Generalist vs. Specialist: Better together.

For the focused generalist. Learn what it means to be a Specializing-generalist, JollyGens!

Like peanut butter and jelly or Batman and Robbin, some things are just better together. This concept becomes more evident as it is applied to generalists and specialists. Yes, both generalists and specialists have their advantages, and yes, it takes a great deal of effort to develop knowledge and skill in both categories, but when it comes to securing a safe and stable career these two concepts in combination are better together.

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3 Advantages/Disadvantages of Being a Generalist
Advantages
  1. Work well in teams – collaborative in nature, especially with other generalists
  2. Broad knowledge base and wide-range experience to help produce a variety of solutions
  3. Ability to relate and understand the perspective of others
Disadvantages
  1. Higher supply and less demand – many businesses are looking for experts in specific capacities, therefore, it can be harder to get hired
  2. Structure and discipline toward one subject may be difficult for generalists
  3. May lack the right knowledge or experience to overcome specific challenges
3 Advantages/Disadvantages of Being a Specialist
Advantages
  1. Experts in a particular field making them desirable if their expertise are required
  2. Can be hired on a freelance or contract basis
  3. Higher demand and less supply – niche applications require specialists in unique areas which can be harder to find
Disadvantages
  1. Rely on others in areas outside of their expertise
  2. Heavily reliant on the needs of the market and are at risk of being replaced if new technologies are introduced or changes occur in their industry
  3. Can be challenging to understand the bigger picture
The sweet spot

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Lev Kaye, Founder and CEO at CredSpark, notes in his article Generalists vs. Specialists: Who Owns The Future? that there are two types of people that will own the future:

  1. Generalizing-specialists
  2. Specializing-generalist
Generalizing-specialists

Someone who is inherently a specialist but realizes to avoid being replaced or pigeonholed into their specialty they must grow and learn on a broader level.

Specializing-generalist

Someone who is inherently a generalist but knows that in order to provide further value they must acquire proficiency in a certain set of skills.

Both of these types of people understand that in order to progress and grow in their careers they must not categorize themselves into one basket or the other. Rather they need to expand their knowledge and skills both horizontally on a broader spectrum, as well as vertically toward deeper understanding.

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