Moonlighting's a way of life for workers in tough job market

Yet CareerBuilder Vice President Rosemary Haefner says clients should weigh the benefits of a second job against the toll it takes. After commuting and child care costs, "It may not be that much more money in your pocket," she says.

Those who moonlight should do so in a field they "have a passion about," says Melanie Holmes of Manpower employment. "If you're a sports nut, get a job in a sporting goods store."

Gardening for dollars

Last year, Christy Larman's husband, Bill, a factory manager, lost his job and had to take a lower-paying slot. So Larman joined the assembly line at a packaging plant. Then, when Bill's workweek was cut to four days, Christy, 46, got a part-time gig at a garden center. The packaging job "is very robotic," says the Dover, Ohio, resident. At the garden center, where she takes care of plants, runs the register and helps customers, "I get to use (my) creative side."

Still, the jobs are draining. After a 7 a.m.-to-3 p.m. factory shift, she works at the garden center 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. and on weekends. "I may be sore and I've got to stand on my feet X more hours."

Moonlighting means the couple are no longer tapping savings and are even putting away some money. But Christy's jobs pay minimum wage, and the Larmans earn two-thirds of Bill's former salary. Out: movies. In: $1 video rentals.

Some job jugglers up the ante. Billy Myers of Springfield, Mo., has three jobs to get by. After getting his master's degree in experimental psychology, he couldn't find a job as a researcher. So he landed a spot as an analyst for an outdoor-gear chain. But his $28,000 salary doesn't cover expenses. So, in the evenings this spring he taught a research class at Drury University and a psychology class at Missouri State. After class, he logs up to four hours on lesson plans.

At his day job, "I turn over numbers," he says. "But it's not as fulfilling as seeing a student finally get something."

Experts differ over whether moonlighters should come clean about other gigs with their bosses. Holmes tells clients "to be honest" but to emphasize "it won't affect their first job." But career coach Eileen Blumenthal says it's OK not to be candid these days. "Clients that might have been quite open" are more cautious now. "The stakes are so high."

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