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Specialists vs. Generalists: Professionally, How Do They Compare?

By wwwtc In Uncategorized

Posted July 7th, 2015

When it comes to determining valuable assets at work, employees come to mind first. And then we have to ask, who would bring in success — the person who knows how to wear many hats well, or the person who has mastered a specific skill? Web design and development is one such niche that demands complete dedication and in-depth knowledge of the latest tools and practices. There are pros and cons to both specialists and generalists; the deciding factor is how their skills are utilized.

Specialists: pros and cons

A specialist has chosen an area to specialize in after thorough evaluation and study. Not only do they have enough experience to produce desired deliverables, but they are also well-equipped to handle future changes, should they arise. Specialists focus on a single area, which can come with many pros.

For instance, specialist web designers know their platform well and can produce the required outcomes. By default, they have the know-how necessary to deal with any hiccups along the way when it comes to a particular area of expertise. And from a business perspective, a specialist web designer, developer, or quality analyst generally seems more marketable and has greater success selling their services.

However, from an organizational perspective, hiring a specialist is not always the ideal solution by default. At times, the work may slow down, or the work in a particular technology may taper off. This is an instance in which a specialist may feel the need to draw on other skills, but would not have the variety a generalist does.

Not every organization would prefer to hire a specialist web developer or database manager, if only because the market is too narrow to provide easy compensation. With many specialties at risk of becoming obsolete due to the arrival of new ones, a specialist could potentially be seen as less valuable if other skills end up being required for a job.

Generalists: pros and cons

Typically, generalists enjoy better chances of success than specialists because they always have a variety of services to offer. And with new innovations in IT, many organizations prefer to hire people who can do more than one thing (and do them with precision). This tends to cut costs and ensure that certain processes will be less time-consuming or cumbersome.

A generalist web developer has a wide array of skills — everything from developing a site to performing a quality check and even coming up with a design template. Keeping this in mind, a generalist may be an easy sell because their variety of skills don’t always come with the higher price tag of someone who specializes in one specific area.

The internet has become too complex for someone with limited skills to master, which tends to put generalists in a better position nowadays. An important thing to consider when deciding between a specialist and a generalist is that the latter should not be mistaken for someone who lacks skills; in reality, they have skills that delve into most web-based needs today. Meanwhile, specialists will always have the upper hand when it comes to getting the job done in a highly specific area. What matters most is what your organization is looking for and which of the two can meet your needs.