Creative people are likely to have spent a huge amount of their time mastering a selection of creative pursuits that served as ideal conduits for their need to express themselves. Once those skills are developed, it’s natural to then find work in the creative spaces where those skills are most appreciated, and new ones are developed.
A ‘portfolio career’ allows creative people to continue to think creatively when it comes to their career. By applying their talents to a range of job opportunities rather than one, they can develop new skill and earn money from a diverse pool of revenue streams in the process. Portfolio careers, or those a part of the “gig economy,” have grown in recent times due to a variety of factors. It would be irresponsible to state one reason that applies to everyone, but within creative communities at least, a common reason for choosing this career path is down to the autonomy it can provide.
Whether it’s seen as a better way to address work/life balance, or the best opportunity to develop multiple skill sets in a professional environment – for many creatives, often with divergent passions and interests, it serves as a great platform for personal and career growth to co-exist together. Whatever the reason, the portfolio career has become a more viable option through the boom of freelance, remote work opportunities, made infinitely more viable by the advancements in portable technologies.
Drummer and music educator, Alex Forryan, explores how music teaching fits into a portfolio career
WHERE TO START?
Entrepreneurship; networking; time management; decision making. If you’re someone who is better suited to working for themselves, it’s important you get into the mindset that any advancement in your career is going to be up to your willingness to motivate yourself, and ability seek out the people who can be a positive influence. Look for classes, seminars, workshops, tutorials and qualifications that will pro-actively keep your skills up to date and bolster your C.V. for potential employers. Most of these are offered as extracurricular pathways that, with a little bit of time management, can be successfully factored into your current schedule. Remember; you’re the boss!
“Adding different skills to your portfolio as you go on through your career helps you gain employment, keep employment, and generate new revenue streams.”
TECH SKILLS v SOFT SKILLS
The top two skills in demand are tech skills and soft skills. People who know how to work with the latest technologies in their industry, yet also display the emotional intelligence to work well with others, navigate complex social systems and problem-solve in a variety of situations will always be seen as attractive propositions. In roles that demands more hands-on, practical application, employers are more likely to care less about where you gained your degree, and more about the tangible skills you can offer; and the work experience that will allow them to believe in your ability to get the job done from the outset.
If you’re in secondary school or college, now is a good time to take advantage of any online and self-study courses that enable you to understanding the fundamental skills associated with your preferred career path. Taking our own Professional Diplomas as an example, with only 40 guided learning hours assigned to each pathway, the effort required to complete the tasks at hand, measured against the potential value accrued later on in life, should make them even more of an attractive proposition.
As a creative, passionate person, you’re probably comfortable with the idea of experimentation. One of the consequences of the portfolio career is a higher turnover of opportunities. This is due to multiple individuals traversing a variety of roles as they seek to diversify their list of experiences. Additionally, portfolio employees don’t have to settle for the same monotonous work if they can find attractive options elsewhere, forcing employers to provide opportunities for role experimentation outside of more traditional vertical trajectories.
As a result of this, easier pathways for internal job moves allow employees to take advantage of their changing skills and interests, without having to undergo the risk of changing companies. Chances are, you will be working multiple roles within a range of industries over the next few years. Take advantage of each experience and use it to further diversify your skillset.
It’s a type of statement that may make some feel uncomfortable, but the reality is: personal branding matters. As working environments become more automated and universally integrated, personal branding will become dramatically more important. A professional, well written C.V. is a great start, but a lot of employers will want to review your online presence to get an understanding of who you are: if you’re self-motivated, pro-active and able to promote yourself in an effective way.
Online/Offline: employers will often check your online presence before approaching you
LinkedIn is the most common channel that recruiters use to ask a person for an interview and review online portfolios, but be aware that they will also seek you out on other social networks where your profile may be publicly accessible. Think about the optics on each of your social accounts – is this someone you’d want to work with? Students are in the best position here because they start from scratch. Start thinking about the ‘package’ you present to potential employers, and how you can align your future opportunities with a common direction in your professional life. If it’s easy to recognise where you’re going before you get there, chances are that opportunities will find you, before you find them.
Adapt: The skills learnt in one sector can be adapted to fit into another once you identify your goals
Portfolio careers are symptoms of the macro trends happening all over the job market. While they don’t suit everyone, they certainly provide those with creative pursuits in their personal life a chance to take those passions and further optimise their professional opportunities at the same time. If you’re at the start of your career, now is the time to sit down and brainstorm what your future of work might look like; the type of skills you’ll need; and the professional environments that best serve their development.
NOTE: As a freelancer you will need to make sure that you keep detailed records of your invoices and expenses. Working for yourself means you effectively operate as a business unto yourself, and this means you will need to be responsible for your taxes. It’s strongly advisable that you have a thorough read through the UK government’s ‘Work for Yourself’ guide, which has lot of really helpful information available on this subject. Don’t let this put you off – it’s just another skill in a long-line of skills you’ll continue to collect as your career continues.
For more information about Rockschool’s brand-new Professional Diplomas for Teaching, Performance & Creative Enterprise click here for syllabus guides, prices and FAQ’s.