Tips on How to Find a Second Job

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When one paycheck isn't enough to pay the bills, it might be worth thinking about a second job. A second job will not only bring in some extra money, but it can also bolster your resume, and provide a means to transition to a new career.

What's the best way to find a second job? It depends on the type of job you're looking for, where you want to work, and how you want to supplement your income.

It also depends on the flexibility of your schedule to accommodate hours of work, as well as the flexibility of your future employer.

If it feels like money is tight, it's not just your imagination. Real wages—the actual purchasing power of your salary once inflation has been taken into account—have been on the decline since 2006. For some people, a part-time second job might be the answer. Here's what to consider before you make the decision to start looking.

Should You Consider Getting a Second Job?

Working extra hours at a new gig won't help your financial situation if you lose your primary job because of it. Before you even start looking for part-time work, make an honest and accurate accounting of how you spend your time right now.

Keep a journal for a week or so, writing down everything you spend time doing each day. Think of it as a food diary, but for time instead of calories and nutrition. Write down absolutely everything—work hours, time spent cooking, cleaning, and doing household chores, plus time spent on leisure and exercise. Then ask yourself if you can afford to give any of that up.

If you find that you're spending five hours a day catching up on your Netflix, the answer might be yes; if getting a second job would mean forgoing extra assignments that keep you in the boss's good graces, or letting your gym membership lapse, the answer might be no. And of course, if your employer has a policy against moonlighting, it's not worth the risk of getting caught and losing your main paycheck.

Is It Enough Money to Be Worth Your While?

The taxes you pay at your full-time job are largely invisible because the government takes its bite before you see a dime. Some part-time jobs will be the same way—the employer will deduct state, federal, and any local taxes, plus social security before you get your check. But even in that case, you could wind up making a lot less than you'd planned. If you only have a few hours a week to work and your after-taxes paycheck doesn't amount to much, you could be better off clipping coupons or cutting expenses.

Finally, if you work as a contractor, you'll be responsible for your own taxes. Depending on your situation, you might decide either to adjust your withholdings at your primary job or pay quarterly estimated taxes. Either way, your situation will be a lot more complicated than that of someone who only works for one company as an employee, and has taxes taken out.

Will Getting a Second Job Offer More Than Money?

Even if you don't stand to make a ton of cash from a part-time job, there are still reasons to do it anyway. A low-paying part-time job might be worth the investment if:

  • You'll gain skills or experience that will make you more employable or help you move into a new role or industry.
  • You'll make contacts that could lead to professional opportunities down the line.
  • You'll have a chance to "try out" a new role before making a total career change.
  • Your present job doesn't fulfill a major need in your life, e.g. a chance to give back to your community or travel more or engage in a hobby that doesn't presently pay all your bills.

Second Job or Self-Employment?

Keep in mind that starting a small business or taking on some part-time gigs or side jobs are always options and your future employer could even be yourself if you want guaranteed flexibility and have the skills to become self-employed.

Best Second Jobs

Before you start a job search, check out this list of best second jobs to get some ideas of what you might like to do.

Types of Second Jobs

For some jobs, you can apply and work online. For others, when you will be working in a physical location, you may be able to apply online, or you may need to apply in-person or use your contacts to help you find a company that needs some extra help. With the latter type of job, looking for something as close to home or your first workplace as possible is a good idea. That will make it easier to juggle two jobs.

Jobs generally fall into three main categories:

  • Traditional part-time employment, often in the service sector
  • Small business enterprises
  • Freelance work

Strategies for arranging employment in each of these sectors will vary accordingly.

6 Tips for Finding a Second Job

Here are tips for finding a second job, including information on the types of jobs that make good second jobs, where to job search, options for starting a small business, and more ways to earn extra money.

1. Start With a Job Search Engine
You can use the job search engine sites to search for a second job by using keywords like "online," "work from home," "telecommute," "part-time," "evening," "weekend," "freelance," and so on. You don't need to add a location when searching for online jobs, but add your city or town when searching for jobs where you will work on-site. Here's information on the top job search engines, plus tips on how to use them.

2. Find an Online Job
If you can find a decent work at home job, and there are some, it can be a great way to supplement your income. Here's how to find work at home employment, as well as how to research work at home jobs to make sure they are legitimate and avoid scams.

3. Find a Part-Time Job
Some people can juggle two full-time jobs, but it's tough. Working part-time at job #2 is a better option. Here are the best sites to use to search for job listings, tips for how to find and apply for a part-time job, resumes, and letters, and job search tips for part-time job seekers.

4. Find a Second Job In-Person
Visiting employers like restaurants, hotels, resorts, and stores in-person can be a good way to find a second job in those sectors. Introduce yourself to the manager and inquire about jobs. A polished appearance and an upbeat personality will be essential. Try to visit at non-peak times.

5. Use Your Contacts
Networking through friends, family, neighbors, and other contacts and inquiring if their firm needs help or if any of their associates might need some help is always a good way to find work. This technique will be particularly appropriate for small organizations which prefer to hire staff who come highly recommended.

6. Find a Freelance Job
Freelance work like writing and graphic design can be secured using the same strategies as the small businesses, with the addition of tapping one or more of the many online sites dedicated to matching freelancers with freelance projects.