The Portfolio Career Option

Recommended for Young Milennials Early On in Their Careers

I recently read a game-changing book by Charles Handy called, “The Empty Raincoat”. Because the book was ground breaking and ahead of its time, it consistently appears as one the best-selling business books of all time. Although it was originally published in 1994, Handy correctly predicts many things that are happening in business settings today.

For instance, Handy predicted 22 years before it happened that both the United States and the UK would become more internally focused, protectionist and directed toward domestic, rather than global, economic growth.

One of the topics also covered in Handy’s book which recently came rushing onto the employment scene is the concept of portfolio careers. What Handy predicted would happen has happened, and due to the way we now work it has brought the concept of portfolio careers to life for so many participants currently in the workforce.

What Mr. Handy outlined in theory, known as the “Portfolio Approach”, effectively plays out this way. Instead of workers locking down one exclusive, full-time job they build a portfolio of work consisting of multiple projects, different assignments and roles.  Many experts refer to the portfolio as numerous part-time jobs, which can include any number of employment options such as specialized projects, freelance assignments, part-time employment and temporary jobs. Some workers also derive income from self employment and add it to their portfolio. When their portfolio of work is combined it equals or exceeds the equivalent of a full-time position.

While it is attractive to many types of workers, portfolio careers are increasingly popular with milennials. There is less time and money to lose and more experience to gain early in someone’s career. That’s why portfolio careers are not only acceptable but also recommended by many HR experts and hiring managers during the formative stages of careers.

During the early stages of their professions is when milennials can explore different jobs and types of employers to determine strengths which allow them to excel and separate themselves from others. Pursuing a portfolio career is also an opportunity for a young worker to further develop, or combine, skills early in their careers. It can expose them to many different venues of the workplace and allow them to gain valuable experience during the process of finding employment and replacing jobs.

While it is still the exception rather than the rule, portfolio careers are as step in a positive direction and based upon what I’m seeing through consultations with recent graduates you’ll see this movement continue to pick up speed.

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