Cliff's Blog

A feel-good morning microblog of 10-second takeaways offering advice, insights, and inspiration to brighten your outlook and give you a lift.

Specialists & Generalists

Most employers want specialists.

Because of this, most people want to be specialists and yet, after years of interviews with professionals, I can tell you that most people are generalists (even the people that are seeking to hire specialists!).

The most specialized specialist out there usually ends up becoming a generalist because they end up doing way more than that special thing they were hired for. In fact, if they want to keep their job, they are REQUIRED to do more than that special thing.

There are 2 reasons for this.

First off, the worker who works within his job description is considered lazy, or at least not promotable. Second, if a worker does a single thing that is then repeated over and over again, sooner or later someone will find a way to automate that thing and then the worker’s value disappears.

But this isn’t just about keeping your job.

Humans aren’t designed to specialize. No one wants to do the same thing over and over again. We want to do a little of this and a little of that. We want to oversee many things. We want VARIETY, something different every day: new and unforeseen challenges, pregnant with possibilities. We want to grow and connect and that’s rarely a linear process.

Up isn’t always the most attractive direction.

Ironically, to specialize, we often have to give up the very things we do best because, as we discover new talents, we have to discard them.

To retain our value, we must do more of the same at the cost of our own self-expression. In work, as in high school, popularity has a price.

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19 February 2019