When your parents were your age, they were working under the assumption that what they needed to do was to get a good job at a good company, even if it was a low-level job, and move up through the ranks. Their patience and hard work would be recognized and rewarded with a steady stream of promotions and good fortune. Or was that your grandparents? Either way, it is most definitely not true for you.
Today, a person starting his career in the mail room will either finish it in the mail room, or be the first to be laid off after ten years of never missing a day. For a number of reasons, companies are skittish about hiring from within. If you want the best possible reward for your years of professional development, you are going to have to be hired at the highest level, or achieve it independently. Here are a few tips for making that happen:
Sign On At A Staffing Agency
If you still envision temp agencies as the place to go when your job skills do not warrant serious consideration, you need to think again. While plenty of staffing agencies still provide labor at the lower end of the spectrum, they have become excellent opportunities for people with high-level skill-sets and professional training and experience.
There are also hybrid staffing companies that cater to engineering, science, and information technology careers. One such company, Kelly Services, is part temp agency and part recruitment agency and helps job seekers find temp-to-hire positions. More and more IT companies and managers are choosing to work with niche hybrids like this instead of taking chances with a general temp agency. This is because the niche and specialty hybrid agencies understand the many subtle shades of IT in a way that general temp places often don’t.
It’s worth noting that job seekers like you benefit from this type of expertise as well!
Become A Niche Player
There is nothing wrong with being a generalist. However, It just might make it more difficult for you to sell your services, and more difficult for your prospects to find you. The same principals apply to financial services and content marketing. If you try to reach everyone, you will reach no one.
This is yet another way a professional staffing service can help. If a client is wanting to add e-commerce to their website, and you happen to be an e-commerce specialist, you will stand out amid the sea of website design generalists. There is a reason narrowly defined certifications exist. It is because people have need of that particular expertise. Contrary to what seems intuitive, sharply defining your niche expands your chances of attracting the people for which you want to work.
Niche Focus Makes You Better At What You Do
Going niche is not just about defining your market; it is also about defining yourself. As an IT professional, you cannot be highly proficient at everything related to IT. The time you spend working on areas outside of your expertise is time that you could have spent getting even better at your core competency.
Getting better at what you do is only one benefit of hyper-focus. Another is that you develop an area of marketable differentiation. Mindtools.com observed that:
“Me too” businesses (with nothing unique to distinguish them from their competition) are doomed to compete on price: the only thing they can do to make themselves the customer’s top choice is drop price. And as other “me too” businesses do the same, profit margins become thinner and thinner.
They also pointed out that the same truths about core competency for businesses also hold true for individual professionals. This principal also applies to the medical field where specialists can earn twice as much as generalists. Not only does generalizing reduce one’s likelihood to find customers, it reduces one’s earning potential.
Once upon a time, it may have made a lot of sense to become a Jack of all trades. But if you want the best chance of attracting the most clients and getting paid top dollar for your work, you are better off mastering one. That will probably even be true for your grandkids.