Rachel Brushfield | 11 May 2012
Portfolio working is when an individual has multi strands rather than just one strand to their career. This trend has been growing for a while, fuelled by desire and also necessity post credit crunch.
Why is portfolio working growing?
- People aren’t one-dimensional and fit in a neat box, and they have different skills and interests;
- The job for life is dead as a concept – a portfolio career helps you create your career as you want it, by design;
- A current shortage of full-time jobs has led to more part time jobs, creating a financial shortfall that needs to be filled;
- The younger generation actively seeks more variety than the older generations;
- People are now more used to choice and like the idea that they can design their career as they wish;
- More people are seeking meaning and purpose, and a portfolio career enables people to earn money and give back;
- Mixing employment and self-employment reduces the perceived risk of going it alone 100%;
- More companies are seeing contracts and projects as a sensible solution without increasing headcount, giving you the scope to have a portfolio career
Examples of Portfolio Working
Charles Handy wrote The age of unreason, a book ahead of its time and which inspired me to become self-employed in 1997 and design my work to suit me. He divides the year with his wife Elizabeth; half of the year is focused on his career with her support, and the other half he supports her career as a photographer.
Lesley Reader did a mixture of employed and self-employed work. She co-facilitated the Energise Steer your career workshops with me, had a two day a week retainer for a charity The Hunger Project, www.thehungerproject.co.uk and ran two networking groups. Recently Lesley has moved to Tanzania to do VSO, combining all her diverse skills and experience.
Ben, an IT contractor, works hard and earns half the year and saves up to go travelling abroad the second half. The mix satisfies his financial needs AND wanderlust, and he plans to self-publish a book about his travels.
5 Tips to explore portfolio working:
1. Know your financial break even and how much money you need to feel secure and have peace of mind
2. Create efficient systems as multi-career strands can take more time to manage
3. Plan time for marketing to line up the next contract/retainer and create a financial buffer in case things change unexpectedly
4. Get advice from people doing portfolio working so you understand the pros and cons
5. Know your values and needs/wants so that you can ensure that a portfolio career is a right choice to give you fulfilment not stress
It is normal for people to have different parts and to have a portfolio career helps you to scratch all your itches! As someone with a portfolio career myself, I enjoy helping my clients to create theirs.
Rachel Brushfield is a director at Energise – The Talent Liberation Company.
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