Sunday 31 May 2020

Portfolio Careers will increasingly be the choice of all age groups following the pandemic

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You should read a fascinating article by Sunshine Farzan in Fast Company in which she talks about how professionals of all generations appear to be turning to “portfolio careers”. Most of what I quote below comes from her fascinating and very well written article. I hope she takes this as a compliment as opposed to proof of my laziness! The stats are largely US based but I believe that her findings would also represent much of the development in the UK and other countries.

 "While many professionals may unwillingly find themselves ousted from stable full-time employment, emerging opportunities in the marketplace may also prove the portfolio career to be a boon for professionals of any age—especially those looking for higher income prospects, personal fulfillment, lifestyle changes, independence, flexibility, or excitement. "

Baby Boomers are financially and personally motivated to keep growing

"It turns out nearly half (49%) of freelancers are over the age of 50–by far the largest segment of the freelance workforce.

The anticipated lifespan for baby boomers has increased, so many are choosing to work longer. But financial pressures are also at play in keeping boomers in the workforce.
 Instead of remaining displaced, many boomers who find themselves unemployed will likely circumvent job market instability by working outside of the conventional “one job” model. According to data from the freelance platform Wonolo collected before COVID-19, boomers have been leading the pack in the global gig economy as they take on more jobs, earn more money, and receive better feedback than their younger counterparts.
Apart from financial pressures, many boomers are also taking on freelance work to enjoy a sense of personal purpose. Having a portfolio career allows them to dedicate time and energy to the causes they support, such as consulting for a nonprofit or offering leadership training to emerging professionals."

"Boomers’ seasoned portfolios have prepared them for portfolio careers, allowing them to leverage their decades of experience to command higher contracted rates than their younger counterparts. Furthermore, like fine wine, professional networks tend to get better with age. A 2017 study from LinkedIn found that 81% of contractors on its freelance marketplace Profinder cited word-of-mouth referrals and personal networking as their primary sources of work. With their social and professional networks already years in the making, boomers could have a leg up in scoring freelance jobs in the COVID-19 economy."

"She suggests that Boomers should consider scaling up gradually. "They need to market themselves strategically and be conservative with spending at first. Some may not realize that physical office space is no longer necessary, especially in a post-COVID-19 economy. Furthermore, it may not even be worthwhile to make expensive investments in branding and website development initially. Reputation, network, a basic social media presence, a services brochure, and a compelling white paper might be all they need to launch a portfolio career."

Gen X is ready to embrace new career horizons

"Gen X’s reputation for being cynical and antiauthoritarian may not just be a stereotype when it comes to their experience in the traditional workplace. According to LinkedIn Learning, Gen X is, by far, the generation most stressed at work. They’re also more likely than millennials to be “actively disengaged” with their jobs, according to Gallup. And, according to data from MetLife, only about two in three Gen-Xers say they are happy at work compared to 75% of millennials and 74% of boomers."

"With stronger levels of dissatisfaction building before COVID-19, it is safe to assume that this crisis may push Gen-Xers, in particular, to steer their careers in a new direction. According to data from BMO Wealth Management, 50% of Gen-Xers who have portfolio careers cite “having autonomy and control” as a top motivator for self-employment—the highest of all generations.
With an average of 20 years in the workforce, Gen-Xers boast an impressive combination of business experience, soft skills, technical skills, and established connections to help them thrive in portfolio careers. They may be the most well-balanced of all the generations currently in the workplace, a trait that could prove advantageous in the post-COVID-19 economy.

Despite the reputation for the cynicism of hierarchy, Gen X accounts for 51% of leadership roles globally, according to DDI World. This means that many Gen-Xers are already in stable, successful roles. Those who want to pursue a portfolio career instead should make sure they are first mentally and financially able to leave, with an alternative plan ready to execute. They need to make sure not to risk current employment by having the conversation too soon, especially in the job market lag of COVID-19. To avoid cold feet, approach the exit conversation firmly committed to leaving. If they cannot commit, the timing may not be right.
It’s also critical to research any legalities that might impact transition, especially in the evolving regulatory environment of COVID-19. For example, noncompetes are very common in employment contracts, and it is necessary to be aware how this might limit a portfolio career."

