What Is a Portfolio Career?

When people have several unrelated jobs or multiple streams of income, they are said to have a portfolio career. Find out more about the concept.


What Is a Portfolio Career?

A portfolio career is one in which a person monetizes their new skills by earning money from multiple sources. A portfolio career includes side hustles, part-time jobs, and freelance work. Portfolio careers are a part of the gig economy, and for many, they are the future of work due to their flexibility, stability, and increased remote opportunities.

Part-time or freelance work is an option for portfolio careerists. They usually work full-time, but instead of a full-time job, they have multiple sources of income. A graphic designer, for example, might create logos for several small businesses. An accountant may work full-time at a law firm while also working part-time as a woodworker. A lawyer could purchase and sell antiques.


Characteristics of Portfolio Career

A portfolio career has the following characteristics:

1. Career change or job search: Many people join the gig economy when they want to change careers or are looking for work. This part-time work can either sustain them until their next full-time job or demonstrate to them that they prefer a portfolio career.

2. Multiple income streams: People who have a portfolio career have multiple income streams to pay their bills. They frequently work multiple part-time jobs or have a few side hustles.

3. New skills applied in different industries: People who work in a portfolio career have many skills that they use in a variety of ways because they have worked in a variety of industries.


5 Benefits of a Portfolio Career

A portfolio career has the following advantages:

1. A better work-life balance: People with portfolio careers typically have more scheduling flexibility in terms of when and where they work. They can frequently work remotely and choose to schedule their hours around extracurricular activities, school, family responsibilities, or other positions, giving them a better work-life balance.

2. A diverse skill set: People who work in a variety of jobs develop a diverse set of skill sets and experience across industries. This diverse skill set may appear unrelated, but it consists of transferable skills that allow you to change career paths.

3. A more stable income: A portfolio career allows you to earn money from a variety of sources. This means that even if you are laid off or fired unexpectedly in an unstable job market, you will still have money coming in. You also have transferable skills that can be applied to a variety of career fields, increasing your chances of finding more work in the future.

4. An extra income or side gig: While you may have a primary source of income from one career path, you may be interested in other types of jobs. You might want to save up for a trip or need some extra cash to pay your rent. A portfolio career allows an individual to earn money from multiple career paths at the same time.

5. Less commitment: You may not want to commit to a specific type of job at times. Before you fully commit or devote yourself to exploring your interests, you may want to try out a career. Regardless, a portfolio career allows you to gain experience without committing to anything.


3 Disadvantages of a Portfolio Career

Portfolio work has many advantages in the workplace, but it can make career development more difficult. Here are a few more drawbacks:

1. A lack of benefits: Unlike a portfolio career, freelancers, part-time employees, and other gig workers do not have access to benefits such as health insurance, retirement matching, paid time off, or employee wellness programs. Self-employed individuals, such as freelancers, must also pay self-employment taxes.

2. A possibly more difficult route: Portfolio careers are becoming more common and widely accepted, but this isn't universally true in all career fields and companies. Others may perceive those who work in portfolio careers as lazy, flaky, or unwilling to commit, making it more difficult to find work.

3. Fewer opportunities for career growth: People who choose a portfolio career may find it more difficult to advance their skills and status. A portfolio career can hurt your chances of advancement, especially if you don't stay at one place for long. It's also possible that the career field in which you work only allows for advancement through more traditional means.


How to Start a Portfolio Career

Create and implement a simple plan if you decide to launch your portfolio career. Remember that you can have a portfolio career in addition to a traditional one, or you can pursue a portfolio career solely.

1. Take into account your creativity, skill set, and interests. Consider your skills, creativity, and interests to determine the types of jobs you want to pursue and the types of jobs you want to use. For example, you may be a skilled photographer but do not wish to work as a professional photographer. Alternatively, you may have a passion for writing and wish to monetize this skill through freelance projects or short-term opportunities. It's also critical to assess your skills and interests in order to stand out.

2. Specify what success means to you. Unlike traditional career paths that allow you to advance up the corporate ladder, portfolio careers may only include milestones. Consider why you want to pursue a portfolio career and what success means to you. Determine whether you want to pursue a portfolio career to develop your skills or whether you can reach a certain income threshold to feel successful. You may find yourself unhappy or unfulfilled in your new career if you don't know what success looks like for you.

3. Make connections with the people in your life. Networking, like any other career path, can lead to more opportunities in the future. Make the most of your diverse experiences to advance your portfolio career. Reconnect with former coworkers, classmates, friends, and clients to see if they know of any opportunities for you. They may be able to provide mentorship, connections, assistance, or even employment.

4. Begin slowly and on the side. Transitioning from a full-time job to a portfolio career can cause unnecessary emotional and financial stress. If you're in a full-time job and want to make a change, try freelancing on the side before quitting. As you investigate this new opportunity, the income will provide you with some financial stability.


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