Heard of a portfolio career? How to make it work?

Recently our Founder Sarah Broad was interviewed by Rachel Brushfield, the Talent Liberator, Energise who is a career strategist and fulfillment coach with a particular focus on portfolio careers.  Here she talks to Sarah on what makes up her portfolio career.

What is a portfolio career?

It could mean many things but commonly a portfolio career is when someone splits their time and skills between two or more flexible roles. For example, you could be running a small business alongside your employed role or be working on several freelance roles at the same time.

What is your background?

My career has allowed me to develop a distinct set of skills and experience in HR and Recruitment within the legal and professional services sector. I set up Attune Flexible Jobs 2 years ago, to help clients advertise their business support roles and showcase their flexible / agile working with stories, case studies, and thought leadership. We also provide consultancy and bespoke flexible working solutions. For candidates, I provide a one stop shop for professional roles on a flexible working basis, connecting candidates to employers, so the hard work is done and there is no need to worry about when to have the flexible working conversation. Also, I provide advice, training and coaching programmes. As a qualified coach and MCIPD professional I have coached many individuals, managers and teams to ensure flexible working is beneficial for everyone. I also write and provide guidance, advice and updates on flexible and agile working and have been interviewed for many different publications. I have been on radio and podcasts in the UK too.

What are the components of your portfolio career e.g. study, paid freelance work, part time job, volunteering etc.?

I am self-employed and work from home 2 days a week and in an office 2 days a week. I have a retainer, working 20 hours a week for one of my clients, a recruitment company, managing their social media and marketing, I have my own recruitment business Attune Flexible Jobs and I am a career coach supporting clients through their careers whether they are looking for a new role, promotion or development opportunities.

How did your portfolio career come about?

Slowly. There was no plan – although it was something I had thought about previously. My career heritage is working in recruitment and professional services. When I was made redundant, (the day I returned from maternity!) I decided to freelance and then my marriage ended – it was a difficult time. The client I am now working with on a retainer offered me a Recruitment project which I successfully delivered. It then  led to another and another! I also did a 6 month course to learn social media marketing which helped rebuild my confidence and I started up Attune Flexible Jobs. I had been coaching for years so this part of my portfolio career was my stability!

How has your portfolio career changed over time?

It has got bigger and I have been able to adapt to the changes over time. I have gone from projects to a retainer with my main client which suits me as I have two children under ten. I am also an extrovert so like being with people and working in an office. I soon realised working on my own all the time was not for me. My portfolio career has given me flexibility and freedom – flexibility is important so I can be there for my children.

When people ask you ‘what do you do?’ – what do you reply?

What I say I do has changed over time. It also depends on who I am talking to but in the main I would say I work in recruitment – I am a Marketing Manager for a recruitment company, run a flexible working job site and career coach individuals. They are all interlinked.

To what extent did your portfolio career happen by chance/luck and to what extent was it planned?

My portfolio career wasn’t planned. It happened as a result of circumstances 3 years ago and has evolved through networking, being adaptable and working out what I like and don’t like.

What do you most love about having a portfolio career?

I love the flexibility and variety. It is fluid and I can design it to fit my life. It might mean that I work some evenings or weekends on one or all of my projects or I can do some of my telephone career coaching in the evenings. As my kids get older, I may evolve some of my projects and work part time 4 days a week.

Part 2 of Sarah’s interview with Rachel coming soon.


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Developement, Flexible working

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