Traditional Work Life Is No More – Adopting A Portfolio Of Jobs

Posted on 19 Feb


With the advent of the internet and rapid advances in technology, the traditional workflow in organisations are changing. This, combined with the constant fluctuation of market conditions worldwide, leaves no doubt that the working environment for job seekers is changing too.

In years gone by it was not uncommon for workers to be with the one company for their whole working life. It then became the norm for workers to move to a new employer on average every 3 – 5 years. The trend now developing is that workers are seeking options to take charge of their careers and whether through choice, or necessity, are taking on part time roles with multiple companies/organisations, thus developing a “Portfolio Career.”


Why is the traditional working environment changing?

  • Technology / Internet advancements – able to work from anywhere, anytime, with virtual teams around the world.
  • Changing market conditions – a focus on productivity, efficiency, increased automation and/ or outsourcing of transactional roles that has led to less permanent job options. As a result, more opportunities have become available for contract or part time roles.
  • Flexibility / Variety – an opportunity for workers to utilise multiple skill sets and increase job satisfaction through working in a variety of related roles.
  • Better Work Life Balance – allows individuals the flexibility to manage their time to affect a better balance between corporate/ volunteer work / family / interests.
  • Making a Social Impact – increasingly workers want to be more socially responsible. A Portfolio Career could include a voluntary position or the opportunity to make a social impact through a more meaningful role.


What are the benefits of a Portfolio Career?

Graduates – those who are starting out and finding it difficult to secure a permanent job or are unsure that their chosen career path is the right one, a range of roles allows them the opportunity to investigate other avenues without taking too much of a financial risk. For example: work life could include part time / casual student jobs, vocational work and investigating areas of career interest.

Mid-career – In the wake of an economic downturn where many workers can be subjected to company restructure and redundancy, a portfolio of jobs provides the opportunity to develop a career that not only provides variety, job satisfaction and the opportunity to develop a range of skills, it can also provide a safety net should one of those jobs becomes redundant. (For example: work life could include, 3 days corporate work, 1 day as a part time lecturer, 1 day consulting)

Considering retirement – People who are at the twilight of their careers or find themselves suddenly out of a job but are not ready to retire can consider options including part time work/ contracts according to their areas of expertise and interests as well as the opportunity to give back by mentoring, or voluntary work as part of their portfolio. This can provide them with a transition to retirement at their own pace. (For example from the traditional 5 days paid work they could opt to 3 days paid work, 1 day voluntary and 1 day free to pursue leisure or hobby activities)


How do you go about Creating a Portfolio Career?

1. Develop a plan – possible jobs, time available, future prospective employers /organisations, your ideal work life balance and your passions.

2. Know your financial / breakeven point – no point getting a portfolio of volunteer jobs when you have bills to pay!Assess your skill set – as well as your interests, hobbies, and the type of work that is motivating for you.

3. Determine what are your areas of expertise – where you could contribute?Investigate options – ring up organisations, speak to people in similar roles and utilise your network to create opportunities.

4. Seek out options – possible volunteer or paid work at affiliation/membership organisations, charities, other organisations within your local community (schools, universities, colleges, churches etc).


Points to Consider

Developing a Portfolio Career is not something that can be achieved overnight but further opportunities are often created through word of mouth, professional reputation and your network.

Whilst a Portfolio Career is not for everyone, it is important to acknowledge that the traditional work place is changing. Be open to opportunities, continue self-development, network into different industries, investigate areas of interest and become more resilient and adaptable to change.