Workplace Trends

Workforce Trends

Is a portfolio career the answer? Six questions will help you decide.

By Lee Hecht Harrison on October 2, 2013

The contingent workforce is on the rise. In an effort to develop a flexible workforce that can quickly expand or contract with market demands, organizations are turning increasingly to contract or short-term employees to fill the gaps. USA Today reports the number of temps increased more than 50% in the last four years to nearly 2.7 million. It’s a movement that’s taken hold – and is expected to continue.

In response, job seekers are re-evaluating their employment options, with many fashioning a portfolio career, stitching together short-term contract positions with permanent part-time positions or freelance jobs to create full-time work. Because these assignments are generally selected around an employee’s strengths or preferences – screening out the least-favored aspects of a full-time job – individuals are finding that they enjoy the flexibility, variety and satisfaction gained from a portfolio career.

So how do you know if a portfolio career is right for you? Here are six questions to consider:

  1. Are your skills current and in demand? If not, upgrade your skill set through classes before striking out on your own. As a contract worker, you’ll enrich your skill set and ensure you have the in-demand expertise that can get you in the door.
  2. Do you have superior time management and organization skills? A portfolio career requires flexibility with your schedule and the ability to juggle multiple projects and competing demands, often with concurrent deadlines.
  3. Are you comfortable marketing yourself and meeting new people? If you opt for a freelancing position, you’ll need to identify new business opportunities through networking. And if you decide to use an agency, you’ll need to continually adapt to new teams.
  4. Do you thrive on change and risk? While a portfolio career is the ultimate in flexibility (and that’s very appealing), it also presents a lot of uncertainty. You need to be self-motivated and determined in pursuit of assignments.
  5. Are you prepared for fluctuations in income? Initially, many contingent workers experience great fluctuations in income, so a nest egg is needed to get through the dry spells.
  6. Have you investigated the tax and insurance implications? Some contingent workers are hired as W-2 employees (possibly with benefits); in other cases, you’re on your own. Talk to a professional on the tax implications beforehand.

If you answered yes to the questions above, you might be ready to create a portfolio career that provides a wealth of rewards.

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