To Include Or Not To Include: Where and How to Talk About Your Side Hustle if You’re Job-Hunting

A client started a side hustle as a Health Coach and wondered if she should include that information on her resume and LinkedIn. For context, she’s been Technical Project Manager at various unrelated businesses, from a State office to a data center provider.

At the core of this question is strategy and cost-benefit tradeoff.

  • Is posting the consulting role on LinkedIn going to attract clients?
  • Will it put her current job at risk?
  • Could it propel or impede opportunities with new full-time roles?
  • What are the alternatives?

Let’s explore each of these questions further.

Attracting Clients via LinkedIn

LinkedIn is the first place consultants and entrepreneurs tend to go to try and find new clients. Many people believe LinkedIn is an “if you build it, they will come” strategy, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth.

Having a compelling LinkedIn profile is an essential first step, but it’s just that: a step.

From there, building an audience takes time and creativity. At the bare minimum, if you plan to attract clients via LinkedIn, you should:

  • Set up your profile to show you’re offering services.
  • Follow and connect with people who have similar interests or who might be able to help you promote your services (people who other people follow).
  • Join relevant groups related to your industry, school, and interests.
  • Block out time on your calendar several days a week to share relevant content and original ideas, post on other people’s content, and engage in the groups you’ve joined.
  • Set up and share a regular newsletter with your followers.

This strategy will most likely take months to gain momentum, but if you’re patient, it can bear fruit.

Health Coach Strategy: Given the competitive nature of LinkedIn, posting an Experience section alone about the Health Coaching work probably won’t attract clients. Even if she posts regularly about health coaching, a prospective client might see that her profile is mostly about project management and feel a Health Coach completely immersed in health coaching work would be a better pick. Transforming her entire LinkedIn profile to focus on Health Coaching would be an option, but what would this say to her actual employer and employer’s clients if they pop by her profile?

Avoiding Employer Backlash

Before you include your side hustle on LinkedIn, it’s important to consider who is viewing your page. If your employer doesn’t know you have work on the side, finding out via LinkedIn could make waves at work. You’ll need to weigh the pros and cons to determine if listing your consulting or entrepreneurial endeavor on LinkedIn is worth it.

Health Coach Strategy: If she has a foot out the door, is committed to transitioning to health-related work, doesn’t care if she gets fired, and feels posting this on LinkedIn will draw in clients, including the Health Coach work on LinkedIn makes sense. Otherwise, it might be best to leave it off.

Positioning for New Roles

Sharing a relevant consulting gig or side hustle on LinkedIn could help you strengthen your position for your next role if you’re trying to change careers or industries into a related area.

On the flip side, if you are searching for a job and your side gig has nothing to do with the work, seeing you’re not fully focused on your full-time work could turn off a prospective employer.

Regarding your resume, if your side hustle has nothing to do with the work you’re pursuing, leave it off. If your extra job is related to the work you’re moving toward, clearly position it as consulting or contract work. This is especially important if you just started consulting recently; you don’t want to look like you just dipped your toe in the water and you’re already trying to get out.

Health Coach Strategy: She must consider her next professional step. If the health coaching is just for fun, leave it off or include it under volunteering. If it’s a stepping stone to a new career and meets the aforementioned criteria, build it up!

Alternatives

One final idea to consider is whether LinkedIn is the right place to market your services. LinkedIn is a crowded, unforgiving marketplace that takes a lot of time and patience to master. Other alternatives, like Thumbtack, Upwork, Freelancer, or Fiverr, might give you quicker access to a ready audience (though they still require patience and tenacity).

Can you offer some free services to influencers or organizations that can later serve as a source of referrals?

Don’t forget that networking opportunities exist beyond the internet. How about in person? Are there local networking groups, associations, or boards you can join where you’ll gain exposure to people needed your services?

Think of your services as a hub, and consider adjacent businesses as the spokes. Draw yourself a picture of these and label the spokes. Then, consider how you can get involved with those spokes so they feed into your business.

Health Coach Strategy: Who needs a health coach, and where are there? A quick Google search for “Hire a Health Coach” pulls up numerous health coaching websites that might employ or market Health Coaches (Fiverr and Thumbtack were on the first page). In person, perhaps look into new mothers (lactation groups – partner with doulas and midwives), people overcoming substance abuse (AA), people overcoming eating disorders, or athletes training for events (rec centers, community sports organizations, etc.). Given what I know about this client, I think pursuing these avenues makes more sense than posting on LinkedIn, but ultimately, she’ll have to make that decision for herself because she knows her goals best.

Do you have a side hustle you’re wondering how to position? I can help. Reach out via the form below.

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