Working two jobs

Posted October 13, 2011, by Helen Isbister

For the majority of people, a typical nine-to-five work day is more than enough before hitting the couch and retiring in front of the television for the night. However, mortgage stress, rent increases, fuel costs and rising food prices mean Australia is experiencing a moonlighting boom as we sign on to more than one gig to supplement our income.

Nearly a quarter of Australians say they hold down two jobs, and some of us are even taking part in the new phenomenon of daylighting – fitting two jobs into one shift – in order to outsmart the global financial crisis.

If you are considering becoming one of the growing number of moonlighters, just make sure you think carefully about your motivations and the pros and cons associated with a double life.

Making ends meet

More work equals more money – it’s a simple equation and the most common reason to take up another job. The dicey economic situation means we are more focused on ensuring our security and the best way to do that (apart from hunting down a ridiculously wealthy spouse) is by boosting our salary and diversifying our income streams.

A second career could also prove a very useful safety net in this time of redundancies. But don’t fall into the trap of diverting all your energy into your second job and jeopardising your main career in the process – that in itself could land you on the top of the redundancy pile.

Apart from the extra cash going into the bank account, more time slaving away means less time to empty the bank account. However, there’s no point burning the midnight oil for some extra cash if you’ll never have time to enjoy it – plus you’ll be paying more tax on your secondary income. Also don’t forget that some things are invaluable (such as health and family time), so don’t be so busy counting your coins that you forget about what’s really important.

Keeping things interesting

Working different jobs can create room for your real passions, meaning you can pursue what actually interests you in one gig while also keeping a job that brings home the bacon. You may work as an accountant during the day to pay the bills, while you sing at night to satisfy your creative urges. A career in office administration can keep you afloat while you wait for your painting career to take off, or teaching scuba diving on the weekend can be supported by a job in IT.

If you are starting up your own business it may be a good idea to keep a day job while things get started, just in case things don’t work out quite as you envisage.

Boosting your employability

Working two jobs can not only boost your bank balance, but also keep your resume in peak condition. A second job can fast-track your career by broadening your skills and networks. You will have twice as much experience up your sleeve next time you are looking around for a new job – increasing your chance of getting the job and raising your salary potential.

Some employers will also be impressed by your ability to hold down two jobs. Better to have someone with energy and initiative than a work drone who does as they’re told and nothing more.

Playing it safe

There are no rules when hunting for a secondary career – the world is your oyster. You might like to keep your second job in the same industry you already work in, or go down a completely different path.

There are some things to look out for if you want to take up extra employment. Firstly, many primary places of employment require permission for you to hold down a second job. There may be some ethical issues which come up, like confidentiality or competition, especially if your second job is in the same industry. Working for two different employers also means you risk losing your energy and focus, so be careful not to let your performance slip.

It’s not only your primary job you need to keep in peak condition – you also need to make sure a second career isn’t going to affect your work–life balance too much. However, if you can avoid biting off more than you can chew, you will end up wealthier and possibly wiser.

Helen Isbister

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