Author – Leah Lambart, Career & Interview Coach, Relaunch Me

Over the past few weeks I have been speaking to many clients about the possibility of considering a ‘portfolio career’ based on their personality type and their multiple interests.

Most of us consider our career as one that involves working for the one employer.  But what if you were able to work for multiple employers? And have multiple careers?

Full-time jobs are likely to become the exception rather than the rule.  There have been estimates that only 50% of the workforce will actually have ‘proper’ full-time jobs by the beginning of the 21st century.   One way to prepare for this is to have a portfolio career.

We have all heard that the nature of work is changing.  You have probably heard about the ‘gig economy’ and you may know a few friends who are working as freelancers or contractors instead of doing full-time work.  Even CEOs and other senior positions may soon be filled by ‘gig workers’ rather than full-time staff as we start to consider this new reality.  There has even been discussions around CEOs being rented out on an hourly basis.

Whilst 40 years ago there was an expectation that you would start with one company and stay there for 20 yrs, the new trend is to have a variety of different jobs at once.  They may be short-term projects rather than contracts that continue on for years and they may include a side hustle.

So what is the portfolio career?

The portfolio career concept is based on the idea that you work for multiple employers (no full-time job) and possibly a mix of part-time, temporary, freelance and self-employment work. Some people may include some speaking, teaching, coaching, writing and voluntary work in the mix.  

Basically, you do things you are really interested in that may not necessarily be sustainable or interest you full-time.  Take my fellow career-coach friend as an example. She manages to work as a career coach two days per week, a yoga/pilates instructor several shifts a week and manage an online interiors business to complete her portfolio.  She has the benefit in indulging in three areas of work that interest her ensuring that she has flexibility and doesn’t get time to get bored.

The Millennials, Gen Z and Boomers are all over this new way of working but will it work for everyone?  Based on my discussions with clients over the past few months, I think the first step is to ensure that you know yourself well and your key values and requirements.  

Where are you at in your life? What job security do you crave? What financial commitments do you have? Do you have a mortgage to pay? Do you have kids at private school?    In many cases, a portfolio is an extremely attractive option but it just isn’t the right timing.

If you are interested in exploring a portfolio career, then consider the following?

How well do you know yourself and what is most important to you

Understand your current financial position.  Meet with a Financial Planner and understand where you are at financially.  Can you take a step backwards or sideways for a few years until you get up and running?

What is your risk profile?  Are you risk averse? Do you need security

What are your most important values?  Do you like variety in your work?  Is flexibility important to you? Would you prefer to work alone or as part of a team?

What are your strengths? Skills? Subject matter expertise? Could you do something for yourself using these skills? 

Do you have the right attributes to make this work?

From my experience exploring this option with clients, the key attributes that are required to make a portfolio career successful include the following: energetic, resilient, self-motivated, adaptable / flexible and a commitment to ongoing learning and development.

Do you have a network to draw from?

A portfolio career often involves networking to get ongoing work.  So think about your current network/relationships and the possibilities of getting work if you were to start telling people about your intentions.  

Then think about your current network, your network’s network and how you would feel about expanding this network further through self-promotion or marketing.

Pros and Cons of a Portfolio Career

If you believe that you have the right attributes and attitude to make a portfolio career work, then consider the pros and cons below before you make your final decision.

Pros  

Portfolio careers are fantastic for multi-passionates who love variety in their work.  They have little time to get bored and it allows them to work across multiple areas of interest without giving up anything.  They have loads of flexibility and can choose who and when they want to work.

Cons

The main disadvantage of having a portfolio career is the financial risk due to the lack of a consistent income.  This can be a problem for younger people who need to demonstrate a regular income when saving for a home loan or for those with extensive financial commitments or a large debt.  It tends to work best for younger individuals who have no intention of owning their own home or for those individuals who have almost paid off their mortgage.

If you are considering a portfolio career, we recommend opting for 20hrs consistent work each week (ie a 3-day per week role) and then using the remaining 20 hours to ‘play’.  

If you are an introvert, you may also need to consider how you will ‘market yourself’ in order to find new opportunities. This can be hard work if you are constantly looking for new opportunities / projects to work on. However, if you can find 2-3 permanent part-time opportunities than this wouldn’t be such a problem.  

If you are an extrovert, you also need to consider whether you will be happy working more independently or whether you would prefer to have people around you.  Co-working spaces can be attractive to someone who doesn’t want to work from home, allowing flexibility but also the opportunity to develop networks with like-minded people.

If you are keen to find out more about the portfolio career and whether it might be right for you, then contact us at enquiries@relaunchme.com.au