Portfolio Career - is it right for you?

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Portfolio Career - is it right for you?

Many people choose a traditional career, that is, working one role, in one industry with one employer. They follow a single career path at any given time throughout their working lives.

The pressure to choose and secure one meaningful career that makes you happy can often be overwhelming.

In addition, what if you wanted a career that indulged more than one of your interests? And how do you achieve a bit of everything in a career such as financial security, flexibility, diversity, purposeful work and autonomy?

From the outset, it might seem impossible to achieve all the things you want and need in one career.

But what if I told you that it is entirely possible to design a career that you not only love, but one that incorporates your interests and the things that are important to you? Would you be interested in pursuing this type of career?

Before we dive into how to achieve this type of career, let’s begin with looking at how the world of work is changing.

The World of Work is Changing

In Australia, there are three major economic forces shaping the future of work:  

  • Automation: smart machines performing human tasks;
  • Globalisation: our workforce going global; and
  • Collaboration: different jobs, with different employers, often at the same time.

Add to this the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic and a strong preference for hybrid work arrangements, and we are continuing to see a rise in the flexible worker engaging in more contract, temporary and freelance work.

“The growth of ‘gigs’ is one of the big employment trends of the 21st century. In fact, around 30 to 40% of Australia’s workforce is now a temp, contractor or freelancer.”

Peter Noblet, Senior Regional Director at Hays.

While the typical worker is a full-time employee, working with one employer on an indefinite contract, the future will see individuals pursuing more flexible and diverse work, with different employers for different periods of time quite often at the same time. This is what we call a Portfolio Career.

What is a Portfolio Career?

A Portfolio Career is a career that is made up of several roles that can be related or unrelated and can involve working for / contracting / freelancing / volunteering in different industries with different employers / organisations at the same time.

Portfolio Careers can be made up of paid work, voluntary or community work, self-employment, freelance, consulting or contracting work.

A Portfolio Career can offer individuals a flexible, purposeful and exciting career, allowing them to discover, test and explore different areas of interest or things they aren’t sure about in a safe and meaningful way.

For example, if you have been thinking of transitioning to a new career, a Portfolio Career can be a great way to ‘test’ if the new career is for you. It can help eliminate a lot of anxiety and doubt that comes with leaving a secure role to pursue something else that you don’t have a lot of information about. You can reduce your existing role down to a few days a week, while you explore and try out other opportunities in another career of interest.

What might a Portfolio Career Look Like?

Portfolio Careers might look like:

  • Working as a Primary School Teacher AND freelance Writer
  • Working as a Project Manager AND Sports Coach AND Volunteer Firefighter
  • Working as an Accountant and a Cake Maker
  • Working for a particular organisation in a specific role, while running your own business in an unrelated industry

There is no set rule on what a Portfolio Career looks like and although they have similar characteristics such as combining multiple jobs or ‘gigs’, the shape varies depending on each individual and their preferences.

Is a Portfolio Career for everyone?

A Portfolio Career is not for everyone.

Some people prefer the stability of one role with one organisation, knowing what they are doing everyday, and what and when they are getting paid.

Others love the variety, flexibility and work-life balance that a Portfolio Career gives them. They enjoy having a stable income from one role while they are establishing a business or doing consulting work which might be a bit more sporadic.

Some people find juggling 2 or 3 jobs exciting and rewarding, whereas others will find this stressful and challenging.

When considering a Portfolio Career, it’s important to reflect on what is important to you and whether this type of career will add value to your life.

How do I start a Portfolio Career?

Think about what it is you’re trying to achieve – is it gaining more flexibility and independence, diversifying your skills and experience, or starting a business? What are your goals? Perhaps you are seeking a creative outlet to balance your technical role?

Once you have determined your goals, research, connect with and talk to others who are already working in the roles / careers you are interested in or talk to people who have a Portfolio Career.

Determine if you have the required skills / experience / qualifications to do different roles? Conducting a self-audit is a great way to identify any gaps and what you might need to focus on next.

It is also important to look at your financial situation and determine how much money you need to make to sustain your lifestyle. If you are considering part-time, contracting or feelance work, adding a buffer to your finances is a good idea given your work hours and income will likely change week to week.

While a Portfolio Career is not for everyone, it is a great way to combine your interests, skills and experience while allowing you to design and take ownership of your career.

As the world of work continues to evolve now and into the future, we will see a significant increase in people choosing Portfolio Careers for the gratification, diversity and flexibility they offer.

Chrissy De Blasis, Career Practitioner – Career Revival