Reskilling Yourself: Should I Specialize or Generalize?

One debate has raged among professionals for decades; is it better to specialize or generalize your skillset. Each approach has its benefits and drawbacks. As a result, if you are looking to reskill yourself, you may not be sure which strategy is worth pursuing.

It is important to note that there’s no guarantee that one way will dominate the other in the future. However, that doesn’t mean that specializing or generalizing isn’t better for you specifically. If you are trying to decide which road to take, here are some points to consider.

The Pros and Cons of Being a Generalist

As a generalist, your skills will allow you to do a variety of things generally well. Your knowledge base is diverse, which can make you adaptable. If your workplace changes or you need to shift your career slightly, you may be better equipped to alter your course and maintain forward momentum.

Additionally, you might be able to handle a broader range of duties. This can cause a role to be more engaging, as there’s a reduced chance that your responsibilities will feel repetitive. Plus, this may make you a more attractive candidate to smaller businesses, as they often can’t hire separate specialists for every kind of task.

However, being a generalist may mean never developing a high degree of expertise in a particular skill area. Since your focus is broad, you may not have the time to take a deep dive into a single niche. Essentially, you’d align with the “jack of all trades, master of none” concept, so you may never be exceptional in any given area.

The Pros and Cons of Being a Specialist

Specialists mainly go the other direction. Their goal is to know a specific niche inside and out, being so adept that they are easily considered an expert in that arena. Along the way, their career usually becomes highly focused, creating a new singular path that they intend to follow.

For some, specialization is ideal. Not everyone appreciates variety in their work. If you have a specific skill area that you prefer above all else, specializing could allow you to spend practically all of your time on just that.

At times, it can make you a more attractive candidate to large companies and enterprises. Bigger teams can be comprised of several specialists, enabling each one to cover a specific skill instead of having to handle many.

However, it can also make your career less adaptable. You have to learn to live inside that niche, and that can come with risk. If that skill every becomes obsolete, you may have to change directions entirely to move forward in your career, and that can be a cumbersome task.

In many cases, it’s best to combine generalist and specialist features. While you want a strong foundational skill set that taps several areas, you may want to spend a little more time in a high-value niche. That way, you can cover a wider base while developing a degree of expertise, positioning your career somewhere in the middle.


Ready to Accelerate Your Career?

If you’d like to learn more about how you can maximize your career potential through reskilling, the team at GSG Talent Solutions help you on your journey. Contact us today and how our professional development expertise can benefit you.


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