What to consider when planning for a portfolio career
A portfolio career is where you choose to work in a range of different roles, using different skills, and it can sometimes include doing pro bono or voluntary work.
How easy is it to start a portfolio career?
A starting point would be to find a part-time job that will give you some security, whilst you fit in another type of work around this. You can use job boards, and by searching for 'part-time' along with the type of work you want, this will give the results of jobs that are either advertising part-time roles or are willing to accept part-time applications.
You don’t necessarily need to change your job to move to a portfolio way of working. Rather than taking quite a drastic move and quitting your job, it might be possible to talk to your manager to ask him/her if you can take on different roles within your job.
Another possibility might be to go on a secondment for a set time. You’d need to argue about how much you’d learn and be able to bring back to the team. It might be helpful if you can link the skills you’ll pick up during the secondment to departmental objectives.
Being alert for opportunities, as they occur, can make a difference. There is a great value in networking. Sometimes it won’t lead anywhere, but often a chance meeting with a peer can open your eyes to a role that you hadn’t known about or yet considered.
Trying something new and different may prove difficult, to begin with, but it will often open more doors to further opportunities.
Finally, can you take the Carlberg test - i.e. does your new portfolio role refresh other parts of you that other roles couldn’t do?
What kind of work could you do?
Some ideas include:
- setting up your own private practice, e.g. as a consultant
- ad hoc work; for example, you may be able to ask whether your employer has any project work that you might be able to do on a freelance basis
- running your own business (it could be something completely unrelated to your own role)
The rewards include:
- the chance to learn new skills
- an opportunity to meet a greater range of people
- ability, to some extent, to choose your own hours
- a way to combine several interests
Other factors to consider:
- less security if you are working part-time (also this will affect your pension)
- you’ll need to be organised and plan what you’re doing
- you’ll have to be flexible in order to balance your various roles, especially if working to deadlines
- you may need to network a lot, especially if you are running your own business
Once in a portfolio career, it’s really important to manage boundaries, and this means saying 'no' sometimes. If you are taking on more than one role, you’ll need to have boundaries and manage your time really well. Being strict about the time you’ve set aside for one role, and not trying to do everything you’ve been asked to do, is important. It can be stressful keeping it all together. This can be where recruiting the services of a coach can really help you.
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