Make Moonlighting Work For You


Money is tight.  You are barely making ends meet.

Considering taking on extra work – moonlighting – is inevitable when you are cash strapped. Those who moonlight aren’t trying to save for something fancy — it’s their retirement, the kid’s education or even making the mortgage that spurs the need to hold down multiple jobs.

And in this economy, it is becoming increasingly common, according to Jean Kimmel at W.E. Upjohn Institute and Lisa Powell at Queen’s University.  Sometimes it is called job packaging when a worker adds a second part-time job to a full-time one. 

On the whole, moonlighters tend to be married and female.  In many cases, they are single, divorced or widowed and are trying to add extra dollars to the family budget. Men who moonlight  are often single dads with young children.  As well, if you are self-employed you will tend to moonlight more than salaried employees.


higher your education, the more likely you are to moonlight.  This seems contrary to the assumption that the more disadvantaged workers take second or third jobs.

If a second job is taken, it is most likely going to be in the sales or service industry and it means putting in over 50 hours a week. Unfortunately, this can take its toll on health.  People experience greater fatigue holding down an evening job and may find their enthusiasm for work lowers on the whole.  When people don’t get breaks they have less time for family and for themselves, making recuperation from a heavy work day difficult.

On the other hand, staff who moonlight and have been under financial stress can feel the burden lifting when the extra money comes in. As well, working at another job can benefit workers as they gain more work experience, or are thinking of making a more permanent career move in the direction of the second job.  Trying the job on for size can help staff make decisions about where they want their careers to go.  As such, people don’t moonlight just for the extra money. 

Sometimes they like the variety or are saving to start their own business.  Some, are gaining the knowledge and expertise to start a new career or  are gaining more experience doing tasks they might otherwise not get enough exposure to in their regular job.

While the moonlighter may benefit, colleagues may not.  Some co-workers get upset about their colleagues working outside of the regular hours, especially if the moonlighter ends up being too tired to pull his own weight, makes mistakes others have to fix or drags himself listlessly around the office.

Also, moonlighters who “double dip”—work on company time at their second job, tend to anger colleagues. People feel taken advantage of in this scenario especially if the colleague isn’t coming in during regular hours to finish something for another employer.

Employers are adversely affected in some cases as well.  On the whole, most employers contend with moonlighting and find it doesn’t have a big effect most of the time, but there are exceptions.  An example is if a moonlighter is working for a competitor and may share confidential information.  Employers who try to encourage work-family balance  can become frustrated when instead of using flex time, reduced work weeks and the like, to decompress, employees are doing a second job during those hours.  Another irritant for employers is if the staffer is using company time, supplies or equipment to complete tasks  for another employer.

Employers sometimes count on moonlighting when they are decreasing full-time or permanent positions to save costs.  This practice can encourage people to take multiple jobs.  As such, companies deal with moonlighting a lot and usually have policies in place to provide employees with guidelines as to what is expected when they moonlight. These policies usually spell out employer requirements such as not telling trade secrets to competitors during the moonlighting stint. 

Employers want to make sure the moonlighter is not doing activities in her second job that could damage the reputation of the primary job, or harm its image.  Staff will be
asked to ensure that their second job does not interfere with their primary occupation and that they stay safe on the job and can perform all their duties to the best of their ability. 

Employers can ask moonlighters to tell them ahead of time if they are taking a second job, so that everyone is informed and aware of what is occurring. These days, moonlighting is on the increase and employers are aware of the interest workers show in having more than one job.

If you are thinking about moonlighting, consider the impact of the second job on you, your family and your primary employer.  Be open with your employer about how you will manage two jobs, how you will divide your time between the two organizations and how you will know if one job is interfering with another.

As well, check the company’s policy about moonlighting and avoid working for a competitor to avoid a conflict of interest or telling trade secrets inadvertently.

Moonlighting can be good for the pocket book and with some forethought it can be done well.

Dr. Jennifer Newman is a registered psychologist.  She can be reached at


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