Side Hustling in HR – Without Cheating On Your Day Job! 

by Alan Collins

If you ever decide to have an extramarital affair, there are some unspoken rules to abide by.

One, you sure as hell don’t want your partner to find out…unless you have a death wish.

Two, you’re probably going to have to fabricate stories about your whereabouts from time to time to cover up your liaisons.

And three, unless you’re a total scumbag, you’ll probably need to figure out how to cope with the emotional guilt of lying, being unfaithful and leading a double life.

Clearly, the decision to do this is going to complicate things for you at home.

And while I’ve never cheated myself, I’m guessing that making these kinds of personal changes just scare most people to death.

Interestingly, many HR people seem to feel
the same way about doing side hustling
in HR, while holding down
their full time day job.

To them, it’s like cheating
on their spouse!

They believe it requires them to lie, be disloyal to their organization and compromise their morals and ethics.

I don’t agree.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

  *   *   *

Here’s why?

A part-time side hustle or monetizing your HR skills on the side — like doing a few consulting projects, coaching clients or running a networking or job search group — can be a terrific step in your career.

It can:

So there are tons of benefits.

Just so you know, this is my philosophy…

I’m a strong proponent of NOT doing anything
at all to jeopardize your HR day job if it’s currently
your main source of income.

And until the day arrives that you are ready to replace it,
it pays your bills and is your security net right now,
so you should never risk screwing it up.

Hopefully, that makes sense.

But make no mistake about it, if you want to side hustle, without putting your main hustle at risk — you can.

However, only if you follow four simple, common sense unwritten rules — and they are:

  1. Don’t make assumptions.
  2. Don’t compromise and disparage.
  3. Avoid “borrowing.”
  4. Answer the question: “Should I hide what I’m doing?”

Let’s break down each one of these in detail.

*   *   *

Don’t Make Assumptions.

What this means is that you should know what kind of organization you’re working for – don’t assume you know.

Let’s face facts.  Many big, traditional “old school” organizations probably don’t share your enthusiasm for doing any kind of part-time side gig. In fact, most believe they own you and your HR expertise, as long as you work there.

They demand your 100% loyalty…on and off the job, 168 hours per week…even though they’re not going to provide you that kind of loyalty in return.

By paying you an annual salary and other benefits, they feel are entitled to “first dibs” on your time and your ideas.

But that’s just one type of organization.

There are other more enlightened, “new school” firms. Lots of them, growing by the day. In these types of companies, performance rules.

In their view, they don’t care what you do, as long as you kick butt on your job…and as long as you don’t violate the company’s code of conduct.

In these companies, employees are highly engaged away from work.

Some teach in the evenings.
Some run small unrelated businesses on the side.
Some actively participate on Boards and in non-profit organizations.
Some coach and do non-competitive consulting.

Here’s the point: You must know what kind of company you’re working for!  Is it the old school or the new school type?

If you’re not sure, check your employee handbook, your legal department or the corporate policy on moonlighting and running side businesses.

Also, examine any employment documents you may signed when you began working in case you have agreed not to work with anything that conflicts or competes with your employer.

If you’re NOT certain, then ASK!  And here’s what you want to know:

You want to go into your side hustle with your eyes completely wide open and armed with all the facts.

But that’s not all, you’ll also want to embrace the next rule.

*   *   *

Don’t Compromise or Disparage Your
Current Organization.

A better way of stating this rule is…

Don’t write, speak, coach or consult about anything you would
not want plastered on the “Worst Practices” pages
of HR Magazine, next to your name.

This includes:

This also applies to HR-related information too.

Your company has valuable confidential information that it wants to keep under wraps. For example, it could be:

As an HR professional, these types of violations are morally and legally wrong.

You have an obligation to preserve these secrets whether or not you signed a non-disclosure agreement. And, if you have signed such an agreement and violate it, you could be liable for damages – and face a possible court order to cease and desist.

And then there’s the next rule on this list.

