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.
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.
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”.
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.
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).
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.
- 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.
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.
A thoughtful future
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.
At the Portfolio Collective, we invite you to join a movement of professionals forging their own path. Find out more about our fast-track course, and create success with our community of experienced and new portfolio careerists.