Specialist or Generalist? Which Career is Better in the Long Run?
About 3000 years ago, a Greek poet wrote, a fox knows many things, but a hedgehog knows one big thing. The fox symbolizes generalists, who knows many things, has a broad range of skills and juggles between many approaches. Hedgehog is a specialist who has deep expertise in a specific domain of knowledge, and digs deeper in one direction.
This is similar to the saying, jack-of-all-trades is a master of none. But does that mean dear old Jack doesn’t have a place in the employment arena? Are specialists the order of the day, or is a generalist preferred too? There will always be companies that look to hire specialists and generalists alike. So in this matter or discussion, it is important for students to consider where their interest lies.
Who are generalists?
A generalist is someone who has wide array of knowledge but no particular speciality. They could be Computer Science graduates who have a general knowledge on various domains like C++, Python, HTML etc. or they probably have an integrated degree (BE+MBA) and can handle bit of technical and administration both. The common trait of generalists is that they are open to transitions in their role and are capable of wearing many hats at a time.
Generalists tend to accomplish a lot of small tasks which may otherwise become a bottleneck in the work process. For instance, an integrated degree holder may help the tech team with elementary coding and is capable of handling accounts for the HR team. But when it comes to writing complex codes or creating HR policies, they find it challenging due to the lack of in-depth domain knowledge.
Employers prefer generalists when they want to leverage their platform and they have constrained resources. Recently, it is a trend that companies in their early stages hire generalists to get wide range of jobs done at reasonable expenses.
Who are specialists?
Specialists are people who excel at a particular role. They could be Computer Science graduates with focus only on one domain, say front-end. These specialists have thorough knowledge of their field and have countless career opportunities in any type of industry which require UI/UX developers.
Specialists are hired for their expertise in a particular field. They are not easily replaceable as they hold specific problem-solving skills. Few roles can only be performed by specialists, making them a valuable resource to a company. As they grow in their career, their experience and expertise become all the more important and they see a great demand for their profiles as compared to generalists.
Why do employers prefer specialists?
Employers prefer specialists as they are masters of their field and are much better than generalists in performing a particular task. Their highly niche skill allows them to complete tasks faster and more efficiently, unlike generalists who constantly have to spend a lot of time in researching how to perform a complex task. Specialists also ensure the best quality in everything they do.
How to become a specialist
Making a choice to become a specialist comes early in your life when you make a career choice. This is a crucial stage in which students should be able to weigh their interests and aptitude accurately and choose a career accordingly. A wrong choice of career can result in job dissatisfaction and ultimately switching careers which come with a heavy price.
We at Navigus, understand the significance of this life changing decision and also the dilemma students face in choosing the right career. To solve this burning problem, we are building an AI that will identify the natural inclinations, aptitude and motivations of students, and map it to the very specific set of colleges that will be able to leverage all of an individual’s potential.