businessman launching upwards paperwork flying everywhereAccording to a recent study by the American Psychological Association, reported on Aol.com, 48 percent of women and 43 percent of men feel they are under paid, which is no surprise given the fact we are at the back end of the recession during which many employees have seen pay freezes or below inflation pay rises. In fact, according to Worldatwork the global average 2.2 percent pay hike that the world saw in 2009 in the dark depths of the recession was an unprecedented low.

So with substantial pay rises out of the question, many economically squeezed workers are looking at alternative sources of income such as a second job – with studies showing that around 5 percent of the workforce may be moonlighting (or performing second jobs). But, there has in the past been a negative association with moonlighting with it being seen as a little illicit and being born out of economic desperation. But, it doesn’t always have to be this way, as if done well, moonlighting can not only boost your income but be a stepping stone to a better life and career. And so how can you moonlight in an effective and career enhancing way?

Call me boring, but to start with you need to check your employee handbook and make sure you comply with any company procedures around taking a second job so you don’t put your main job at risk. If your employer has reservations on you taking a second job you could use this as an opportunity to open negotiations for a pay rise, promotion or additional hours within your current place of work.

You should be aware that you will most likely experience a 50 percent decline in productivity after you have worked 40 hours in a week and there will be a general decline in productivity after you have overworked for four weeks in succession. You’ll also be at greater risk of burnout. This burnout risk can be reduced if your second job is materially different to your main job. Let’s say you work at a desk with figures all day, then your second job might involve you working outside doing something more manual. Working in a different field is a good political play too, as there is much less chance of a conflict of interest occurring with your current employer.

So, there is no doubt that doing a second job can boost your income and help you reach your financial goals in the short term, but it’s not a sustainable long-term strategy to work 50-60 hours a week, as you are likely to burnout and damage your health. This is why I believe that there should be a wider plan to your moonlighting, e.g. you are doing it for a few years to achieve a known goal, which should be that you don’t have to hold down a second job. This means that you could be acquiring experience or training in a new job area where you can eventually earn more money; you are getting more money to fund an entrepreneurial business venture; to buy a home, etc.

The point is that working a second job is really only a temporary strategy and should not be considered a long-term approach. It should ideally be a tactical tool to enable you to reach a short/medium term goal or to get into a position where you don’t need to work in a second job.



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