Can I freelance with company competition  while on leave?

Friday September 18 2020
jobs004 pix

Caroline Mboijana

By Caroline Mboijana

Dear Caroline, 
I’m a graphic designer but working on contract with one of the local companies. So, I was asked to take leave; it’s the first time I will be away on leave since I joined last year. Meanwhile, I’ve been getting gig offers and some are from companies competing with my employers. Is it ethical for me to take part time gigs from competition when on leave? Lawrence.

Hello Lawrence,
I’ m sure it’s a great feeling to have companies contacting you and wanting to work  with you. This speaks to the quality of your work. So kudos to you. As you appreciate this attention, it’s important  you remain focused on the bigger picture. Companies will always find  ways to source for talent.  They are always on the lookout for new and fresh talent.  

In your case, you need to think this through in terms of the long term goals. Your commitment to your current employer is probably around the idea of building your career amongst other aspects such as earning an income. It is unethical to  work with your employers competitor whilst still employed. While it may be a quick fix from the financial perspective, it speaks volumes to your value system. If you want to work with the competitor and work with them giving them your best in terms of your creative ideas and talent,  then you should resign and  give them your all. Another aspect you need to think about is your brand. 

The professional circles are small and it only takes one person to comment on your decision to “ moonlight with the competitor”, to raise eyebrows on your integrity.  Never underestimate how far businesses and people will go in conducting due diligence and reference checking on a potential employee.  In deciding what you should do, ask yourself what is the vision you have of yourself, what is the brand that you want to be known for? Answering those two questions should guide you in making the final decision. It’s not about the money; its about your reputation, brand and integrity. 
Good luck....  

Caroline Mboijana,
Managing Director,
The Leadership Team (U)