The March issue of Psychologies magazine contains an article called ‘Variety Club’ (p78) which is all about portfolio careers. Portfolio careers involve having two or more jobs at one time and has a lot in common with freelancing, for example you need to be a great time-keeper. I thought I’d take a closer look at what they’re all about and what you need to think about when taking on multiple roles.

Be your own boss and satisfy the others

A portfolio career may include having a number of employers or even working for yourself. For that reason you need to be an excellent time-keeper, super-organised and be able to juggle different ideas and projects successfully. If you can’t do this in your current position then creating a portfolio career may not be for you.

Essentially you need to be your own boss and hold yourself to account then it’s much easier to be prepared when one of the people you work for asks for this, that or the other. In your own mind you also need to prioritise daily. If you’ve got an important meeting for one job then put preparation for that before anything else, even though it might not be the most interesting item in your schedule.

Before starting an additional job it helps to get yourself organised at home. There’s lot of inspiration out there, here’s a few of my favourite articles:

Portfolio careers are for rounded individuals

As Scott McDowell points out in The99Percent’s The Interview Prep Cheat Sheet ‘Most of us aren’t one-trick ponies’. We all have different skills and interests developed over many years and often what we’re best at doesn’t always form a happy marriage with what we’re passionate about. A balance has to be found where we can earn enough to support our family and work in a place that is bearable. Sadly that’s what so many of us do, but portfolio careers are another option.
For example. You may be passionate about design but are very good at your job as an accountant which earns you a living. If you’re able why not cut your hours back to four days a week and spend one day a week working in a boutique, designing clothes at home or taking a sewing course. Eventually you may be able to match your passion to what makes you money.


Complimentary roles

One of the interviewees in the Psychologies article worked as both a journalist and PR. She was able to use both skill-sets to be better at both her jobs. If you choose two jobs that match in some way you can only improve your career prospects. You may even find a role in the future that requires an understanding of those two fields.
Equally if you work in a demanding field then having multiple jobs may give you a chance to wind down or do something practical when you’re used to the theoretical or visa versa.
Portfolio careers can also be an opportunity to start your own business while still having a steady income. Your current work will allow you to break away from your startup, giving you time to think up new ideas in a different environment and create great relationships that can help both roles.


Better for all involved

An old-fashioned employer may dislike the idea of their staff also working elsewhere and of course working for the competition isn’t an option, but really they should embrace your portfolio career. With time away from one office you can better your skills and make contacts in other areas, you’ll also appreciate your work more when you’re not constantly in the same environment.
I once read an article about a huge brand who allowed their workers half a day each week to work on their own projects, and they found it really improved moral and made people more passionate about their jobs.


Preparing for a portfolio career

Many people fall into this kind of working with a bit of redundancy capital behind them, but if that’s not you there’s lots you can do to prepare to take this kind of leap or treat your current role as a kind of portfolio job. Can you take your passions and hobbies to a new level? Will a course allow you to teach what you enjoy? Could you take a class of youngsters on a weekend for example. This won’t interfere with you day-to-day work and could open up a new additional or superior career path. If this is something you’d like to consider in the future but don’t know where to start then here are 5 tips to try

  • Make a list of new activities you’d like to try out and see if there’s any you really enjoy
  • Consider volunteering or interning part-time, doesn’t have to be for a charity
  • Use your evenings for something more productive than watching TV
  • Write a description of your favourite parts of your current job and look at other jobs that would include them
  • Take a vocational course at a local college

Keeping the balance

Through this article I’ve been highlighting how portfolio careers can give you a better work balance but it’s important to think about how they can affect those closest to you. Will it allow you to spend more time with your family working with them for example? Or could it mean more time away from home? It’s healthy to be in a career/careers that you love but also spare a thought for those left behind.
There’s more about working life from Psychologies here and they have a lot on staying stress free and helping yourself improve your life.

So, my question today is how many readers have or would consider a portfolio career? 

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