Dear Coach Joan: Career Advice
I was just presented with an an opportunity I’ve never had before. A vendor that works with my company has asked me to do a freelance project. I’d like to do it but don’t know if I should. This vendor is not a competitor of my full time employer and I would be doing the work at night and on the weekends.
Is it OK for me to take on the assignment?
Paul, you are to be applauded in attracting freelance work, without even seeking it out. Clearly, your skills and style are appreciated by this vendor. This is an excellent question and one that periodically comes up in career life. I think many of my readers will be interested in this topic.
Can one do freelance work when one is employed full-time?
The answer is: It depends, and it’s often wise to speak to your manager at work before you proceed.
When you signed on with your current employer you may have signed an agreement that stipulates the exact terms of your work. It would include things about non-compete clauses, ownership of any patents that were submitted while you worked for them, the number of hours/overtime involved with your work and more. The safest way to proceed is to talk with your manager. If he or she is uncertain, you will be referred to HR.
I would take the safe route and ensure that it is all on the up and up before proceeding. And you need not mention the specific opportunity, just the nature of the work and the relationship of the company to your current company.
Once you get the go-ahead, make sure that your freelance work is done outside of work hours. I would suggest, too, for you not to discuss freelance projects with your colleagues. There might be resentment. It is important that your full-time work endeavor is perceived as most important. In fact, it probably is most important as your main income source.
Good luck to you, Paul.