There are two very different (and often very stubborn) schools of thought on this topic. It is a question that is often asked, not only in IT (where it does seem to be most common), but in other industries too. What do you want to do with your IT Career? The easiest way to answer this question is to consider the following list of Pros and Cons, for both Specialisation and Generalisation:

• You will be seen as a Thought Leader/Trusted Advisor in this area and this will come with a higher pay cheque at the end of every month
• No one is stopping you from becoming specialised in two major areas to keep your options more open
• You may end up seeing more of the world as you attend, and more likely present, at overseas conferences and other Thought Leader gatherings
• You may find that you are Headhunted more frequently as prospective employee’s want your expertise on their team
• You need to choose your area of specialisation wisely as you do not want this platform/area to become obsolete
• You need to work hard to keep yourself up to date with all of the new developments in your area of specialisation as not to become bored in this field and for your skills to stay ‘current’
• If you become too specialised, your employee may not be able to use you on other projects which could stunt your career growth
• You may find that you have more expertise than anyone else in your chosen field and then you will have no one to learn from
• As a generalist, you will have a better chance of finding work closer to home as you will have more options available to you. (This may save you time and money in today’s traffic!)
• You will find that you are generally more employable as you will have better developed complementary skills (This will also help the boredom factor)
• Global events, like an economic recession will have less impact on you as you will be more agile in the work place
• If you do not have a clear understanding of what you do, you will find this equally difficult to convey to prospective employers. You will also have a very vague idea of what you want out of your next career move and who you might want to work for
• You may take longer to find employment as you are not too sure what you are looking for. This often results in candidates making a purely financial move which is not always best for thier career at all
• You may be too generalist for companies to hire you as they will not have a clear vision of where to utilise your skills best within their current structure. You can sometimes come across as a bit of a ‘Scatter Brain’ to the interviewees as you will have little to no focus or direction
In my opinion, a company needs both Specialists and Generalists in order to thrive and prosper in this day and age. Having said this – I do believe that new, dynamic companies require young, dynamic minds that are more agile and forward thinking.
So the choice lies with you – do you want to be a ‘Jack of all Trades and Master of None’ or do you want to know ‘a lot about a little?’

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