How Struggling Furloughed Workers Can Get A Side Hustle

Written by Ann Brown

Some 800,000 federal workers have been furloughed by the current U.S. government shutdown. Many businesses in the private sector are looking for ways to help these workers. One private company doing so is  Harvest, Inc., a  recruiting platform. Harvest, which is Black-owned, is donating $10,000 weekly in career services to furloughed federal workers.

The shutdown has forced many federal employees to consider other job and career opportunities, and Harvest is offering a free workshop to these workers. The workshop is normally $99 per participant. Furloughed federal workers, who are disproportionately Black, will receive help with a variety of services from resume writing to interview prep.

Furloughed federal worker Meghan Powell, holding sign on left, demonstrates with others against the partial government shutdown in view of Independence Hall in Philadelphia, Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2019. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

“As an innovative workforce technology company that has a specific focus on empowering people to gain clarity and confidence in the value they bring to the job market, when we heard that 800,000 federal workers were indefinitely furloughed, we felt compelled to take action and help those who feel it’s time to make a change and go into the private sector. Our team of 75 career experts has come together and we are delivering up to $10,000 per week in career services to federal workers until the shutdown is over,” the founder and CEO of Harvest, Joel Fenelon, told Moguldom.

Fenelon, hosts a live interactive webinar series entitled “The Harvest Career Formula” every Tuesday and Friday.

Each federal worker will gain free access to Harvest’s secure, tech-savvy recruiting platform.

We have so far received an overwhelming positive response from the media and from workers across the country. Just over the last few days, we’ve had close to 1,000 people repost and share our offer across social media, which has led to two full webinars in a 72-hour window. Workers have been creating accounts and have begun taking advantage of our services,” Fenelon said.

Harvest is just one opportunity for furloughed workers looking for a new job. Some of those out of work are also considering “side jobs.”  Amanda Miller Littlejohn is the founder of Package Your Genius Academy and the author of  “Package Your Genius: 5 Steps to Build Your Most Powerful Personal Brand and she wants to help furloughed workers find their “side hustles.” She is offering advice not only in her book but also in her podcast, “Package Your Genius.”

“To find a side hustle quickly, you can look at existing platforms in our sharing economy. If you have room to share or don’t mind driving, check out home sharing platforms like AirBnB, ride sharing platforms like Lyft or Uber, or even on-demand delivery services for companies like Instacart or Postmates can bring in some extra cash. If you are handy, you can check out Taskrabbit or Thumbtack to pick up odd jobs or offer your services as a tutor,” Littlejohn told Moguldom.

Take a close look at your skill set. “For people who have a technical or specialized skill, you can take whatever you do during your day job (marketing, pr, welding, accounting) and offer it to your network of colleagues and personal contacts as a side service. In my opinion, even business owners should have side hustles. If you offer a professional service like marketing, you should create more income streams in your business by creating auxiliary products (i.e. a marketing workshop or marketing toolkit) that serves the same basic need in a different way, or at a different price point,” Littlejohn said.

Your side hustle might be right under your nose. “Think about what you enjoy doing and can do easily without a ton of extra effort. You likely have a skill that comes easily and naturally to you that others don’t have but would be willing to pay for. Explore the things you naturally do in your spare time even when you’re not being paid,” Littlejohn suggested.

This is what sisters Jaqi Wright, 50, and Nikki Howard, 48, did. These two furloughed federal employees have been without work and a paycheck since the shutdown began Dec. 22. Wright works for the Justice Department and Howard is a Food and Drug Administration employee. The two launched The Furlough Cheesecake on New Year’s Day, and orders for their cheesecakes, which sell for $29.98 each, have been rolling in.

‘Look at what others are already asking of you. Often times, the world is telling us what it wants from us and what it would gladly pay us for, if we’d only pay attention. The people in your life are likely asking for your help around your most pronounced skills — when different people reach out and ask you for help around a certain task or topic, this is likely skill you could monetize. To earn money from this skill, you simply need to formalize what you’re doing by putting some pricing and parameters around it,” Littlejohn said.

But Littlejohn warned, just coming up with a side hustle is not enough. You have to promote yourself.

“Last but not least, put yourself out there. Once you know what you want to sell and you’ve identified how you’ll package and price that skill, let people know! This is actually the step most people miss – they think up a side hustle but fail to inform their network. Don’t make that mistake. If you have a side hustle idea, shout it from the rooftops! Tell your followers and friends online; send an email to let people know what you’re up to, make a list of 10 or 20 people who may specifically need this service and reach out them to directly. Don’t keep your side hustle a secret,” she concluded.

About Ann Brown

Ann Brown has been a freelance writer for more than two decades. Her work has appeared in CocoaFab, Black Enterprise, Essence,, New York Trend, Upscale, Moguldom, AFKInsider, The Network Journal, Playboy, Africa Strictly Business, For Harriet, Pathfinders, Black Meetings & Tourism, Frequent Flier, Girl, Honey, Source Sports, The Source, Black Radio Exclusive, and Launch. She studied journalism at New York University and has her B.A. Born in New York, Ann lived in Praia, Cabo Verde, for nearly a decade. She created “An American In Cabo Verde,” a Facebook community.