Have you ever heard of the phrase “jack of all trades”? A phrase usually referring to a person who knows enough about a lot of different things to be, as I like to say, dangerous. In many industries these types of people are called “generalists.”
Does this sound like you?
As a generalist myself, these skills have come in handy for many of my jobs and for my career path. But, there are pros and cons to being a generalist. Here are a few:
- It is believed that during recessions, generalists tend to be the last ones let go because they are able to do the tasks of multiple employees.
- These skills make you a valuable asset to any company, particularly non-profits where it is common for employees to “wear multiple hats”.
- If you are a fast and accurate worker (maybe someone who gets bored easily) this allows you to manage multiple tasks.
- You tend to be a big picture thinker, and like to understand how all the parts work together to make a whole.
- Wearing many hats and being assigned to a large workload that falls under the “other duties as assigned” that is probably on your job description.
- It can feel like there is no task or job that you can really call your own.
- If you are terrible at saying “no” to tasks, you will become a black hole for others to place their tasks on you.
- It can be taxing on your emotional and mental health when juggling too many different tasks.
- Priorities? What are those? Sometimes it can be hard to know what task is a priority.
- The full catchphrase “Jack of all trades, master of none” can sting a little when referring to a generalist as many of us are not experts in anything.
While there are always negatives to certain trades, I have found that being a generalist has served me well. In some industries, you need to find a way to make yourself indispensable, and being a “jack of all trades”, I believe, is one way to do this. With a diverse background you are able to use those skills to build your career. Maybe, we should change our vocabulary from generalist or “jack of all trades” to strategist or project manager. Regardless of what terms you decide to use, just remember to stick to your boundaries and take care of yourself and you will be successful in the professional world!
*Special thank you to our guest blogger and YNPN Board Member, Samantha Wilson!