Is your career “portable”?

Who knew, all this time I had a “portable career”? This is the first time that I have heard the term, which I guess has been popular among workforce circles for quite some time. It refers to a job that you can take with you, when you need to relocate because of a spouse or because of a lifestyle choice.

Six years ago this weekend, my wife and I left Los Angeles and set out to live in St. Louis. It was a leap of faith for me, having never lived in the Midwest or really spent much time there. Little did I know how much the area would grow on me and now I really enjoy living here. My job, as it has been for most of two decades, has been working for myself, doing freelance writing, consulting and professional speaking on IT topics. Mine is very portable as careers go since it is just my computer and I. Sometimes I do need to sally forth into the world, and then it would be nicer if we had better air service to the parts of the country where I am a frequent visitor. But that isn’t a problem unique to St. Louis anymore.

I came across the term after reading my friend Blair Forlaw’s piece here about military spouses. Which is quite appropriate, given today is Memorial Day. Our military likes to move its folks about the world regularly: my first wife’s dad was a Coast Guard captain and they moved almost every two or three years like clockwork. Many other military families that I know suffer similar circumstances. So having a spousal unit who can bring their job along no matter where they are posted is a plus.

Forlaw’s article talks about some of the unemployment stats for military spouses and also cites some great resources that even non-military people can take advantage of if this direction is appealing. But I think having a portable career is also part of the new wave of entrepreneurism and single-shingle types of businesses that are popping up everywhere: if it is just you and your PC, you have an edge over someone else who has less flexibility.

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