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How are you staying (skill) sharp? Jack of all trades vs. expert

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This topic contains 4 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by  Samantha 6 years, 11 months ago.

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    Employed or unemployed, everyone gets to a point where they need to sharpen their skills. When we’re all competing for the same jobs, it’s important for us to have an up-to-date knowledge of our industry and tactics for getting the job done.

    For some of us, going back to school may seem like the right choice, while for others it may seem like too much. While I only graduated 3 years ago, I find in my industry it’s crucial to be constantly learning. I set aside a half hour every day to read through articles and blogs to find out what online marketing tactics are getting the most traction. This may mean getting up earlier or working later, but I know this is what my competitors are doing so I know I can’t miss out on this step.

    I also attend events where I can hear people speak about their successes and strategies that have worked for them. The more I talk to people, the more I come up with my own creative ideas.

    One challenge I face (and I’m sure I’m not alone) is trying to take on too many skills. In my industry, those looking to hire someone like me are looking for people who are not only good at social media marketing, but SEO, copywriting, graphic design, and even webdesign!

    So, my questions for everyone:
    (1) How are you staying sharp, so that employers will see you as a desirable hire?
    (2) Are you finding it’s better to market yourself as a jack of all trades, or an expert in one very specific skill set?


    In all honesty, I struggle with this quite a bit. I wear many hats and mostly end up learning as needed. Because I am online so much (social media) I also pick some info up as I go along, whether I intend to or not!

    Considering the job market right now, I will take what I can get for work (assuming I am qualified!! of course) and may end up having to spend a bit of time brushing up on a skill or two, but I think it’s important to be able to learn on the job. In fact, my ability to learn and apply skills quickly is perhaps my best selling point and would come in handy in any field!



    I hear you, Heather! It’s funny, I was actually speaking to someone today who actually said he was looking for a jack of all trades. Made me think of this discussion. I think the need for well-rounded people has come up recently with the economy being the way it is. People who are hiring are looking to cram 2-3 job titles into one employee. Unfortunately, this may not be a good thing for people who have a hard time adapting.


    I appreciate your thoughts, Samantha and Heather. As someone who bounces between academic and professional settings, I struggle to keep the two worlds straight. On top of that, how do you find time to “stay sharp” while keeping up with your daily responsibilities. I’ve found that being selective and looking for opportunities that will truly add depth to my knowledge and practical skill set is the best way to go. Otherwise, I find myself spread to thin, which usually means I’m not being a jack-of-all-trades OR an expert!



    Those are some really great points, Richard! Being selective is definitely important, but also difficult if you’ve been out of the job market for a while. My goal for 2013 is to look for more opportunities that will help me improve my trades instead of just settling for any old project.

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