The Side Hustle vs. Your Day Job

It is interesting that I have heard about two very different situations in the last week involving professionals that are trying to have their cake and eat it too with a FT, paying corporate job and also with a side hustle.

The first was an aspiring young professional looking for their first job after completing their education. I was looking at their resume, and one of their entries was ‘model’. I was intrigued; my most recent employer utilized models (although they were unpaid). I asked them about it. Apparently throughout their education and some early jobs, they had done some bona fide product modeling for campaigns for big companies in the area. They recently changed their hair color and apparently this aspect of their career has taken off. I thought it was a great topic of interest, but not relevant for a resume for a career resume. Then came the kicker: the model needs 1-2 days/month for photo shoots.

So there are two issues with this particular goal. First is that very few employers are going to just let you take off during regular business, and pay you a salary, to work for someone else. It is a conflict of interest. You can certainly use your PTO/time off, but the second reason is even more complex: the industry they are hoping to get into is in direct competition with the clients they were modeling for. Most employers have a non-competition clause in offer letters, especially in the tech industry. (My suggestion was to stick to consulting/freelance work if the modeling was that important to them.)

The second instance I heard of was someone that owned and operated a coffee stand. The problem is when this employee comes in repeatedly late (during established, core, business hours), leaves early to take care of business (like going to see their accountant to file tax forms or stop by the coffee stand to fill in for a shift if a barista calls in ill.) While this could actually be a business that works if the employee opens early and leaves to go to their FT paying job on time, and there is no conflict of industry interest, the employee STILL owes an employer their undivided attention during core business hours if they are getting a paycheck.

I have a former manager that neglected our team while they were trying to build out their own interior design business; it was a disaster.

Let’s be super clear: having a side hustle/job may or may not be a cause for concern for employers. I have worked as a corporate recruiter and also had a retail job on weekends, and it was not an issue. My last employer was super strict on NOT moonlighting. It really comes down to a conflict of interest and priorities. If you are accepting a FT employer’s money, benefits, training, etc. then you owe them your time and dedication. Tech companies often have provisions about IP developed while you work for them’you may need to consult an attorney if you do ANY work at all on their property (physical premises as well as equipment) such as build a software app.

The point is, if you have a side gig that you feel compelled to pursue like a startup, or a creative endeavor that you hope to turn into a revenue stream ‘ you need to do it on your own time and not expect your employer to ‘understand’. When you accept a FT job, you agree to be part of a team, adhere to corporate policies and give your employer your efforts. If you really need flexibility, stick to contracting or freelance (1099) work.

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