Millennials are a recession-proof brand

"As the children of parents whose jobs and nest eggs became increasingly less secure in the 2000s, millennials entered the labor market amid the global financial recession and have experienced record unemployment, rapid digital transformation, and rising demand for new skills that are constantly evolving.
The economic despair of COVID-19 may conjure up sore memories from years’ past, but many millennials will be able to draw from the lessons they learned from starting up in a down economy. In particular, they’ve learned the value of constantly reskilling and not placing all their eggs in one basket. According to data from Bankrate, about half of millennials already have a side hustle, which challenges them to keep expanding their skill set and diversifying their career goals.
While millennials have an oft-cited reputation for being lazy, the data tells quite a different story. Millennials are willing to work as hard, if not harder, than the other generations: 73% report working more than 40 hours a week and nearly 25% work over 50 hours, according to a global study from ManpowerGroup. And the same study found that, while millennials still favor full-time employment, over half say they are open to nontraditional forms of employment in the future.

With only a few years of a steady paycheck–and many still paying off student loan debt–it is important that millennials are prepared financially to make the move into a portfolio career. This means either having projects lined up that will bring in immediate cash flow or having a cushion until they begin generating incoming. This cushion should be at least three to six months, but it may be better to have more in some industries. It’s also important to have health, life, and business insurance to remain fully protected in the absence of full-time employment.
Some other challenges facing millennials are perceived inexperience and escalating competition. They’ll likely be entering a field where consultants in their 40s and up have multiple decades of experience—and there might be a few hurdles to get over before landing that first client. This is where business planning and professional development become crucial for millennials.

Before beginning on a portfolio career journey, it is very important to strongly develop an identifiable, marketable area of expertise. After all, clients expect more knowledge, resources, and capabilities than they themselves have, and preferably a niche offering rather than something broad. A general range of expertise, such as marketing, won’t be distinguishing enough. But digital marketing for small businesses may help bring in clients, especially in the COVID-19 where most business networking has moved online. Finding a suitable and profitable niche can be challenging but, with enough due diligence and creativity, it is possible to carve out a niche and captivate the interest of prospective clients."

Zoomers want to be their own bosses anyway

Even before COVID-19 disruptions, many professionals from the youngest generation entering today’s workforce were heading toward portfolio careers rather than full-time traditional jobs. In fact, nearly half of Gen Z or “zoomers” workers are already freelancers—and this number is only projected to grow in the next five years, according to a report from Upwork. This same report found that 73% of zoomers freelance as a lifestyle preference rather than out of financial necessity, compared to 64% of millennials and 66% of boomers.

Zoomers are digital natives and have grown up in a tech-driven world. The oldest members of this generation were just 12 years old when the first iPhone was released. Having been immersed in technology their whole lives, zoomers have many of the technical skills highly in demand in today’s marketplace. And this is a generation that values reskilling and lifelong learning. According to data from LinkedIn, 67% of Gen Z professionals feel that the skills necessary to succeed in today’s workforce are different than those in previous generations.
Apart from having marketable technical skills, zoomers will need to refine their soft skills and other attributes necessary to succeed in a portfolio career. These include a strong work ethic, focus, confidence, tenacity, and the ability to strategically network.
With fewer years under their belt, it may be helpful for zoomers to start their portfolio career as a part-time endeavor. Moonlighting tests the ability to be independent while still retaining a full-time gig to gain expertise, develop a professional network, and become more financially stable.

It’s also helpful for zoomers to develop relationships with advisers and mentors. This trusted network can provide valuable guidance and feedback. A trusted mentor can help test and refine a plan for a portfolio career. They can also provide useful insights and perspectives on what is in demand in the marketplace and how to best apply skill sets."

The future of work

"In the current COVID-19 landscape, half of companies are considering layoffs as a long-term operational strategy. But what happens when the post-COVID-19 recovery begins and companies need to rehire?
The trend toward contracted freelance work has been making waves in the global economy, even before COVID-19 sent many of us home. Freelancers are the fastest-growing workforce segment in the European Union and, in the United States, freelancers will represent more than half the nation’s workforce by 2027. In the Asia Pacific region, 84% of hiring managers are outsourcing work to freelancers, and 79% say a more flexible workforce will help companies navigate an increasingly globalized business climate.
 As COVID-19 disrupts the global workforce and prospects for contracted work continue to outpace employment growth, it is possible that many of the jobs lost will be filled by portfolio career seekers–across all generations–looking to develop multiple skill sets, follow new passions, achieve personal growth, or simply enjoy the change of pace."

