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Is it best to be a jack of all trades or should you master one to succeed in your career?

Talent
Mar 18, 2022
Sam LJ
Samantha Littlejohn
Head of Talent
Jackofalltrades

Should you be a jack of all trades or master one - what's best for your career?

‘A jack of all trades is a master of none, but oftentimes better than a master of one.’

A ‘jack of all trades’ often has a negative connotation, especially within the context of choosing a career path. We’re often told tofind a niche and specialise. Whilst that’s good advice for certain job roles (if you’re after a role in tech world, for example), is it really so bad to be a jack of all trades? Should talent strive to develop a range of expertise and skills, rather than focusing on one specific path?

What’s the best route for talent to succeed?

Is it better to be a generalist or a specialist? In reality, employers need both.

Studies illustrate that it’s best for teams to have a mixture of specialists and generalists. Generalists come in handy when it comes to assessing the big picture, they can help create new ideas and processes and can bring innovation and creativity to technical projects. However, they don’t have the same depth of knowledge and technical skillset to resolve the very niche issues that can arise.

In many sectors, being a ‘jack-of-all-trades’ can make talent more desirable because their knowledge and skillbase spans a range of disciplines. Being more of a generalist also makes you more able to adapt to changes in your work environment. It means that you have more of a chance of developing transferable skills that will allow you to diversify if you need to and futureproof your career. Of course, mastering one specialism at work can help talent get noticed in certain industries, but what happens if your particular niche then becomes automated or outdated?

This is the thinking behind the rise in portfolio careers. With a portfolio career you have a career anchor in a certain industry (sales, for example), but you might also work multiple part-time jobs in different industries, so that if there’s a shortage of jobs in your chosen field, you’re able to fall upon one of your other income streams.

It doesn’t necessarily have to be an either/or choice between generalising and specialising in your career. Being a jack of all trades doesn’t rule out the option of developing a niche. With the right focus you can apply your own unique skills and experience to develop a certain specialism. Equally, if you’re a specialist, it doesn’t hurt to gain a few more transferable skills, as the professional landscape is always changing. The average person in the US changes jobs 12 times over 32 years. That number suggests that throughout our working lives we’re going to have to expand and diversify our skillset and knowledge base to adapt to new roles.

A look at Facets

With the Facets model, people work part-time for a number of different businesses. This means that everyone has the opportunity to apply their own unique, niche skillset and expertise across a wide range of businesses and sectors. Whilst everyone has a particular talent, this talent is applied broadly and often requires adapting your skillset to different industries, often forward thinking businesses on the cutting edge. This provides the opportunity to build and craft a unique skillset and niche, but one that can be applied throughout a range of business models and sectors. Want to learn more about Facets? Click here.


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