Portfolio Careers – when you want to work for yourself
Often when people decide to work for themselves they want everything to happen right away, and get frustrated that it is taking so long. To ease the transition it can help to have some part time or contract work, sometimes with an ex employer but also with consultancy firms who could use your skills and experience on an ad hoc basis.
When I started to work for myself I approached many companies that I knew would use occupational psychologists. I created a highly targeted letter and followed up with a phone call, just like I get my job search clients to do.
What is a portfolio career?
A portfolio career is a way of working where you have more than one job. This could include working 2 days developing your own catering business and 3 days working in your main career as an accountant. Or it could be to use your area of specialism and to perhaps have a portfolio that includes consultancy, one to one advice work, training courses/ seminars and writing. This is how career psychologist Denise Taylor structures her portfolio career.
What is the age and type of person who has a portfolio career?
It can be from any age, but the biggest group are people in midlife. People will often move into this following redundancy. The redundancy payment gives them a financial cushion to start and they can then look for other things to do. The portfolio career is not necessarily just full of lucrative work, people can choose to include some lower paid (or even unpaid) but personally rewarding work as part of their portfolio.
What typical skills are needed?
When people are considering a portfolio career this will be using the high level skills gained from their profession such as PR director, or management accountant, but there are other skills required, such as being organised and feeling comfortable juggling a varied work load.
Is there a typical sort of person who is best suited to this?
Generally it will be self driven people who will go out and seek the right range of options to give them their own desired portfolio career. They generally need to be willing to go out and network to meet people and to keep going in the face of knockbacks. There’s also a need to be assertive and to be aware of boundaries, otherwise there is a danger that clients may pose too many demands and you find yourself working 2 x 3 day a week jobs, not 2 x 2!
A portfolio career can be a great way to gain experience in a new area, whilst maintaining 3 or 4 days a week doing a job in line with experience and professional background.
Any costs to the individual – negatives?
The main cost is personal in managing time and maintaining a balance – sometimes it can be a difficult juggling act if your portfolio career consists of a few different things which may all involve deadlines at the same time.
How to decide if you should go for it?
If you are thinking about this, then weigh up what you want to do and how you will get this work. Think also if you can deal with the possible lack of security, although some may say that a portfolio career would give you greater career stability.
How to get started?
Often the very best way to get started is with your current job. Think about what else you want to do, and then seek to move onto a 4 day week – with reduced hours, not cramming a full weeks work into 4 days.
If you are currently finding you have far more time than income, you could consider dividing each week into marketing to develop your own client base, working as an associate for another company, working in any area that will bring in some income.
If I can be of any help please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Denise Taylor, double award winning career coach with Amazing People