Moonlighting is nothing to be ashamed of; it can be a good answer to underemployment, and can be the path to greater job satisfaction and fulfillment (not to mention solvency). Following one simple rule will help ensure success.

Share story

You may think one job is more than enough — and maybe it should be. But sometimes, holding down two jobs is your best option.

For example, if you are not able to find a single full-time position, you can sometimes cobble together a living wage from two half-time jobs. Perhaps you have a full-time job, but it doesn’t pay enough, or you temporarily need additional income.

If you are pursuing a dream career that doesn’t offer benefits, or that pays poorly, you might supplement it with a less-dreamy but more-sensible position. Or maybe you want to change careers and have realized, wisely, that a good initial approach is to find part-time work in the field you think you want to enter.

Many people find themselves moonlighting at some point in their careers. It is nothing to be ashamed of; moonlighting can be a good answer to underemployment, and can be the path to greater job satisfaction and fulfillment (not to mention solvency).

Most Read Stories

Unlimited Digital Access. $1 for 4 weeks.

The secret is to observe this simple rule: Your second job needs to be, in some important way, the opposite of your first job. For instance:

  • If Job A involves sitting alone in a chair in front of a computer screen all day, in Job B you might be on your feet and dealing with lots of people.
  • If Job A is mentally taxing, a good Job B may be one that’s a little brainless and fun.
  • If Job A is repetitive and boring, look for a Job B that provides variety and stimulation.

Whatever you choose, stay clear on which is your “real” job and which is the “extra” job; i.e., don’t let Job B interfere with Job A. Plus, be sure to check whether your company forbids or limits moonlighting (some do). Finally, be upfront with both employers about your double-job status. Life is too short for lies or deception. Working two jobs is tiring enough!

Therein lies the rub: Moonlighting can be exhausting. You probably will not want to do it in the long term. But in the short term, juggling two jobs that complement each other can be empowering. Try it and see.

Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl: Real-Life Career Advice You Can Actually Use. Email her at wg@karenburnsworkinggirl.com.