Should Job Seekers Find Their Niche or Diversify Their Skill Set?

There is no greater misery than searching job ads and posts that a person isn’t qualified for. The job is either full of required skills or one very particular vocation that few have the background for. Because of this, job seekers don’t have a grasp on what skills they need.

The act of job searching is notably difficult in present day society. Employers want potential employees to have a particular skill set, but they also want them to have diverse sets of skills. They want them to be able to communicate well, but also understand how to use certain software programs, soft and hard skills. Job seekers are faced with an impossible choice: should they become an expert in one field, or learn a wide-range of skills? What is more beneficial, and what is more likely to get them a job? These are impossible questions they are left to face on their own.

Let’s consider some of the advantages and disadvantages in having a niche skill set that is special to one person. For one, having a niche also helps people pursue their passion. If they have a particular skill set of their own, they will have to find a career with that job title. However, that can also lead to trouble. Only having one skill set, no matter how good at it they are, can limit a person’s opportunities. They cannot apply for multiple jobs like those who have diverse skill sets. They are also stuck in a specific position until they build more skills over time. If they become bored with that particular skill, they have no potential immediate way out.

In comparison to this, a diversified skill set gives job seekers greater opportunities.  They have more options as they can apply for jobs in various different roles within companies. Additionally, these skills will give them an advantage of growing within the company and gaining promotions at a quicker rate. They can learn new skills through the company, and switch departments if they need to. That being said, applying for jobs with or without a niche skill is overly-competitive. There are many people who have diverse qualities, like: leadership skills, strong writing skills, and public-speaking experience. Therefore, companies look for a wide range of candidates, some with a specific skill, and others who are flexible, adaptable and capable of growing their talent.

Companies need both specialists and generalists. They need people to fill specific job positions, such as; web designer, coder, brand strategist, copywriter, etc. They also need to fill broader titles, like; managers, team leaders, and assistants. Some of the most important qualities companies look for within their employees are simple skills like communication and determination. They want people who fit with their vision, but they also want people who aspire to grow and succeed. They particularly want people who are eager to learn and add to their knowledge base. That being said, these generalist skills cannot be shared with a company if they need a specialist for that specific position. Because of this, there is a market for both kinds of employees. Nevertheless, employees should look to broaden their skill sets and refine what they already know.

To better present themselves to employers, potential employees should diversify their  skill set and build on what they already know. If they have prior knowledge in Photoshop, they should consider taking some photography classes to strengthen that skill. If they love writing about people, but aren’t particularly sociable, they should work on their verbal communication skills so they get better at interviews. Employees should look at the position they are currently in vs what type of job fits their interests more accurately along with what position is their employer in need of. By doing this, they can decipher what skills they need to reach their goal. Growing in a career requires active learning and listening. For example, employers are more likely to promote employees who are goal-oriented. They like people who strive to rise up in the ranks, but also do their job diligently and well. Another habit that helps employees get promoted is engagement. Those who volunteer to work on projects, show up to meetings on time, take notes, and participate in work events prove their commitment to improvement. It’s easy to reach a point in one’s career and decide they’ve done enough. Continuing to learn and grow is what is truly impressive to companies, and what will help employees succeed in their career.

Additionally, employees should consider growing their leadership skills. This is one of the most useful talents to have in the workplace, particularly for those who wish to take on bigger roles and climb the “corporate” ladder. When people become skilled in leading, they gain the ability to work across departments and through various aspects of the job. This heightens the likelihood they will succeed, along with helping them become better employees.

It is the age of hyper-specialization in the workplace. Employers have more people to perform one job. The work is evenly distributed between the employees to fit their specific skill set. While this helps people with niche sets of qualities earn a job, it lessens their ability for improvement. Furthermore, it reduces the need for full-time workers, so these employees have to find secondary jobs. The kind of workers that hyper-specialization is most affecting, though, are generalists. With hyper-specialization, there is demand for people with diverse skills sets. Candidates who would have been shoe-ins for a job in the past are left feeling dejected and lost.

The best option for employees nowadays is to do both. Employers want employees with specialized skill sets, but they also have a desire for great leaders and passionate workers. Job seekers should work to expand upon knowledge they’ve learned through higher education to give them a niche skill set. In addition to this, they should learn some general skills that all jobs need: strong communication, writing, and leadership qualities. By combining a niche skill with diverse skills, job candidates can increase their likelihood of being hired.

Being unemployed is particularly hard in this day and age. Employers have specific needs and demands that sometimes may feel impossible to meet. They want people with specific skills, as well as people who are adaptable. They are hyper focused on hyper-specialization, instead of finding the best person for the job. They need generalists and specialists. It’s important to remember, however, that no matter the situation, jobs require all kinds of workers. There are advantages to being an expert in one field, or being a novice in several fields. As long as employees work hard, keep learning, and identify their goals, they are sure to advance themselves and find a suitable job for them. In a business world that begs the question, “Should job seekers find their niche or diversify their skill set?” answer the question with, “why not both?”

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About Paul Kohlmann

About Paul Kohlmann

Paul Kohlmann is a Project Management, Digital Marketing and Communications professional with a focus on social media and administrative management. Paul is passionate about supporting an organization through quality content, effective communication strategies and loves working with diverse groups of people. In his free time, Paul enjoys running, watching sports, and trying new recipes in the kitchen.

About Paul Kohlmann

About Paul Kohlmann

Paul Kohlmann is a Project Management, Digital Marketing and Communications professional with a focus on social media and administrative management. Paul is passionate about supporting an organization through quality content, effective communication strategies and loves working with diverse groups of people. In his free time, Paul enjoys running, watching sports, and trying new recipes in the kitchen.

Learn more about Paul here.

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