Should You Tell A New Employer About A Side Hustle? Experts Weigh In

should you tell a new employer about a side hustle

Having a side hustle is more common than ever. Ask any friend or colleague if they make additional income besides their 9-to-5 job, and there’s a good chance the response will be yes.

In some cases, asking is unnecessary if the person promotes the side company on social media or during coffee breaks.

The reasons for maintaining a side hustle are numerous – additional money to pay off student loans, extra money to bulk up savings accounts or to have money on hand for emergencies.

Making money on the side is never a bad idea. Still, some employers might not be too keen on employees moonlighting as an editor, graphic designer, jewelry maker, or consultant, especially if the side hustle closely mirrors their 9-to-5 job.

Jennifer Liu, a work reporter for CNBC Make It, recently spoke to a few hiring managers, career consultants, and resume coaches to get their opinions on telling a potential employer about a profitable side gig.

“With people quitting to find new work in droves, the competition to stand out can be stiff. So, if you’re on the market for a new 9-to-5, should you talk about your side hustle during a job interview? The answer will depend on your side hustle, the new job, and your goals with both,” explains Liu.

When You Shouldn’t Mention Your Side Hustle

Liu breaks down the instances when sharing a side hustle with HR or hiring manager isn’t the best idea.

“If you intend to continue working on your side job alongside your 9-to-5, you’ll want to check the employer’s policy on moonlighting on the side, says Career Contessa coach Ginny Cheng.

You may be asked to sign a contract to confirm you won’t do any outside work on company time, or you could be required to sign a non-compete that you won’t provide your services independently if it will be in direct competition or a conflict of interest with the employer.”

If your end goal is turning the side hustle into a profitable, full-time business, you might not want to share those plans with a potential employer. Why would they hire an employee who plans to leave in a few years?

When You Should Talk About Your Side Hustle

Liu suggests mentioning the side hustle if the job makes you stand out compared to other candidates for the job.

“If your side hustle directly relates to the job you’re applying for, that’s extra experience and skills you can talk about. Talk about what you’ve gained from the side hustle in a way that shows how it will benefit the employer if they hire you.”

Another reason to mention the side hustle is to be completely transparent about spending your hours outside of work. If necessary, Liu suggests being completely transparent about why you’ve got a side job.

“Another way to discuss a side hustle in a job interview without it coming off as a red flag is, to be honest about why you have another income stream.

For example, if you started a side business to pay off your student loans or mortgage faster, you can work that into the conversation and help put the employer at ease.”

Liu feels that it’s also acceptable to mention a side hustle if the gig is to fuel a creative side or do something completely different than your regular job.

Cheng suggests to Liu that “framing your passion project in the same way you’d talk about the hobbies and activities you have outside of work that make you feel fulfilled” is a way to show a new company you have a fulfilled life outside the office and likely won’t be susceptible to burnout.

Overall, Liu and the experts see a side hustle as a positive bullet point on a resume.

Can I get fired for having a side hustle?

Whether or not your employer can fire you for having a side hustle depends on the terms of your employment contract and the policies of your employer.

Generally, having a side hustle is not grounds for dismissal, but it’s important to check the requirements of your employer. For instance, some employers may require employees to ask permission before taking on extra work, or they may prohibit certain kinds of activities that could conflict with their own interests.

Make sure you understand the rules around having a side hustle before taking on the extra work.

Chris Illuminati

Chris Illuminati is the author of five books and has written about personal finance, wealth, debt management, and entrepreneurship for numerous outlets including Wise Bread, Grow or Die, and Bankrate.