Should you consider a portfolio career?

Forget having just one career. A portfolio career is where an individual works on several projects for different organisations. It’s similar to traditional freelancing, but portfolio workers often have lots of different strings to their bow, utilising several skills or talents to cherry-pick multiple career ‘strands.’

The Career Shifters website suggests two key reasons why portfolio working is on the rise.

Firstly, since the financial crash, self-employment and the ‘gig economy’ have grown rapidly. Online, you can now make a living from home more easily than ever before, making self-employment more accessible and appealing for people with families and a need for flexibility. Research suggests that the freelance workforce is growing more than three-times faster than the rest of the workforce.

Secondly, alongside the rise in self-employment worldwide, there’s another phenomenon at play. Culturally, we’re beginning to realise that people simply aren’t wired to do just one job. We’re multifaceted creatures with multiple interests, and we evolve and change over time. Why shouldn’t our work reflect our inner diversity and development?

Is a portfolio career right for you?

If you like the idea of combining several of your interests into a self-managed career and taking control of your own work/life balance, then a portfolio career could be for you. Taking this approach offers many potential benefits, such as the chance to fully explore different passions, develop new skills, enjoy more flexibility and variety in your work and, of course, benefit from multiple income streams.

Those who work in the creative industries are more likely to favour a portfolio career, but it is becoming a viable option for anyone who just isn’t satisfied with the regular “single-job, 9 to 5” way of working.

There are a few things you should take into consideration first:

It will take time to curate your selection of jobs. You will first of all have to decide what you want to do, then find employers or clients willing to hire you.
You will have self-accountability and will have to manage your time, commitments and finances.
There may be less job security, fluctuating cash-flow and potentially lower income in self-employed or part-time roles.
As with many freelancers, some portfolio workers can find it hard to adjust to working from home or moving around a lot, as this lack of regular co-workers or a work community can be isolating.

How to create a portfolio career

Think about your hobbies and interests

Is there a particular thread that runs through your hobbies or interests? Could the way you use your free time be turned into a source of revenue alongside your full-time job?

Utilise your work history and skills

Whether you intend to or not, all of us have some kind of career path, but it’s likely that the skills you have accumulated through work, education or volunteering can be transferred to a huge variety of jobs. Take this into consideration and apply for anything you would enjoy trying.

Be organised

Self-management is exactly what it says it is. Create an action plan and a database of potential jobs or prospective clients, tracking of the status of each one. Keep a meticulous weekly and monthly schedule and a detailed budget.

Get networking

Just as with traditional job-hunting, your contacts network will be really useful in developing a portfolio career, allowing you to discover new opportunities and promote your talents. A good place to start is your Alumni Association LinkedIn group, which not only gives you the opportunity to connect with fellow former students, but provides regular advice on networking and more.