How to have a portfolio career

Older workers, working mum


Ever thought of starting a portfolio career? Do you even know what it is? Tessa Armstrong looks at the pros and cons of doing several jobs.

Imagine a career that you can actively control and combines your skills and interests…

Now think of everything else you want from life:

– Fulfilling relationships with your children, friends and family?

– A fulfilling and enjoyable career path?

– An exciting career change?

– Control of your working hours?

– Time for volunteering and pursuing interests and hobbies?

– A work-life balance?

How can you achieve all of this?

Perhaps the answer can be found within the increasingly popular portfolio career.

What is a portfolio career?

A portfolio career consists of a variety of jobs including self-employment, fixed-term contracts, part-time jobs and freelancing. It can offer career flexibility and variety enabling you to maintain more control over your career allowing you to fulfil the work-life balance you want.

An example is a marketing expert who is also a mum of two children. Now her children are at school, she has recently taken up a part-time job teaching at a local college. She also spends a small amount of time working in a self employed capacity providing marketing advice to SMEs. This is something she started when her children were younger as she could fit this work flexibly around her childcare arrangements. Furthermore, she is a governor of the local school. If time allows, one day she would also like to become a charity trustee.

Does this sound like a lot of different things to juggle? Well, the good thing about a portfolio career is that you can do as much or as little as you like. You can investigate and take on roles gradually as and when it suits you.

Is this now sounding like an attractive option for you?

As with all decisions you make, you will need to look at the benefits as well as the challenges in pursuing a portfolio career. For example, there will be an element of risk-taking involved as well as a requirement for self marketing and networking. Also, you will be taking sole responsibility for your career – you won’t have a boss to fall back on.

On the other hand, you will gain some freedom in being able to control how you live your life whilst being a mum. Furthermore, the nature of this type of career may lead to openings you had never even thought of.

If you believe you may be suited to a portfolio career, start reviewing your career history and past experiences. Then decide what you would like to achieve in your career and how much time you would like to dedicate to it. Think about what interests and skills you would like to be using. Be organised in your approach and start networking to find out if a portfolio career is the right option for you and how it can be achieved.

As you move forward in your investigations, remind yourself of this quote – it may help!

Only those who risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go. (T.S. Eliot)

*Tessa Armstrong Associates provide a range of professional coaching programmes to enable individuals to pursue satisfying and fulfilling careers and restore their work-life balance.  For more information visit her website at or email [email protected].

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