A second job might make all the difference for your finances—and your career. Here’s how to get one and keep it, even today.
When I landed my first magazine job, the starting salary was a whopping $11,500. I figured I’d somehow be able to live on it, but I couldn’t—I needed extra money fast. So I started moonlighting. I wrote some freelance stories, and I got a second job teaching SAT prep for the Princeton Review, which led to an even more lucrative gig: tutoring kids for $20 an hour. The money enabled me to keep my career-path day job as well as eat, make rent and even put a little away.
Now, 20 years later, moonlighting is all the rage, not just for recent grads but for anyone looking for a little financial security. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, this March over 7.7 million people held more than one job, an increase of nearly 300,000 from the recession of 2001. Branching out isn’t just useful for your bank balance, it’s also smart when it comes to your future job prospects. Like your investment portfolio, your career is more secure when you don’t have all your eggs in one basket, argues Marci Alboher, author of One Person/Multiple Careers. “A lot of people who have created second careers are feeling grateful now,” she says.
With the unemployment rate at a 25-year high, some opportunities are tougher to come by than they used to be. If you approach moonlighting shrewdly, however, using your connections and creativity, you might find a way not only to pay down your debts but also to segue into your next career. Here’s how.
Focus on growth fields
By targeting the areas that President Obama is calling the future of the economy—energy, education, health care—you can narrow your search and improve your odds of finding something. Look at environmentaljobs.com and ecojobs.com for green-sector listings; and healthcaresource.com for spots in that field. For teaching opportunities, Google your state’s name and “department of education job listings.”
Direct selling (à la Avon and Tupperware) is another area that is still doing well. During the past three recessions this field grew 4.5 percent on average, as retail sales fell 3.3 percent. Kathy Lazear, 49, is one of direct sales’ new recruits. About a year ago, she was told that her job as an insurance agent in Gainesville, Florida, was shifting to part-time. So to supplement her income, Lazear signed on to sell Tastefully Simple, a gourmet food line. She now earns roughly $1,000 a month and has seen no decline in her sales since the recession hit full force. “I love it,” Lazear says. “It has been so much fun. I know that if my day job ends, I’ll be covered.” (To figure out which direct sales product fits you best, go to directselling411.com.)
Target expert sites online
If you have an expertise, you may want to offer yourself as an authority or coach for pay on a Web site like guru.com or liveperson.com (where, full disclosure, I’ve earned a few bucks myself). You sign up for these sites, go through a vetting process and, once approved, hang out a shingle. Customers on the site ask you questions in real time—in live chat rooms—and pay by the minute.
The money can really add up. Last July, Teresa Estes, 40, a Florida-based licensed mental health counselor, listed herself on liveperson.com to make up for a softening in her private practice. By September, the Web business had become more profitable than her original one, so she decided to make liveperson.com her full-time job. Estes has since raised her rate to $1.89 a minute from $1.59 and (after paying the site its 37 percent commission) takes home more than $1,500 a month. “The convenience really works for me,” she says. “So does not being tied to an office.”
Launch your own Web site—with ads