My Most Profitable Side Gig

Hi team! Guess what side gig I’ve been doing the past three weeks. I’ve worked just over 100 hours on it so far, I still have maybe 20 hours to go if I’m lucky, and if I’m successful I’ll nab an extra $30,000 (oh my lord) per year.

Hunting. Job hunting. (Say hunting a few more times in your head. That word starts to sound weird real quick.)

It’s definitely shaping up to be the most lucrative side gig ever.

The gig

Like I said, I think I’ve spent just over 100 hours on the hunt thus far. In 3 weeks. On 2 prospective jobs. That sounds ridiculous to me, but I hear that’s the norm for some technical interview processes. I’m a data analyst and in the data career world, a lot of places ask you to show off some chops to prove you can handle the job you’re applying for.

I’ve done a programming test, a take home data project, several normal behavioral interviews, and soon I’ll have business case interviews. I also had a really fun phone interview where they asked me questions like

A bag contains 90 red and blue marbles. The ratio of red to blue marbles is 2:7. How many blue marbles are there?


Connie buys cheap sugar for $2 a pound and expensive sugar for $5 a pound. How many pounds of expensive sugar should she mix with one pound of cheap sugar to make a mixture of sugar that’s worth $4 a pound?

The beautiful boule of bread that Mr. Chedda baked while I was working on job hunting. Later, slices of this bread fueled me during some late night coding sessions.

Wait, actually, that was only fun in hindsight. While I was on the phone trying to figure these out I sweat so much that right after I hung up and calmed down enough to sniff myself I had to get in the shower.

The take home data project was less fun. It felt a lot like homework. In fact,
it brought me right back to my college days of late night coffee (check out the four mugs I used in a single day in the top photo) and being up past 11 pm. I only wish I had that beautiful, silent college library to do my work in now!

But, I did well enough on all of those preliminary rounds that I just received an email saying they want me back for the FINAL INTERVIEW.

The payoff

I don’t know what my chances are of being hired after this interview, but I’d say I have a higher than 50% chance. A 50% chance at a $30,000 raise is incredible!

Even if I don’t get this job, a few more interviews with those odds would land me the raise and up my savings rate tremendously in the future. With Mr. Chedda out of work at the moment, that salary bump would get our combined income in line with what it was last year.

In the future, that higher income would be enough for me to support our household of two on my own. I love having that security!

Also, if we have a lil baby cheese and Mr. Chedda stays home to take care of it, I could make that happen with this higher income. It’s a real possibility that wasn’t really open to us before.

The new job would also have more free food, be very accessible by public transportation, and wouldn’t require a dress code any different than what I wear now. It doesn’t sound like I’d have any additional expenses working there instead of at my current office.

In short, the payoff would be significant. Fingers crossed I get the job!

Should you?

Yeah—should you be job hunting as your side gig?

I was obliviously coasting through my current job without even putting out feelers to see what other jobs and salaries were out there. I thought I was being fairly compensated. And, like most people (especially many women), I felt that I was an impostor just squeaking by in my industry, hoping no one would notice how under-qualified I am to be working in adultworld.

Of course, if you’re interested in personal finance or financial independence you’re probably already a critical thinker who’s pretty good at what you do! You (and I) probably have bigger and better opportunities open to us, but we have to go seeking them!

I started “seeking” by accident. I mentioned to a friend and ex-coworker that I wasn’t in love with my current job and I was thinking about only staying there for a little while longer. This friend now works at the company I’m in the final interview round for, so he referred me. Boom! I was in! It was the easiest “job application” I’ve ever done.

That inspired me to send out a few more resumes, and I got another bite quickly from a government agency. Of course, at this point there’s a federal hiring freeze in place and that interview process has been suspended…

Anyway. It was easier than I thought to put myself out there! It might be easier than you think, too!

The time commitment required to update your resume and find job postings always seemed daunting, but what if you think about it as a side gig?

If working 100 hours would pay you thousands or even tens of thousands more per year, most of us would take that gig. Approaching the job application process as work means that I expect that it won’t be particularly fun and I have to make myself work at it.

Hopefully my side gig pays out!!


Could you be searching for a new job? Why aren’t you? I’m genuinely curious! I think that I wasn’t job hunting out of a sense of complacency and an aversion to change and conflict.

16 thoughts on “My Most Profitable Side Gig”

  1. Yay! I hope you land that job! I know how freakin’ awful it is hunting for jobs and hoping and praying, so I definitely feel for ya.

