One of the biggest questions we all face in our careers is whether we pursue the path of specialization – and if so what should we specialize in, or should we develop a broad skill set from a range of experiences. Spoiler alert…..
The correct answer is… it depends…
Considering that most people don’t want to plan their life around such ambiguity, then I personally recommend taking the path of becoming a Full Spectrum Specialist!
What is that exactly? It is just what it appears to be. It is an individual that has specialized in a particular skill area, like web design, but also understands and is able to support the creation and delivery of all of the components necessary to execute a full web campaign.
A Full Spectrum Specialist is extremely versed in the end-to-end delivery of the project and can create value for their client or employer through their generalist knowledge and management capabilities. In the case of the web designer, you are able to project manage, art direct, or creative direct other resources tasked to support the completed project.
Broad peripheral knowledge of the full spectrum of your skill area supports your ability to identify and create streamlined work processes which may enable you to provide alternatives if one solution is not a fit. You position yourself so that you are more marketable and so that you can provide value to a broader audience.
This also applies in the world of business. I will use myself for an example. I am a specialist in Business Analysis with over 15 years of experience. However, I am also certified in the Scaled Agile Framework, a methodology for delivering software. Additionally, I am currently pursing my doctorate in Organizational Behavior and I am a Certified Professional Coach, as I find value in my ability to effectively communicate with my stakeholders. Business Analysis is a component of Scaled Agile Framework and stakeholder management is a component of Business Analysis – but I have developed specialist’s skills in Business Analysis as well as Coaching (stakeholder management) to support my end-to-end knowledge of Scaled Agile Framework for delivering software.
So how can you use this information in your career?
The steps are easy, but the process may be time consuming.
- Identify your broad area. Do not make the mistake of targeting a discipline like marketing, design, technology, or product development – instead find a smaller area like Internet marketing, web design, mobile app development, or consumer lifestyle product management. If your area is too large, it will be difficult to acquire the knowledge of the end-to-end process where your specialization lies.
- Claim your specialization. This is the most frightening step because you feel that you are limiting yourself. However, every employer, whether in an organization’s human resources, or clients in your own business, every one of them wants to hire the most talented person to carry out the function they need. Claiming your specialization lets them know what yours is. Your full spectrum knowledge will increase your attractiveness as an employee or as a vendor.
- Start your journey to mastery. Regardless of whether you are working within the structure of an organization as an employee, as a contractor, or you are your own organization providing services – now that you have claimed your specialization you must pursue the path of lifetime learning. Your training timeline is endless and does not include a quick or easy path. The journey to mastery requires the deepest commitment and the most serious mind for excellence.
- Build your support structure. What do I mean here? I mean go and build your network of experts that can provide assistance in the event you need resources to help you satisfy an engagement. This is your go-to pool of talented individual specialists which are able to go deep in the areas where you are only broadly knowledgeable. Every star needs a supporting cast and this is yours.
I close with the question – Are you a full spectrum specialist? If not, contact Coach Clinton to discuss creating a path for you to strengthen your skills and optimize your marketability.