Love Variety? Discover the New World of “Portfolio Careers”.

Do you have multiple interests and passions? Do you struggle with narrowing down to just one career option? Or do you strive for more variety and ways to express yourself? Then a portfolio career may be just the thing for you.

Portfolio careers are fast becoming the career path of choice for experienced professionals at a cross roads, single parents and career changers. A portfolio career gives legitimacy to those enterprising people who have diverse talents and want to express them.

What is a portfolio career?

It’s the pursuit of more than one income source simultaneously, a mish-mash of traditional employment, contract based work, freelancing, temporary jobs and home-based businesses. It’s also a model for allowing flexibility and responding to changes in market conditions and global shifts.

The jobs in your portfolio career don’t necessarily have to be in the same industry or utilise the same skill sets. For example ones portfolio could include; part-time work in recruitment; freelance photography; event management contracts and casual teaching at night. The most exciting aspect of creating a portfolio career is that it’s an expression of who you are. There are no rules. You decide what it comprises of.


“To become a portfolio person, we must stop thinking in terms of having or not having a job. We need to take control of our life, make flexibility our credo and develop a portfolio of skills and activities, some for sale and some to be given as gifts.”

Many portfolio careerists create their portfolios using the following three step formula;

1. They establish their “bread and butter income”. This is income that can be relied upon to cover their basic needs. It may or may not be an area they are most passionate about.

2. They pursue income generating products, services or activities in areas they are most passionate about. Initially this income could be minimal however it has potential to generate their desired earnings.

3. They freely accept pro-bono work to give back to the community and assist them with developing their craft and reputation.

How to plan a portfolio career?

Think about those things you have always dreamed of doing but never embarked upon. Take some time now to consider the following;

  • What hobbies or other interests could become income generators?
  • What work roles have you enjoyed the most?
  • What skills do you enjoy using most? For example; design, administration, event coordination.
  • What skills and knowledge do you have that others would pay for?
  • Where could you volunteer your time in order to test drive a career or develop a skill?
  • What do you value most in you work and life? E.g. being outdoors, working in a team, flexible working hours, social environments.
  • What professional organisations could you join? Every type of occupation has an association or peak body that offers resources and professional development.  Follow this link to identify the most appropriate professional associations suited to your background

How to launch your Portfolio Career!

The best place to start is where you find yourself right now.

Whether you are employed casually, fulltime starting a part-time business or freelancing is a wise first step. As this activity builds momentum and income you could negotiate with your employer to reduce your hours. This way you establish your bread and butter income by keeping your job and you can slowly start adding to your portfolio.

Your portfolio is something that will grow and change over months and years, as opposed to taking on several portfolios at one time. Items will be added and dropped as you go according to your own needs and those of the market.

Perhaps your ideal work situation has eluded you because you never imagined that all your interests could be combined in the one career. Explore and try on the idea of a portfolio career and see if it fits you and your life.


About Prof Janek Ratnatunga 1129 Articles
Professor Janek Ratnatunga is CEO of the Institute of Certified Management Accountants. He has held appointments at the University of Melbourne, Monash University and the Australian National University in Australia; and the Universities of Washington, Richmond and Rhode Island in the USA. Prior to his academic career he worked with KPMG.
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