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by Vault Careers | November 14, 2011


The economy has forced many people to take on a second job to make ends meet.  The second job can be anything from waiting tables just to make tips all the way to working part-time in an office where you hope to gain the experience necessary for a full-time career in a particular field. When working multiple jobs, you can still do great work, build references and resume experience, and uphold your reputation for excellence if you stay conscious of your biggest obstacle: limited face time.

Juggling Multiple Jobs Doesn't Have to Be HardHere's how to stay on your game for the few hours you're at work—and "maintain" while you're away.

1. Remember: your timeline is not necessarily everybody else's

Waiting tables on the closing shift? Just because you start work after a full day at your other job doesn't mean it's winding-down time. Your other coworkers may just be starting their work days—and they'll expect the same energy they put out from you.

Same goes for presentation. If you have to iron your clothes at midnight, do it, but don't walk in dressed like you don't care. Your coworkers—and boss--will take it at face value.

2. Your absence speaks volumes

If you work part time at a job where others work full time, like an office, you might encounter a little resentment from coworkers who are there every day. To minimize this effect, run as tight a ship while absent as you do present: keep your desk neat, your emails answered, and for Pete's sake, don't let last week's lunch rot in the fridge.

Also important: don't just breeze in and out like you have more important places to be.  Talk to your coworkers. Ask questions in meetings. Keep your supervisor updated on your projects. The more you engage yourself, the more others will see you as an active member of the team.

3. Set goals

Working several jobs is tough, and it's easy to start feeling overwhelmed to the point where you want to blow everything off at the end of a long, two-job day. But don't! Breathe. Face your task list.

What can you do in five minutes? How about 30? What do you absolutely need to have accomplished by the end of your shift?

By setting a few small goals—maybe to finish a certain portion of a project or knock out a task by an hour before you leave—you'll stay motivated, productive, and always have something to show for your time at work, however small.

4. Stay accountable

Once, while working a second job at a high-end gym, I was answering a phone call, processing a new membership application, and trying to find a set of keys to the pool for a swimmer when a woman walked in with three large suitcases. Ignoring the fact that I was on a call, she asked me to help her use the manual scale in our locker room to weigh her luggage.

Angered by her rudeness, I told her I didn't know how to use it.  That was a bad move.  Why? It was bad, because my job at the gym was to help people…and because I really did know how to use the scale. That made it worse. 

We're all human, and it's exactly because we can't do it all that we have to know our priorities. My gym was known for its customer service, and I should have dropped my other tasks to focus on the customer.  But every company has different values—what about yours? Are client relationships most important? Organization? Accuracy? Reset your brain every time you walk in to work to stay on task and knock it out of the park.

5. Know when to call it quits

I'm all for a mental health day here and there, but if you're calling in sick all the time (because you are sick all the time, or because you're too exhausted to face a three-job work day), it may be time to re-evaluate your schedule.

Same goes for when your work starts to slide at one or more of your jobs. Is it more important to you to make a few extra bucks, or to possibly mess up your reputation by getting fired? If you're feeling generally bad about the quality of your work, talk to your manager. It may be a question of a few days off, a new schedule, or an amicable parting of ways. But honesty is always the best policy. Your boss may even have a solution you haven't thought of—or want to bring you on full time. Hey, it could and has happened.  Why shouldn’t it happen for you?

--Cathy Vandewater,


Filed Under: Workplace Issues

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