Generalist or Specialist? | No BS Job Search Advice Radio

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EP 981 Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter answers this question directly and clearly.

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"Can I avoid becoming obsolete," is the title of the original video. Someone, in response to that wrote to me asking, "Is it better to be a specialist or generalist?" I want to go to the basics of the question because it is unnecessary. He's broaching this as an IT professional where I have a lot of expertise.

Financially, it's always better to be a specialist there generalist. HOWEVER, this is the big however and all this, there are COBOL programmers who knew IMS and/or DB2 who are specialists at that time. There are people who are UNIX/C developers who knew databases and they were specialists for their times.

The bar is always moving and if you think you can be static, particularly in IT, as a specialist in one domain, you are mistaken. You always have to be alert to the trends. You always have to learn with the next new thing is and start moving to them.

If you start specializing in the area like those or my personal favorite used to be Lotus Notes, eventually, what happens is that there is something else that comes along that surpasses it. Do you remember VisiCalc? Okay! Remember Lotus 1-2-3? Okay! You get my point.

Look for areas that are hot and follow directions in those fields. If you start noticing that there is something else that is becoming stronger, start migrating to that technology. That's because, at the end of the day, for you to work, whether you're generalist or a specialist, you're going to need to be up to date. You're also likely be paid more as a specialist than as a generalist, particularly if you are a consultant.


Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a coach who worked as a recruiter for what seems like one hundred years. His work involves career coaching, all as well as executive job search coaching and business life coaching. He is the host of “Job Search Radio,” “No BS Job Search Advice Radio,” and his newest show, “No BS Coaching Advice.”

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