by Randall S. Hansen, Ph.D.
Before embarking on your own portfolio career journey, please read Portfolio Careers: Creating a Career of Multiple Part-Time Jobs.
So, you have the desire to be your own boss, utilize all your skills and abilities, seek out variety and new challenges, attain a better work/life balance — and you want to do all this through developing a portfolio career of several part-time jobs.
How do you go about creating a portfolio career for yourself? Here are 10 portfolio career tips:
Assess your hobbies and interests. Spend time reflecting on the types of activities that give you the most satisfaction, the most joy. When not working, what kind of activities do you enjoy? How do you fill your weekends? What do you do on vacations? Make a list of these activities and consider whether any of them could be turned into revenue-producing work.
Examine your educational background. Besides the credentials you’ve received from your educational experiences, make a list of your favorite courses or subjects. From that list of favorite subjects, research occupations that utilize the knowledge you gained.
Review your work history. Look for the common threads that bind all your past jobs together. Most of us follow a career path, intentional or not, but that path is not always straight and narrow. Have you always worked in marketing? In education? How have you chosen these jobs?
Deconstruct past experiences into skill sets. For all your past experiences — work, volunteering, and educational — develop a list of skills you’ve mastered and enjoy. Don’t just focus on technical skills, but look beyond them for softer skills, such as communications, leadership, management.
Weigh the pros and cons. There’s risk involved in all activities, but managing a portfolio career carries additional risks. Make detailed lists of the pros for you (such as better work/life balance, being your own boss, following your passion) as well as the cons (such as greater financial instability, reduced benefits, uncertain future).
Develop a plan. The best way to deal with some of the common problems people face when forging into a portfolio career is developing a plan of action. Your plan should include a list of possible jobs and prospective employers/clients, a weekly or monthly schedule, plans for a home office or workspace, and a detailed budget.
Get organized. One of the keys to your portfolio career success is having a system. If you’re a natural organizer, then get to it… but if not, you may need to invest in a book or two to develop the organizational system that is right for you.
Have a support system. It’s absolutely crucial, especially in the early phases, to have the support of family and friends. In the beginning, as you are developing your portfolio career, you may feel a bit isolated and nervous — and you’ll want and need people to keep you focused on your goals.
Use your network. Just as with traditional job-hunting, your network of personal contacts will be extremely beneficial to you when you have a portfolio career. Talk with folks in your network regularly about trends in their companies and industries, especially as it relates to outsourcing and the process for hiring consultants or independent contractors. And don’t forget about expanding and growing your network, including joining professional and civic associations, as you move into new areas.
Always act professional. Your reputation is your lifeblood in a portfolio career, and the more positive word-of-mouth you receive from performing your jobs professionally, the more opportunities will come your way.
Learn more in our Resources for Portfolio Careers, Patchworking, Moonlighting, Side-Gigs, Second Jobs, Freelancing.
Questions about some of the terminology used in this article? Get more information (definitions and links) on key college, career, and job-search terms by going to our Job-Seeker’s Glossary of Job-Hunting Terms.
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