Being a specialist or generalist: A techie’s dilemma

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I’ll use my company as an example of this phenomenon. My company, Manager Mechanics, began as a training company teaching general new manager training. Then, because of my 20+ years of experience in IT management, it was suggested to me that we specialize in IT management training. I originally said no because as a new company we would be dramatically reducing our potential market size. I was then asked if I was getting all the new manager training business I was talking about. We’ll, I said no. I was then told I’m not giving anything up because I’m not getting it anyway. I then began specializing in new IT manager training, namely, teaching techies to be managers.

The moral of this story and what I learned through this experience, which was totally counterintuitive to me, was that being specialized in one area not only makes it easier to get business in your specific specialization, but opportunistically, it also helps you get work in areas related to, but outside, your specific area of specialization.

Moving back to the technical realm, based on your personal skills, abilities, and interests, consider specializing in a specific technical area. When selecting this area, however, do your homework first to assure your selected area has the following attributes:

• You have the background and ability to be a true expert in that area
• The area is growing in popularity, not declining
• The area is not saturated with so many other specialists that you are forced to further specialize within that specialization
• It’s something you love to do and want to do 100% of the time
• That you understand how to properly market your skills in this area
• . . . and lastly, that this area can provide you with the long term professional growth you desire

If you have any questions about your career in IT, please email me at
eric@ManagerMechanics.com
or find me on Twitter at @EricPBloom.

Until next time, work hard, work smart, and continue to grow.

Read more of Eric Bloom's Your IT Career blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Eric on Twitter at @EricPBloom. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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