Need to moonlight? Do it right.

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Seattle housing costs being what they are, a lot of us find ourselves needing to work two jobs just to make ends meet — i.e., we’re moonlighting.

It may feel like a new phenomenon. Certainly, technology and widespread acceptance of remote work have given us new ways to shoehorn a side job into our lives. But in fact moonlighting has been around forever, especially for people at the beginnings of their work life or during periods of transition and flux (when relocating, starting a family or returning to the workforce after an absence).

Successful moonlighting comes with a few ground rules. Your second job should not significantly interfere with your ability to perform at your “real” job. Don’t work for your company’s competition. Don’t settle for a gig you hate (ideally, you want to actually look forward to that second shift). Finally, don’t neglect to check if your employer has policies about staff taking on outside work — they might and you for sure don’t want to have to keep that side job a secret. Life is too short for lies and deception.

But most of all you’ll want to observe the first rule of moonlighting, which is a “do” rather than a “don’t”: Your extra job needs to be, as much as possible, the opposite of your primary job.

For example, if you sit in front of a computer all day at job No. 1, choose a job No. 2 that puts you up on your feet, active and moving. Your back, neck and eyes will thank you.

If job No. 1 requires you to deal with a lot of people, parrying complaints and solving problems, consider a more solitary, human-free job No. 2. Even extroverts can profit from a bit of alone time.

This one’s important: If job No. 1 is mentally taxing, requiring sustained deep thought, do yourself a favor and make job No. 2 one that is easy and diverting, even fun. You know that old saying, “A change is as good as a rest”? Well, it’s true. Plus, an entertaining side gig can actually give you more energy for your primary job.

While moonlighting can be a useful option, with luck you won’t have to keep it up for longer than a few years. Meanwhile, it’s good to do it right.

Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl: Real-Life Career Advice You Can Actually Use and of the novel “The Paris Effect.” Email her at