The Rise of the Portfolio Career

The notion that we have one career for life is now well and truly extinct.  People are now embracing the fact that we are all multi-faceted, multi-skilled and can no longer fit neatly into one box.  Our expectations of job and life satisfaction have become much more complex, thus giving birth to the Portfolio Career.

Increasingly we are seeing more people opt for career self-management; combining multiple part-time roles, contracts, volunteer work and even their own small businesses.  There are disadvantages to this of course; it takes a lot more effort to find employers willing to hire (though this may change in the future), balancing time with competing demands can be difficult, and one has to take complete ownership for their own financial stability.

There is also the argument that this kind of work creates less job security, however many argue the opposite in light of the instability created by the GFC.

The GFC may have caused a shift in the way we perceive work. As people started to realize that mass redundancies were a very real threat and that working for one employer did not necessarily equate to job stability, they started a revolution of self-actualisation.

By mixing employers, developing and utilizing different skills, networking in various areas of business and even balancing self-employment, people are now getting what they want out of their careers and securing themselves for any future economic instability, i.e. if one employer goes under, they can quickly withdraw and move on to another opportunity.

As the trend of “career by design” becomes more popular, employers will need to shift their perception of employees.  Moving forward, employees will be seen as independent business units and will require flexibility and the understanding that people are no longer married to their jobs.  This does not necessarily mean that company loyalty will be thrown out the window.  Provided that companies promote flexibility, look after their staff and shift to more project-based work, contractors or part-timers will be just as loyal as full-time employees. 

For people thinking of starting a portfolio career, there is much to consider and individual circumstances will determine the suitability of this lifestyle.  We suggest reading Forbes’ article on how to determine whether a portfolio career is for you.

So what do you think about this movement? Will it change our perception of the employer / employee relationship for the long term?  Or is it just another trend?

Share your thoughts with us via our LinkedIn Group.