We all can get away with more when working remotely. On a given day, that may look like making a Trader Joe’s run, dropping off dry cleaning, or, for almost two in five Americans, working an entire second job.
Thirty-seven percent of respondents to a January 2023 poll of nearly 1,000 workers from job site Monster admitted to having more than one full-time job. And among those who only work one full-time job, most (57%) said they’d consider adding another.
Four in five workers who said they have—or want to have—numerous full-time jobs aren’t doing it for the love of the game. In fact, it’s an extremely risky undertaking, as they could potentially be fired by both companies if they catch wind of their plan.
Rather, they told Monster, they’re doubling up only because their main job isn’t providing enough money to make ends meet. Additionally, almost half said they’re worried their current job will lay them off, and they’re seeking another as a backup plan. That’s probably a reaction to the current state of the economy, which has been gripped by inflation, a looming recession, and layoff fears, despite the fact that layoff rates are currently below pre-pandemic norms.
Working two full-time jobs is never advisable, Monster career expert Vicki Salemi tells Fortune. It makes workers likely to burn out quickly and leaves vanishingly few hours for a personal life. Plus, burnt-out workers are much less likely to perform well, which could put them at risk of losing both income streams altogether.
It’s also legally shady. Many companies have HR policies prohibiting employees from working another role in the same industry, Salemi says. “If you’re a CPA at an accounting firm, they may prohibit you from doing accounting for a small business on the side.” But being, say, a florist may be okay “because it’s an entirely different job.”
Do risks outweigh benefits?
One-third of overemployed workers said they added to their pile solely to acquire new skills in different areas, and one-fifth said they simply weren’t busy enough at their full-time gig to justify not making the most of their time. In fact, 35% of workers reported working fewer than 30 hours per week in their primary role—6% even said they work fewer than five hours a week.
But there’s a wrinkle: If workers intend to note both their roles on their résumés or in interviews, they’d have to find a way around specifying when exactly they worked for them. Salemi says they’d need a “functional résumé” instead of a chronological one, in which they list skills overall rather than tying them to their jobs in chronological order.
“If you show two concurrent jobs on your résumé or talk about them during interviews, the employer may be concerned you’ll moonlight full-time,” Salemi says, adding that the double jobs would come up in a background check.
Not that any of that is scaring the overemployed; 56% of Monster’s respondents said they think they could work another full-time job without their current employer catching wind of the arrangement.
That’s probably accurate, especially if one of the jobs is remote, Salemi says. But it wouldn’t be easy; the employee would have to be completely quiet about it on social media and keep their arrangement completely confidential. “That said, if the worker is exhausted, continuously tardy, or the work starts suffering, or more, their boss may begin to suspect something is up.”
But overemployed workers are largely extremely secretive about their operation. On Jan. 30, when Monster sent the survey out, a member of the “Overemployed” Reddit page shared the link and alerted other community members to stay wary.
“It’s a trap,” one commenter wrote, while another said, “I would suggest no one acknowledges [overemployment], even on an anonymous poll.”
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