An increase in the number of self-employed people is behind recent falls in official unemployment figures as opposed to the creation of new jobs.

Quarterly labour market data, published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), revealed there were just 0.2 per cent more ‘employed’ people during the last quarter. This compares to a rise of 4.1 per cent in the self-employed sector during the same period.

The rise in the number of people describing themselves as self-employed equates to an extra 172,000 in the last three months alone. It means the total number of self-employed people comes to 4.37 million, or 14.5 per cent of the total workforce according to PCG, the membership group for the self employed.

According to PCG there has been a 63 per cent rise in the number of people going freelance in the last decade alone. This brings the number to 1.72 million, contributing £95 billion to the UK economy.

Now I know not all portfolio workers are self employed but many of us are. Indeed a continuing frustration for me is that portfolio careers is talked about more and more. I am interviewed now by press and the media far more than after we wrote our book and yet the ONS is still not collecting the data that would give us a real take on how many people are now choosing this as a working life style.



I have been interviewed for Forbes Magazine (online) and for the Huffington Post in the USA in the past month and clearly the phrase Portfolio Careers now appears to be the primary description there of the phenomenon that we know and cherish here.  So I was interested in taking up Sarah Brooks’s offer to guest post on our blog to get her views on the topic.


 Sarah Brooks is from best people search. She is a Houston based freelance writer and blogger. You can send any questions and comments to her at brooks.sarah23 @  You can of course also leave comments on this site. So – over to Sarah….

“Leonardo De Vinci would have had a portfolio career by today’s terminology. As a painter, sculptor, inventor, architect, musician, and writer—along with several other careers—De Vinci was a Renaissance Man in traditional terms. Although that term sounds dated today, the personality type is not. In fact, the number of portfolio careerists—modern day Renaissance Men and women —have been on the rise in the last few years. Here’s more on this latest trend in careers.



The Rise of Portfolio Careers

Individuals with multiple simultaneous careers have always existed, but that number has been on the rise in the last few years. With the economic collapse in 2008 came layoffs, shrinking wages, furloughs, and other forms of underemployment. To adapt to the changing work climate and make ends meet, people simply began working at  more than one job simultaneously. A person in marketing might have picked up some extra work as a graphic designer, another person who taught high school science may have added some freelance writing work on the weekends.


 During the recession, with the additional skills they had, the underemployed created new jobs for themselves or picked up additional part-time work in a second or third field to pay the bills. As we have slowly come out of the recession, though, and individuals have the potential once again for traditional “single track” careers, why are portfolio careers still so popular? There are a few key reasons why.



Ultimately, portfolio careers remain popular because they offer a great deal of freedom for people who hold them. Instead of a traditional, single track career, portfolio careerists hold a variety of part-time jobs where they can explore several of their interests simultaneously. For example, someone who enjoys painting, writing, and graphic design, doesn’t have to choose one option over the others—he or she can make enough money through each of those interests combined to make ends meet.


 Portfolio careers work especially well for creative individuals. Although it might be difficult to make ends meet with a creative career in art, design, or writing, doing more of these careers at once can make success in these careers possible. Many creative individuals already have interests in various areas, so a portfolio career is almost a natural extension of their personalities.


 Job Security

Although the economy is improving and allowing for a return to more traditional careers, portfolio careers are still appealing to many for the job security they provide. The reality is, downsizing and firings are still part of traditional employment no matter how steady the economy is. For someone who relies on only one career for all of their income, losing a job can be devastating and it can take a great deal of time and effort to bounce back.


 For someone who maintains a portfolio career, however, losing one job means that there are still other jobs going on to make ends meet until the gap from lost income is filled. In other words, losing one job for a portfolio careerist isn’t as devastating. These people have the option to slide more easily between careers and stop or start different jobs as they please. While a traditional, consistent, salaried career might seem more stable and lucrative, that might not be the case.


 Portfolio Careers = Challenge

For many, a single track career isn’t demanding enough. By choosing a portfolio career, many individuals seek to provide themselves with a challenging alternative to the standard approach for earning money. Although not all portfolio careerists are self employed, they are all typically more in control of their career potential.


 It might take some time, perseverance, and creative thinking for these people to move closer to “self reliance,” but that is often just what these people want. A portfolio career might be the best way for individuals to exercise their creative potential and achieve more of their goals.

A portfolio career isn’t for everyone, but more people are finding that it is just what they need.”












The changing nature of work

25 February 2014

I seem to be spending more and more time reading and talking to people about the changing nature of work. The fact that we are portfolio workers is just one example of the biggest societal change in how work is viewed since the industrial revolution. I think it’s worth investing 9 minutes to look at [...]

1 comment Read the full article →

What I miss most with a portfolio career

19 February 2014

This is a question I am asked regularly. My answers vary according to my mood and time of the  year! One that I consistently use is the simple fact that I miss the ongoing contact with a ‘team’ of fellow workers. I can manage to recreate much of the social contact but I miss the [...]

0 comments Read the full article →

Don’t talk like an Australian!

14 January 2014

I just love the advice that you pick up for the new year for people considering changing jobs or career pattern. This will apply equally to portfolio workers many of whom are permanently pursuing new work and/or customers. Apparently if you are looking for any of these things you definitely should not  talk like an [...]

1 comment Read the full article →

New Year Resolutions (Aagh!)

3 January 2014

Yes its that time of the year again with a plague of resolution pieces – which I choose to ignore. However, I was attracted by a piece in Fast Company magazine online so pass this on to you. You can follow up and read more where indicated. I particularly like no 11…… 1. Take a [...]

0 comments Read the full article →

The Start Up of YOU

1 November 2013

This book by the co-founder and Chairman of Linkedin and his colleague Ben Casnocha has been languishing on my shelves for far too long but I finally took my first proper holiday in over 3 years and took this with me to read. It is inspirational and so relevant to the mindset of portfolio workers. [...]

0 comments Read the full article →

30 of the Best Blogs Featuring Legit Work from Home Opportunities

22 September 2013

We always like to welcome guest bloggers and this is from the US so much of the data has a stars and stripes feel but I felt that there is much useful information here for UK portfolio workers who have ambitions in the writing and blogging arenas. The author is Jeralyn Nelson who is the [...]

3 comments Read the full article →

What motivates us to work?

21 September 2013

Fascinating video from the clever RSA group, presented by Daniel Pink based on his last book. Relevance to portfolio careers? Most of us have deliberately chosen not to work full time for organisations. Why? Because they don’t let us be self directed, they don’t encourage us to learn and master new skills and they don’t [...]

0 comments Read the full article →

Why it is crucial to utilize your strengths at work?

17 September 2013

I was giving a talk recently and as usual was emphasizing the importance of identifying your motivated skills or strengths when an academic in the audience alerted me to the research studies of Tom Rath and Jim Harter in their book Wellbeing: The Five Essential Elements. In this they state that, “Career wellbeing might be [...]

0 comments Read the full article →