Workers take second job to make ends meetKorea has an extremely competitive job market, and as the recession shows no signs of recovery, many people are finding that having only one job just isn’t enough. Reflecting this trend, more and more people are working irregular hours at two jobs.
A recent survey by Joblink, a professional recruiting company, showed that among 1,508 salaried workers, 68.5 percent have considered taking a second job. Among those surveyed, 21.6 percent (233 people) said they already had two jobs. About 37 percent of the salaried workers said they hope to earn somewhere between 1 million won ($986) to 1.5 million won ($1,479) per month from their second jobs, while 31 percent said they hoped to earn between 500,000 won to 1 million won, and 13 percent said they wanted to earn between 1.5 million to 2 million won.
One of those people slugging it out with two jobs is Lee Seung-cheol, 30, a server at “0000000000Seasons,” the French restaurant in the Millennium Hilton Hotel. At first glance, Mr. Lee comes across as a well-trained hotelier, as he majored in tourism at college and worked at several other hotels before the Hilton.
When he is off duty, Mr. Lee runs his own mobile coffee take-out stand out of a remodeled truck. Mr. Lee has been working at two jobs for three years and is part of a growing group of young entrepreneurs willing to do this.
“It’s not just the money, but it’s very fulfilling to work hard to make a living,” says Mr. Lee. “In the insecure world that we live in, it’s very reassuring to have a side job that I can fall back on. As a result of having a stable income flow, I find myself working better at my main workplace.”
Mr. Lee graduated from college when the financial crisis hit the nation back in 1997. He struggled hard to find a job during one of the most difficult periods for the Korean economy. Throughout the crisis, Mr. Lee learned that minimizing his investments would minimize his potential losses, so he decided to get two jobs.
At first, working two shifts was not easy. Even though he had a partner, he usually worked on holidays and after work hours to keep the coffee house from running into the red. His workload increased after his friend abandoned the “two-job life.”
But after working during all of his free time, Mr. Lee earned about 1 million per month. Although he faced obstacles and hard times during the three years he has worked two jobs, Mr. Lee does not regret his choice. With more people seeking second jobs, the competition has become tough, but Mr. Lee has a dream of opening a real coffee shop within five years.
Other people have found success by pooling their labor, creativity and money into fledgling business projects. Lim Tae-byeong, Kim Eui-shik, Kim Yeong-hyeok and Jang Min-ho, four friends from high school and university, all had their own jobs, but they were not satisfied.
By day, Mr. Lim is an architect, Mr. Kim Eui-shik is a teacher at a private study institute, Mr. Kim Yeong-hyeok works in a record company and Mr. Jang is at a shipping company.
The four of them decided they wanted to start a joint venture ― a nice cozy place to hang out and listen to music comfortably. Together, they opened a cafe near Hongik University in 2003. Agreeing on opening a cafe was easy, but the actual process of opening one was another.
The four brainstormed a theme for the place, what kind of consumers they would target and a menu. Mr. Kim Eui-shik and Mr. Jang used their vacations to check out cafes in Hong Kong and Japan. “We thought that visiting a lot of restaurants and cafes would help us decide on the type of menu and pricing,” said Mr. Kim Yeong-hyeok.
When they decided on a wine bar, they visited numerous cafes and bars to get better ideas and scout a good location. It took nearly a whole year for the four men to create their dream cafe.
Splitting the expense of opening the cafe four ways helped distribute the costs, and the various skills of the four helped in preparing for its opening.
Mr. Lim was in charge of the interior. Choosing which music to play was in the hands of Mr. Kim Yeong-shik. They signed a contract among themselves and each invested 50 million won.
In May 2003, they opened a cafe near Hongik University called “Behind.” The cafe has been doing very well so far and now the four men own two restaurants in Seoul. They plan to open two more within two years, sooner than they planned.
“We don’t earn as much as we do in our day jobs,” they said, but noted their satisfaction with their work.
The number one reason for wanting a side job is extra cash. The second reason is to prepare in case they lose their other job. A third (albeit less likely reason) people seek second jobs is to make better use of their free time.
But there is a stigma attached to having more than one job; 89.3 percent of the people said they do not tell their colleagues that they also work elsewhere, according to survey results.
“It is very normal in advanced countries for people to have several jobs, but in Korea they have a negative attitude towards this trend,” said Kim Hyeong-ro, a headhunter and the Web master for an online club for people with two jobs.
The solution: Mr. Kim said people with two jobs should not tell their colleagues.
Tips for holding down two jobs
1. Never rush.
― It’s easy just to rush into another job and fill your time, but it’s important to carefully consider a second job and how it will affect your schedule and energy level.
2. Check out online support groups.
― There are many online sites for people either working two jobs or are seeking another job. Keeping up with those Web sites will help your networking for landing prime, part-time positions.
3. Make your own blog site or Web page.
― If you can find the time, other people may be interested in how you manage to hold down two jobs. Running a home page or a blog related to having two jobs can be a fun way to exchange information.
4. Never let it interfere with your main job.
―If your second job is interfering with your first one, it might be time to reconsider. Ultimately, your performance in both jobs will suffer. Time to reschedule or find other work.
5. Manage your time wisely.
― How effectively you use your time is one of the trickiest parts in being successful in two jobs.
6. Eat well, stay healthy.
― You have to stay physically healthy in order to have two jobs. Busy schedules usually mean your diet suffers, so it is good to get in the habit of eating as regular as possible and occasionally exercising.
by Namkoong Wook
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