November is National Career Development Month, and this is the perfect time for you to reflect on your career and consider your next steps. Throughout our careers, opportunities and roles come into our line of vision and we either shake things up and grab them or continue our straight-and-narrow journey. Ultimately, neither option is bad; however, working in 2022 is different from previous years, and a career post-COVID has made employment unlike anything you have seen before.
Why you need a career portfolio
Traditionally, careers were a straight trajectory within an industry with incremental steps leading up the proverbial corporate ladder adding titles and wage increases to your career until you ultimately retire with a shiny gold watch. In this traditional mode where you work, what you do, and how you advance is very predictable and dependent on employers looking for cookie-cutter employees who have similar career aspirations.
Pardon the cliché, but this is not your grandparents’ (or parents’) job economy. The future of work is a global network of candidates with skills at the ready. The workforce of today, or tomorrow, is focused on skills - transferrable skills and soft skills.
Today’s workforce is not going to have only one career.. In fact, the average person will have 12 jobs over their working lifetime. From changing jobs and industries to new career paths entirely, people will continue throughout their careers to look for work that gives them opportunities for growth and fulfillment.
From ladder to portfolio
Many people have discovered that they have a "squiggly career" either they accidentally stumbled into it or purposely built it through a variety of disparate roles that piqued their interests.
Often today’s workforce gets bored easily or has an insatiable curiosity, which leads them to take on different careers. When compared to a traditional linear career, these unorthodox journeys are seen as scattered, unfocused, and unsuccessful because “if you were good at something, you would have stuck to it” - but that is the furthest thing from the truth. However, until now there wasn’t a language or format to market these workers. “Career Portfolio” was a term originally coined by philosopher and organizational behaviour expert Charles Handy in the 1990s and is catching on post-COVID
A career portfolio is a way to craft, market and promote your career assets. Focusing on your skills and experiences gives your career journey purpose, flexibility, and clarity. You can change the dialogue when meeting new people and interviewing, from “start at your first job until now” to “when I learned this, I moved on to learn this and then I stepped back to apply these skills here, which led to this…” Instead of the traditional career trajectory of bigger titles and more responsibility, you are gathering more skills and more experiences and demonstrating your vast and diverse professional journey as well as your ability to think critically and problem-solve.
A career portfolio is not necessarily gig-dependant. “While a career portfolio also allows for significant flexibility (and gigs may be part of your portfolio), it’s focused on curating a portfolio of skills and services and future-proofing a career. It’s about intentionally creating and curating a career that changes and evolves over time,” stated April Rinne in her August 10, 2022, article for Harvard Business Review.
Employers are looking for skills
Employers and hiring managers are recognizing that skills, and not job titles, are the key to an engaged and productive workforce. The democratization of upskilling means you can build new skills through a variety of methods, and not all need to be from a post-secondary education or previous role. Skills can come from online learning, side hustles, volunteer opportunities, hobbies, reading or cross-functional projects. The key question employers have is “can you transfer those skills to what I need to get done?”
This shift in hiring didn’t happen overnight — COVID, the early retirement of baby boomers, and the mass exodus of talent from the labour pool meant Canadian leaders needed to think outside the box when hiring. It also means some traditional roles have been pulled apart and rebuilt to accommodate new skill sets, and a bigger priority has been put on professional development and upskilling to facilitate internal mobility — all great news for employees and job seekers.
What are the benefits of a career portfolio?
- Flexibility: When you build a career portfolio you are open to more opportunities and see the value in a cross-pollination of skills. These skills could have been honed while volunteering or built while parenting your children. It also can mean asynchronous work or side hustles to supplement your income or incrementally increase your skill set.
- Futureproofing: In a VUCA world, a portfolio career is a smart bet. You have learned a roster of transferrable skills, demonstrated their value and proven yourself to be adaptable and more valuable to an employer who can move you within the organization or you can pivot to another organization or sector.
- Ownership: Your career progression or professional development is not dependant on one employer. You can step off one ladder and onto another at a different rung. You choose how and when you acquire new skills and experiences.
- Networking: Because you have a wide variety of experiences, you have built up a network of diverse work colleagues and contacts that crosses many industries and sectors, lived experiences, and professional communities.
- Resilience: People who build portfolio careers are resilient. They have a growth mindset and are comfortable re-starting and learning quickly. They can pivot and see failures as opportunities and learning experiences.
- Unretirement: A portfolio career means you decide when to stop working, work less or keep working. Unlike a traditional career path that has key milestones where you are expected to behave in a certain way, such as when you retire, you set your milestones.
In a world with unlimited opportunities for career success, why choose only one path? Your experiences and skillsets are unique assets to you. Ensure your career narrative is promoting your assets and you are putting your best foot forward.
Agilus’ recruitment consultants place over 10,000 candidates a year in temporary, permanent and contract positions. We are Canada’s largest privately-owned recruiting firm collaborating with the top employers in Canada in Technology, Engineering & Tech, Office & Professionals and Light Industrial & Manufacturing.