Generalist Vs Specialist – What should I be?

When I was a young fresher, I asked my mentor what will I be?  
Will I be a Generalist ? Will I be a Specialist?
Here's what she said to me
Que sera, sera...Whatever will be, will be...

Reality in technical field is not this dramatic (original song),  and we do have some visibility of the future. So it is wise to be prepared to face it!

Generalist or Specialist?

This is a question that does often comes up in our career directly or indirectly, and we are unsure whether the vertical or technology we have selected or have been assigned to, is the right one for us. Will it be in demand in future? Will there be good opportunities ? Will it be highly paid? etc, etc..

At the onset of our professional career,  most of the times, we don’t have an option to make a choice as that choice rests with our employer, unless we start off taking the freelancing route or we have picked up a specialization route in our education itself by getting into research, training etc.

A famous Gartner study in 2004 rightly noted,

Specialists generally have deep skills and narrow scope, giving them expertise that is recognized by peers but seldom valued outside their immediate domain.

Generalists have broad scope and shallow skills, enabling them to respond or act reasonably quick but often without gaining on demonstrating the confidence of their partners or customers.”

In this highly dynamic world, clearly these two traits just by itself, cannot be enough to excel and there has to be something extra.

The answer to this question is Versatility !

In the words of the Gartner study, “Versatilists, in contrast, apply depth of skill to a progressively widening scope of situations and experiences, gaining new competencies, building relationships, and assuming new roles.”

Versatilists are capable of not only constantly adapting but also of constantly learning and growing. They focus on gaining the depth and breadth of knowledge supported with the ability to apply their learning in a wide variety of changing contexts and situations.

Being high on learnability brings this versatility and agility in their approach and makes them highly employable.

What do the versatilists do?

Firstly they identify the new trend or technology and then quickly learn it, to be ready to adapt and make use of the opportunities that come with the new technology.

Be Versatile and ready to ride the new wave! Be high in Demand!

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