3 Companies Helping Full-Time Employees Side Hustle on Company Time

Freelancing after being laid off? Sure. Moonlighting after a full day of work to make a few extra bucks? Sure. But how about freelancing during work hours? Or making extra cash on the back of a current employer?

Sounds preposterous, in addition to being a fireable offense, right? Common sense says yes, indeed, but a growing number of startups are helping your employees make bank while they’re on the job. And employers should start to be at least a little concerned.

Here are just a few companies helping full-time employees cash in on the 9-to-5:

  1. Purple Squirrel. I loathe this company’s business model, preying on job seekers for cash, but it’s growing, enabling employees to use the strength of their employer’s brand to generate money on the down-low. I wrote about it when it raised $2.7 million last year, and said, “Purple Squirrel strikes me as one of two things: Not quite anonymous enough to make consumers feel safe, or simply a waste of time for job seekers because they only get to talk to corporate cheerleaders.” The company was distasteful when it was charging job seekers $30 for a 30 minute call with a Google marketing manager, but now at $199, it’s downright disgusting. But, job seekers are apparently paying it.
  2. Earn.com. Formerly 21.co, this company lets users set a price for people to email them or message them via their app. What started out as a place for startup founders to send a message to Mark Andreessen? Is turning into a place for developers to get paid by employers for the privilege to contact a potential candidate. Starting at $1 and going up to $100, if you thought that InMail was expensive, then you haven’t seen anything yet. Hotshot programmers can now boost their personal bottom line while still collecting a paycheck, bonuses, and benefits. How’s that feel, boss? For a refresher, here’s my post on them from last year. And if you haven’t used it to find your next great developer, then you’re welcome.
  3. Firsthand. That college education can finally start paying dividends, on the job. Firsthand helps grads get paid for mentoring their fellow alumni. This one feels warmer and fuzzier than the first two, but isn’t any less lethal. Company names are tied to each alumni and they’re paid accordingly. As a result, the allure to whip out your newly-minted student credit card isn’t for someone who attended the same school, it’s for the organization they might be able to get you hired into. Mentors can offer free advice if they choose. Percentage of fee vs. free is not publicly available.
There are others. The Lobby is similar to Purple Squirrel, but targets Wall Street types. Freelancing and moonlighting is moving beyond driving for Uber on the weekends or selling secondhand clothing on eBay. Now, having a full job, especially working for the right employer or having the right expertise, can mean a nice supplemental income.
Eventually, companies are going to catch on to this trend, and I’m betting they won’t be pleased.
Joel Cheesman

Joel Cheesman has over 20 years experience in the online recruitment space. He worked for both international and local job boards in the late ‘90s and early ‘00s. In 2005, Cheesman founded HRSEO, a search engine marketing company for HR, as well as launching an award-winning industry blog called Cheezhead. He has been featured in Fast Company and US News and World Report. He sold his company in 2009 to Jobing.com. He was employed by EmployeeScreenIQ, a background check company. He is the founder of Ratedly, an app that monitors anonymous employee reviews. He is married and the father of three children. He lives in Indianapolis.