*   *   *

Avoid Borrowing (or Stealing) Anything
That Belongs To Your Employer.

Yes, I know this is obvious.

But in this case stealing goes well beyond just swiping office supplies from your day job to stock your home office. It also means that you:

All of these are big no-no’s.

In most companies, this kind of misuse of company property is considered theft and you can expect to be reprimanded or let go.

Sure, you can rationalize this theft by thinking “hey, the company can afford it.”

But since misappropriation of company property and office supply theft accounts for a fairly large chunk of the $67 billion lost to employee theft every year, many employers clearly don’t agree with you.

All this said, I’m sure there’s at least one final concern you should still have.

And it’s a big one.

*   *   *

Should You Hide What You’re Doing
From Your Organization?

This is crucial. You deal with your organization through your boss. And there are only two ways to handle your boss…

You either tell them or you don’t!

Only you can assess your situation, but in most cases I recommend that you be totally upfront with both your boss and your organization.

Here’s why? Sure, you could conceal what you’re doing. That is, operate like Clark Kent during the day but then turn into Superman during the evening .

But the big problem hiding what you’re doing is that if you get found out, it gives the impression that you’re trying to hide something.

Or that you’re subtly looking for work elsewhere.

That’s not exactly the kind of move that will enhance your HR career advancement prospects or your job security at your day job.

So, because of these reasons, I believe it’s best to be completely upfront and tell your boss what you’re doing. It’s then up to your boss to make the next move.

They may not care.
Or they may want to know more.
Or they may want to see examples of what you’re doing.
Or to cover their own butt, they may need to check in with Legal or the higher ups.

Resist the urge to say “it’s none of your business.”  Instead, be upfront and provide any information required.

The worst case is that she or the company balks or objects.  Then you have a decision to make.

You can:

Even though these choices may be difficult or not ideal, I favor being open.

Honesty is the best policy.

*   *   *

Let’s recap. 

Side hustling in HR clearly has great benefits.

But it’s not for everyone. Most HR folks do quite well in their careers without ever doing it.

However, if this is a career option you want to try and keep your day job too you’ll need to follow these unwritten rules:

By following these steps you’ve put yourself in the best position to keep your day job while pursing your consulting endeavors on the side.

And you won’t feel like you’re cheating on your spouse.


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Want to know ONE way to diversify your income on the side as an HR pro — while compromising your day job?   Then check out, WRITE YOUR OWN HR BOOK FAST!  Take Your Career in Human Resources To The Next Level By Authoring Your Own Book — Faster Than You Ever Thought Possible & On The Side! 

Clearly, writing a book isn’t for everyone. But it’s easier than you think and yours will clearly separate you from the rest of the HR pack, while allowing you to capitalize on your HR skills and experience. If your own book is a goal for you either now or in the future, then you should check definitely this out.


A SECOND alternative is creating small reports, white papers and short ebooks that address pressing issues or solve vexing problems.  This is an even faster way of capitalizing on your HR skills, expertise and experience.


Then check out: YOUR HR GOLDMINE:  How To Turn Your Human Resources Know-How Into A Lucrative Second Income…Without Leaving Your HR Job!  This book will provide you with tons of ideas and a step-by-step plan for putting them into action.


A THIRD way of capitalizing on your experience is to start with your own HR blog. If you can write e-mail length messages and like sharing your ideas and experiences with others…then you’re in a great position to leverage the power of your very own HR blog.

For more details, check out. START YOUR OWN AWESOME HR BLOG: “The Absolute Beginner’s Guide To Launching Your Own Outrageously Successful Human Resources Blog …Easily, Quickly and Simply!”  You can get all the specifics by clicking HERE.

About the author: 
Alan Collins
is Founder of Success in HR, Inc. and the author of a variety of best selling books for HR professionals. He was formerly Vice President – Human Resources at PepsiCo where he led HR initiatives for their Quaker Oats, Gatorade and Tropicana businesses.

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