Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Portfolio Careers

Our fast-paced lifestyles, quest for work-life balance and economic uncertainty has led many of us seeking alternatives to traditional ways of working. For a growing number of people, the answer has been to adopt a portfolio career.

What is a portfolio career? 

A portfolio career is the term used to describe how, rather than having a single job, you can have a portfolio of different jobs in order to meet personal, career and financial goals. A portfolio career can be made up of various types of work including part or full-time employment, casual work, contracting, freelancing or running your own business. 

The number of jobs you have is up to you. Your portfolio career could be made up of two or three different roles either doing the same kinds of work or across three completely different fields for variety. This kind of working allows you to tap into your skills, attributes and experience in a fulfilling way.  

In economically uncertain times, a portfolio career offers a way to generate multiple income streams with the potential for increased income whilst spreading the financial risk.  If you lose one of your portfolio jobs through redundancy for example, you can step up your efforts in other areas to compensate. You will never be completely without work since you will have other jobs to fall back on.

Who does a portfolio career suit most?

Those who like a lot of variety in their work or who get bored easily are most suited to a portfolio career.  If the daily grind of working nine to five, five days a week for the same company year after year is your idea of hell, you might want to consider a portfolio career. 

Typical attributes of a portfolio careerist:
  • Self-motivated
  • Enjoy variety 
  • Comfortable with change
  • Flexible
  • Reliable
  • Meets deadlines
  • Well organised
  • Multi-tasker
  • Able to prioritise
  • Like a challenge
  • Entrepreneurial spirit

A portfolio career provides the opportunity for you to wear different hats, nurture talents, learn and use different skills. Portfolio careers might not be for everyone but for those who it does suit, the realisation they can pursue multiple career paths is life changing. It can feel like lifting the lid on a Pandora’s Box of hopes and dreams, in turn boosting their enthusiasm and providing a fresh outlook on life. 

Advantages of a portfolio career
  • Enables you to take advantage of the growing amount of contract and casual work
  • Gives you the freedom to choose the work you want to do and when
  • Can allow you to try out self-employment
  • Allows you to develop new skills on an ongoing basis
  • Gives you the ability to obtain a better work-life balance
  • May offer the opportunity to work from home
  • Can lead to greater income levels than a single job

Disadvantages of a portfolio career

  • Possible lack of job security
  • Can end up overstretched and working more hours than desired
  • Potential to feel isolated if not part of a team
  • Could be less financially lucrative as a single full-time job 
  • May feel torn between different roles and unable to focus
  • How to develop a portfolio career

Many of you might already have a portfolio career but don’t realise it. A portfolio could include two to three careers or many more. You might work full-time as an architect, part-time as a musician and write for a cycling magazine.  Perhaps you have a steady part-time job, run your own internet-based business from home and tutor math a few evenings a week. 

Whatever form your portfolio career takes, make sure you identify a clear purpose for each of your roles. It can be helpful to develop a weekly or monthly schedule which can act as a visual aid to identify where you might be stretched or where you can invest more of your time. 

If you’re just getting started, you’ll need to identify your values, personal and career goals as well as determining your financial needs. This will help you decide on the kinds and amount of work that will make up your portfolio. It can be helpful to work with a suitably qualified and registered career coach to help you develop a career action plan to act as a roadmap to help you achieve your goals. 

If you would like to know more about portfolio careers or get help with developing and managing your own, get in touch with one of the team at CareerWorx. We provide professional career coaching services to individuals face-to-face (in London, Guildford and Portsmouth) and via Skype, contact us for more information. 

Copyright © CareerWorx

If you have a question or would like to share your experience of having a portfolio career I'd love to hear from you in the comments section below. 

Lisa LaRue, MCareerDev, BSocSc(Couns), DipCareerGuid,  RCDP, MCDI, MAC is a Career Coach at CareerWorx with over 18 years' experience helping people plan, manage and find happiness in their careers.

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