Slash career or portfolio career: the future of work
Why you might want to consider a new career model
Economic instability and the evolution of consumer patterns have pushed workers and specialists in the professional market to figure out new ways of offering their services and skills. This situation has given rise to a new trend: the slash career. The idea is rather simple: to diversify one’s professional activities in order to improve financial stability, find a better work-life balance, and cultivate a broader set of skills and experiences.
At Opsys360, this new trend has not gone unnoticed. Since 2014, we have been helping professionals who wish to develop a slash career and, since 2016, our own team has been fully composed of experts with such a profile. As supporters of this professional model, we promote it every day with our customers, clients, and anyone wishing to further his or her own slash career.
The democratization of the slash career
The idea of a slash career, also called portfolio career, is already well known in the US where it has been generating significant interest for some time now. Type the two words in your search engine and you will find many articles exalting the advantages of this new professional profile. Credit for popularizing the term goes to Marci Alboher, who positively presented this trend in her 2012 book, “One person/Multiple Careers.” The trend’s increase in popularity, however, can largely be explained by the apparition of the so-called gig economy, which is rapidly expanding and enjoying a growing success.
On the European side, and particularly in France and Switzerland, the story is considerably different. While it is easy to find articles warning against the dangers of the gig economy and its slash careers, it is much more difficult to find favorable articles that present the advantages of this professional path, such as the potential increase in autonomy and well-being.
These different realities on the ground also reflect in the data. In the US, the number of freelance workers is steadily on the rise and is expected to reach 90.1 million by 2028, which is roughly half of the whole American workforce. In Switzerland, by contrast, the proportion of people leaving their employee status to become independent is nowhere near as pronounced.
Despite this discrepancy in adoption rates, the slash career model is progressively being integrated into the Swiss professional landscape. Over the last three years, the number of people practicing more than one professional activity has steadily grown and in 2022 represented a non-negligible 7.7% of active workers.
Despite the lag when compared to Anglo-Saxon countries, Switzerland nonetheless seems to be slowly following in the same path. Portfolio career adoption rate in Switzerland is impeded, however, by a lack of information and expert accounts of this career model’s many benefits. As a result, popular opinion tends to remain unduly biased against it.
Why we have decided to privilege part-timers
At Opsys360, we have given the priority to part-time employees since 2016. In the beginning, this choice was motivated by economic and strategic considerations. Most of our clients want to cooperate with us in order to develop a second professional activity and we felt it was important that we be able to advise them not only with our technical expertise in Human Resources, but also from our personal experience as slash careerists.
One year into this experience, we were convinced of the positive benefits of this model. Since then, it has been smooth sailing and more of the same. The slash career continues to unveil its many strengths. Four of these strengths are particularly noteworthy and worth sharing:
It trains you to be critical
Thanks to our multiple careers, we nourish a number of professional experiences that all come with different daily situations and challenges. Our professional goals and work environments evolve with the activities we undertake, so we need to be adaptable and flexible. As a consequence, we have learnt to be critical of our processes by putting ourselves in the shoes of others. This open and more reflexive attitude allows us to be free and flexible in our problem-solving, which results in more creative and efficient solutions.
It helps develop multiple areas of expertise
Our management team has extensive professional experience in Human Resources, while the other members of our team bring experience, knowledge, and skills from the worlds of insurance, work security, economics, management, communication, and marketing. It is quite rare for a small team of less than ten employees to have such a broad skill set and range of expertise.
It fosters diversity and complementarity within a team
Beyond the complementarity of our professional skills, our team is composed of individuals from many different walks of life each with his or her own personality and interests. This means that, as a team, we balance each other out. The creativity of some is complemented by the precision and rigor of others, and every member can make the most out of this experience both on a professional and on a human level.
It is synonymous with personal growth
Thanks to their multiple careers, our employees are able to combine different interests, skill sets, and passions in order to achieve a good work-life balance. From Opsys360’s point of view, encouraging this kind of personal growth is a win-win situation as it fosters greater productivity while simultaneously creating a relaxed and familiar work environment.
We are fervent supporters of portfolio careers and, luckily for us, we are not alone. We have plenty of positive feedback from our employees and wage portage clients who also practice this way of working.
