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No more 9 to 5: What is a portfolio career?

Portfolio CareersForget just having one career. A portfolio career is where an individual works on several projects for different organisations. It’s similar to traditional freelancing, but portfolio workers often have lots of different strings to their bow, utilising several skills or talents to cherry-pick multiple career ‘strands.’

The Telegraph suggests several reasons why portfolio working is on the rise.

  1. Firstly, people have lots of different skills and areas of interest, and portfolio careers help you create a career you really want. In particular, the younger generations are less inclined to think of having a ‘job for life.’
  2. A decline in the availability of full-time jobs has led to people doing several part-time jobs to make ends meet.
  3. Many people are becoming self-employed alongside their existing jobs in order to earn extra money and give themselves a ‘safety net’ if their own ventures fail.
  4. Employers are increasingly hiring contractors to reduce the costs of expanding their employee headcounts.

Is a portfolio career right for you?

If you like the idea of combining several of your interests into a self-managed career and taking control of your own work/life balance, then a portfolio career could be for you.

According to, “multi-strand careers are a growing and significant part of the jobs market that many graduates are choosing over conventional careers. In 2013, only 20% of those with portfolio careers were doing so because they needed to take more than one job to make a living.”

Those who work in the creative industries are more likely to favour a portfolio career, but it is a viable option for anyone who just isn’t satisfied with the regular 9 to 5 way of working.

There are a few things you should take into consideration first:

  • It will take time to curate your selection of jobs. You will first of all have to decide what you want to do, then find employers or clients willing to hire you.
  • You will have self-accountability and will have to manage your time, commitments and finances.
  • There may be less job security, and potentially lower income in self-employed or part-time roles, especially as your cash flow will be more transient.
  • As with many freelancers, some portfolio workers can find it hard to adjust to working from home or moving around a lot, as this lack of regular co-workers or a work community can be isolating.

How to create a portfolio career

Think about your hobbies and interests

Is there a particular thread that runs through your hobbies or interests? Could the way you use your free time be turned into a source of revenue alongside your full-time job?

Utilise your work history and skills

Whether you intend to or not, all of us have some kind of career path, but it’s likely that the skills you have accumulated through work, education or volunteering can be transferred to a huge variety of jobs. Take this into consideration and apply for anything you would enjoy trying.

Be organised

Self-management is exactly what it says it is. Create a database of possible jobs you could apply for or prospective clients and keep track of the status of each one. Keep a meticulous weekly and monthly schedule and a detailed budget.

Get networking

Networking is key to a portfolio career as it allows you to discover new opportunities and promote your talents. A good place to start is your Alumni Association LinkedIn group, which not only gives you the opportunity to connect with fellow former students, but provides regular advice on networking and more.

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