The post-COVID switch to portfolio careers

Since the pandemic, portfolio careers have been booming. Find out what the future looks like for portfolio work.
The post-COVID switch to portfolio careers

COVID-19 has changed the daily routine for workers around the world. Since the onset of the pandemic, companies have gone bankrupt and millions of people have been made redundant or been put on furlough.

Of those on furlough, many are likely to get laid off, because those jobs aren’t coming back.

The companies that are surviving understand that the economic recovery will be slow, and therefore many are already reducing their permanent headcount and far fewer new permanent roles are being created.

But there is still plenty of professional part-time work

Yes, this makes for uncomfortable reading but there is work beyond what was once our “normal” career paths. Interesting temporary or contract work is becoming more readily available. Startups are hiring, organisations that have pivoted need the skills to take them forward.

There is still plenty of professional part-time work

Although we won’t see the permanent role hiring boom witnessed in previous recoveries, the demand for talent hasn’t decreased.

It is just coming in different forms.

Now, consultants, short term contractors, interim managers, advisors, industry experts, and other independent professionals are sought after. And thus, accelerating the pervasiveness of professionals with “portfolio careers”.

Evolution acceleration

Change has been occurring for some time. We’ve moved from jobs for life, to jobs for a few years and less. Job switching is no longer seen negatively. Provided it is managed thoughtfully, job switching is seen as a great way to build experience and expertise.

The coronavirus lockdown has just accelerated this evolution that was already happening.

Now that all white-collar professionals are working from home, companies can hire talent from anywhere in the world.

For example, my small consulting business has a virtual team of 10 people. All of them are paid per project/ deliverable, we don’t have an office and none of them live in London (near me).

portfolio career
The Portfolio Collective team

So, what is a portfolio career?

The doors are opening on opportunities, but it’s important to understand where you are going. A portfolio career is one that is not reliant on a single source of income.


your income is diversified
and you are your own boss,
working with multiple clients.
Portfolio professionals gain the freedom to pick and choose the work you’re best at and most enjoy.
© Jane O'Sullivan / The Portfolio Collective 2020
You gain the freedom to pick and choose the work you’re best at and most enjoy.
  • The work could be large or small projects, part time work, interim management, or board roles.
  • You could be paid by the hour or the day, or paid only for deliverables.
  • Some portfolio roles at startups pay no cash, but instead in “sweat equity” (i.e. stock options).
  • Many portfolio workers also create and proactively pitch their own products or services too, as opposed to just reacting to market demand.

There are no limits

A more familiar term might be “freelancer” but that is often connected to creative industries providing outsourced services and portfolio careers go far beyond that.

At one extreme, a portfolio worker could identify a lucrative speciality and go all-in, such as becoming a drone lawyer or a specialist online teacher.

At the other end, it could be a more diverse combination of part time and project work, offering a mix of functional and industry expertise.

Many people with full time roles also have a “side hustle” going on, which is effectively dipping their toes into building a portfolio career.

Examples of portfolio work include things like maths tutor, public speaker, start-up lawyer, website builder, SEO practitioner, industry expert, logo designer, content writer, consultant, interim manager, and locum doctor/ vet.

Portfolio careers have no limits

You get the point - there are no limits.

A thoughtful future

Unlike an undifferentiated "gig economy worker", a portfolio career is thoughtfully put together.

It is focused on offering differentiated services in order to maximise earnings, and – just like an investment portfolio – is always evolving based on where the returns on your time look to be the most promising.

The portfolio career is a continuation of the atomisation of work and is here to stay. This is a natural evolution of how work gets done more efficiently. Portfolio careers are also more enriching for those professional workers who can master them well.

Think this sounds like the right path for you? Come along to our monthly Get started event for new members to find out what a portfolio career could look like and how The Portfolio Collective can help you take those first steps towards professional success – and don’t forget to connect with our community!

Keep up to date with the latest portfolio career news, tips and advice

Related articles

2 responses to “The post-COVID switch to portfolio careers

  1. From a recruiter perspective, the 2008 crash had a profound impact on individuals approach to work…if you can’t spend your whole career with a bank then where can you? This realisation accelerated the move from careers to jobs and a decade later candidates are moving from jobs to income generation. Growing your portfolio is the natural evolution – with more options comes more control!

Join the conversation

Contact us

Keep up to date with the latest portfolio career news, opportunities, tips and advice

Ready to reshape the future of work?