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What is Overemployment

What is Overemployment

What is overemployment? Overemployed or overemployment is loosely a concept where people hold 2 or more full-time jobs (preferably remotely) to generate higher income in the same amount of time they would otherwise have if they had only held 1 full-time job.

I recently came across a Youtube video from Bloomberg Quicktake on people in the United States of America holding 2 or more full-time jobs, where they work a few hours each day on each job remotely, and avoid getting caught. I also found out that there is a website called Overemployed, which aims to inculcate values such as working smart, optimizing your time, and maximizing your income, all with the end goal of achieving financial independence quicker. The logic is simple – if you have multiple streams of income, naturally you will be insulated from any shocks from the financial markets, especially in this inflationary macroeconomic environment.

Source: Bloomberg Quicktake

Traditionally, many people have already been holding a full-time job and working on their side hustles to bring in more take-home income, but the concept of overemployment goes one notch further by advocating holding 2 or more full-time jobs. Research has shown that a person holding two entry-level full-time jobs in the technology sector, can very well earn more than a mid/senior level professional who is holding just one job in the same sector.

With the COVID-19 pandemic, the mindset of the younger generation has shifted dramatically. Most want to escape the rat race and defy the conventional wisdom of getting good grades to secure a good job, and are reconsidering if they want to pursue managerial positions in their corporate jobs. Many do not see the point in working so hard but at the end of the day, the Founders, Partners, and other senior-level Directors are the ones getting bulk of the rewards. Hence, a lot of them are taking it upon themselves to carve out the kind of life that they want, even if it means gaming the system and being extremely secretive about it.

The first question that will be on the minds of most people will be – is “overemployment”, or working 2 or more full-time jobs legal? In Singapore, just like the United States of America, it is legal (except in certain circumstances). In 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic first hit the Singapore economy hard, the Ministry of Manpower encouraged workers to take up a second job to make ends meet if necessary. Also, companies cannot stop employees from taking on a second job unless their employment contract states very clearly that moonlight is prohibited.

Below is my take on this whole concept of overemployment.

1. It is definitely good if one can hold multiple jobs. Simply because if one is able to get multiple streams of income, naturally, no single job will make that person captive to it. Also, it has the added benefit of achieving financial independence earlier, which in turn allows you to retire earlier and not work into your 50s and 60s.

2. Holding multiple jobs forces you to put yourself first instead of your employer. When you have to juggle multiple deliverables or work requests, you’ll learn how to say no more often and focus on really what is necessary. This has a longer-term benefit which teaches you how to prioritize and work only on the high-value deliverables. High-value work will more often than not result in higher income. Also, you’re more likely to cut off all the politicking/nonsense at work.

3. You’ll find out more about yourself and your self-worth. Most people tie their personal success to that one job they have and the title/salary that they currently command. But once you take the job out of the equation for them, they lose all that self-worth. Holding multiple jobs will likely enforce that you become less emotional about any particular job and look at the big picture that salary and rank don’t matter, but achieving financial independence fast is the ultimate flex.

Nonetheless, there will be pitfalls on overemployment.

1. Burnout could be very real. Juggling multiple jobs, and on top of that having to keep it under wraps, can be mentally and physically draining. This may cause health problems in the long run if it is not managed properly. Again, health should always come first, and if the pursuit of achieving financial independence earlier results in health problems, then it is not worth it.

2. Overcommitting and not being able to do either of the work properly. When your mind is pulled in many different directions, the quality of your work is likely to suffer and this may affect your reputation or confidence in the long run. In finance or business, reputation is of utmost importance and one should never sacrifice money for reputation.

3. Exit plan becomes the most important aspect. You can’t work multiple jobs forever as it is not sustainable. There will be a time to call it quits once you have attained a certain level of financial security. Thus, having a net worth figure is crucial as it keeps you disciplined and focused on your end goal.

Also, the concept of overemployment suits the nature of some workers more than others. For example, if you are a tech developer or if you are in a back-office role with limited client-facing activity, it is likely that you can hold multiple jobs. This only works well for roles that I would describe as probably mundane, repetitive, and requires a certain level of expertise in a field.

Personally, it is interesting to see many people out there trying to escape the rat race and office politics by holding multiple jobs so that they can secure financial independence earlier. More are trying to take matters into their own hands and not be beholden to any job. Many see time as the greatest luxury that they can have.

To end it off, I’ll quote Thomas Henry Huxley who once said:

It is far better for a man to go wrong in freedom than to go right in chains.

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Best wishes,

Finance and Toast



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