The Benefits of Side Jobs
Krystal Covington, 31, is like many people who have side jobs these days. While she enjoys having multiple income streams, she didn’t start her side hustles just to make money. Instead, Covington, a public relations director in the grocery industry, is truly passionate about the women’s networking group that she runs and the consulting work she does helping women with personal branding.
“I started my small business as a passion project,” she said. “It gives me the opportunity to express myself in ways my corporate job can’t offer, and it also gives me the chance to work on new skills and advance my leadership capabilities.”
Covington is part of a growing group of people who have side jobs for reasons other than just to make ends meet. Known as either a side job or a side hustle, these are secondary jobs that people who work full time have to make extra money or pursue a passion. Some people have side jobs that are connected to their main career, whereas others do something completely different—like a nurse who might spend her weekends training dogs. A recent survey by CareerBuilder found that 29 percent of people have a side job. Millennials are the generation most likely to work a side gig, with up to 44 percent of them having multiple jobs.
While you might think this trend is limited to just those in the lowest income bracket, it isn’t. In fact, 20 percent of people who make more than $75,000 and 12 percent of those making more than $100,000 have second jobs. These aren’t the people you typically think of as holding down more than one job, so what are they getting out of it?
The Benefits of Side Jobs
There are a number of reasons why side jobs are popular. For people like Covington, one key reason is because they add meaning to their lives. “There’s a strong sense of fulfillment that comes with supporting other women who are working hard to build their careers and reach personal goals,” she said.
But the money is also important to her and likely other Millennials who work side jobs. “I graduated from college at the beginning of the financial crisis, when jobs were scarce and low paying,” Covington said. “I have had side jobs for as long as I remember as a form of survival to make sure I always have enough money to live a comfortable life.”
While she no longer needs the income she makes from her side gigs to pay her bills, she saves that money for her future and uses it to pay for vacations.
Holly Reid, 42, a finance manager, works on the side as a financial literacy educator, speaker and author. In that role, she meets many people who are working multiple jobs. “Some people have side jobs simply to feed their families and to make ends meet,” said Reid. “Others have side jobs to feed their souls.”
Reid was drawn to her side career because she was passionate about helping others learn about financial literary. She believes that side jobs provide an opportunity for people to try out fields that they might otherwise have a hard time breaking into. “Having a side job in an area of interest,” she said, “can quickly give you the experience, knowledge and confidence needed to reinvent yourself and actually begin working in an area you love.”
What Are the Drawbacks?
While the extra income and fulfillment are nice, side jobs aren’t without their sacrifices. “The most common drawback of a side job is fatigue,” said Reid, who sometimes feels frustrated that she doesn’t have more time to devote to her second career.
But both Covington and Reid believe the hard work is worth it and that it helps them be successful in their primary jobs. “Having a side job offers an opportunity to continue evolving and trying new things,” Covington said. “When I went for interviews last April, many of the things employers were most impressed with were accomplishments that I earned through my side gig.” Covington gained valuable skills in event planning and marketing by launching a women’s networking group.
Covington, who had no plans to quit her day job, does caution that your main employer could question your commitment if you take on a second job. “When employers see that you have a side gig, they can sometimes fear that you won’t be fully committed or present in your job,” Covington said. She suggests you spend time allaying their fears by affirming that you are committed to your main job and making it your priority.
Figure Out Why You Want a Side Job
If you’re considering getting a side job, Reid believes that the first thing you should do is figure out why you want one. Perhaps you just want to make some extra money, or maybe you want to pursue a passion. You might also see it as a way to build your career.
“Working more than one job can be very taxing,” Reid said, “so understanding and having a clear sense of what you are trying to achieve and why will help push you through the fatigue or rough patches.”
Reid believes that she’s found her perfect side gig. One of her main goals now with her side gig is to provide financial literacy education to an even broader audience. “I am very happy to have a profitable side job,” she said. “If I could do anything differently, I would have started sooner.”
What Should You Look for in a Side Job?
For those interested in starting a second job, there are lots of options. If you’re just looking to make some extra money, anyone with a car could start driving for Uber or Lyft. You could also get a part-time job at a retail store, start freelancing or consulting or become a speaker like Reid did.
Covington, however, suggests that you find a side gig that will help you fulfill your career goals. “If your side gig helps you develop skills that can contribute to your career,” she said, “it will make you a more valuable employee and help you advance in your career more quickly.”
Reid, meanwhile, believes that what’s ultimately important is how well your side job fits in with your life and aspirations. “I would recommend getting a side job that allows you to be flexible with your schedule,” she said, “and one that aligns with your personal interests.”