George Osborne, portfolio careers, and the part time lifestyle: how to make multiple jobs work for you


The former Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, caused quite a stir last month when it was announced he will become the Editor of the London Evening Standard. 

Much of the reaction centred around the ability to function effectively in different roles, and the fact Mr Osborne's expertise in journalism are, shall we say, limited. 

And it got us at Agency Central thinking: if candidates want to work in an industry they have little experience in, or want to take on more than one job at the same time, how would they do this?

Are more people working in multiple roles?

First of all, let's get back to George. His is an extreme case, and one which professionals in most walks of life won't be able to match. 

Okay, following the news that the Prime Minister has called for a snap election in June, Mr Osborne has taken what looks like the sensible approach and announced he won't be standing for re-election

However, when he starts work at the London Evening Standard, it will take his official roles to a barely believable FIVE. As well as his new position, these include: 

Chairman of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership.Speaker - since leaving 11 Downing Street, Mr Osborne has made a cool £750,000 in speeches to various financial institutions. Academic position at the McCain Institute for International Leadership.Consultancy role for American investment management company, Blackrock. 
It's fair to say that money can't be the motivation for Mr Osborne, who earns hefty salaries in all roles except the Northern Powerhouse Partnership position, which is unpaid. His reasons could well be political, which is a hot potato we'll be leaving alone today. 

But regardless of the opinion of his record at Number 11, he's well placed to talk about international leadership, and consult on all things financial. 

"The world of work is changing and people are looking towards portfolio careers or jobs that suit their lifestyle."

An editorship of the London Evening Standard though? That is a completely different step and aside from the stress involved, it will present challenges that the former chancellor has never faced. 

How popular is working more than one job? 

What are the trends? Well, records from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that having a second job is a popular employment route - although we're assuming this will be a combination of necessity as well as design. 

Firstly, according to findings, the number of people working full time is at its highest level since the ONS began keeping figures relating to this back in 1992 - some 23,338,000 recorded between November 2016 and January 2017. 

In terms of people with second jobs, the figure for the aforementioned quarter stands at 1,132,000. 

As you can see from the graph, although this figure is slightly up from this time last year, and within the intervening 12 months, there have been times when this number has been higher. 

So, although perhaps not at the extravagant levels of the former chancellor, it shows that a second job is a route for many people. 

How can you be successful in this?

How can someone with two jobs succeed?

The main criticism of George Osborne's new role was one of time management; how can somebody who has a Cheshire constituency successfully edit a newspaper in London?

It's one that he has since rectified by standing down. However, it's worth looking at the tasks he would have faced. 

It's a tough balancing act, that is for sure. In their breakdown of the work expected of an Editor, the BBC lay bare the complexities of the role. The journalism side is only part of the working day. 

An Editor's time is taken up mostly through leadership and management duties, working on and enhancing the commercial opportunities and working out how the paper can increase revenue. This is 'extremely time consuming'. 

Mr Osborne planned to be at the paper between 5am and 12.30pm each day, before leaving to continue his duties as an MP. 

There would have been questions regarding his loyalties. How, for instance, would the paper cover the upcoming general election, or the last Budget? An Editor's values and those of a member of a political party will be naturally different; he would have faced a serious conflict of interests. 

Mr Osborne felt the split of his MP and editor duties in particular weren't viable. But why do other candidates look for second jobs?

Provides greater career options. 

Even when looking away from high profile cases like George Osborne, this phenomenon of having more than one job is a popular one. That much is apparent from the available figures. 

And it seems to be a successful career path. 

"The appeal? Flexibility, independence and an ability to pursue passion."

A Forbes article from Ruchika Tulshyan last year covered this topic in some depth. 

Rather than having one full time job, Ruchika says some people now have a full time job along with one or more part time or freelance positions; elsewhere, people have multiple part time roles that amount to full time work. 

This is known as a portfolio career and the benefits of such an approach is that many find multiple jobs not only fulfilling, but also helpful for "overall career and life development."

Ruchika said: "The appeal? Flexibility, independence and an ability to pursue passion."

Working as part of the so-called gig economy also offers that flexibility; employees can work short-term contracts, part time or freelance jobs to help cultivate the skills they need to gain experience in other sectors. 

Having a second job doesn't always mean compromising on lifestyle ...

Know what you want

A gimme if you're serious about taking on another job; some people do so for financial reasons, which can come ahead of job satisfaction.
"Whatever the stage of your career, entering a new field can still come with a steep learning curve and you must be prepared to invest time into learning and development."

However, for those looking for the aforementioned portfolio career, there's no point being unprepared and ending up in a career that is ultimately not what you want.

It's so, so important to choose something that you want to do; it stands to reason that if you're passionate about what you're doing, you'll find the extra hours easier to cope with. 

In order to make sure you're pursuing the correct second job, and not just wasting your time, you'll need

Thorough planning

More so than ever before, working life is different. 

We've covered before the differences of, say, hiring Millennials and Generation Z professionals. Nowadays, people generally don't have the same restrictions of generations past - in the sense that they're not restricted to one type of career. 

Similarly, the job market is different. Technology has made ambitions such as starting up a business a much more attainable target; gone are the days when premises need to be bought. Instead, a company can be formed in your bedroom or study. 

"Focus on those skills that are transferrable and how you can use them in the sector you wish to move into."

But with any extra undertaking of work, it's vital that not only do you find the right balance, but you plan thoroughly so that no time is wasted. 

