Wednesday, November 05, 2008

One-Trick Pony

Having been forced to reinvent myself several times to remain viable in tight job markets, I would recommend this article on branding yourself as a one-trick pony to anyone who is starting out in their career. A former manager once shared his career strategy with me. He would specialize in one area for a few years and then spread out to acquire skills that complemented that specialization. When he had been a generalist for a few years, he would turn to a new area to hone in on. 

The plan had played out well for him and is one that I have used with some modification to adapt to a rapidly evolving job market. I started out as a one-trick pony too and I am glad that I did - that is the skill I think of as my rainy day fund. If all else fails, I could always go back to the basics - and it took being a one-trick pony for quite a while to even have learned those "basics" well enough to be able to fall back on. Yet, even the most exceptional one-trick pony finds it hard to survive in the mid to late career job market - it is exactly as the author points out :

the very thing you work hard to be known for ultimately pigeonholes you to a particular job or career path instead of opening more doors down the road. 

You have to work extra hard to not keep getting repeat assignments that require you to use the one skill that you reputation is built around. Sometimes, it is worth taking a pay or position cut just to be able to try something new and create new options of oneself.

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