Will a Portfolio Career Suit You?

Portfolio working is about building a multi-strand career, undertaking two or more jobs on a part-time basis. This ‘mix-and-match’ approach is a way of life that has become an increasingly popular choice in recent years; it appeals to those who want to take control of their work, focus on what they choose to undertake and their commitments beyond work. Technological disruption, changing working patterns, alternative contract arrangements, the skills shortage and the appeal of work-life balance mean that more people seek a portfolio route.

Those who thrive in this sort of environment tend to be self-starters, good time managers who organise themselves well; people who believe they are in control of their own destiny, who don’t like to be micro-managed, need independence and autonomy, they need to be prepared to market themselves and enjoy networking. Research by the Institute of Work Psychology, and others, has shown that people who are optimistic by nature seem to be better protected against the strains of a portfolio working lifestyle.

It will help if you like change and variety, and are not frightened to take risks. It seems that perfectionists have problems with this career pattern as there is usually not time to get everything right every time.

Capability and Employability

It is becoming more common for people to change employers and industries more often than used to be the case and to change career paths as they progress in their careers, building a “portfolio career” that suits their aspirations and interests.

Portfolio careers seem to be particularly appealing to those in the later years of their careers, but zero hours contracts and short-term contracts mean that younger workers are increasingly building their career plans with a different emphasis. We’re all living longer and there’s no reason for people to stop working at 65, we will all probably make several career changes in our working lives. The traditional career ladder has disappeared and we are seeing much more retraining and mid-career job changes; workers need to take responsibility for career planning and address development opportunities in order to grow capability and maintain employability.

Acquiring a core set of skills and some sector or industry expertise will give you a good grounding but the essential soft skills that determine one’s success at work – communication skills, people management and the maturity to work with volatility, uncertainty and disruptions are likely to be gained from multiple jobs and sectors and come with time and experience. How you approach your own learning is critical as skills shortages are key challenge for business.

Skills and Marketing

A successful portfolio career requires you to ensure skills and market knowledge are current, skills are updated, and that you invest in professional development and networking; lifelong learning is key.

The gig-economy means workers need to be ready to learn new skills as they work, and to watch the market for opportunities and new developments. The rise of contract-based work is facilitated by technology platforms that enable independent consultants and freelancers, the self-employed, to offer their services to a range of customers and negotiate hours, remuneration and terms. Be aware, though, that like it or not, the ability to sell one's services is an important component of the portfolio career.

In essence your career planning should be based on four main elements: skills, interests, values and personality. If you have a broad range of skills and interests, a portfolio career is likely to work well for you.

To speak to a member of the CDS team further on this issue please contact info@careerds.co.uk or call 0333 240 8115

Posted: Tuesday 11 June 2019

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