portfolio career

I’m thinking of leaving my corporate job and exploring the idea of working a few part-time jobs instead – maybe joining the ‘gig’ economy for flexibility.

How would you recommend I make this change? What should I have sorted out before quitting my full time job?


Alyson Garrido, a career coach based in Wellington, provides an answer:

Portfolio career

With more and more people wanting to work for themselves, this question comes up regularly. I think of this kind of change using the term ‘portfolio career.’

This portfolio career path is one I myself have taken. I have my own business, which is made up of coaching, consulting and facilitation. The roles are separate, but complement each other nicely. It allows me to do several things that I love and diversifies my income sources. Many argue that a portfolio career can be more stable than a corporate job since you aren’t relying on one organisation for your income and benefits.

Plan ahead

You’re absolutely right to consider how to create an effective plan to make this move. It isn’t ideal for everyone and with so many choices, it can be very easy to become overwhelmed by options. It may seem hard to know which opportunities will fit best and how to make the leap from your full-time gig. This is especially true in the beginning, so I’ve broken the planning into six steps to help you learn more about taking this path and discovering the type of career that is the right fit for you.

1. Understand your spending

It is essential to understand your spending habits if you are considering a portfolio career. While in many ways there is more security in a portfolio approach than in a more traditional role, juggling a few different occupations often requires that you pay closer attention to the types and amounts of income you are earning.

Identify your current spending habits, what you need to live and what you need to live happily. I find that my clients who create a budget are often surprised to find opportunities where they could easily cut back or where they were unknowingly paying fees. Your cost of living happily is probably less than you think. In this phase, many identify a job that will meet their minimum requirements. The job can be the base of your income, and you can grow from there.

2. Explore your strengths

This step is part of any job change, whether you’re exploring a portfolio career or a more traditional path. Get a clear sense of your strengths to identify potential opportunities. You may have always been a strong writer, but didn’t think you could make enough money doing that alone. Now you don’t have to. Your strengths will take on a whole new meaning knowing that they don’t have to fold seamlessly into a single job.

3. Set anchors

What is your purpose in embarking on a portfolio career? How do you want your time to be structured? What do you want to do? There are countless ways to earn money, but they’re not all right for you. Answer these questions and create a mission statement to ground you as opportunities arise. You will want to make sure the opportunities you take align with the things you enjoy. You’re probably leaving a job that isn’t such a great fit. Having these anchors and a clear criteria against which to judge opportunities will ensure you don’t jump into another.

4. Identify your partners

Do you have a friend who is always asking you to go into business together? Have you turned down an interesting opportunity because you didn’t have the capacity to take on one more responsibility or because you wouldn’t earn enough money? Is there a shop, restaurant or café where you fantasize about working? Explore those opportunities with fresh eyes. How could you fit them in if you had the time?

5. Establish your expertise

As you read this article, you undoubtedly have an idea of what you’d like to do as you embark on this new path. Now, determine what you need to do to convince people to pay you for it. Do you need a website? Should you be blogging? Are your skills up to par? You might need to take a class or compile past work. I have a client whose main project in establishing her portfolio career was actually creating a portfolio. She had heaps of graphic design projects she’d done for friends, family and coworkers and she needed to put them together to showcase her work for new clients.

6. Get networking

All job searches require networking, and consistent networking is especially necessary for a portfolio career. Consider joining professional organisations so you can meet others in your new field(s) and stay up to date on the latest trends. It’s also very helpful to surround yourself with others who are following a portfolio path so you can learn from and lean on one another.

Your dream job(s) may be within reach with a portfolio career. Isn’t it worth exploring? These six steps will help you lay the groundwork for a successful leap into this exciting, alternative career path that is becoming more and more common.



Alyson Garrido is passionate about helping women advance their careers and find jobs they will enjoy. As a career coach, she partners with her clients to identify their strengths and create a path toward a more fulfilling career. Alyson provides support around interview preparation, performance reviews and salary negotiations, ensuring that her clients present themselves in the best possible light. Learn more or book a session with Alyson by visiting www.alysongarrido.com.

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