Portfolio careers have been around for years, but the term is becoming increasingly prevalent.

You have a portfolio career when you have two or more different employment roles you perform alongside each other. These can be complementary to each other, or completely different, think

  • A part-time project manager and part-time coach, or
  • A journalist, copywriter and novelist, or
  • A coffee shop owner with an online cake business

There are many reasons for having a portfolio career and, as society moves away from "job for life" towards flexibility, regular job changes for challenge and development (for the employee) or cost control (employer), it seems likely they will become progressively more common.


Advantages of Portfolio Careers

Flexibility: you chose the balance of types of work you do, the hours you work, your location, the people you work with, and so on

Reduced risk: if one of your roles is hit by unexpected setbacks (like a global pandemic) you still have the other to fall back on

Trying out something new: if there is something you think you would like to do, but are not really sure, you could try it out alongside your current role. If you don't like it, you've learned something, but you're not stuck there!

Passion project: if there is something you would love to do, but it would not give you enough money to live on, you could choose to do it some of the time and supplement your income with a higher paid role

Versatility: you will have lots of extremely useful transferable skills, with unique experiences, to offer future employers and clients

Cash flow: you could temporarily take on additional roles to earn extra money for a specific personal project


Potential Disadvantages of Portfolio Careers - And How You Could Overcome Them

Over-flexibility: you could end up trying to do too much at the same time – you need to be focused in your choices

Employers: may view you as more risky, so may not employ you, or you may miss out on promotions – demonstrate your adaptability and versatility to prove them wrong!

Uncertainty: your income may be more variable and unpredictable, which can be stressful - but you can plan for this

Admin: you have to do all your own admin - or outsource it, there are plenty of excellent Virtual Assistants out there now!

Lack of employee benefits: you may not get pension, sick pay etc. - but you can take this into account in your planning and charges


Ready to Move to YOUR Portfolio Career?

Really understand your reasons why, your motivation: flexibility, balance, money, passion, career change….?

Know what success means to you: a new skill? More money? A career change? Choice of hours…?

Manage your mindset: be determined; be comfortable with experimentation; be prepared to deal with knock backs; be open minded; be constantly learning

Know your value: understand and be able to define the value that you bring with your uniquely diverse set of skills, and the problems that you solve

Network, network, network! build meaningful relationships with people in all areas of your portfolio, provide reciprocal support - recommendations, testimonials, finding clients, offering support

Remember to have holidays! No holidays will lead to stress and eventually burn out.

There are infinite forms a portfolio career can take, and with the advantages of freedom, autonomy, personal growth, challenge, variety, fulfilment and choice them becoming the norm is surely only a matter of time!