Bright Sparks Coaching Leadership Upward Trends

Now you may or may not have heard of a portfolio career before. Wouldn’t blame you in the slightest if you hadn’t. In fact, I am sure a lot of working people may not have heard of or even known they existed.  The big question is, do they exist, what are they and who are they for?

Well, the answer to the question is yes they do exist and could be the answer to many of your career development questions. A portfolio career describes a mix and match approach to careers, work, and or job types. Portfolio careers can be explained as a deliberate approach and choice by an individual to divide their working week up into different parts.  In many cases with sometimes distinctly different jobs or work. Therefore in an everchanging work and career landscape, a portfolio career can help the ups and downs on our working lives.

Ever-Changing Work Patterns

Portfolio careers have gained more prominence with the changing employment landscape, insecurity of careers/jobs, and in particular the recent global difficulties. It’s a style of working that can help with challenges during the pandemic to give individuals more options. Moreover not to put all the career eggs in one basket. As a result, helping individuals manage their careers effectively to meet with their changing lives and fluid circumstances.

The traditional way (and currently outdated way) to look at paid employment is a 9-5 office job or perhaps shift working existence.  Commuting or going along to an office or a factory to do tasks outlined in the job description. Clearly, we are at a very different time with more remote working and the potential for a lack of visibility for a career changer. However, the portfolio career tends to see work differently and can help people with that transitional space to make significant career changes. Changes that can be made without too much disruption, as different career patterns can be run in parallel.

A few examples might be, perhaps doing some consultancy or part-time work in conjunction with running a small business for example. I am sure this may resonate with a lot of parents looking for more flexibility of childcare, had time out of the workplace for a long-term illness. Or perhaps anyone that has experienced redundancy. Especially during the time of the Covid-19 pandemic. Therefore the portfolio career can offer the opportunity to rejoin a career or start different job streams on your own terms. Thus leveraging skills, abilities, knowledge and experiences etc (career capital). Allowing the agility to pivot from one job to another to fill the working week. Developing new and previous unseen career opportunities into the bargain.

Who do Portfolio Careers Work For?

Needless to say, these opportunities are not for everyone. Firstly, portfolio careers are seen by many as a “middle-aged, middle-class luxury” and to some extent that may have some truth. Though not always the case. More and more 20 and 30 something’s see the benefits of a flexible working environment that suits their lifestyles. The upheaval of the pandemic has hastened a new world view of how careers and work works. Employers have gone from the intransigence of helping employees to work flexibly, to fully embracing the idea. Possibly out of expediency over and above benefit to the employee. So clearly nothing is counted out or in on how people can work at the moment.

However, for some younger people, they may want to establish a career track record before investigating an opportunity for a portfolio career. Therefore this method of working can initially be tricky to support. Not impossible by any means, just may need some creative thinking and a great deal of hard work. For the younger worker, this career path can be rewarding, highly flexible, and certainly worth considering. So a young professional can start to plan for portfolio working arrangments in the future.

Portfolio careers then offer a great deal in return as discussed. Though in reality perhaps ideally suited to those with an established career track record. Maybe financially secure and are happy to look at self-employment and the variability in income that can sometimes present.  So who will benefit from this career option, those that like variety and change perhaps? Those that are looking for more meaningful varied work i.e. balance a better-paid role to go alongside a less well-paid role. Perhaps working in the third sector and for charities. Maybe better suited to those looking for more autonomy, independence, enjoy a challenge, networking opportunities, and flexibility.

How to Make Portfolio Careers Work

Portfolio careers can clearly present exciting opportunities. Though may need to be tempered with the unpredictability of self-employment for example. Opportunities such as these need to worked on, are generally hard work, and sometimes dispiriting to start with. As all your hard work may yield very little in the short-term. So some support may be necessary to maintain motivation and commitment to the cause. All that aside, this Liquorice Allsorts of career path can ultimately suit a wide variety of people looking for variety, flexibility, and enjoyment into their working life.

So if portfolio careers interest you – then here are a few tips to start your planning

  • Try to be flexible and plan your transition into a portfolio career with paid part-time work of full-time work to fund the planning.
  • Focus upon the steps necessary and plan well
  • Weigh up the pros & cons properly
  • Think in terms of careers paths & patterns. Focus upon what you understand as a proper career at your stage of life. What do you want from your working life now?
  • Think hard about self-employment & freelancing and what it means in reality (as discussed).
  • Be prepared for a lot of hard work to establish yourself, your friends and family may feel you are playing at working rather than a career plan. Help them to help you.
  • Think about temporary work or short-term contact working to help establish yourself and create revenue streams
  • Look into part-time jobs to plug the gaps
  • Job sharing opportunities
  • Take time to distinguish from your fantasy job or career from the reality of the situation you are in. Be sure what you will be doing, when how, and with who.
  • Lastly, be positive, take the challenge, and enjoy the rewards that a portfolio career can offer



Clearly, portfolio careers can be rewarding and fulfilling. They can help young and more mature people construct a career path with regular income. Plus the opportunity to explore new and novel career development opportunities not previously considered. Perhaps to get back on the horse after redundancy, to supplement a pension or preferred lifestyle. Younger professionals may consider a portfolio career as a long term aspiration, rather than a linear career pathway. However, the transition can be fraught with pitfalls and setbacks. So may well need support to build a portfolio career development strategy or a business plan to ensure your start on the right path.

Though if planned and executed correctly, a portfolio career can be liberating, fulfilling, and sustainable for those looking for a challenge. Want to know more call or contact me for more details of career transitions and how to take the anxiety out of portfolio careers? Then drop me a line to help you find your next career challenge and to utilises your valuable knowledge and expertise to your advantage. Alongside a more flexible and enjoyable lifestyle. So what are you waiting for?

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