Five important factors you need to know about portfolio careers

I went to a really interesting conference on portfolio careers this week. The audience consisted of mainly NHS clinicians, however what I learnt is applicable to everyone!

Here’s what I learnt:

  1. You don’t necessarily need to change your job to move to a portfolio way of working

Rather than taking quite a drastic move and quitting your job, it might be possible to talk to your manager to ask him/her if you can take on different roles within your job.

Another possibility might be to go on a secondment for a set time. You’d need to argue about how much you’d learn and be able to bring back to the team. It might be helpful if you can link the skills you’ll pick up during the secondment to departmental objectives.

  1. The importance of happenstance

Being alert for opportunities as they occur, can make a difference. There is a great value in networking. Sometimes it won’t lead anywhere, but many of the people in the conference found that a chance meeting with a peer had opened their eyes to a role that they hadn’t known about or yet considered.

  1. You’ll reap rewards if you push yourself outside of your comfort zone

Taking a risk and taking on a role that will push you, was a common theme we heard from the guest speakers at the conference. Trying something new and different may prove difficult to begin with, but it will often open more doors to further opportunities.

At the conference, one of the guest speaker’s advice was ‘Take the plunge and do it, you’re unlikely to regret it’.

  1. Being self-aware and knowing what’s important to you.

Can you take the Carlberg test – i.e. does your new portfolio role refresh other parts of you that other roles couldn’t do? If so, you’re onto a winner. Here’s what one of the guest speakers said about portfolio careers.

‘Variety ++++


Development of skills

New communities

Satisfying and fun

Lots of opportunities’


  1. Once in a portfolio career, it’s really important to manage boundaries and this means saying ‘no’ sometimes.

If you are taking on more than one role, you’ll need to have boundaries and manage your time really well. Being strict about the time you’ve set aside to one role, and not trying to doing everything you’ve been asked to do is important.

Here’s some of what was said at the conference:

‘Need to plan

Can be fragmented


Starting from scratch

Can be stressful keeping it together’.


You might be interested in my blog about five tips to prepare you for interview.


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