How to Find and Land a Second Job
If you've found yourself needing to take on a second job to supplement your income, you're probably wondering how to navigate the hunt. Do you approach the search for part-time work the same way you might for a full-time position? How should you position yourself in your resume and cover letter?
The good news is, if you tackle the search strategically, you'll up your chances of landing a side gig swiftly. Follow the advice below to both successfully track down appropriate opportunities and put your best foot forward when applying.
Use the resources available to you
While there are a fair number of part-time vacancies and flexible employment opportunities on the market, you need to know where to look for them.
Seasoned career consultant Jane Finkle recommends consulting platforms like Snagajob, which advertises 250 000 part-time jobs; CoolWorks, which lists postings for gigs at resorts, camps, lodges and national parks; and Craigslist, which offers a little bit of everything: part-time, contract and temporary work, occasional shifts and seasonal jobs (just be wary of scams). She also suggests you try FlexJobs, a subscription-based resource focused on remote, part-time, freelance and telecommuting jobs, and positions with flexible and alternative scheduling; and Upwork, a platform for independent contractors — like designers, programmers, writers, marketers and legal professionals — looking for remote project-based work.
You could, of course, also consider finding work through apps like Uber, Lyft or TaskRabbit, or even recruit the help of temp agencies and staffing companies. Just be sure to use the latter, and not a recruiter. "A lot of people confuse recruiters and staffing agencies," explains Jay Block, motivational career coach and author of 5 Steps to Rapid Employment. "Companies pay recruiters to bring in the top people in the industry, so in most cases, they're not going to place part-time staff. On the other hand, temp agencies usually handle jobs in the $25k to $75k range."
Launch a proactive campaign
While browsing job boards is a good start, you can't rely on this tactic alone. Block urges job seekers to think of, and conduct, the job search as an "aggressive and strategic" marketing campaign — one that sees you actively creating opportunities for yourself.
"Proactively identify companies in your geographical area that you would like to work for, and send resumes and introductory letters unsolicited," he suggests. "It's about creating a win-win situation by getting your message out to those who would benefit from it."
Cast a wide net
As Finkle points out, "With full-time jobs, focusing on a specific industry, field or function is essential, but when it comes to part-time jobs, it is important to look for a variety of opportunities."
That doesn't mean that you should take on anything that comes your way — a second gig needs to align with your skills, fit in (time-wise) with your day job, and bring in sufficient income — but you may need to search outside your traditional line of work.
More specifically, it's worth looking in the sectors where most part-time jobs exist today: "retail, delivery, customer service, call center operations, hospitality, healthcare and education," according to Finkle.
Network and spread the word
Networking is a key part of a proactive search, because when it comes to job hunting, it's still more about who you know than what you know.
"Connections are the fuel that powers full- or part-time job searches, so expending your job search energy by connecting with valuable contacts can expedite the process," says Finkle, who recommends looking for connections on social media, alumni networks and professional or trade associations.
Block offers similar advice: "Make a list of 50 to 100 people you know who might know others who would value your skills and contribution," he says. "Draft a short but compelling email and a phone script, and start calling and sending emails to these contacts in a strategic manner." He does, however, make the point that networking should be less about explicitly requesting a job and more about seeking advice, information and recommendations.
When it comes to your established connections, you may even find that someone in your immediate circle can link you with an opportunity. For this reason, Finkle suggests you "tell everyone" — your friends, family, colleagues, neighbors and acquaintances — that you're looking for a second job for additional income. "They just might know someone who owns a store and is looking for help, or have a friend who works in a nursing home and can make a connection for you."
Tailor your resume and communicate your value proposition
Even though you're casting your net wide, you still need to customize your resume for every position you apply for, and clearly communicate your intention: to secure a second job or part-time or freelance work.
"You need to clearly define that you're looking for a part-time job," says Block. "Right at the top of your resume, you might want to include a line like 'Accountant: seeking part-time position', so that you make sure hiring managers understand this upfront."
You should ideally also use your resume to show that you have the skills and inclination to do the work in question. "Include any part-time jobs you've held, including seasonal jobs, internships, fieldwork and work-study," advises Finkle. "And include volunteer activities on your resume too — even though they're non-paid, they can demonstrate your dedication, skills and achievement."
Aside from this, your resume should also be, in Finkle's words, "up to date and polished, with an attractive visual presentation," and, critically, it should clearly communicate the value you can bring to the table.
"Job offers come down to those who can deliver results worthy of being paid," Block explains. "So put emphasis on your value proposition consistently throughout your resume." One way to show employers what you're capable of delivering is to shed light on what you've already accomplished. "Emphasize past achievements," says Block. "A resume without achievements is like a report card without grades — rather useless."
Communicate fit and flexibility in your cover letter
Like your resume, your cover letter should also clearly state that you're specifically looking for part-time or contract work. Here, though, there's also room to tell a story or two about past experiences that relate to the type of work you might do for the employer in question — this will help you to demonstrate fit. Finkle suggests including anecdotes such as, "When I was in high school, I volunteered as a candy striper at the local hospital and enjoyed meeting patients and their families," or "To support myself during college, I waited tables at the local steakhouse. This required me to provide quality customer service in a fast-paced and demanding environment."
It's also important to use your cover letter to indicate your availability. Your second job will need to fit in around your regular work, so think carefully about how many hours and days a week you can dedicate to the position, and be clear about this in your letter. If you are flexible, you should definitely say so. "Part-time work can often mean a schedule that varies from week to week," says Finkle. "In your cover letter, be sure to reinforce that you are willing to work whatever hours are required."
Don't accept any old offer
Once you've found opportunities that interest you, it's vital to make sure that they're feasible options. It's no good taking on additional work if it's going to clash with your day job or result in minimal pay after taxes. To determine if an opportunity is right for you, ask yourself the following questions:
- Will I manage to juggle this job with my primary work?
- Will this position interfere with my ability to perform in my day job?
- Do I have the skills to perform this work, or would I need additional training?
- Are the take-home earnings worth the extra time and stress?
If you're content with the answers, go for it, and accept an offer that will ideally make your financial situation that much stronger.