This article originally appeared on Business Insider.
Tomas, a Georgia-based IT worker in his 30s, said his journey to an “overemployed” lifestyle began at a very young age.
He grew up “very poor,” he told Business Insider, and after his mother left his father, he, his mother, and four siblings shared a one-room apartment for two years.
“As I got older I was like, ‘I don’t want to live like that,” he said.
In 2016, when Tomas had roughly $40,000 in credit card debt and was struggling to pay child support, he decided to look for a second remote job he could work on the sly. Two years later, job juggling had helped him pay off his debt, but he wasn’t ready to give it up.
“I kind of felt invincible, and it made me feel like that will be one less thing I have to worry about in life,” said Tomas, whose identity is known to BI but has been withheld due to his fear of professional repercussions.
To this day, Tomas is secretly working two full-time remote jobs that pay over $250,000 a year in combined salaries, according to documents viewed by BI. Doing so has helped him grow his net worth to over $500,000, pay off two new cars, travel more, and find “financial stability and freedom,” he said. Tomas added that he’d love to have a third job if he can find the right fit.
Tomas is among a small group of U.S. workers — many in the tech and IT industries — secretly holding multiple remote jobs. Working more than one job at once may not violate federal or state laws, but it could breach some employment contracts and be a fireable offense if a worker is ever found out.
As layoffs have spread across the tech industry, Tomas said the extra job security that comes with overemployment has become even more important. He’s even encouraged some colleagues to look for second jobs and provided advice on pulling it off.
“Companies will terminate you or lay you off without any notice at all,” he said. “I now have the belief that everyone should always keep two jobs.”
Finding the right job for over-employment isn’t easy
Tomas has had several different stints as an overemployed worker.
Roughly a year after he began his overemployment, he decided to take a break. He said one of his jobs became much more demanding and that he wanted to adjust to the workload before he took on a second job again.
Additionally, throughout this career, Tomas has worked a mix of full-time and contract jobs, and the latter have typically had an expiration date.
As pandemic fears have eased in recent years, Tomas said he’s also worked for companies that required employees to return to the office. Given working remotely was key to his overemployment, he decided to part ways with those employers.
These job separations are the main reason Tomas has had roughly seven different jobs since 2017. While he’s generally had no more than two jobs at once, he said there were three to four months when he had three jobs — and one month when he had four. All but one of his jobs were remote — he said flexible working hours enabled him to juggle a hybrid and remote role for a while.
At his peak, Tomas said he earned close to $400,000 across his jobs in a single year.
Four pieces of advice for over-employed workers
Tomas has four suggestions for people interested in the over-employed lifestyle.
First: Know your job well so you can complete tasks quickly and dedicate time to your other jobs. Second: Figure out which job has more flexibility so you can reschedule those meetings if need be. Third: To appear constantly online for a job, don’t rely on mouse jigglers — he said he thinks some IT departments can figure out when workers are using the latter. Fourth: If you think your boss is suspicious of you, it’s probably time to leave that job.
Tomas said job juggling has been fairly easy in his two current roles. Both jobs have flexible hours, and his shifts start at different times of the day — with only three hours of overlap between them. He said he’s only had one or two overlapping meetings that have required him to come up with an excuse for missing one of them.
But during a prior overemployment stint, Tomas said he had a boss who seemed to suspect he was job juggling — asking questions like why he was online well past working hours. When these questions didn’t go away, Tomas decided to leave the job.
Unless he finds one job that pays him over $250,000 a year, roughly his current combined salaries, Tomas said he has no plans to give up his overemployment.
“I’m going to keep going as long as I can,” he said, adding, “The rewards definitely outweigh the labor.”