Should you talk about your side activity during a job interview?

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Over the past year, due to a combination of financial need and more free time during lockdowns, many Americans have turned their passionate creative projects into lucrative side jobs. And now, in today’s tight job market, many of these people are poised to find new jobs amid record number of openings in the recovering US economy.

With people quitting to find new jobs en masse, the competition to stand out can be stiff. So if you’re on the hunt for a new 9 to 5, should you talk about your hustle and bustle during a job interview?

The answer will depend on your side activity, the new job, and your goals with both.

For example, if you’re planning to continue working on your side job alongside your 9 to 5, you’ll want to check out the employer’s policy on moonlighting, says Ginny Cheng, coach at Career Contessa. You may be required to sign a contract to confirm that you will not be doing any outside work during company time, or you may be required to sign a non-compete notice stating that you will not be providing your services independently. whether it is direct competition or conflict. interest with the employer.

As for the end goal of your side business, if you are hoping to make this your full-time job in the near future, you may not want to discuss these projects in detail with a potential employer, says the coach. career and resume writer Chelsea jay.

But on the other hand, “if someone develops a business, it’s a long-term effort. I think employers recognize that,” says Brianne Thomas, hiring manager at recruiting software company Jobvite.

No matter what level of disclosure you choose, there are plenty of ways to talk about your passion project in a job interview that can help you stand out as a candidate. CNBC Make It spoke to recruiting experts about how to make your side’s discussion in a job interview work in your favor.

Use your bustle side to stand out as a candidate for the job

If your side activity is directly related to the job you’re applying for, that’s additional experience and skills you can talk about, Jay explains. Talk about what you earned from this side activity in a way that shows the benefits to the employer if they hire you.

Suppose you started an event planning business to help people connect during blackouts, and now you want to move into an event management role within an organization. As a new hire, Jay says, you can bring with you the contacts and visibility you’ve created on your own, making it easy to lock down certain sites and services in a competitive market.

Basically, if your side job is relevant to the position you’re interviewing for, include it in your CV and application process, she adds.

Be transparent about your intentions

Another way to discuss a side activity in a job interview without it being seen as a red flag is to be honest about why you have another source of income. For example, if you’ve started a side business to pay off your student loans or mortgage faster, you can bring that into the conversation and “help put the employer at ease,” Jay says.

On the flip side, it is possible that you started your sideline purely as a creative outlet, and now it’s something you maintain just for fun. In this case, Cheng suggests structuring your passion project the same way you would talk about hobbies and activities you have outside of work that make you feel fulfilled. Hiring managers know people have lives outside of work, “whether you’re speaking at events, serving as PTA president, or volunteering at church – we all have many commitments, and nobody expects you to justify it at work, ”Cheng said.

Show off your time management skills

Even if your side activity doesn’t match the needs of the position you’re interviewing for, you can still talk about it in a way that shows your skills as an employee and a leader, says Cheng.

It takes time management and discipline to run your own operations, so build that into how you incorporate that same work ethic into your day-to-day work. If it’s something you’ve always dealt with in the evenings or weekends, mention that as well.

Additionally, “if you’ve been doing this at a previous company for years and made sure it doesn’t affect your job, this is a good way to frame the conversation,” Cheng explains. “Build confidence in knowing why your side job won’t distract you from the 9 to 5 job.”

How a passion project can make you a better employee

According to Cheng, someone with a passionate project who is able to find creative fulfillment alongside is probably a happier employee when at work.

Thomas agrees and encourages other hiring managers to think about the benefits this can mean for the workplace.

When she interviews someone with an exciting project, “I see her as a leader, as someone who is determined to make an impact,” says Thomas. “It tells the story of someone with passion and perspective on something specific who works independently to be successful. I think all of these qualities are transferable across industries and jobs.”

In employment markets that favor employers over applicants, job seekers may have been more conservative in what they share about their personal lives, she says. After all, it is only in the last few years that it has become common to speak of employees “who get down to business.”

“But this is another time,” continues Thomas. “When we interview, we want to know what excites you. It’s an interesting job market and a good time to put you all at the table.”

Check: Workers could face new symptoms of burnout when they return to the office – here’s how employers can help

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