I have a side job that takes about 1-2 hours a week, and I enjoy it. I've been offered a full-time position at a company and would like to keep my side job (which does not compete even remotely in the same arena).

Do I ask if this is OK during negotiations? Or should I not tell them, and ask to see their NDA (if they have one)?

My ability to keep my side job would affect my decision to accept the current position.

  • It depends of the company, but if your side job is unrelated to your work then... Maybe they will be no issue. You have to explain it, but think that wanting to keep your side job will maybe end up with the company removing its offer, except if you are a critical asset for them. – Gautier C Jun 22 '16 at 6:18
  • 2
    Small niggle: if they object it will be because of a non-compete clause or something similar in their company policy, not a non-disclosure agreement. – Lilienthal Jun 22 '16 at 6:54
  • Is the side job potentially going to overlap with the new job's working hours or is it outside normal new-company time ? – Иво Недев Jun 22 '16 at 11:50
  • @ИвоНедев The side job hours are completely up to me, and would never conflict with 'real' job hours. – dkkkkkkkk Jun 22 '16 at 12:17
  • 1
    How similar are these two jobs? Is the full-time job a professional web developer for a big company, and you also run the website for your church? Or you're a web developer and like to paint houses on the weekends? Neither situation really has any conflict of interest, but one is easier to argue than the other. – David K Jun 22 '16 at 17:00

I am a professional salary negotiator. I have negotiated hundreds of salaries at hundreds of different companies.

Your goal is to get this new job and also keep your side job. Therefore you should take the course of action most likely to lead to this outcome.

Go through the entire process of negotiating your salary without bringing up your side job. Get them to agree to the salary and other terms that you want. Only after you have reached agreement on everything else (and right before you sign the employment contract), that's when you tell them that after reading the employment contract you are concerned that you might be precluded from this side hobby (don't call it a job) that is entirely unrelated to your work but very important to you. At this point, there is a good chance that they will be so far down the road with you that they will let you keep up your hobby.

Under no circumstances should you mention your hobby until you have a final employment contract in your hands. To do so would be to weaken your leverage unnecessarily. Also do not ask to see their NDA. If they have one, they will give it to you at some point for your signature. That will be another opportunity where you can then bring up your side hobby as if it were something that just occurred to you after you read the NDA.

I have actually negotiated a deal like this before for one of my clients and he followed exactly the steps I just listed above. The employer let him keep the side hobby.

  • 3
    great answer, don't know how the personal ads, maybe you will have to remove it :/ – Gautier C Jun 22 '16 at 7:20
  • Thanks for this. Especially suggesting not to ask to see the NDA. Here's another question - I've actually got two competing offers right now. If job A wouldn't let me keep the side job, but job B would, then I'd consider accepting job B. But if I don't ask to see the NDA, or mention the side job until the NDA comes up, I won't really know if job A or B would let me keep the side job until it's too late. If that makes sense. – dkkkkkkkk Jun 22 '16 at 12:19
  • 2
    I would never advocate lying. This is not a hobby, it is a job. Could get you fired or lose the offer (at least in the US) when someone finds out. Either don't talk about it or tell the truth. – cdkMoose Jun 22 '16 at 12:50
  • 3
    Good answer, but please remove the personal ad. You can put it in your user profile if you like. That's a good place for it. – nvoigt Jun 22 '16 at 13:42
  • This seems like you are over complicating the 1-2 hour a week side gig. – blankip Jun 22 '16 at 16:50

I will make this real simple - 99% of companies don't care about your 1-2 hour a week side gig.

Sign your contract and after a week or two just casually bring it up to your boss. If your boss gets upset (highly unlikely) you will end your side gig.

If your boss doesn't care (highly likely) he will OK it or tell you to inform HR to get the final OK. Let's not over complicate this, obviously if they care you want your real job not the side gig.


Do I ask if this is OK during negotiations? Or should I not tell them, and ask to see their NDA (if they have one)?

Yes, ask about this during the negotiation step after you've received an offer. Since your side business doesn't relate to the job at all there's no need to bring it up earlier. Since it's unrelated it's also incredibly unlikely that they'll consider it a problem. If that was not the case and you have reason to believe that an employer could object to your commercial activities you can consider bringing it up sooner to avoid wasting time, but don't do it in the first interview(s). Any side business that's likely to be a problem probably also merits inclusion in your resume or LinkedIn so most hiring managers would already be aware of it.

As part of that conversation you can ask if there's something in the employee handbook or company policy that strictly forbids having a side business. If there is, it's worth getting their approval of your particular business in writing (i.e. email) just in case.

It's always a good idea to ask for a copy of the employee handbook or whatever policy documentation they have during the negotiation step and it's not an unreasonable question, particularly in IT. But in general there's no reason to not just ask the question you want to ask instead of trying to answer it yourself.


Based on your comment, I wouldn't bother to mention this to the potential employer. What you do in your own time, outside of your company industry is entirely up to you. Should you decide to drink only orange juice for 16 hours straight in between your shifts. Stay still and watch a dot on the wall, or do some side projects isn't your employer's business.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.