EDITOR’S NOTE: I commissioned this Virtual Vocations review after hearing about the service a few times. Virtual Vocations has previously come up, when another writer recommended it as a place to find writing jobs. While our review points out that it’s not a perfect place for one-off freelance assignments, it is well worth a look for anyone looking to work from home telecommuting. Read on to find out all the details.
You may also want to take a look at our detailed FlexJobs review if you’re looking for a home-based job.
If you play the job board game to find remote working opportunities, you probably know the typical pitfalls? You can end up stuck sifting through “work from home” scams, and you may have to look at several different job boards just to make sure you’re covering your bases. In addition, many job boards are bad at filtering out jobs that aren’t of interest (for instance when a search for freelance writer gigs yields translation jobs for some reason!)
Eventually you start to think that there must be a better way. Enter Virtual Vocations, which claims to pre-screen jobs for you from a variety of sources to make sure they’re legit.
Wanting to see if I could save time looking through job boards, I signed up in order to produce this Virtual Vocations review.
Before we start, it’s worth emphasising that this is a paid subscriber remote job board, primarily intended for people in the U.S.
Virtual Vocations Review: The Basic Rundown
Virtual Vocations (VV) was started in 2007 by a brother and sister, who wanted to help other people live the telecommute life. It’s still family owned and operated.
The “About Us” page reads:
“Our mission to help you find legitimate telecommuting jobs quickly, easily and safely is the driving force behind what we do. For us, it’s personal.”
Virtual Vocations isn’t like other job boards with its own listings; It pulls telecommute jobs from other boards and company websites, so there are no exclusive jobs here. It’s more of a timesaving measure than anything else. (Also see our Contena review for another service that’s all about curating job opportunities).
After having heard the mantra that you should never pay to look for a job, having to subscribe to a paid telecommute job board may not sit well with you. However, we are seeing an increasing trend towards these kinds of services.
You start by being able to search the site for the type of work you do. You’ll see the screen below if you just search without registering or logging in:
The opportunities look pretty good – so you click on a job. This takes you to a job description page and there’s a big, inviting “Apply” button to your right. You click on it and then surprise – the site wants you to register with your name and email address and makes you create a password.
At this point you start getting emails from Virtual Vocations inviting you to subscribe. You also see screens telling you to subscribe so you can see who the actual employers are.
I browsed the site for months here and there before I finally subscribed, just to see what sort of stuff they were coming up with when the employer was hidden. I finally bit the bullet and signed up for a $31.99 three-month subscription. (I’ve been using the site a little over two months at the time of writing). I was able to pay securely through PayPal.
Virtual Vocations Review: The Subscriber Site
Once I got into the subscription part of the site, I was fairly impressed. You can see what the dashboard looks like when you log in below:
As you can see, I have the option to edit my basic profile information and tailor my job alerts emails. The system keeps a history of the jobs I’ve applied to, and I can make a portfolio. The site also has some “toolkit courses” that help you look for a telecommute job, which come through email. There are even industry guides and telecommuting eBooks.
When completing my Virtual Vocations review, I noticed that VV also has an additional paid service above and beyond the regular subscription: a paid resumé review. You’ll get lots and lots of emails about it! I haven’t tried it since it’s about $40 extra.
What’s it Like to Search for a Job using Virtual Vocations?
Using the Virtual Vocations board to search for a job is pretty straightforward. You log in, go to the jobs tab and there’s a wide array of filter options.
You can search by job category, locations across the US, employment status (i.e. permanent or contractor), weekly hours, career level, education level and even how much of a telecommute job you are looking for (from 100 percent home working to occasional.) These are just a few of the options.
For my personal purposes, I usually search the writing category and select “independent contractor” for employment status.
Now here’s where things were a little frustrating in my experience. Using my usual search, I experienced several things:
- Pages where one company is hiring for multiple locations, and the same job is posted repeatedly for different cities. It’s frustrating to scroll through a whole page on one company that’s hiring in areas I don’t live in.
- Jobs listed as “writer,” but that require you to know different languages, making it more like a translation opportunity.
- Jobs that lead to free boards I was already checking in the first place.
- Occasionally a job that’s right up my alley that I wouldn’t have known about otherwise – which is obviously a good thing!