    I’ve never heard anyone describe job hunting as a side gig, so this is a refreshing perspective on it. I’m a bit of a job hopper myself, usually because better-paying or more interesting opportunities come along. I think there’s value in casually searching for jobs, but I don’t think it’d be a super-profitable side hustle unless you’re looking for part-time online jobs as a side hustle outside the 9-to-5.

    1. Thank you! I’ll be soooo happy if I get the new job at the salary I’m asking!

      Definitely job hunting wouldn’t be a profitable side hustle if you just started your job or you’re at the top of the payscale for your industry, but for me it seems to be about the most profitable way I can spend my non-work time right now! So it’s my current side gig!

      When I was up late at night working on that data project deliverable, I just kept reminding myself that this one late night of work could be what gets me an extra $10,000 bump in salary if they really liked it. That really got me hustlin’!

  2. I’m always looking for a new job, even if I don’t want one. It’s good to know what’s out there and what is market rate for your field. Also, interviewing every once in a while keeps your interview skills sharp!

    Best of luck on the new job!

    1. I think that’s super smart of you! I’ve only ever been in a lull or an all out sprint when it comes to job hunting, but maybe I should make it more of a consistent thing after I get this new job.

  3. First of all, I love your blog. I just discovered it yesterday. Second, I like the way you framed the job hunt as a side hustle. What exactly do you mean by “data analyst?” Is that like statistical analysis? Economics? Just curious. I’m an engineer so your interview process sounds familiar.

    1. Hi Dylan! I’m so psyched to meet a new reader! 🙂

      I think the “data analyst” title can mean a lot of things. For me, it’s a statistical and programming job mostly, although I worked for an economics agency to start out. It’s a lot of data “munging” (cleaning, validating, and reshaping) mixed with some regressions, graphing, mapping, and basically just getting insights from data by any means and tools possible. I actually have to be able to do work in R, Python, SAS, Stata, SQL, and ArcGIS to do every part of my job (and some people use even more programs!), so the job skills/responsibilities can be pretty amorphous.

      1. Yay stata!

        My colleagues and I were just discussing how if we had to flee the country we could probably get data analysis jobs at a multinational company. They’re good skills to have. At least that’s what I tell my students.

        1. It’s true! I had no idea when I was getting my somewhat-related degree, but I guess data analysis and data science are getting to be really big deals!

  4. I’d say those 100 hours will be time well spent if you find a job that you enjoy that pays $30k more/year!

    I am kind of looking for a new job but I don’t have many options. Scratch that-I don’t have many options if I want keep living where I am. I work in libraries and the general trend is that they are happy to hire people with MLSs into paraprofessional positions and have them do actual MLS work, but don’t want to pay them true MLS wages. I am at a place in my career where I can take a pay cut and get the title librarian by working in a small library system but with a long commute, or I can stick with my paraprofessional position with the higher wages and walking commute.

    1. Hmm. What if you move to the beach now and work at a library there? 😉

      Good luck finding something! It sounds like the gig you have is much better for you than the “librarian” job for now.

  5. I may or may not be interviewing right now for similar types of jobs as you! I knew from the R post that we probably had overlapping career paths. My current role is not in Data but I’m definitely interesting in moving that direction after I finished my masters. Good luck!

  6. First off good luck on the job. There is a school of thought that you should almost perpetually be looking for a job, if only to keep your interview skills polished. I don’t personally take it to that extreme but it is important to do from time to time. If calling it a side hustle motivates you to do so, then it’s worth it.

    1. Thanks! The interview is in two weeks 😮

      I agree that it’s a bit of overkill to always be on the job hunt, but I’m convinced that we should look for jobs much more often than we do.

  7. Woohoo! Fingers crossed.

    I COULD be searching, have started keeping more of an eye out on postings (I never really unsubscribe from email alerts). A former boss reached out to me from her new role last year, but the time (and role, probably too) wasn’t right. I want a $20k jump to bring me to 6 figures ideally. More $ would be nice and I do want to try working in the private/corporate world for once.

    But I really do love my job in terms of basically all aspects – mission, day to day tasks, location, environment, people – and it’ll take something really compelling to take the leap. I want to keep enjoying the actual work and not take on too much stress.

    1. Thanks Muse! My big interview is TOMORROW!

      I was just reading one of your posts where you said “Failing to value yourself is a key trait of underearning” and it really rang true to me. For this round of job searching I was spurred on by hearing that someone with the same qualifications as me (and someone who I know I can out-code and out-analyze) was making $90k. I never thought that my skills were worth that much, so I hadn’t sought out jobs that paid that much before now!

      Good luck with your semi-job search–hope you find a fun private sector job that comes with more money too! 🙂

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