Chatting to a group of guests at a wedding over the weekend, the conversation turned to the inevitable topic of "what we did." Once upon a time, this would have been a fairly straightforward response..."Oh, I'm a teacher...I work in IT...I'm a Marketing Manager." But ask the same question these days and the answers are likely to be a lot more convoluted.
Just within my own social circle, there's the friend who's a property developer and runs a telecoms company. The professional musician who freelances as a personal trainer. The nutritionist who's employed as a motivational speaker. The writer who works part time for a charity and rents out her spare room on Airbnb. And the cardiology nurse who has a side career as a portrait photographer.
The choice (or in some cases necessity) to rely on multiple jobs or income streams has been rather aptly described as having a "portfolio career" - a term attributed to management guru Charles Handy in the 1990s.
Speaking to those who have opted for the "portfolio career" path, it seems it offers many advantages as well as the not surprising array of challenges.
On the one hand, there's an appreciation of the need for high levels of resilience, adaptability and risk tolerance.
The positives for "portfolio careerists" though are many and varied - the increased feeling of autonomy, the opportunity to work on projects that return a high level of personal enjoyment, greater variety in their day to day routine and a more satisfying work-life balance.
Where once we may have felt compelled to choose "one thing" and stick to it, nowadays we're no longer restricted to the concept of one job for life. We can choose to engage in multiple jobs throughout our career or to spread our focus over simultaneous activities built around a collection of passions, interests and skills.
For those of us who prefer the option of a single career path, there's just as much of a need for increased adaptability and flexibility within our roles, as the article from Marie Claire explains below. Whatever our career choices, and whether we opt for single or multiple roles at different times in our lives, there's likely to be an increased emphasis on consistently updating, expanding and diversifying our skills.
‘Chances are your final job title before retirement hasn’t been invented yet, and your first job may already be extinct,’ adds Thomson. ‘So instead of aiming for a specific future job title or role, focus on developing a broad set of skills that will future-proof you.’ Now the average length of stay in a job is four-and-a-half years, what was once considered ‘job hopping’ is now the norm. For a generation of career nomads, the ability to keep learning, moving and reassessing is key. ‘As we head towards 2020, the interview question is less likely to be “why did you leave that role?” and more likely to be “why did you stay after that project was completed?” as potential employers size up our adaptability,’ says Thomson.