Have you thought about a Portfolio career?


What is a Portfolio career?  What is involved and how does it work?  Would it be the right option for me in my career?  These are all some of the questions I hear people ask.  There are no easy options as we all have different career drivers, skills and needs and wants from work so one size does not work.

Let us start with an easy question? Do you dread each Monday because another boring, same week lies ahead of you? Do you feel like each work day reminds you of the film “Groundhog Day”? Do you wish to work more flexibly? If your answer to these questions is yes, a portfolio career could be the answer for you.

What’s a portfolio career?

It’s a way of working where you have more than one job. It’s not moonlighting, because it’s totally legitimate, and it’s not about working all the hours there are. It’s about recognising that all of us have more than one string to our bow. It’s arguably not at all natural to spend 40 hours (or more) a week doing pretty much the same kind of thing – we’d get bored fairly quickly if we did exactly the same thing every weekend. A portfolio career is about doing two or more different jobs on a part-time basis. They might be totally unrelated, or they might be complementary. For example, you might spend 4 days a week working in an office so that you have a day a week spare to build up your garden landscaping business. Or you might spend 3 days a week running your own software consultancy business and 2 days a week working in a company as their software developer.

Who is it for?

A portfolio career is suitable for people who do not want to work in a full-time job and who want to have a variety in their work life. Rather than working for one company or doing the same work every day, you use your gifts and skills on a variety of activities and projects. An example of a person with a portfolio career is an interpreter who works two days a week with one employer, teaches language part-time at a local college, and works as a freelance interpreter on the side. They can also pursue their hobbies and interests, for example they can design and sell jewelry at local craft fairs.

What are the advantages of a portfolio career, and how do you set one up?

It’s a great way to work, because:

  • it gives you variety and allows you to pursue more than one area of interest at any one time;
  • if you’re relatively new to the world of work and aren’t sure of your long-term direction, it’s an efficient way of “dipping your toe in the water” of a number of different areas;
  • it’s ideal for people who have other responsibilities to work around, e.g. children or caring for relatives;
  • part-time workers are often more attractive to employers, especially smaller ones, as they offer more flexibility – not every small business needs full-time marketing staff, for example;
  • it’s also a great approach for people who want to have a go at setting up their own business, but don’t want the risk of jacking their job in completely
  • if you’re clever about it, it’s a great way of developing your personal and professional “brand”, as you can combine different skills and interests in a way that is unique to you; AND
  • it can actually be easier to earn more money from 2 part-time jobs than from one full-time job!
  • it brings more flexibility, variety, and freedom to your work life.

How do you go about putting a portfolio career together?

Some top tips:

  • Think about the sorts of things you’d like to be able to do that your current job doesn’t include. What other kind of work would you like to try? Would it be something totally different, to give you a real change, or something complementary which could add to your value in your current workplace too?
  • Think about the balance you’d like between the different roles. For example, would you like to work mainly in one area (say, 4 days a week) with one day to ring the changes, or would you prefer to split it half-and-half, with maybe a day off in between to do your own thing?
  • If part of your plan is to stay with your current employer but work fewer days, sit down with your line manager and/or HR department and discuss whether this is feasible. Point out the benefits for them as well as for you – you’ll be more energised and enthusiastic, for example, or you’ll be able to draw on your expertise in another field.
  • If your plan is to change jobs completely and do one or two different things, try to make sure you have one part of your new working arrangements sorted out before you hand in your notice. Don’t try to take on several new things all at once – phase it in gradually over a few months, for example.

Next Steps

If the idea of portfolio work appeals to you, start by asking yourself the following questions:

  • What’s important to you in your career now? If you need stability, the prestige of a steady position and a guaranteed income, focus on finding full-time work. But if flexibility, variety and freedom are your top work values and you want more control over your time, you might consider a portfolio career.
  • There are higher levels of uncertainty and less stability in portfolio working. Are you prepared for this?
  • Can you successfully juggle multiple jobs? Are you self-directed and self-disciplined?
  • What are your skills and passions? What are the hobbies or side interests that could become income generators? List everything that comes to your mind. Ask your friends or colleagues to help you complete your list.
  • How can you market your products, skills, services? Who are your target markets? Plan a brainstorming session with a friend to come up with a number of revenue streams.
  • Make a plan. Your plan should include a list of possible jobs and prospective employers/clients, a weekly or monthly schedule, plans for a home office or workspace, and a detailed budget. You should also plan how you will pay for medical benefits, holidays and retirement.
  • Use your network. Your network of personal contacts will be extremely beneficial to you to market yourself and gain new business ideas.

Portfolio work can be very rewarding for people who have a broad range of interests and skills. You can gain work/life balance and pursue your dreams. Most of all, you can achieve personal fulfillment and the satisfaction that your talents aren’t being wasted.

Finally, not all jobs or career directions lend themselves easily to portfolio working. But it’s surprising how much flexibility and variety you can build in your working life with just a little bit of creativity and imagination.

If the idea of portfolio working appeals to you, but you’re not sure how to go about actually making it happen, Gateway Career Management can help.   Visit us on https://www.gatewaycareers.co.uk/2022



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