Whether you call it ‘moonlighting’ or a ‘side hustle’, taking on a second job has its pros and cons.

While the gig economy is growing and many are eager to gain greater economic stability and freedom in their lives, it’s best to carefully assess the situation carefully before taking on a second job. It’s also wise to first understand the dos and don’ts.

This expert article looks at what to think about before you start moonlighting.

Ask yourself why

Are you taking on a second job that’s unrelated to your current position? Are you doing so for fun and interest? Are you wanting to build skills in your professional industry so you can leave your current organisation?

These are the types of questions to assess before taking on a second job. If, for example, you’re creative and want to make and sell crafts, this might be acceptable to your boss. If, however, you’re eager to strengthen your skills to make a fast exist from your position, that might not so acceptable.

If you want to build skills so you can make more money or get promoted, think about whether a second job is the only way. Think about talking to your boss to see if you can take on added responsibilities to build skills. Also think about ways you can excel at work. You can also explore these seven ways to upskill.

Tax implications

Make sure you determine if having a second income will push you into a higher tax bracket. If it will, you’ll pay more tax so work out if your second job is truly worth it.

Read your employment agreement

Never assume your employment agreement allows you to moonlight.

Check it out before embarking on a on a second job or you could find yourself in a spot of bother. Violating your employment terms could get you fired.

Be realistic

If you’re already zany at work, do you have the headspace and energy to take on new responsibilities? The last thing you want is to burn out because you have a second job. This will compromise both jobs so be realistic about the number of additional hours involved with your second job. Add a buffer just to be sure.

Here are articles on burnout to explore:

Career burnout: Are you suffering?

Here’s how to avoid burnout

Talk to your boss before accepting a second job

If you don’t talk to your boss before taking on a second job, you could be sending the message that your day job isn’t a top priority. You could also be flagging that your regular job will be negatively affected with lower energy levels and distractions.

Think of options for managing that second job

Before approaching your boss, work through what their concerns might be. Get ready to address them.

If, for example, you’re not performing at the top of your game with your day job, this could be a problem.

With hours, if your second job only requires half-a-day every weekend, and only involves light responsibilities, then it might be fine. But if your second job requires you to work into the wee hours of the morning five days a week, your boss may question if you can juggle everything.

Manage distractions

While a second job can be fun and rewarding, it can also be distracting. When at your full-time job, don’t waste time daydreaming about your second job. Focus, focus, focus. If you get side tracked it won’t take long for your colleagues or boss to notice.

Also remember that it will be problematic if your second job requires you to make phone calls or write emails during the day.

Never use your employer’s resources

If you think you can ‘sneak’ in time doing your second job in between responsibilities during your regular workday, think again. Using your employer’s resources for your second job—whether time, supplies, equipment, intellectual property or contacts—is not on.

Separate your two working worlds and make sure they never collide.

Be honest

If it’s cool to take on a second job—in that there’s no conflict with your existing position and your boss is accepting of the idea—continually assess how matters are unfolding. Be honest with yourself. How are matters really travelling? Are your side commitments affecting your work during the day?

Perform with integrity. If you’re heading into difficulties holding down both jobs, discuss this with your boss.

Be prepared

If your workplace says ‘no’ to moonlighting, respect that. Never take on a second job and try to hide it. You’ll get caught and that won’t go over well.