If you have a side hustle — whether it’s driving for Lyft or writing freelance for online publications — an interview for a new full-time job can raises a couple of important questions. Should you mention your side job to your prospective employer? And, if so, how?
Talking about your other work could be to your benefit, especially if the side gig has taught you transferable skills. On the other hand, you don’t want your potential employer to think you’ll be too focused on your side job to do the work properly, or that you’re likely to quit once your side hustle takes off.
To make sure your side hustle helps rather than hurts your prospects, follow these simple tips:
1. Decide Whether You Want to Disclose
The first decision you need to make is whether to talk about your side hustle at all. There are a few situations in which it makes sense to broach the subject.
If your side hustle can be discovered easily through an online search of your name — if you’re a freelancer blogger, for example — it makes sense to bring it up proactively. That will give you the chance to address any potential concerns your employer might have, such as worries you’ll be too busy to do both jobs adequately or that you’ll disclose confidential company information.
When your side hustle has taught you relevant job skills or enhanced your qualifications, it is also worth pointing out the experience you’ve gained. This is especially beneficial if you’re transitioning to a new career and your side gig has provided you with relevant experience that your past full-time positions haven’t.
Whatever the situation, you want to present your side job as a plus for your potential employer. Whenever possible, talk about how the things you’ve learned will help you perform better for your new company.
2. Be Prepared With a Success Story
When you’re bringing up the subject of a side hustle, address head-on any possible red flags that could arise. A potential employer is likely to ask how you plan to balance your full-time work with the job you have on the side. You should have anecdotes ready to share about times you’ve done this successfully in the past.
Focus on the strong time-management skills you’ve perfected that you can bring to your work. Talk about specific examples of times when you’ve made having multiple jobs work out well for everyone involved.
3. Never Imply Your Side Gig Will Become Full-Time
Your potential employer may also be concerned about the possibility you’ll leave the position if your side gig ever gives you enough money to live on. No employer wants to hire someone who’ll run for the door as soon as they can, so put your employer’s mind at ease about your future career goals.
To avoid giving the wrong impression, don’t talk about where you hope your side gig will lead you in the future. Instead, make sure to stress how much you want to grow with your potential employer over the long term.
4. Have a Plan If Asked What You’ll Do About Your Side Gig in the Future
There’s a chance your potential employer will ask if you’re willing to give up the side hustle once you’re hired — especially if doing the side job could be seen as competing with the employer’s own line of business.
Think carefully about your answer. It doesn’t make sense to say you’re willing to give up the work if you won’t do so when the time comes. But if this primary job would pay you enough and provide professional fulfillment, you may decide to tell the employer you’d be open to becoming a one-gig worker if hired.
Your side gig can help you accomplish financial goals, such as saving for the future or repaying student loans more easily. But you don’t want it to hurt your career prospects, so make sure you’re ready to discuss it responsibly during an interview for a new full-time position.
Christy Rakoczy is a full-time personal finance writer with a law degree from UCLA and a degree in business and marketing from the University of Rochester.