The benefits for your professional career
Beyond the personal benefits, a slash career can be an important asset in your professional path. In the short run, having multiple work-related activities allows you to develop the interpersonal skills that are in high demand by employers nowadays. Agility, flexibility, autonomy, and the ability to look at problems from different points of view are some of the most sought-after skills mentioned in today’s job offers.
In the long run, a slash career makes you particularly well-equipped to deal with the types of inevitable challenges that are bound to arise in today’s job market. As we write, the world is facing a health crisis with heavy consequences for the economy and our society. This situation is exacerbating an already present trend where employers are obliged to reorganize their labor force and reign in their expenses. It is very likely that a part-time employee with varied competences will be more attractive than a full-time employee without additional fields of expertise.
“In the kingdom of the blind, the one-eyed man is king”. This saying also applies to the professional world. In the midst of professionals with unique but perhaps narrow fields of expertise, the multi-tasking professional stands out for his or her ability to apply a broad skill set to a wide variety of sectors while effectively managing the specific situation. A slash career makes you more efficient and therefore more competitive on today’s job market.
Thanks to a portfolio career, you can grow professionally without sacrificing everything else in the process. It allows you to accelerate your career because you diversify your professional network and you remain relevant on the job market by distinguishing yourself from the competition. And on top of everything, you remain in control of your personal life and responsible for your day-to-day choices.
How to start a portfolio career?
The idea of a slash career with a portfolio of jobs and employers can raise a number of questions and concerns, especially regarding your present work situation and security. If an opportunity presents itself, however, whether as a new job offer, a mission, or a mandate, the most difficult part is taking the first step.
To start a slash career in Switzerland, you have four possibilities, which can be grouped into two broad categories: either you retain your employee status, or, you combine your employee status with that of an independent.
If you want to keep your employee status, there are different ways to develop your slash career:
- by combining at least two part-time employment positions within different companies ;
- by combining your part-time employment in company A with one or more mandates for other businesses funneled through the wage portage system;
- by taking advantage of the larger autonomy afforded by managing all your professional activities as mandates through the wage portage system;
By choosing the first method, you retain employee status. Except for learning how the wage portage system works, you don’t have to develop any new skill or knowledge to handle the administration of your career.
The second method is more demanding. You have the choice of combining your job as employee of company A with a number of mandates or missions as a fully independent worker, but this will require several administrative formalities, including the authorization to be a self-employed person, that may take several months to complete. This choice also includes an additional administrative workload from having to manage two different statuses with the respective administrative authorities.
Managing your slash career
Let’s take the example of one of our employees: while working at Opsys360 at a rate of less than 50%, he combines this with an employee position in another company, several roles in sporting associations, a part-time consulting gig in finance and, each summer he also manages a team that specialises in the organization of events. Don’t worry, he still manages to take holidays and rest periods!
For this portfolio of activities to be sustainable, he needs a great deal of discipline in order to secure the support of his two employers and to avoid any conflicts of interest. He manages this thanks to his great loyalty towards both. It means that he always gives his best to each of his duties and always acts in the interest of his employers. This loyalty does not, however, prevent him from cordoning off enough time for his other activities (e.g. during lunch breaks or at the end of the day) in order to respond to exceptional situations. This flexibility in his personal organization has pushed him to develop an agility which allows him to quickly find his place in a new role.
This agility is put to work in the management of his professional network as well; in fact, our employee is developing five professional networks at the same time. For this situation to work without conflicts of interest, he has strict rules allowing him to make the most out of every experience without mixing it all up.
Slash career: a state of mind
In a professional world that is in constant mutation and where the pace is exponentially intensifying, we are deeply convinced that it is necessary to adopt a different career model in order to stay competitive on the job market. A portfolio career develops interpersonal skills such as autonomy and agility which are fundamental to face changing times.
At Opsys360, we would love to share this adventure with you. Our energy and commitment to help you in your slash career project comes from the simple fact that we have personally and successfully tested the model. The freedom and ability to launch a personal project (start your own business, support a friend with a good idea, monetize a particular talent) brings a feeling of freedom and self-confidence that we want to share with you. Don’t hesitate to get in touch with us if you feel like talking about your project and your future.