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How Portfolio Careers Work

cropped-cropped-team.jpgNow you may or may not have heard of a portfolio career before. It’s a title that I am sure a lot of working people may not have heard of or even known 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 really they describe a mix and match approach to careers, work and or job types.  Portfolio careers are primarily explained as a deliberate approach and choice by an individual to divide their working week up into different parts with sometimes distinctly different jobs or work.

Changing Work Patterns

Portfolio careers have gained more prominence with the changing employment landscape, insecurity of careers/jobs and the recent economic difficulties. Thus helping individuals manage their careers effectively to meet with their changing lives.

I guess the traditional way to look at paid employment is a 9-5 office job or shift working existence going along to an office or a factory to do tasks outlined in the job description. However, the portfolio career tends to see work differently. Operating flexibly by perhaps doing consultancy or part-time work in conjunction with running a small business, tailoring/seamstress, journalists, artists etc or whatever the opportunity presents. I am sure this may resonate with a lot of parents looking for the flexibility of childcare. Though have the opportunity to rejoin their careers on their own terms.

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, as more and more 20 and 30 something’s see the benefits of a flexible working environment that suits their lifestyles. 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 be initially 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.

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? Those that are looking for perhaps more meaningful work i.e. balance a better-paid role to go alongside a less well-paid role such as working in the third sector and charities. Perhaps looking for more autonomy, independence, enjoy a challenge 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 the gaining the next project or customer enquiry. Opportunities such as these need to worked on and are generally hard work and sometimes dispiriting to start. As the hard work may yield very little in the short-term. So some support may be necessary to maintain motivation and commitment. All that aside, this Liquorice All sorts career path can ultimately suit a wide variety of people/parents 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 pros & cons properly
  • Think in terms of careers paths & patterns. Focus upon about 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. Perhaps to supplement a pension or preferred lifestyle. However, the transition can be fraught with pitfalls and setbacks. Though if planned and executed correctly can be a liberating, fulfilling and sustainable for those people 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 you valuable knowledge and expertise to your advantage. Alongside a more flexible and enjoyable lifestyle. So what are you waiting for?