What is a ‘Portfolio Career’ and how do you get one?

I read an interesting article in Stylist magazine recently about the rise of the Portfolio Career. This is essentially a way of piecing together various part-time interests and opportunities to create a full-time job.

Why might you consider a portfolio career?

  1. Your dream job is only available on a part-time basis but you need a full-time income
  2. You need true flexibility in your working hours
  3. You want to work from home
  4. You want to utilise your wide range of skills and/or interests
  5. You can’t decide on a single career path
  6. You want to transition to a new role and/or sector but you’re afraid to do so without gaining some experience first
  7. You want it all

With more and more companies really buying in to flexible working, a portfolio career could be more of a reality than you realise.

“Flexible working” used to be something that companies listed in the benefits section of a job description but when you challenged them on what it really meant, they couldn’t offer much beyond occasionally finishing at 4 on a Friday.

In my current role as a Communications Manager for a truly global business, I finally understand how flexible working can benefit both the company and its staff. “Flexibility” can mean different things to different people, of course. For some, flexible working hours are key to support a busy home life and dependants, while for others it’s about having the option to work from different locations on different days. For me, it’s a shorter working week with a couple of days working at home.

So, if you are able to change your hours to better suit your schedule or even condense your working week, you could start to build yourself a portfolio career. For someone in a role like mine, this could mean taking on freelance copywriting or proofreading projects to make the most of these in-demand skills. Or, you could try something completely different to your day job to help you stay motivated and interested in your work.

If you’re not currently working in your dream role or if you don’t have any experience in the sector you want to join, this could also be a way to gently start the transition so you don’t have to make such a blind leap of faith further down the line.

It is worth noting that some employment contracts state you must declare any business interests that you have and seek permission from your line manager if there could be a conflict of interest. If this is in your contract, do it. It’s not worth losing your main source of income because you didn’t think to check. 

I’d be interested to hear from anyone who works for a business that is truly flexible with its team and those who have started building portfolio careers for themselves. As always, you can comment below or tweet me via @beccajhills.

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