The Era of the Side Hustle
With the economy’s future uncertain, more people are turning to side hustles to mitigate risk.
After watching one colleague after another get laid off in 2020, Clarice decided to get a side hustle so she’d have a fallback if her job disappeared. But with nearly endless options before her, she wasn’t sure what kind of side job to pursue.
According to a 2018 Bankrate report, more than 37% of US adults—and more than 50% of millennials—had a side hustle. Before the pandemic, it was already popular to rely on multiple income sources; today, people may be even more inclined to turn to a side hustle as an extra safety net in an uncertain economy.
Here are some considerations to choose the right type of side hustle for you.
Decide on one primary goal.
If you want to pay down debt or pad your emergency fund, you may want to get a part-time position, such as virtual assistant or sales clerk. “A part-time job may not provide much autonomy, but if you need stability and relative certainty, it may be the better option for this moment,” says Sean Carney, a career coach at Korn Ferry Advance.
But if you’re angling to transition your career or take a passion full-time, consider your side hustle as an investment in skills or networking that may be less profitable in the short term but will pay off later on.
Choose the type of job you want.
Once you know why you’re getting the side hustle, choose whether you want it to build upon your full-time job or diverge from it. Before sending out any resumes, make sure you’re in the clear regarding noncompetes or other terms your employer may have.
“Logically, it makes sense not to reinvent the wheel and to do what you have expertise in and know you can be paid for,” Carney says. But on the other hand, doing more of your day job could put you on the fast track to burnout. And choosing something completely different could lower the risks if your current industry hits hard times.
Don’t let it take over—unless that’s your goal.
It’s important to make sure you can manage your side hustle while continuing to do your primary job well and meet the needs of your self-care, family responsibilities, etc. Experts recommend putting the time and energy you have left over into your side hustle, not putting it first.
The caveat: if you’re doing an entrepreneurial venture that you plan to take full-time, it may make sense to prioritize it above some other things for a while.
Stay open to future opportunities.
Even if you don’t plan to do more with it than earn some extra cash temporarily, your side hustle can be an opportunity to build new skills, learn about new industries, and grow your network. “The world is full of people who have turned side hustles into career changes or even new companies,” Carney says. Stay open to possi