Strength in depth – portfolio careers

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portfolio career

There’s a school of thought that a successful career involves securing a role in one sector at a time, with a steady career progression over a number of years. This linear approach is the most popular career path by far. Even if your role ends up being across different sectors, your job often remains the same. It offers a degree of security, but it also can narrow people’s vision in their career outlook. Nowadays, more and more people are embarking on careers that telescope various roles and clients together, so they are working in different roles across different sectors, from day to day.

Flexible and dexterous

So-called portfolio careers are something that are becoming more and more popular and are very appealing to some of our executive clients. You’ll carry out two, three or more roles, possibly across multiple sectors, but utilising your core skills as the vehicle to facilitate this. You have to be both flexible in how you allocate time and resources, and dexterous in your adaptability, thought process and approach. You never know what your working week will look like. You can have a roughed-out plan – of pre-arranged meetings for example – but around that framework you will need to be adaptable too.

What are the options?

The details of a portfolio career are something that you will need to spend time working out.  It may consist of different types of jobs including, for example, consultancy, non-executive directorships or project or interim management.  It may also involve unpaid, voluntary work.  Whatever the mix, it is important to take on work that is meaningful and rewarding to you as a career lifestyle choice.

Greater security?

Detractors point out that portfolio careers can be unstable and prone to disruption by outside factors – illness for example, or if you are working from home, daily life. However, a broad range of sectors often offers greater security too. If one sector – say, tourism or hospitality – is struggling, other sectors, e.g. construction, might be flourishing. The offset of one sector slowing down, is compensated by another bursting to life, with your workload ratio tweaked accordingly.

A range of skills

A good network of contacts is essential too, especially if your portfolio career is mostly you working solo. Networking is a great way to meet like-minded people and can be used to broaden your contacts in adjacent sectors. In this way, you might strengthen your portfolio, whilst also reaching out to companies you may be able to collaborate with. In this way, you can create a strong business offering – with for example freelance designers, accountants, writers – that is as formidable as any company.

Everyone’s different

The school of thought about portfolios was being popularised even before the pandemic. But since then, the changes that took place have made everyone think about how they work and run their businesses. The portfolio career is one that lends itself to working from home, where you can work for multiple clients using the same basic home office work set-up. The style of work is excellent for people who like to work in multiple sectors, are adaptable and like every day to be different. One day you might be working for a haulier, the next a computer retailer. The scope is limitless, as long as it fits your core skillset.

Making it work for you

You can also  be carrying out different roles for different companies, thereby widening you skillset and offering – you could be a marketer for various companies for two days per week, a researcher for another company for the other two days, and run a fitness and wellbeing course on the other weekday, or at weekends. This may allow you build up one area of your business – perhaps a private passion or hobby that would need time to strengthen and grow – while having the security of a regular income from established clients and stabilised sectors.

It’s well worth looking at portfolio careers and the possibilities they offer. If you have some ideas and think it could be for you, talk to one of our Career Consultants. We can offer guidance and advice on how to make this style of career work for you.