Having a full-time job provides security, stability and a steady paycheck. Although all of those benefits are commendable, sometimes the paycheck itself doesn't cover your costs of living, student loan payments or credit card debt.
Enter the side job. More people are opting to moonlight or take on freelance gigs in addition to their full-time job to meet their financial needs or treat themselves to things they might not otherwise be able to afford.
Upwork reported that nearly seven in 10 workers surveyed by Staffing Industry Analysts (SIA), a staffing advisory firm, said they moonlight (perform work outside their primary work) to supplement their income. For many, contingent work is a popular option: Close to one-third of America's workforce freelances (performs contract work), representing a total of nearly $1 trillion in earnings, the Upwork blog said.
Regardless of your reasons for a side gig, you should know whether it's appropriate for you and your employer. [See Related Story: The Gig Economy's Growing Influence on the American Workforce]
Check with your full-time employer
Side gigs and project-based work not only present the opportunity to make money but also to learn an array of skills in a short period of time, said Lisa Sterling, chief people officer of Ceridian, a global human capital management technology company.
However, the increase in the number of full-time employees taking side gigs can put their employers in a difficult position.
"A big challenge for employers in the short term is going to be determining policies and flexibility in scheduling to allow for employees to handle their other jobs and, in the longer term, investing in training and development of people who also have loyalty to other companies," Sterling said.
Employees shouldn't be taking on side jobs if they're having difficulties in their current position, especially if that other job conflicts with a non-compete or employment agreement, said Don Charlton, founder and chief product officer of recruiting software company JazzHR.
"If you know that you'll put your job in jeopardy, then seeking outside opportunities is not a smart decision," Charlton said. "It's also important to feel out your company culture. Do you work 9 to 5, or do you have more unpredictable hours? That's a big question people need to consider before accepting gig work."
Stay committed to your full-time job
It takes a great deal of work ethic, dedication and time to accomplish multiple tasks and successfully juggle multiple jobs. Regardless, you need to be committed to your full-time employer, experts said. Charlton noted that you should assume that you're never going to be able to put a gig opportunity ahead of your job. "All employers want to make sure that their employees are committed to both their company and company goals," he said.
According to Charlton, employees who consistently exhibit both good judgment and autonomy are less likely to cause employers to worry about their freelance or side work. However, the opposite would be true for employers dealing with employees who don't have those attributes and are also choosing to carry the weight of a side gig, Charlton said.
"Above all else, the performance of employees and the attributes they possess are key indicators to employers of how those individuals might juggle an additional gig with their main job," he said.
Make your side gig benefit your full-time career
Ultimately, having a side gig can benefit your career, as the skills you learn there can be transferable and valuable to your full-time job.
Similarly, there are a number of ways hiring managers can vet candidates with gig experience. That includes assessing candidates by looking for patterns on their resumes that match the job description and drawing out performance indicators from them during the job interview itself, Charlton noted.
"If anything, having a side gig … can give you an outside focus and perspective," Charlton said. "Having outside interests can often positively impact work performance."