How do we make the most out of portofolio careers? Strategically and less ryding edges

Having a very diversified career path (doing one thing and then a completely different one) makes it difficult to classify the person in a recognizable  manner by potential employers, and with that comes the risk of  marginalization. Of course, with that also comes the opportunity of taking one’s own way in life, which may not guarantee security but provides a sense of independence that surely will help in the uncertain future.

Hello friends,

This is a post reacting to this report by Patrick summarizing Rebecca’s presentation at Lote and generally, the session on building the transition handbook.

I don’t consider myself a risk taker. Although I found most of the ideas in there quite characteristic of Edgeryders community as a whole, it made me think a lot about people that may also find it hard to recognize themselves in certain ways of making a living, or find that those ways are beyond their reach… My understanding is that people aiming to have the freedom to choose their work by becoming self-employed or entrepreneurs are trailblazers, but not at all a sample of European youth. Recurrent (ad-hoc) solutions Edgeryders found are the ones we’ve seen: self-employment, entrepreneurship, navigating different economies -alternative currencies e.g. bartering of skills… they all require some creativity, open mindedness and a way to get around that’s Edge Ryders specific… am I wrong?

For those of us lacking the skills or readiness to create their own work setup are left with the normal directions of constructing a career, albeit an unconventional one and still a portofolio career – less focused, not hierarchical, and a degree of uncertainty which is structural, after all going for a career is risky in itself. Through portofolio careers we tend to develop some competencies that are harder to map and interdisciplinary skills that make us T shaped employees or hybrids (Charanya was talking about it in this post).

Personal example: I’m heading towards the end of a job which is only slightly connected to my university qualifications, and as I prepare for job hunting, I find it difficult to write a summary of who I am professionally, or even harder to define my profession: I am equally an early stage researcher in political sociology and a young online community builder. I have a university affiliation, but at the same time I am a communicator. I have 1-3 yrs experience in both, thus I am a learner still. The interdisciplinary competencies that I supposedly have are: peer learning, intercultural communicating, online content managing, thematic networking rather than just social. How can you sell this in traditional settings?

So my questions for you guys who recognize yourselves in this scenario is: how do we make the most out of a portofolio career? How do we make our path valuable from a market point of view, and recognized by potential employers? And are there ways of curating your curriculum by making sense of it and providing a direction, even a multidimensional one?  

Apparently some people in the Making a living session at LOTE found as a general solution opening up dialogue, but what kind of framework can we use to do that? Conceptually and in view of some experiences detailed in here, I think this could be done by:

(personal strategies):

- making a case for intrinsic motivation and passion, for the potential to learn that one has. I think you can do this successfully in a job interview – I’m a strong believer in charisma and one on one face interaction, but to get there you have to go through a recruitment process that’s most often faulted. Which means you might have to

-go around  formal “job ad” recruitment if needed. You pick your potential employers pool and be pro-active in pursuing a specific job with a specific offer of skills. Even when that job’s not on the market yet. Curious if you have experience in this area… ? I remember Alberto mentioning this strategy.

-build up and be aware of your social capital outside the usual suspect allies like family and friends. Nadia’s report on social networks is a great reading of this and I distinctly remember what Ksenia said: “social capital at the moment seems to be the safest currency”; this one I find the hardest and I’m afraid it’s slightly innate… but nevertheless there are quasi-professional networkers out there that improve their chances of getting work.

(at societal level):

  • redefine the term JOB so as to move towards what we understand as PAID WORK: not necessarily long-term, not necessarily repetitive, not associated with routine, not associated with security. And while we do that we might think of ways to

  • improve the explanation and understanding of project based life-styles: what you do today may not be linked to what you do tomorrow

Do you have your own answers to the set of questions above? More importantly, how can something like this move towards the policy level? Or can it not? (I’m asking this because for me personally, new funding approaches – Edgeryders one policy idea that’s becoming more and more concrete - don’t appear so useful; of course in the long run I may benefit by being hired by more open minded employers or people with interesting projects that understand where I come from and have the money to hire).  But I would suggest also coming up with a proposal that may invigorate current recruitment processes, by redefining the understanding of the meaning of job and competencies.