It’s not exactly a delightful experience to search through Virtual Vocations for me; I still have to scan and weed through things that don’t fit – just like any other job board.
It’s worth noting that this is my personal experience in my industry (writing). Results do vary by industry and by what types of jobs you’re searching for. For example, when I do a basic search for administrative work with no other filters, I don’t get these long strings of multiple posts from the same company. However, more staffing agencies do pop up. There also seems to be a good range of jobs for experienced technical specialists.
The site IS well laid out and easy to use, even if my search results aren’t perfect. I still like that it saves my job application history. You can even save jobs for later review and application.
When you’re subscribed and logged in, and you click “Apply,” it cleanly opens a new tab and takes you to the site where the job is located, usually a direct company website. When you navigate back to Virtual Vocations, you see this pop up window:
This part of the process saves the job to your job application history. I like the “report job” function; While real people are screening out these jobs, people make mistakes. So, you can contribute to making the site better by selecting either “Expired,” “Miscategorized,” “Broken Link” or “Not Telecommute.” It makes me feel like the company cares about my job search experience.
Virtual Vocations vs. FlexJobs
It’s inevitable that people will compare Virtual Vocations to FlexJobs – they’re remarkably similar services. Having reviewed both at HomeWorkingClub, we think it’s fair to say that they’re both relatively inexpensive, both worth looking at if you’re looking for remote / telecommute jobs and both pretty weak when it comes to finding freelance gigs!
So it comes down to a few other deciding factors:
Price wise, both services are within a dollar of each other if you pay for a single month’s subscription (c. $15). The difference occurs with longer subscriptions. Whereas Virtual Vocations hovers around the $10 per month mark for a subscription of six months or more, FlexJobs is much cheaper, and with a voucher code like the one in our review, can end up as low as only a few bucks per month if you pay for a year.
So, FlexJobs is generally a little cheaper.
When it comes to user experience, however, Virtual Vocations wins the day. While neither site is perfect in terms of search facilities, as discussed in our review, FlexJobs has a confusing interface, with a lot of clutter and superfluous features.
Jobs wise, it’s impossible to say which will serve you better. Both feature jobs from household name companies. There’s inevitably a lot of luck involved in finding a remote job that’s suited to your skills on the day(s) you’re looking! If you really want to make sure you don’t miss a single opportunity, you’ll probably want to try out both – and spending $15-20 per month in total isn’t really that big a deal if it results in you finding the remote job of your dreams.
Virtual Vocations Review: Final Verdict
There are some positives with Virtual Vocations, but it’s definitely best suited to remote telecommute jobs working with companies. Using it to one-off freelance gigs isn’t the most positive experience.
In two plus months on the site, I’ve only found one writing gig opportunity I heard back from that I hadn’t known about from elsewhere. They wanted me to write a trial article, and then they ultimately decided such work was no longer “part of their marketing strategy.”
If I’m going to pay for a job board, I want some return on my investment, and I haven’t seen that from VV as a freelance writer. In fact, the closest thing I have to a return on investment, personally, is writing this review!
However, there’s a strong but to all this. If you’re looking for a telecommute role that’s more steady, rather than a freelance gig, I think Virtual Vocations is a decent choice. For what comes out to about $10 per month, you get curated leads for real telecommute jobs, and educational resources on how to land those jobs. That’s really not a bad deal if you’re looking to save some time in your job search.
So, if you’re reading this Virtual Vocations review as someone who’s looking for US-based telecommuting work, you can disregard much of my criticism!
Other Places to Look for Work:
- For writing work specifically, take a look at ProBlogger Jobs, or one of the sites recommended here.
- Check out PeoplePerHour or HubStaff Talent for a more traditional freelance job board experience.
- Read freelancing jobs for beginners to find out about how these job boards work.
- Look at our detailed FlexJobs review for a similar alternative to Virtual Vocations.
NOTE: This review was slightly updated on 31st May 2018 to reflect the fact it’s best suited to telecommute opportunities. This seemed fair since it’s not really marketed as being aimed at freelancers.
Great for telecommuters, not so worthwhile for those seeking one-off freelance gigs.
- Ease of Use
- Earning Potential