Working for yourself, whether independently or through a platform, shows initiative and highlights transferable skills, a recent survey of professional recruiters says. Their advice: Use a side hustle to pad your resume. It could make a big difference. 

Far from being seen as simply a way to make extra money, recruiters overwhelmingly favored candidates with side hustles. These part-time and temporary jobs can be a good way to gain full-time employment or a promotion. Part-time work can also help bridge gaps in your resume that you’d otherwise have to explain away.

Temporary opportunities, whether in your previous field, or in another area where you use transferable skills, are a great way to hit the play button on a career that’s been put on pause,” says Richard Deosingh, regional president of Robert Half in New York. “Side hustles, temporary jobs and gigs should definitely be on your resume.”

Recommending hustlers

Indeed a survey conducted by TheKnowledgeAcademy, found that the vast majority of recruiters — between 60% and 85% — would recommend a recent college graduate for a job if they had a side hustle while in school. (The variation depended on the type of side hustle the student had engaged in.)

Referring to students who created or modified products to sell online while in college, one consultant explained: “Introducing a product to market takes real guts. It showcases traits such as a willingness to take risks, effective planning/organization, persistence under intense pressure and an ability to develop strong customer relations.”

Added another: A side hustle “exhibits a real go-getting spirit and willingness to try new things and different approaches.” 

Even flipping products that you bought at a garage sale shows “real drive…and multiple skills, such as market research, negotiation and risk analysis,” another recruiter said.

Strategy

However, getting the proper career mileage out of a side hustle requires strategic thinking, says Deosingh. He suggests that you look at side hustles much like you’d consider a college internship. 

First consider where you want your career to go. Is your goal to remain in one field and simply work your way up the ladder? Or do you aim to shift into a related job — or completely different field — in the long run? Is your goal to eventually work for yourself, or do you prefer the security of a corporate position?

Once you’ve set your career goals, look at each hustle for what it offers outside of money. Does this particular side job teach you valuable skills that are relevant to your career? Can you use it to show off soft skills, such as the ability to communicate or collaborate effectively, that are otherwise hard to include on your resume? Does it bring you into close contact with individuals who could recommend you for new opportunities or a promotion?

Resume presentation

Saying that you walked dogs for Rover is not impressive by itself. However, if you built a loyal base of repeat customers and had all 5-star ratings, you’re telegraphing great customer service skills. This matters, says Deosingh, because everybody says they’re good with people. Few can prove it. 

Likewise, you might imagine that charging scooters for Bird or Lime doesn’t illustrate any great skill. But because both require that scooters be picked up and dropped off at specific times and locations, you can emphasize how the job honed your time-management and organizational skills.

More entrepreneurial sites can give you the ability to develop management experience. For instance, creating products for Zazzle requires you to produce, price, market and ship your products on a deadline. Creating a class on Thinkific, demands planning, familiarity with technological tools, marketing and market research.

Indeed, if you unpack the pieces of each job and what it required you to learn, it’s hard to find a side hustle that wouldn’t be resume-worthy.

“If nothing else, it shows you’re proactive,” says Deosingh. “You learn theory in school. Getting out there allows you to gain real-life experience. That’s always valuable.”

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