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I have a full-time position as a security guard for a museum. The position requires me to sit down in front of our emergency alert system, and to respond if the alarms ever go off. The alarms at the facility have not been triggered in over five years, but there needs to be a security representative present at all times because of state requirements: and that's me. My manager said I am free to read, surf the web, listen to music, etc., as long as I am physically present in the security room, and able to respond in a timely manner to the situation if the alarms ever go off.

One month into my job, I scored a remote position as a full-time software developer. So that means that instead of "just surfing the web" like my manager thought I would do, I am earning a second full-time salary while I am working as a guard. As I sit in the security office, I have my laptop opened working for my other position.

I have read other questions here related to concurrent employment, but those are related to other work after-hours, and in this case, both positions are being worked during the same hours. I haven't signed any contracts that disallow me from working at another position, but neither of my managers know about my situation. As this can be seen by some as unethical, I am concerned about how to explain this situation to a new potential employer for any future interviews. This is since I am working both positions at the exact same time, and even when I fill out my timesheets, they both have the same hours.

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    First things first. Why are you posting this under what, I can only assume, is your real name? Seems silly. Second thing: it may well be unethical by some people's standards, but do you feel that you are not performing either of your jobs to the required standard? Why are you feeling guilty for putting that time to better use than just surfing the web? Personally, I don't get it. – AndreiROM Nov 6 '17 at 20:27
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    If the security job is literally "just if the alarms go off"(ie: no video camera feeds that need to be monitored, no patrols that might get missed, etc) AND taking at face value what you said about "no contracts that disallow other work" then I don't really see a problem with it. They aren't conflicting businesses and software dev can be dropped pretty easily if the alarms DO go off, and picked up again later, so neither job's performance should really suffer. That said, since there IS money involved, I would probably want explicit permission from each of my jobs' managers just to be safe. – Steve-O Nov 6 '17 at 20:29
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    Ethical? Completely up to you. In line with company standards? No idea, you'll need to ask them. Legal? No idea, ask a lawyer. How will future employers see this? No idea, but it seems like you only have the options of telling the truth or lying - it seems unlikely that a good explanation would sway anyone's opinion here. – Dukeling Nov 6 '17 at 20:50
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    I've put this on hold temporarily because it's attracting (and, as written, invites) opinions rather than objective answers. Whether something is ethical is very much a matter of personal opinion. A question about how/whether to represent this dual employment in future interviews (which you've also raised) would be fine, as would a question about how to bring this up with your managers if you were to seek permission. If you edit the question, our community will review for possible reopening. Thanks, and please check out our short tour to learn more about how the site works. – Monica Cellio Nov 6 '17 at 23:18
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    I can't think of a job for which security experience and software development would be relevant. You're only supposed to include relevant experience on a resume. – employee-X Nov 6 '17 at 23:28
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If both of your employers are getting what they pay you for then I don't see a problem ethically. In future job interviews just talk about the experience that's relevant to the post applied for.

  • Of course I will discuss about the experience about the position that the new job would apply to, but they would perhaps ask how I managed two full-time positions at once. I am wondering how to express this situation to new potential employers as well, and if it even an ethical situation to be in in the first place. Some would perhaps view it as dishonest that I did not reveal my situation to my employers. – Paul Blart Nov 6 '17 at 20:43
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    I wouldn't tell my next interviewer that I had two jobs, I would only mention the relevant one. The only issue I can see is that remote working can involve phone or video meetings which could clash with your security job if something required an immediate response. – user16259 Nov 6 '17 at 21:24
  • That makes sense. I am just wondering about the implications of withholding that information from the next interviewer. It could even be embarrassing if they somehow find out about it, and I have to explain it after-the-fact. As far as phone/video meetings, that doesn't happen for my position; correspondences are done over email. – Paul Blart Nov 6 '17 at 21:47
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    I am 100% confident that both employers did not plan for you to work for another company during the same time you are working for them. – Frank FYC Nov 6 '17 at 22:55
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    Edits to the question might have affected this answer. Normally we wouldn't allow edits if they would invalidate existing answers, but the original question was a poor fit for the site and should have been closed. Please take a look and update your answer as needed. – Monica Cellio Nov 7 '17 at 4:35
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so to answer your first question first - if you're going to continue in the realm of software engineering, you don't need to put your security guard experience on your resume. It's not relevant and even if you weren't doing these two jobs at the same time, it would seem silly to bring it up.