Professionals speak of making use of overlapping interests. The linked article has examples of people whose industry experience gave them skills to help bridge the gap to their preferred career. 

"My colleague and friend Soofia Asad was initially working in business after getting her degree, staying in the industry for seven years. But her true skill is photography and art, and she began to pursue her photography full time.

"Her business savvy helped her expand her portfolio and land several gallery exhibits."

Regardless of whether there's a career overlap, making sure everything is planned out meticulously is key. In her Forbes article, Ruchika Tulshyan spoke to Samantha Clarke, founder of UK-based culture consultancy, Samantha&.

Samantha stressed the importance of mapping out the portfolio plan to match the money, lifestyle and skills you ultimately want. 

She said: "I don't advise quitting a full time job without mapping all of this out."

If your career involves two jobs, Samantha also recommends mapping out your week in advance. This will allow you to eradicate any distractions, manage your time as accurately as possible, and set clear goals for your career. 

Advantages and disadvantages of working more than one job

There are many reasons - perhaps different from those of Mr Osborne - why individuals may work in more than one job. 

Helps fit their lifestyle

As mentioned above, the key theme for those who work more than one job is a need for flexibility, a stark contrast to the MP for Tatton who has a number of jobs on his plate, taking up vast chunks of his day. 

"An employee's horizons can be broadened by working in different fields; they will gain greater experience, other skills, feel a sense of freedom they perhaps didn't have with one job."

But more and more businesses are seeing a change in working trends to make way for portfolio careers which allow people not only to accrue new skills, but fit the lifestyle they want to lead.

No two lives are the same; some people have children and want to spend parts of the day or night with them, others will have hobbies and other commitments to fit around work. Moving the work goalposts can help with this. 

Chris Kirby, Managing Director at Transline Group, said that candidates are putting flexibility above other considerations, which suit their lifestyle choices.

He said: "The world of work is changing and people are looking towards portfolio careers or jobs that suit their lifestyle."

Working more than one job - whether full or part time - can provide this flexibility. It's not the only advantage mentioned by Chris ... 

Beneficial to employers

Career paths nowadays are much less linear than in previous years; instead, people's passions and interests differ and change. Opportunities exist to explore these rather than stay in the same old, same old. 

"Portfolio careers will also benefit the employer who will have a happier and more engaged workforce."

Being able to pursue these, in more than one job, not only benefits the candidate, but also the employer. 

An employee's horizons can be broadened by working in different fields; they will gain greater experience, other skills, feel a sense of freedom they perhaps didn't have with one job and hopefully, better financial security. 

In effect, it will open many more doors, with further opportunities. Working in the media and understanding its workings for instance, will be of significant benefit to George Osborne, who has spent large portions of his career having to work and negotiate with the same people he'll be managing. 

We digress though. Crucially, the greater freedom that comes with having more than one job leads to a contented employee. And who does that benefit? Yes, the employer. 

We've written on these pages previously about how the UK's productivity lags behind that of its European counterparts. 

Providing an environment that allows employees to grow their own interests will make them happier and much more likely to repay that faith. 

"Find a company whose culture and ambition you're attracted to."

Portfolio careers provide these opportunities and Chris Birkby said: "This also benefits the employer who will have a happier and more engaged workforce."

What about pursuing careers you have no experience in?

Despite having no formal journalism experience, the ex-Chancellor has managed to bag the Editor position at the London Evening Standard. 

It can seem nigh-on impossible to land a job in a sector you have little or no experience in. However, it can be done.

Transferrable skills

First things first, have a real, honest look at the skills you've gained throughout your career. Let's not sell ourselves short, now. Undoubtedly, the experience you have will provide huge benefit in other organisations that might not be apparent at first. 

Focus on those skills that are transferrable and how you can use them in the sector you wish to move into. 

It's an approach encouraged by Matt Roberts, CEO at In Touch Networks, who run - an organisation that matches businesses with skilled professionals. 

He offered this advice to candidates: "Our advice to individuals looking to work in a different sector is to identify what their own transferrable experiences are - which could be taking a business to a new market or developing a new product - and find a company whose culture and ambition you're attracted to."

Businesses that match experience / commitment / networking

Once you've identified your transferrable skills, it's time to make sure you put them to use in the right place. As Matt said, finding a company with the same ambition and culture as yourself is important. Moving sectors is stressful enough - even more so if the wrong choice is made. 

After that, make the necessary commitments to ensure you can make an imprint in your chosen profession. Can you read up on events / news in this industry? Follow blogs, sign up to newsletters. Anything that can boost your knowledge and understanding

Social media is one of the most fruitful ways of publishing news and features. The medium also contains a vast number of professionals. Use tools like Twitter and LinkedIn to network with people in the industry you want to break into.

They might help you with experience and to make that all important first step on the ladder. 

"Portfolio careers allow people to not only accrue new skills, but fit the lifestyle they want to lead."

Ultimately, your own commitment is imperative if you are to move into another sector - something that Mr Osborne seems to acknowledge by his decision to stand down as an MP.

Matt Roberts explained: "Whatever the stage of your career, entering a new field can still come with a steep learning curve and you must be prepared to invest time into learning and development."


Is it realistic to secure the type of job opportunity that George Osborne has bagged at the London Evening Standard? Not really, considering his level of experience in that field. 

It's also going to be difficult to secure a number of well-paid positions.

However, can you work successfully in multiple jobs, or industries that you have little experience in? Absolutely. 

Have you had any similar experiences? Let us know.   

Written by John Train

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