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To specialise or not to specialise

05 Mar 13:00 By Houman Bigloo

Houman Bigloo Specialise Allrounder

​As a Recruiter, I am often asked whether it is better to specialise in a niche area or to be an allrounder with a broad skillset? There is no right or wrong answers for this question. Which is why we are going to talk about the benefits and risks associated with each option. 

Being Specialised:

Being specialised is a suitable option for individuals who are very passionate about a specific niche. For example, typography or FMCG packaging design, product UI Design, etc. 

The Benefits:

  • Ability to do what you love and enjoy on daily basis.

  • Become the “go to” person for the area you have specialised in.

  • You will increase your efficiency and proficiency which results in getting the job done quicker with a higher profit margin.

  • Having a well-defined elevator pitch to introduce and promote yourself as well as having a clear career path. 

The Risk:

  • Being specialised in an area that is too niche which limits your job opportunities out there. 

  • Specialising in an area that is dying or is the underdog.

  • Missing out on opportunities that may require multiple skillsets.

Being an Allrounder: 

If you are an individual who enjoys being involved with the different stages of a project then, you might want to consider being an allrounder. E.g. Individuals who are involved in UX, UI and visual design.

The benefits: 

  • There is a high demand for allrounders within small teams where they require someone with a broad skillset.

  • Having ownership, control and more input in the project you work on. 

  • It is definitely not boring as you would have different responsibilities on any given day. 

The Risks:

  • You might find it hard to describe your skillset in one elevator pitch which makes job hunting a bit challenging. 

  • You could miss out on opportunities that need speciality in a specific area. E.g. User Experience Designer opportunity within a financial institute to work on a new product with a complex user base. 

  • Over expanding your skillset to a point that you are a jack of all trade and master of none. 

How to make a decision?

In order to make a decision look at your skillset as a product or service, you are offering to the job market and consider the following factors. 

  • Learn about the market you are interested in: Look at the job market and ascertain whether your skillset is on demand? E.g. If you are a Front End Developer, you can easily see that there is a high demand for professionals within your industry but have a look at the new trends and coding skills that are more on demand. 

  • Consider your geographical location: For example, if you are in Melbourne and interested in being a UX designer in Virtual Reality, you may realise that the number of jobs available is limited, as a result, you need to either have a competitive edge.

  • Consider the businesses you are interested in working with: If you are interested in a specific sector, industry, companies or niche, learn about the skills they require and ask yourself whether you are too specialised or not specialised enough for them? Is what you are offering aligned with their need?

  • Consider your competition (other professionals in your area): If you are a creative, you can easily see what other professionals at your level are up to by taking advantage of social media platforms such as Behance, Github and Dribble.

To sum up, in order to ascertain whether you need to specialise or to be an allrounder, consider your passion, the market, your goals and the benefits and risks associated with each option and create a compass to guide you through your career. 

I am always interested in hearing your thoughts so feel free to comment.