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What is a portfolio career and why do you need one now?

What is a portfolio career and why do you need one now?


The world of work is changing, particularly after the events of the past year, and more people are veering away from the traditional linear career path towards creating a bespoke career on their own terms. People have been successfully creating portfolio careers for years, but they are becoming even more popular now and Sarah Marshall explains why.

Sarah Marshall is an accredited Life & Career Coach. She coaches women who are feeling stuck, unfulfilled and lacking purpose in their career, to help them unearth their passions, strengths, and values, so they can design a life and career that excites them.

So, what is a Portfolio Career?

Put simply, it’s a career made up of different elements. Rather than just having one job, you can create a jigsaw career that works for you and suits your needs. For example, working a full or part-time job alongside a creative side hustle; or working as a freelance expert in your field 4 days a week, whilst spending the 5th day volunteering for a charity. It will look different for everyone and is made up of whatever you want it to be.

Why is now a great time to build one?

The pandemic has shown us that jobs that were once deemed ‘stable’, are not always as stable as we think, and it’s important to take control of your own future. It has also prompted many of us to really consider what we value in our lives and how we can bring more of that into our day-to-day. Thanks to technology it’s now even easier to work remotely and the culture of being in the office 5 days a week is also shifting. There are more opportunities for flexible working, and we’ve also never had so much access to knowledge and online resources that can help you build a portfolio career.

What are the benefits of building a Portfolio Career?

There are lots of benefits to working in this way, and here are 5 of the top ones:

1. It provides you with multiple income streams –
A portfolio career takes away the risk of being reliant on one source of income and gives you the opportunity to earn more than you would in a traditional 5 day a week role. If one of those income streams were to stop then you’d be in a much better position than if it were your sole source of money.

2. It lets you explore your curiosities –
It allows you to explore different interests or hobbies without having to go ‘all in’ on one idea. If you want to test out a business idea but can’t quit your job to make it happen (let’s be honest, not many of us can!) then it’s a perfect opportunity to grow it on the side or maybe cut down to 4 days a week in your day job, and use your fifth day to grow your business with less risk.

3. It allows you to use your diverse skillset –
It gives you the opportunity to use your different skills for different types of work without feeling like you’re not maximising your potential. It’s rare that one job can fulfil all of your interests and utilise all of your skills, so this way you can diversify what you work on.

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4. You can work on your own terms –
Depending on how you structure your portfolio career, it can allow you to work the hours you want, from the location you want. You can fit your hours around other priorities such as your family, giving you more flexibility and independence. You can set your own work boundaries and be in control. Not all of us are suited to working 9-5 and you don’t have to! If your energy is highest first thing in the morning and the last thing in the day, then you can build your working hours around those peaks.

5. It gives you the opportunity to be creative –
There is no set template you have to follow to create a portfolio career – you can be creative and create a unique career that works for you!

This sounds interesting, how do I go about creating one?

Firstly, you need to figure out the different elements that will make up your portfolio career. Think about your motivation for creating one and what you’re looking to achieve from one. For example, are you looking to scratch a creative itch or is your focus on flexible working? These criteria will help to shape your offering. From there, spend time brainstorming all the things you want to explore – your likes, your interests, your hobbies etc. and go from there. Building a portfolio career is exciting but also takes time to really think through and build. If you are looking for support and accountability to help you create one, a good Coach can work with you to bring it to life.

You can find out more about building a portfolio career and advice from Sarah Marshall on her website and social media, too.

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