multiple jobs

Should you tell your boss you're moonlighting?

May 19, 2011: 12:50 PM ET

These days, plenty of people are holding down more than one job. But deciding how much to reveal to a full-time employer about a part-time gig can be tricky.

By Anne Fisher, contributor

FORTUNE -- Dear Annie: Ever since my spouse got laid off about a year ago, I've been supplementing our income by taking on some consulting work in addition to my regular job. I've found that I really enjoy it, and eventually I'd like to segue into it as a full-time occupation. The question is, what do I tell my boss in the meantime?

So far, I've managed to fit my consulting work into my own time on evenings and weekends, and I'm very careful to avoid the use of any company resources for outside projects. (My consulting business is home-based and has a separate email address, phone line, etc.) Still, it seems dishonest not to mention to my boss that I'm doing this, especially since we are friends. Do I have an obligation to tell him? — Double Agent

Dear Double: That depends. Does your employer have a formal policy requiring that you disclose any outside employment (as many universities and some companies do), or do you have an employment contract that calls for disclosure?

If so, the decision is made for you: By keeping mum about your part-time gig, you run the risk of becoming a full-time consultant sooner than you planned.

But even if not, particularly since your boss is also your friend, "there's a trust factor involved," says Kristin Cardinale, author of a book called The 9-to-5 Cure: Work on Your Own Terms and Reinvent Your Life.

Cardinale knows a thing or two about wearing multiple hats. A Milwaukee-based career coach who also teaches college courses, she founded and runs both a tech support company and a national seminar firm. More

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