As far as I know, there's no laws against pulling two full time salaries for working two jobs, even if those jobs happen concurrently. I would say that the ethics of it come up because the security guard is supposed to be present to respond to an emergency - not just waiting for an alarm that will never ring, but ready to drop everything at a moment's notice to assist or protect. The day may come when some one might get hurt, a door might get left open, or . . . God forbid, someone slips a prank bomb threat under your door, and then you will have to get up and deal with it, leaving the engineering behind until you get back.

There are engineering jobs where stuff just gets done when it gets done, and maybe you have that job now, but there may come a day when they want to have scrum meetings, or just call and catch up, or have an emergency deploy and they NEED you . . . and that's the day that alarm gets triggered for the first time in five years.

If I were you, I would ask myself if I really need the security guard position. You may find that the engineering work pays well enough to allow you to work from your home, and it's worth it to get away from the distraction of that mythical alarm bell.

  • Edits to the question might have affected this answer. Normally we wouldn't allow edits if they would invalidate existing answers, but the original question was a poor fit for the site and should have been closed. Please take a look and update your answer as needed. – Monica Cellio Nov 7 '17 at 4:36
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I haven't signed any contracts that disallow me from working at another position, but neither of my managers know about my situation. Additionally, I am worried about how to explain this situation to a new potential employer for any future interviews. Most importantly, I am wondering if I am acting unethically, since working both positions at the exact same time, and even when I fill out my timesheets, they both have the same hours.

It pretty clear. If you have to hide this from your employers, then it is unethical.

If you tell both employers, and they agree that it is acceptable, then there is no conflict, and there are no ethical issues.

How to explain to interviewers that I am paid for two positions at the exact same time?

In future interviews, you can tell the interviewer that both companies agreed to the unusual setup, that you did an outstanding job at both and that will both give you great references when asked. The interviewer will be suitably impressed.

  • Edits to the question might have affected this answer. Normally we wouldn't allow edits if they would invalidate existing answers, but the original question was a poor fit for the site and should have been closed. Please take a look and update your answer as needed. – Monica Cellio Nov 7 '17 at 4:36
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If both employers are getting what they want, and there's no contractual requirement or other promise made, then there's not an ethical issue. It's worth going back to check, however, to be sure that that's correct. In particular, be certain that your programming position won't interfere in any way with any of the requirements of the security position. Likewise, you need to be sure that your programming position isn't ever going to have you doing anything that can't be interrupted - since "you can be interrupted by an alarm, and suddenly have it be your highest priority at any time" sounds like it's essentially what the security position is paying you for.

If you're concerned about explaining it to future employers? Don't. There's nothing that requires you to disclose unrelated work experience on your resume, and it doesn't seem like these two positions are in any way related. Just disclose the one that pertains to the position you're applying for. If you're putting out a resume in a broader sense, I'd suggest including the programming side. The security position doesn't seem like all that much of a recommendation for anywhere.

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    Good point. To clarify, if I am interrupted from my development position due to if the alarms ever go off, it would be an inconvenience, but I would be able to easily recoup from it - and I would perhaps have to make up the hours by working extra that day. There also would not be something so critical that I couldn't attend to my security duties. For the disclosure to future employers, I was thinking about taking the route about just "avoiding the question," but my only concern is that could seem like I am being dishonest or sketchy. – Paul Blart Nov 6 '17 at 21:09
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    @JamesonPaul Also make sure the software you produce cannot be claimed as property of the museum - you'll be working on it during museum-paid time, on museum premises. – xxbbcc Nov 6 '17 at 21:50
  • @xxbbcc not to mention using museum resources (internet, machine, chair, desk, air (this is intended as humor), electricity) – Frank FYC Nov 6 '17 at 22:53
  • Edits to the question might have affected this answer. Normally we wouldn't allow edits if they would invalidate existing answers, but the original question was a poor fit for the site and should have been closed. Please take a look and update your answer as needed. – Monica Cellio Nov 7 '17 at 4:35
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Is it unethical to be paid for two positions at the exact same time?

Bad idea. Here's why.

The alarms at the facility have not been triggered in over five years.

This doesn't mean that it won't happen. To base emergencies off of historical patterns is planning to fail. A successful malicious agent will win once the defender relaxes and lowers his/her guard. Now, this doesn't mean that museum security is in the same category with Equifax's SNAFU. However to not put your best foot forward in carrying out your assigned duties would be a dereliction of your duties. There wasn't a hack at Equifax in the last 5 years, does this mean they should let their guard down?

I have read other questions here related to concurrent employment, but those are related to other work after-hours, and in this case, both positions are being worked during the same hours. I haven't signed any contracts that disallow me from working at another position, but neither of my managers know about my situation.

