8 min read

Moonlighting In The United States

Moonlighting is pretty common in the U.S., but what is it exactly? Click to learn more about this practice, along with its pros and cons.
Written by
Jonathan Mitchell
Published on
April 12, 2024

Moonlighting addresses the practice of having a secondary job that takes place outside of ‘normal’ work hours. If you’re from the U.S., this may seem like a commonly accepted practice, but the legal and social views regarding Moonlighting vary wildly from country to country. Whether you’re trying to build new skills, explore new environments, or earn another paycheck, a secondary job can cause a host of complexities for employees and employers a like. So let’s explore this topic, and see what all the talk is about.

Moonlighting Has Become More Common, But What Are The Benefits?

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there’s been a nearly 10 percent increase in the number of Americans holding multiple jobs over the past two decades. Data shows that from 1996 to 2018 a significant chunk of the workforce has taken advantage of Moonlighting. This begs the question, why are so many Americans picking up secondary jobs? It seems there are four main causes for this uptick.

  1. The need for a secondary source of income. Especially during times of economic hardship, Americans needed to find ways to pay their bills. Picking up another job is a way to have a secondary revenue stream to make ends meet, buy food, and put gas in the vehicle.
  2. The desire to learn different skills. Interestingly, it isn’t uncommon for Americans to find secondary jobs in fields that aren’t related to their primary job. It’s here they can expand their horizons and possibly find a new profession they’d rather pursue.
  3. The inclination to stay busy. Some citizens find themselves with too much time on their hands, and Moonlighting provides a source of duty and activity that can scratch that itch.
  4. The passion for exploration. It can get monotonous returning to the same professional environment, so an easy way to add diversity is by Moonlighting. Secondary jobs offer novel situations and responsibilities to explore, and delving into these new environments offers stimulation for those seeking it.

These benefits are just portions of a bigger pie that we consider when discussing the topic of Moonlighting. Our desire for holistic growth, reinforces the positives that come from this practice. Constantly searching for new adventures and challenges is an integral aspect of finding a new way there.

Quality Over Quantity And The Importance Of Communication

Moonlighting as a term can invite a negative connotation from employers due to some of its drawbacks. Information leaks, decline in productivity, burnout, and miscommunication are commonly associated negatives. However, there’s a way to minimize these downsides, and it stems from the culture you have in place.

We’re of the opinion that quality work comes from the quality of time and effort put in. A project that may take one team member an hour to complete might require five hours of a different team member. Why would the amount of time spent automatically invalidate the work of an individual? Everyone has their own pace, and that’s why if a think’er decides to pick up a secondary job that’s fine by us. The priority is quality and meeting deadlines. If a think’er is capable of fulfilling their responsibilities while having a secondary job, who are we to complain?

Now, the other way to prevent the majority of these associated drawbacks is communication. We’re very clear from the start that being on the same page as your teammates is of the utmost priority. However, because of our asynchronous culture and other autonomous policies, think’ers pick up on the importance of communication quickly. If there are think’ers who travel continuously while pursuing a nomadic lifestyle, and they’re able to stay in touch, then so can a think’er that’s moonlighting. There’s no decline in productivity because everyone understands each other’s responsibilities. There’s no burnout because think’ers can pick and choose their work hours, and during those periods, communicate as they need. Sure there will always be a chance for information leaks to occur, but that issue stems from hiring practices themselves, not Moonlighting. An organization should only employ those who meet the standards of their culture. think’ers know what’s expected of them, know what their freedoms are, and are encouraged to seek holistic growth. There’s an innate understanding of what is wanted and what is required. They know what our culture looks like, and that understanding enables personal investment from every think’er.

Understand Context, Is Moonlighting Legal For you

We’re an international organization of over 300 team members scattered across the globe. So while we’re more than accepting of Moonlighting, and have made such information widely available, there are other organizations within other countries that may feel differently. In fact, for think’ers in India the concept of Moonlighting becomes far more complex. To learn more about how Moonlighting is perceived and executed in India, check out this article. Each situation is going to be different, so make sure you don’t end up on the wrong side of the law because you’re seeking a secondary job. Do your research, you won’t regret it.


Anand Krishnan

CEO and Managing Partner

Andrew Zarkadas

Vice President - Growth

Shamik Mitra

Vice President - Client Services

Weekly newsletter
No spam. Just the latest releases and tips, interesting articles, and exclusive interviews in your inbox every week.
Read about our privacy policy.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Explore how custom tech strategies can help your business.

Contact us

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Take a step closer to the new way!

Explore creative and new approaches with experts by your side.