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Do you feel like it’s harder than ever to find a good, old-fashioned 9-5 job these days? Does it seem like the market is overrun with freelance work, short-term gigs, temp positions, and part-time opportunities, but woefully short on full-time employment?

You are not imagining things: The job market has shifted dramatically.

As companies look for ways to stay flexible and adaptable in these unpredictable times, many have cut back on traditional permanent employment opportunities. Over the last two years, the number of freelance workers hired by organizations has risen, and it looks like it will continue to rise: According to research from Fieldglass, 35 percent of of today’s workforce is composed of contingent workers, and 95 percent of employers say they want to employ more contingent workers in the future.

As contingent work becomes the new norm, candidates must be ready to leave behind full-time employment and traditional career arcs in favor of “portfolio careers” – that is, careers that combine several part-time, freelance, and temp opportunities.

Portfolio Careers: A New Form of Job Security

A well-functioning portfolio career that combines multiple roles is the modern form of job security. When you work two or three jobs at a time, you do lose the stability of permanent employment with one company, but you gain another kind of security: Your eggs are no longer in one basket. Should one company fail or one job get cut in a restructuring effort, you won’t be in an immediate crisis. You still have your other roles to keep you going while you look for a replacement for the lost job.

Portfolio Careers Can Provide More Satisfaction

Spreading your time and talents across several part-time and/or freelance opportunities can actually be more engaging and fulfilling than traditional full-time work.

That may not be saying much, given the historically low levels of employee engagement we’re seeing right now. But look at the bright side: If even the full-timers are unhappy, what do you have to lose be switching to a portfolio career?

Actually, the better question is probably “What do you have to gain from switching to a portfolio career?” The answer, according to experts, is higher levels of life satisfaction.

Making a Portfolio Career Work for You

ValleyOne of the key benefits of working a portfolio career is flexibility: You can often schedule your work life around your lifestyle. You are not beholden to office schedules. When negotiating your contingent roles, always push hard for flexibility. Make sure you retain control over when and where you work. Beware of engagements that don’t offer this flexibility.

Another benefit of a portfolio career is variety. Rather than doing the same thing day in and day out, you can take a few different roles on at once. To ensure that you earn enough to live comfortably, you should start with a well-paying role that makes use of your core skills; then, you can supplement that role with other opportunities that lie outside of your normal skill set. For example, you could use freelance design work to make up the bulk of your income while taking on a side gig as a blogger for a graphic design company.

The beauty of a portfolio career is that it can afford you security, satisfaction, and control over your work-life balance. Sure, that requires a little finessing and some smart strategizing, but the payoff is well worth it. If you’re used to full-time permanent employment, the prospect of a portfolio career may sound terrifying, but trust me: Once you experience the freedom and fulfillment of portfolio work, you’ll never want to go back to your stuff old office job again.



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