I have a confession to make: I am overemployed.
This is the opposite of underemployed, a state in which a person works fewer hours than they have available and makes insufficient income to meet their needs. Instead, as an overemployed person, I work long hours at the expense of my free time, and am doing well financially. I do worry a little that we may be in for a recessium, which could conceivably cost me my one job which actually pays well. But that’s just all the more reason to keep nose to grindstone.
I said I’m “overemployed” but that’s kind of an exaggeration. Really, I’ve just taken on a couple of gigs beyond my full time Information Technology job. And I shouldn’t complain (though that is my brand), because these are great opportunities for me to develop myself more broadly, and to contribute something to society beyond simply slogging bits for an investment company (yeah, I’m in FinTech).
One of the gigs I’ve already blogged about – Aileen and I are adjudicators for the Philadelphia Independence Awards. This job involves going to see high school theater productions, then judging the performances and technical aspects of the shows, and providing constructive feedback. It takes up some time, since we have to drive to the show, and then it might last a couple of hours, plus the time writing up the feedback. The only compensation is a stipend to cover fuel costs, but every bit helps, as they say. We see about 16 shows over the course of the school year.
The other gig is one that I’m super-excited about; it’s really a dream come true. I’m working for none other than Neil Howe, generations expert and co-author of The Fourth Turning. When he advertised for a research assistant to help with his new book, I submitted an application and a short resume highlighting my generations studies (including this blog). Imagine my excitement when he responded! He took on both Aileen and me as research assistants.
At first, we did research on pandemics throughout history. This was during the early days of Covid, so it felt very in the zeitgeist. Not much of this research, if any of it, will actually be incorporated into the book. But now what we are working on, as a deadline fast approaches, is the end notes. This is very time consuming, and I sincerely hope that with all the work we’re putting into it, the notes will be comprehensive and useful, even more so than they were in the first book.
So that’s the sense in which I’m “overemployed.” We are being compensated for working on the notes, but the rate is much less than what I make in my IT job. But like I said, this is more an opportunity to be a part of something big, to contribute to an important project which I have been following for the better part of my adult life. It’s obviously very exciting for me to be working with Neil Howe.
But I’m not going to make an insane amount of money, like some people who are overemployed. Now what do I mean by that? Well, that’s where the title of this post comes in. Check out the subreddit /r/overemployed, a community that invites you to work two remote jobs, earn extra income, and reach financial freedom. Yes, there are folks out there who are working multiple full-time salaried remote jobs and making huge incomes – possibly as part of a FIRE strategy. Or possibly simply because they see an easy way to exploit the circumstances of remote work.
If you drill down into the subreddit, you can learn what it’s like for people who have chosen this path. Usually, none of their multiple employers know about the other ones. So they have to make sure to hide the fact of their overemployment (except anonymously on reddit, of course). It’s definitely a shady deal. But it’s doable because with a lot of “email laptop” jobs, there isn’t actually a lot of work to do. You just have to invest in a mouse jiggler, and learn to avoid being expected to attend too many meetings.
There are other considerations, like which job to put on your social media profile, and how to handle health insurance and taxes. You can learn all the tricks of the trade, and the lingo associated with it, over on /r/overemployed. There are users claiming to hold as many as 7 jobs at once! It’s not something I could do, mostly because it seems like enough work as it is to manipulate that many employers. I mean, it just doesn’t seem right to deceive your boss like that. But can I really talk? It’s not like I tell my full time employer about my side gigs, or even this blog (though they could find out).
And if someone is able to fulfill the job requirements of multiple jobs at once, then why shouldn’t they? If they could do it while being up front about it with their various employers, then it should be perfectly legit, right? Never mind what this means for income inequality, and how unfair it is for people who aren’t in lines of work where you can get your job done sitting at a desk at home. It just goes to show how varied outcomes can be in our “land of opportunity,” where everything depends on individual ambition and achievement. And, no doubt, on the luck of the draw.
I’ve certainly been lucky in my circumstances, that let me find the extra time to work on other projects, even while keeping my fin tech employers happy. I’m not so much overemployed as employed to the fullest.