Wonderful article Sunshine. I cannot recall ever quoting from someone else's work in the way that I have done here. I bet she has a portfolio career! And this was the world that Katie and I saw emerging a decade ago when we wrote our book!

Saturday 11 August 2012

Liverpool self-employment course from Royal Charity helps over 50s bring new business to the area

 Unemployment amongst over 50s is rising in the North West, but HRH The Prince of Wales’ charity, The Prince’s Initiative, is tackling the problem by bringing its successful self-employment course to Liverpool.
 There are 3.5 million people between the age of 50 and 64 out of work in the UK. Redundancy and unemployment is a huge problem for the over 50 community; many of whom possess a wealth of skill and ambition, yet are turned away from employment because of their age. The Prince’s Initiative believe that self-employment is a fantastic and fulfilling solution for the over 50s; 48% of over 50s are more likely to succeed in business creation than any other age group.
The Prince’s Initiative is the only national organisation dedicated to supporting unemployed over 50s explore self-employment. With 29,545 over 50s claiming job seekers allowance in the North West, The Prince’s Initiative’s “Preparing to Run Your Own Business” course taking place in Liverpool could not have come at a more appropriate time. The course kicks off on 9th September and takes entrepreneurs over the age of 50 in straightforward steps through the challenging process of planning to start a business.
Rod Boyes, attended one of the “Preparing to Run Your Own Business” courses and has since gone on to create his own company Pinegrove leather. He says of the course, “The course was fantastic and helped me learn all the necessary skills needed to set up in business - such as cash flow and negotiating with customers and suppliers - as well as providing an inspiring and fun environment to learn within”.
If you are unemployed or facing redundancy, why not join The Prince’s Initiative at their “Preparing to Run Your Own Business” course in Liverpool by emailing, calling 0845 862 2023 or visiting for more information.


Tuesday 26 June 2012

Rainbow Years now at a much cheaper price

Friday 30 March 2012

Ways the over 50s may surprise you

The over 50s are often portrayed in the media as old has-beens that simply love nothing more than gardening, watching daytime TV and eating Werther’s Originals! The truth is the over 50s are far from ready to kick the bucket just yet.
Rebels & Innovators: Johnny Rotten, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Madonna – all of these celebrities are over 50 and continue to innovate and cause a stir. This group is hardly the conventional stereotype of the older generation often depicted in the press. When it comes to innovation the over-50s are in a league of their own: Bill Gates is in his 50s, as was the late Steve Jobs when he died last October at just 56. In the years shortly before his death Steve Jobs launched a range of innovative products – the iPod, iPad and the iPhone.
Carers: While the over 50s are older, they are not too old to not find themselves caring for older relatives. Most over 50s offer in some shape or form provide support to their parents.  This can include anything from stairlift solutions to helping out with bills and shopping. They look after people; they are not looked after. This is something that is often forgotten about by younger people – and advertisers!
Entrepreneurs:  Most entrepreneurs are over 55. Research by Nominet Trust found that, contrary to popular belief and the best efforts of TV shows like The Apprentice, in London, the largest number of British entrepreneurs are 55 years and over, rather than 20-somethings like Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter's Jack Dorsey.

Thursday 27 October 2011

Entrepreneurs 'older than we think'

More than a third (38%) of people in London believe that entrpreneurs fit into the 25-34 age group, when in fact they are more likely to be over 55, a new survey shows.
Research by Nominet Trust found that, contrary to popular belief in the capital, the largest number of British entrepreneurs are 55 years and over, rather than 20-somethings like Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter's Jack Dorsey.

The findings come as the charity urges over 65s in the region to innovate online.
Its research found that perceptions of how older people use the internet and what they have to offer are largely incorrect. It found that most people believe over 65s are luddites when, in fact, this age group has the fastest growing number of users of digital and social media.

Nominet Trust's Ageing and the Use of the Internet report highlights that there is huge potential to mobilise our ageing population's enterprise and digital savvy to use the internet to address social problems in their lives and communities. In particular, the report shows there is a pressing need for products, services and technologies for older people designed by older people.

For this reason, Nominet Trust is launching a £250,000 challenge, with funding and support available for the strongest projects that could work with older people to: use the internet to address specific social problems facing older people; design new and better ways for older people to get on to and use the internet; and develop and use technologies which older people feel comfortable with.
The Nominet Trust is calling for bright sparks in London to come forward.

