Tory's Plan for Dad Who Wants to Work at Home

Seven-month-old Jacob Johnson is his parents' pride and joy.

Like so many new arrivals, though, his birth has meant huge changes for mom and dad, Erin and Matt.

The biggest change is about to come. After months of talking and going over their budgets, the Johnsons realized they didn't want to put their son in day care or with nannies.

"I feel it's important that a family member be involved in the day-to-day care-taking," Erin said.

Matt works as a plumber; Erin has a job as a manager for 3-M, with much better benefits and pay.

"It didn't make much sense for me to quit because basically we couldn't sustain a family on just Matt's income," Erin said.

So while Matt is looking forward to lots of time to bond with his son, he's hoping he can find some part-time work with a flexible schedule to bring in a little extra money as a cushion for the family's tight budget.

Tory Johnson Busts Some Myths

He was one of the thousands of "Good Morning America" viewers to write to workplace contributor Tory Johnson for advice about working from home.

"We are hoping we can find something computer-related," Matt said. "We've actually looked into home typist, data entry, medical record billing."

The search so far has been frustrating. The Internet and want ads have not panned out, but Matt is being patient, hoping it will all be worth it in the end.

"We don't want to make a jump without a parachute," he said. "We want to be able to jump and know that we are going to be able to land safely."

Tory Johnson says that contrary to conventional wisdom, the holidays can be the perfect time to look for a job.

"In fact, this is a great time to get organized and get out there," she said. "Everyone is in holiday mode this time of year, which means they're more open to chatting informally."

This is also the time of year for holiday parties and get-togethers, both inside and outside the workplace, and the perfect opportunity for networking.

Matt also worried that there were fewer work-from-home opportunities for men. Tory Johnson, though, says gender is irrelevant to employers.

"Employers just want the work done and done well," she said. "They don't care who's at the keyboard or on the phone."

The bigger hurdle for Matt is that he wants to change careers as well as his work schedule, which means he will have to work harder to make the switch.

Week-by-Week Plan

Tory Johnson has put together a plan for Matt for each week in December to help him find a job.

Week One: Establish a Realistic Goal

If you're not going to be realistic about your goals and what's achievable, you should stop right now to save yourself frustration and disappointment.

Matt's change will require him to work nights and weekends, because his days will be occupied with the baby. He knows he won't make the same amount of money working far fewer hours than he would in his former full-time role.

Week Two: Assess Your Skills and Strengths

Write down everything you have to offer. This is different from why you want to work from home. No employer cares that Matt wants to home-school his child.

They'd want him because he has a great attitude, he's computer savvy, he's well-spoken with strong communication skills, and he's got a track record of being responsible and punctual. Those are the skills and strengths he must focus on.

You should also ask people who know you what they see as your strengths. You'll get valuable ideas and learn how others see you.

For example, if your friends tell you you're not patient or punctual, you're probably not the right person for this kind of work.

You'll also want to create a resume focused on your best skills, emphasizing the ones we hear over and over that employers look for in home-based workers.

Week Three: Spread the Word, Do Your Research, and Don't Believe the Hype

Once you know your goal and what you can do, it's time to explore your options. This is when the holiday season can really pay off for you. Accept all of those invitations -- you can't be too tired or too busy to go to that cocktail party.

If you really want this, you're going to have to put yourself out there. Get comfortable asking people what they do and sharing your professional goals for the new year. You must do this with extraordinary confidence.

When Matt is at a holiday function, he should proudly say, "We've made a great decision that I'm going to be the at-home parent and I'm actively exploring different ways to work from home."

Make it sound exciting and dynamic. Your confidence will reassure others that you have something on the ball.

Do your research online. There are so many online communities and chat rooms where you can swap stories, advice and resources. Sometimes you can be inspired about opportunities because someone else is doing it.

See Tory's Work-From-Home Tips at

But beware -- don't get suckered into get-rich-quick schemes you read online. Ignore ads that require you to pay $20 to learn how to make up to $1,500 a week with minimal effort. If it sounds so incredibly easy, walk away. Everything worthwhile takes work.

Week Four: Apply!

By now you'll know what you want and you're actively going after it. You should have lined up a list of potential contacts that you've collected over the last few weeks.

It's time to follow up on those leads and get those resumes out. Your resume should be on employers' desks when they return from the New Year's holiday.