Portfolio careers

The dictionary definition of a portfolio career is one in which a number of part‑time roles replace a full-time single career.

Advantages of a portfolio career

  • Work is not bound by any traditional restrictions of retirement age or a rigid 9 to 5.
  • You are able to explore different options – but don’t diversify too much. Wear many hats but only have one head.
  • Go to work feeling authentic, resilient and supported. Leave work feeling networked, inspired and knowledgeable (when that stops, it’s probably time to move on).
  • Portfolio careers offer more flexibility, variety and freedom, but also require organisational skills as well as risk tolerance.

Common themes

  • Portfolio careers are usually built around a collection of skills and interests, although the only consistent theme is one of career self-management.
  • Most experts attribute the concept of the portfolio career to management guru Charles Handy, who in the early 1990s predicted that workers will be more actively in control of their careers by working lots of small jobs instead of one big one.
  • In his book JobShift: How to Prosper in a Workplace without Jobs, William Bridges states that the lack of job security in today’s workplace means that we are all temporary workers and that “all jobs in today’s economy are temporary.” Most other experts agree that the time is right for a rapid increase in portfolio careers – especially among baby boomers searching for more challenges at the end of traditional careers.

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