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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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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