Wednesday 5 October 2011

Grandparents subsidise family holidays

A significant proportion of family holidays are paid for by grandparents, according to research from a leading insurer.

Grandparents are increasingly paying for family breaks, according to new research by Gnu Insurance.
The insurer polled 1,000 over-50s and found that 43 per cent of people in this age group have paid for their children and grandchildren to go on holiday at some point.
Nearly one in four grandparents said they paid for a family holiday every year, while 56 per cent dip into their savings once every two years.
The survey suggests that grandparents will collectively spend more than £2 billion on family breaks this year, accounting for nearly one-tenth of the nation's outlay on holidays.
Paul Thilo, general manager at Gnu Insurance, remarked: "The over-50s have more spending power than ever before when it comes to holidays.
"Not only are retirees making the most of their freedom by travelling more, they are also responsible for funding a lot of family holidays, for all generations."
However, grandparents may become less generous with their savings in future, as figures show that older age groups are currently suffering the highest rates of inflation.

Friday 5 August 2011

Are you an ageing bustard?

Hilarious article in the Daily Mail which reports research on bustards showing that
indulging in overt sexual behaviour could lead to premature ageing in men through 'burnout', according to scientists studying fertility patterns in birds.
A 10-year research programme into the sex lives of bustards, birds with a very flamboyant mating display, showed a dramatic decline in the quality of sperm among the more 'showy' males.
The mating display of the  male Houbara bustard, known as 'booming', sees striking ornamental feathers flare up before the bird runs around while making a low-pitched call.
The males can 'boom' for as much as 18 hours a day, six months of the year.
Dr Preston, who is based at the University of Burgundy in France, led his team in measuring the length of time each male spent 'booming', and then compared that with changes in fertility, which is usually associated with ageing.
The more time the birds spent 'booming', the more dramatic was the decline in their fertility.

Men - if you recognise any of this in your own behaviour - beware!

Wednesday 27 July 2011

Unemployed? Have you thought of direct selling?

An interesting article in the Independant discusses how 50+'s are cashing in on opportunities offered by "direct selling" companies to boost their earnings or supplement their retirement income.
Direct selling is face-to-face selling outside a normal retail environment, either on a one-to-one basis or at specially held parties. Companies such as Betterware, Herbalife and Avon use direct sellers.
It is certainly big business. The industry is worth £2bn annually to the UK economy with more than 400,000 people selling products this way. Direct sellers can often earn more money by recruiting other people to sell products too, and then earning commission on the sales their recruits make. 
The Direct Selling Association (DSA), the trade body that represents the UK's major direct selling companies, has seen a 29 per cent increase in recruits aged over 50 in the past year. The DSA estimates there are currently 120,000 direct sellers over the age of 50 in the UK, compared with 93,000 in 2009/10.
Recent statistics have shown that unemployment is falling, but over-fifties are struggling to get back into work, with 44 per cent of unemployed at that age having been out of work for more than a year.
According to the DSA, the majority of direct sellers spend little more than a few hours per week and earn under £1,000 a year. However, about 30,000 people direct sell full-time with many earning £50,000 or more, although incomes of more than £100,000 are not unheard of.
Read the article for tips on what to do and what not to do if considering this option,

Wednesday 20 July 2011

Should older drivers be screened?

Not according to a new position paper from the European Federation of Psychologists' Associations, which concludes that age based population screening is not only 'ethically questionable, but actually has greater economic costs than benefits for society, particularly when the proportion of the older population is increasing'.
They claim that firstly older drivers generally do not have more accidents and secondly, according to research literature, aged based population screening does not produce the desired safety benefits. Indeed, they argue that screening tends to take drivers who have never had an accident off the roads. "These people potentially lose their independent mobility for no reason. This is a serious issue as mobility has been linked to quality of life and psychological health'.

So what does Age UK have to say about this and of course our politicians? Abandoning screening would save considerable amounts with minimum social costs according to these studies.

Monday 18 July 2011

How old is old?

This really is an 'old' perennial but we keep seeing new data on the topic. Daniel Bates has a fascinating article in the Daily Mail online and claims that middle age does not stop until you are 70! You might also be intrigued or indeed horrified to look at the youtube video that appears in the online version of the article.