employers how you have succeeded in the past as an independent worker and self-starter–met project deadlines, smoothly and effectively worked on remote teams and more. Showcase your superb communication skills–verbal and written–along with your ease of navigating the virtual communication platforms.
6. What are the top three things remote workers need to do to be successful working from home?
Time-management, ability to set work/life boundaries with employers and friends and family, communicate frequently with your team and boss or clients–lots of daily touchpoints. Take time for self-care–walk your dog, meet a friend of coffee, eat with an eye to nutrition, and exercise.
7. A lot of your work focuses on the intersection between careers and finances. How can remote work help people better manage their personal finances, especially during difficult economic times?
Personal finance is critical. If you’re working remotely, keep track of your office expenses. If your employer is not covering some of these costs, you might be eligible for some tax breaks. Make sure you have the proper home owner’s insurance that covers you for office equipment and other potential workplace hazards.
If it’s contract work, set up automatic deposits to retirement accounts from each paycheck. If possible, regularly set aside funds to pay taxes, in the case where your employer is not withholding.
Finally, get financially fit. Do a budget. Where can you trim discretionary spending? Can you downsize where you live? With the funds you’re saving from not commuting, can you whittle down any credit card debt that may be hanging over your head? When you are in good financial shape, you have options in the kind of work accept and even the pay. You have flexibility to try out new fields or opportunities where you might need to initially start part-time or at a lower pay than you had in your former job.
8. COVID-19 seemed to be a tipping point for remote work and work flexibility. How do you see this “wave” of remote work continuing to unfold in the coming months? Years?
Remote work is out of the bottle and will continue to gain traction. That said, a hybrid-model is probably the realistic view with some workers in the office part-time. In my opinion, for older workers, where there may be health vulnerabilities, it will become the new reality until there is a vaccine.
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