Put yourself in the shoes of an employer. Just because you didn't contractually stipulate what a person can't do, does that mean he or she is free to do anything that isn't explicitly stated not to be done?

Hey, nothing prevents me to browse Workplace SE all day, so I can just go ahead doing that. Do I do that? No, I have tasks that I need to get done.

My manager said I am free to read, surf the web, listen to music, etc., as long as I am physically present in the security room, and able to respond in a timely manner to the situation if the alarms ever go off.

If for example you are in a meeting with your developer job and an alarm sounds, what would explain you sudden departure from the meeting? At the same time, if you were scheduled to meet at a location away from your guard location. How would you explain "No, I have to work that day for another company." How would you explain the reason for you not being able to give your 100% when you said you could?

As I sit in the security office, I have my laptop opened working for my other position. ... Additionally, I am worried about how to explain this situation to a new potential employer for any future interviews. Most importantly, I am wondering if I am acting unethically, since working both positions at the exact same time, and even when I fill out my timesheets, they both have the same hours.

When in doubt, ask if you can first. This isn't a "it is easier to ask for forgiveness than permission" situation where the idea only benefits you.

When I held three roles (internship with pepsico, research assistant for professor X (not that X), another research assistant for professor Y) I made sure that everyone was on the same page and coordinated my time as needed to meet deadlines and objectives. For each position and the hours listed, it was my 100%, not 100%*.

*Contingent on the needs of my other employers.

How to explain to interviewers that I am paid for two positions at the exact same time?

I've listed and explained in interviews how I budgeted my time when it states that I held three positions during the same summer. Given the flexibility of the research positions (remote) I did most of research work outside of (PepsiCo) work hours or weekends. The conclusion is logical and coherent.

Imagine the conversation:

Them: How did you work two full time positions?

You: I was working two positions at the same time.

Them: What do you mean the same time?

You: I was working as a developer while working as a security guard.

Them: Like double-dipping?

You: Yes. Them: Were they OK with that? Was this the same company?

You: No, I didn't tell them because it wasn't in the contract that I couldn't.

Put yourself in the shoes of the interviewer, how would you ensure that the employee won't daylight (the day equivalent of moonlighting) at your company? If you lie, then it would certainly be an issue of ethics, if you tell the truth, it will heavily depend on the subjective assessment of the interviewer.

  • Edits to the question might have affected this answer. Normally we wouldn't allow edits if they would invalidate existing answers, but the original question was a poor fit for the site and should have been closed. Please take a look and update your answer as needed. – Monica Cellio Nov 7 '17 at 4:36
  • @MonicaCellio I don't see a major change... was there something specific I needed to edit? – Frank FYC Nov 7 '17 at 4:47
  • That was a stock comment that I left on all the answers. The original question was "is it ethical?", which is a subjective opinion poll. It now focuses on how to explain this in interviews. – Monica Cellio Nov 7 '17 at 4:48
  • Noted and my answer has been changed. – Frank FYC Nov 7 '17 at 4:54
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IANAL, but I believe in some countries, you may have a legal problem. One of the things these employers are paying you for is your time. Even if the museum says they don't care if you search the web, etc. they are still paying for your time on premise. They did not give you permission to resell that time to someone else.

The fact that they did not explicitly state that you can't work for someone else while sitting at your guard station doesn't mean that it is OK to do that. There could be implied restrictions in employment law in your country/city that you should investigate.

How you discuss this with a new potential employer depends on what you choose to do. If you continue to work this way, it will be hard to explain to them how there is no risk that you would do the same while working for them. If you stop working this way, you could let them know that you didn't understand that this was inappropriate but when you did learn, you stopped doing it. Hopefully they will see that you are honest about your mistakes and that you did change your behavior.

  • Edits to the question might have affected this answer. Normally we wouldn't allow edits if they would invalidate existing answers, but the original question was a poor fit for the site and should have been closed. Please take a look and update your answer as needed. – Monica Cellio Nov 7 '17 at 4:36
  • OTOH it's not unheard of. Semi-professional Fire Departments in small towns sometimes rely on people who also have other jobs, as there's simply not enough firefighting to earn a full wage. This guard job is similar. – MSalters Nov 7 '17 at 15:14
  • @MSalters, familiar with this on a volunteer basis, but not semi-professionally. Important to note, in those cases the employer and the fire department are both fully aware of the situation and often the the employer forgives the "lost" time as the employee is providing a community service. Also, at least in the US, most states actually have specific laws around treatment of volunteer first responders, so that is a legally recognized case. – cdkMoose Nov 7 '17 at 16:39
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It seems like your job at the museum you are being paid to be available and to respond when needed during certain hours. If it was an IT job, it would be the equivalent of being "on call."

