Not only has the Internet revolutionized the way we work and live, but it has created an alternative job market with new companies, new job descriptions, and new opportunities. Think chefs only work in restaurants? Meet Jennifer Beisser, CEO of ChefsLine, a business that supplies "on demand culinary advice for busy cooks." Clients find the service online, but they use the phone line to connect with a chef who will share personalized advice, step-by-step cooking instructions, and those little touches that can turn an ordinary dinner into fine cuisine. That chef who's providing the advice is doing so from his or her own home.
"It's for people staring at the same old chicken breast and thinking, 'Oh please, not again,'" says Beisser. "If they don't have time to read a cookbook, they can call our service, which is like having a cookbook that talks to you and works with you." ChefsLine.com is at the crossroads of connecting at-home cooks who want instant advice -- and are willing to pay for it -- with experts willing to dispense that advice from the home -- and get paid to do so.
Want to explore today's work-from-home job market? It's fast, easy, and so much bigger than you can imagine. Just let your fingers do the walking ... across your keyboard. There's no limit to your reach. The world is your oyster. You could become an Internet researcher for people without computer skills, the local beat reporter for a publication in another city, or take orders for flowers or clothing by phone. You could offer financial advice online, solve technical or tax problems, or sell anything from travel packages to baby clothes. Your boss might live across the country or even the world. No worries, mate. You're connected.
Big companies used to hire workers for the long haul. If you were loyal and productive, they'd promote you through the ranks and retire you with a gold watch and a pension. Now they're busy competing in a global economy and you're on your own. No more cradle to grave. Companies have slimmed down, automated, and closed factories. They've laid off workers, axed whole departments that didn't fit their needs, and shipped jobs overseas to cut costs.
If you've been in the workplace a while, you've seen the upheaval, maybe even the pink slips. You know that a job or a company can change on a dime. If you're a new grad, you've heard the drill -- you'll change jobs or careers up to seven or eight times in your working life.
There's been a lot of change, unrest, and even heartbreak in this job market. You've read about or been affected by the headlines -- the bankruptcies, mergers, massive layoffs, bubbles, busts, scandals, and fraud. But there's positive news, too. Many American companies are leaner, smarter, and stronger, and so are American workers. We've learned to adapt, take on new skills, and negotiate for what we want. No more expectations for a lavish retirement send-off. We're taking responsibility for our own careers.
"Women are at the leading edge of shifting the career paradigm for everyone. They're no longer acting as agents of their employers, but as career 'self-agents,' using flexible work arrangements and setting their own terms of employment as a way to make work 'work,'" says professor Mary Shapiro, at the Simmons School of Management in Boston. Hooray for us!