Man on laptop at cafe

A side hustle is the latest side kick to career success

Outsourcing yourself to new possibilities

Written by Professor Gary Martin FAIM
3 minute read
Man on laptop at cafe

There is an emerging new trend among people of all ages in our workforce.

Everyone seems to have a side hustle these days – a type of work or business outside of their main job, often but not exclusively designed to generate extra income.

The latest Australian Bureau of Statistics numbers declare that nearly 900,000 people are working two or more jobs – excluding those who have established their own small business on top of holding down a job elsewhere.

The term “career hoarding” was coined by New York University Professor Tessa West to reflect the increasingly popular ways in which people sought out and hung onto one or more side hustles. The term draws parallels with those who cling to material possessions more tightly than they need to.

Side hustles can take any number of forms including freelancing, tutoring, selling craft items, driving for a ride-share service, renting out a spare room, working part-time in a restaurant or selling goods in a retail store.

Sometimes those side hustles are in the same industry as an individual’s primary job. Other times a second or third job can be completely unrelated to a person’s regular work.

Side hustles can be temporary or ongoing and are often characterised by their flexibility and ability to be carried out in one’s spare time.

And they are pursued for any number of reasons.

Many career hoarders are no longer prepared to put all eggs in one career basket, at a time of escalating living costs and fears that a softening economy might trigger job uncertainty.

Others take on a second role simply to earn more money to make ends meet.

However, some career hoarders work extra jobs as part of a new approach to career development.

The race to the top used to involve climbing a set of stairs or rungs until an individual had reached the pinnacle of their career. Retirement followed shortly thereafter.

As NYU’s Professor West has pointed out, today’s definition of a successful career involves going off the traditional pathway at times – to develop new skills – and a side hustle or two might form part of that deviation.

And while many believe side hustles are just for the young, more and more older workers are taking on second roles they intend to hold onto as they transition into semi-retirement.

Are side hustles worth it?

Of course, in some cases cluttering one’s working life with side hustle after side hustle is nothing more than an attempted show of power and influence.

While career hoarding might provide much-needed extra income or growth opportunities or enhance personal productivity, it comes with downsides.

Experts suggest having two or three jobs can erode our identification with a main job and reduce our commitment to it.

There is also the potential for burnout, particularly when a second or third job consumes more time than was anticipated.

So if you are thinking of becoming a career hoarder, consider the impact a side hustle can have on your mental wellbeing – and not just on your hip pocket or longer-term career prospects.