What job seekers can do about the trend toward specialization

In today’s job market, employers are more and more frequently seeking specialists over generalists.

That leaves many job seekers in the not-so-comfortable position of looking for gainful employment while maybe also needing to move in the direction of a specialty.

Add to that the increasing discrimination against candidates who are not currently employed, and it’s not hard to empathize with those looking for a job.

Here are some suggestions for job seekers dealing with the trend toward specialization.

Maybe you are a specialist, you just have to show it

First things first, having a daunting, three or four page resume does not indicate you are a specialist. It takes a lot of effort for a potential employer or recruiter to sit down to a long and dry CV that doesn’t get to the point. Often, they don’t. You don’t want this to happen to you.

Here are some steps to streamline your application:
1. Make your resume as simple and brief as possible. Include your job title, period of time you occupied the position and a very basic job description.

2. Create an addendum to highlight experience relevant to the position you are applying for. For example, if you are applying for a position that requires speech writing, describe the speeches you have written and for what occasion. Those asking for extensive event planning want to know about the events you’ve planned.

3. Use your cover letter primarily to highlight your personality and secondarily to guide the HR rep easily through the resume and addendum.

This breaks down the application into easily digestible parts without being overwhelming. It also clearly presents areas where you have specialized, instead of burying your experience among many other skills.

Focus your efforts

Review your past experience. Inventory your various skills, concentrate on the one or two strongest areas and build on them. Maybe it’s digital marketing, maybe it’s recruiting, maybe it’s multimedia. Brainstorm ways to continue your education or experience within that framework. Nowadays, it can also help to document your specialty knowledge on a professional blog.

The same can be done for industries you’ve worked within. Healthcare, law, retail, manufacturing—all require knowledge of conditions specific to these verticals. Pursuing that knowledge makes you more valuable.

Move in the right direction

Chances are, you may be able to create several addendums that highlight specific projects and specialist skills you have gained over the years. But it’s also common for many generalists to desire further experience in a specific area in order to continue to set themselves apart from their competition.

In this case, it is important to seek experience within the areas you’d like to work. While it may seem to be the opposite direction to go in when pursuing gainful employment, providing gratis or discount services within the industries where you need to build your skills is a useful way of building your CV and portfolio. Non-profits often require professional volunteers to accomplish their goals and in return offer excellent recommendations.

Now is the time to think of personal interest. If you’re a dad and working for a company that has a strong family connection is important, consider seeking opportunities with a park or tutoring center. If you know the ins and outs of your city, put that knowledge to use with regional opportunities.

The bottom line is that we don’t want you to feel trapped as a generalist in a specialist’s world. Hopefully you can use some of these suggestions in the job search.

If you have other tips you’d like to share, please e-mail britt@charet.com.

- Britt Perkins
Image via Flickr by o5com


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