'Career paths are no longer linear as professionals look to build a more holistic career portfolio that is true to their professional and financial goals.'
The polarised debate on moonlighting -- a practice that some business leaders have called ethically unacceptable and others progressive -- could rage on as data from job search platforms and portals for freelancers indicates that it is gaining traction in India.
"One of our recent surveys indicates that 40 per cent of job-seekers in India choose to moonlight," says Sashi Kumar, head of sales at Indeed.
Taskmo, a dedicated platform for gig work, paints a starker picture: Around 70-74 per cent of workers on the platform already have a primary job.
Most of the job search platforms like Indeed and LinkedIn, and freelance portals like Freelancer.com, Fiverr, and Taskmo that Business Standard spoke to said they had witnessed an increase in people signing up for a second job or freelance work, even though most of them could not be considered freelancers because they already had a job.
Besides, in most cases, people were looking at specific tasks and not a job.
Naveen Ram, co-founder of Taskmo, said this trend appeared to have been spurred by the uncertain global economic environment.
Some, Ram said, were looking to teach or take up other tasks like content moderation, or were looking for work as micro-influencers, or delivery executives for a side hustle in search of financial stability in an increasingly precarious job market.
"Others are looking for creative satisfaction," he said.
IT, the hot favourite
Indeed said it found in a recent survey that 43 per cent of employees in the IT sector favoured moonlighting.
This was followed by manufacturing at 39 per cent, and the BFSI (banking, financial services, and insurance) sector at 33 per cent.
This comes at a time of high demand for IT and tech-related skills.
Sebastian Siseles, vice president-international, at Freelancer.com, said tech-related skills such as software development, app development, and coding had seen the highest demand growth on the platform.
"This coincides with the recent series of tech layoffs occurring globally as businesses look to cut costs and turn to freelancers to plug skill shortages," Siseles added, referring to Freelancer.com's Fast 50 quarterly report, which is based on 296,000 jobs posted on the platform between July 1 and September 30.
Data from Indeed showed that there was demand for digital marketing, Web designing, and content writing, with an average compensation of Rs 20,000-Rs 25,000 per task.
Another avenue for freelance work was at social media companies.
"Globally, there continues to be a huge investment in Meta platforms. Searches relating to 'Facebook Video Ads' rose 175 per cent, 'Instagram Social Media Manager' by 121 per cent, and 'Instagram Influencer' by 63 per cent," a spokesperson for Fiverr said, quoting the firm's recently released Business Trends Index report.
The report, which was released on October 12, compares data collected over six-month periods.
It suggested that companies were looking for innovative ways to reach customers, which explained the uptick in searches for those who were adept at Teespring promotion, an influencer marketing hub, affiliate promotion, and Telegram promotion (up 51 per cent).
"Finally, freelancers in mobile development may also experience an uptick in orders. The data found searches for 'Mobile App' were up 64 per cent, 'Food Delivery App' were up 45 per cent, 'App promotion' up 24 per cent, and 'Dating App' up 13 per cent," the spokesperson added.
In a majority of cases, the platforms said, the compensation for the additional work was very low.
Content moderation, tele-calling, driving, last-mile delivery, and influencer marketing are some of the most-sought-after jobs on Taskmo, with an average earning of Rs 500 to Rs 1,500 per day.
"Out of the jobseekers surveyed, the biggest share of moonlighters, 47 per cent, is low-paid individuals, indicating that more often than not, moonlighting is due to financial obligations," Kumar from Indeed says.
Australia-based Freelancer.com, which has more than 14 million freelancers registered in India, adds that the average price of completed jobs was $161 (approximately Rs 13,000) per job.
The firms said the pandemic worked in favour of moonlighting as people lost their jobs or faced pay cuts. Many were also asked to work remotely.
After the pandemic's outbreak, workers began exploring new interests, developing diverse skills, and seeking professional fulfilment.
"This is reflected in our recent data, which shows that 61 per cent of professionals think moonlighting is not a big deal -- a sentiment that indicates how career paths are no longer linear as professionals look to build a more holistic career portfolio that is true to their professional and financial goals," says Nirajita Banerjee, managing editor-India, LinkedIn News.
Feature Presentation: Ashish Narsale/Rediff.com