The Current Predicament: Specialist vs Generalist
Recruiters are increasingly favouring professionals with specialised skill sets. The reason behind this is straightforward: specialists often tick all the boxes in an employer’s list of requirements, making the hiring process faster and more efficient for everyone involved. This leaves generalists, who possess a broad range of experiences and skills, struggling to even get an interview.
The Challenge Facing Generalists
Being a generalist is a double-edged sword. Your diverse experience across multiple industries, technologies, and roles should make you an attractive candidate. You offer fresh perspectives and innovative solutions, skills that can lead to transformative changes within a company. Despite this, breaking through the specialist barrier can feel impossible at times. Some recruiters might see your value, but often, you may not even get past the preliminary conversation.
Strategies to Combat the Bias
So, how can you navigate this challenging landscape? Here are some practical steps you can take:
- Tailored Resumes: Alter your resume to focus on experiences and skills that align closely with the job you’re applying for. While this tactic has its limitations—many recruiters will still give precedence to your most recent industry—it can sometimes make the difference.
- Initiate Personal Contact: Before hitting the send button on your application, ring the recruiter or contact person to discuss the job opportunity. Establish rapport and seek to understand the specific requirements of the role. Mention any past connections you might have with the company during this conversation to add extra weight to your application.
- Leverage LinkedIn: Conduct research on the company and the industry. Use the information gathered to shape your resume and cover letter. Even incorporate some of the specific terminology or skill sets that the company values into your LinkedIn profile.
The Power of Networking
Never underestimate the value of a strong professional network. Contacts within your target industry can be your best asset when competing against specialists. Your connections can help in various ways, from putting in a good word for you to alerting you to job openings that haven’t been publicly advertised. Leveraging these relationships can give you a leg up in this competitive environment.
A Paradigm Shift in Job Searching
If you’re battling the “specialist versus generalist” bias, stepping outside traditional job search strategies could be your ticket to success. Harness the power of research, networking, and targeted communication to showcase your flexibility and broad skill set—the very talents that make you a valuable generalist.
What’s your experience with the specialist versus generalist preference? Have you found effective ways to overcome this bias?