Career Strategy: It Pays to Diversify
Would you throw your life savings—every single dollar—into a single stock? Most likely not; it’s far too risky to put all your eggs in one investment basket.
And yet, you’d be astounded how many people regulate their careers with a single-stock mentality. They toil away, year after year, investing their abilities in a narrow field of interest.
Until recently, this method made a lot of sense. Conventional wisdom dictates that if you do one thing really well, you’ll never be out of a job.
But times have modified, and so have techniques. While it’s still correct that a solid career is developed on a foundation of position-specific expertise, it’s become increasingly essential to maintain a well-balanced portfolio.
When employers look for talent, they commonly settle for people with the skill to perform certain tasks. But what they truly want—especially in today’s hyper-competitive market—is an versatile breed of cat, whose broad-based set of skills crosses over into a diversity of disciplines.
Want verification? Poke your head into any meeting room in which professional employees are present. You’re likely to hear a sales manager probing the potential of XML technology; or an engineer debating the benefits of a strategic alliance; or a CFO pondering the benefits of a co-branding prospect.
In other words, as organizations compress, more is anticipated from each individual contributor. Which means that versatility is not only fashionable, it’s become a core element in modern-day career development.
Now, I’m not recommending you spread yourself so thin as to master nothing at all. But in order to attain top-percentile status in today’s rugged job market, you’ll need an expanded collection of capabilities to utilize.
To round out your resume, look for areas of weakness (or “blind spots”), and try to form them into strengths. For example, if you’re a design engineer and you want to sharpen your company’s product or progress its market position, here are some issues to consider:
By achieving knowledge in areas that were initialy considered the field of “somebody else,” you’ll increase your overall market value. The more you can offer a various spectrum of knowledge—rather than a sole color of skill—the less likely you’ll be to paint yourself into a corner.