Overemployed is a term when a person has 2 or more full-time jobs without working extra hours, that is less than 40 hours per week (think software engineer). This is in contrast with overworked—a person who works more than 40 hours per week, e.g., working in Uber and McDonald’s.
Overemployed is possible because modern knowledge-based and expertise-based jobs are based on results not time put in. So a person with great experience, tools, education and knowledge can do work many times faster than an average colleague. This expert worker can take on more full-time jobs in related fields, because this expert worker is more efficient than the average worker.
There are different flavors of and motivation for being overemployed:
- Financial Independence Retire Early (FIRE)
- Can’t keep up with inflation
- Hedge against layoffs
- Reduction of stress due to crazy bosses, org changes and bad performance reviews
- Faster learning
- Risk-free trial of a new job (could be in a different career)
- Not being bored
Some people try to be overemployed for a few months while others make it a multi year adventure. Some people churn and burn jobs or recycle through them, while others keep them for a long time. The churn and burn often happens due to a low productivity. While there are some companies that require less output than others, and people can find them by trial (recycling), it’s important to still do a good job and invest in being an expert worker.