Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Specialists, generalists and navigating the path to career advancement 3: taking a more 21st century approach 2

Posted in career development, job search, job search and career development by Timothy Platt on April 6, 2014

This is my third installment to a series on the changing nature of specialist and generalist career path options, and both as their choice impacts on job search and the immediate here-and-now of employment and employability, and on longer term career advancement opportunity (see Part 1: a more traditional approach to understanding these career path options and Part 2: taking a more 21st century approach 1.)

I focused in large part on specialists and specialization in Part 2 and ended that series installment by stating that “I will discuss the need to move past simple narrow specialization, as narrowness per se has become and will continue to become more and more of an employability liability than anything else.” And I went on from there to note that this “does not necessarily mean everyone should become a generalist either. I will discuss that too, and more middle-ground alternatives to either specialist or generalist.” My goal for this posting is to at least begin that part of this overall discussion. And I begin with the notion of specialist and with the imperative of recognizing and avoiding the job and career ending threat of taking your skills and your current work circumstance for granted. Jobs do not last. Businesses change and their needs do too. And their employee and in-house skills requirements do and long term employment calls for agility and a willingness and ability to change and to keep on changing and from a deep awareness of how individual employers and the overall job market are changing too.

In a fundamental sense I am writing this posting and Part 2 out of order – in reversed order. I wrote there about finding and developing that next set of skills and experience that are going to be in demand, and about avoiding shifts from one set of skills of waning marketplace value to another, also on its way out at least as a source of potential competitive advantage. I write here of the jobs market itself, and of knowing and deeply understanding that, and for all of the potential industries and businesses and jobs types that you might be a good fit for.

• First and foremost, we are entering an age where any competitive would be employee and careerist needs to be an expert on searching and securing new work opportunity, and on cultivating next opportunity wherever they are in their ongoing jobs and careers now.

This is the one fundamental skill set that is not going to out of demand or face reduced value: these crucial jobs and careers metaskills. And I introduce this as a term of art here: jobs and careers metaskill and its plural. It is not enough to have hands-on job skills. It is not enough to have effective, organizing management skills that help teams collectively apply their hands-on skills, and individual team members to develop themselves professionally towards their full potential. It is vital that we also cultivate and develop the skills and experience needed, the workplace metaskills needed to be in the right place at the right time with the right things to offer, and in ways that will help us to stand out from the competition in the face of this ongoing onslaught of change in what is needed and in what will soon be needed.

I am going to continue this discussion in a next series installment with thoughts on how to apply this approach and will go on from there to discuss generalists and their rapidly changing and evolving roles, and both in the workplace and in individual jobs and careers development and pursuit. Meanwhile, you can find this and related postings at my Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development – 3 and at the first directory page and second, continuation page to this Guide.


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