Your software development gig is being paid by hours worked and work product developed.

As long as there are no formal prohibitions, I think you are okay, if in somewhat unorthodox territory here, provided -

If you are deep into some complicated or intensive coding, and any kind of alarm or other event happens that you are expected to respond to, you go above and beyond and respond immediately, even if you feel it's not needed to be exactly right away. You don't even want to see where the line between ethical and not is, since you are essentially getting paid by two employers for the same work time. Again, you are being paid to be available to respond, and to respond as needed, so that is your #1 priority, over all other considerations. If you wait a few minutes to wrap up the coding, then you are, indeed, not fulfilling your obligation to be available to respond.

If you are doing software development work at the museum from 8 PM to 2 AM, and alarms go off and you need to attend to it, and deal with police, etc, for an hour, you better not bill for that hour on the software side. They should only get billed for five hours, or less if you took some breaks. Even though, potentially, they would have paid you for all that time developing, you didn't actually spend it all doing the work, so make sure you don't bill them if one job's responsibilities don't allow you to actively engage in the others'.

The only other consideration is if you're making use of a lot of museum resources while computing - if you're using a work machine to connect to the Internet and working like that, which it appears you are not doing, that would not be ethical. Likewise, if your work means you are using Internet connection and data throughput via the museum's physical network, that is also potentially problematic. Hopefully your development is all done locally, network-wise, on your laptop. If not, since you are getting pretty much getting double-paid, it's not too much to ask to invest in a data hotspot out of your own pocket.

If you have all of that covered, ethically, there shouldn't be an issue about talking about it in an interview. First of all, if I see a resume where someone has "independent contractor software developer," along with something like "night shift security at the museum," I'm not going to assume that both were during overlapping hours. In fact, I'd assume one was a "second" job. Just like if I saw "CFO for GE" and "Bartender at the West Side Businessmen's Club," I'd assume they didn't occur at the same time.

If that's the assumption, it probably won't come up, and they're going to assume the museum gig supplements the developer job.

Also, if sitting in a chair and waiting for an alarm to go off that never goes off has no relevance to your next developer position, I probably wouldn't include it on my resume, even if it was a night shift vs day shift situation, because it does not add any value to my resume. Just like a CFO from GE probably wouldn't bother listing his bartending gig if he was after a CEO job for his next opportunity.

Now, because you're asking, and it's on your mind, it may seem to you like you're hiding something, but, really, if you asked "should I include my night job at the museum on my software developer CV/resume" and the hours did not overlap, I think the advice would be "no." So leave it off, and it should never come up.

Now, if, as an independent contractor, they need some kind of supervisory reference, then I'd bring up that I worked as a warm-body to watch for alarms going off after-hours at the museum as a second job, but then, in that case, again, the hours overlapping should never come up.

Again, I don't think this is deceitful, and volunteering it when it isn't even on the radar not only puts it there, but raises questions, in their mind. "I didn't care, so why is he so eager to put my mind at ease? What's REALLY going on here?"

In a job I had, there was an ongoing system overhaul of the core IT system. I heard about it, in was called "Next Gen" as a project. In my first all staff meeting, the director in charge stands up for their project update and says, emphatically "First of all, EVERYTHING IS FINE!"

What did I think when I heard this? It was "Holy crap. How bad is it?" (It was that bad, BTW.)

Don't lie, but don't create issues where they don't exist.

  • Edits to the question might have affected this answer. Normally we wouldn't allow edits if they would invalidate existing answers, but the original question was a poor fit for the site and should have been closed. Please take a look and update your answer as needed. – Monica Cellio Nov 7 '17 at 4:36
  • @MonicaCellio - thanks for the heads up, I will endeavor to make my answer responsive to the slightly altered question. – PoloHoleSet Nov 7 '17 at 14:53
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If one position doesn't take away focus from the other position that I see no issue with it.

However, if you think one of your employers were to find out about it and be upset with you(it feels sneaky), I think it would be wiser to discuss it with both of your employers and make sure that you are all on the same page.

  • Great point. The thing I am concerned about with that is how to bring up the situation delicately in a way to experience minor backlash. – Paul Blart Nov 6 '17 at 21:49
  • Edits to the question might have affected this answer. Normally we wouldn't allow edits if they would invalidate existing answers, but the original question was a poor fit for the site and should have been closed. Please take a look and update your answer as needed. – Monica Cellio Nov 7 '17 at 4:36

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