• To be general or not to be, that is the question.

      Written by Urmila Mandapaka, Senior Consultant – Information Technology

      to be or not to be

      It’s interesting how market situations and trends sometimes drive the direction of your career. And this applies across careers – whether you’re in recruitment, technology or any other profession. To be clear, our decisions in our career are driven by many factors – how much we love our job, how much we earn, how employable we are, and how strategic it is are just to name a few. Increasingly we are now talking about whether we should be more general or niche.

      Let’s take recruitment for example – you can either be a generalist, cutting across either industry or function, or you can tailor your work to a specific function within a specific industry. After having been more generalist technology earlier on, I have now chosen to do the latter with my specialization in the recruitment of technology professionals specifically for the healthcare and pharmaceutical sectors.

      Why did I choose to be more niche?

    • It gives me more focus and a single direction to head in.
    • Allows me to be a subject matter expert, as I become close to both candidates and clients. Due to my focus, I am able to garner more depth of knowledge, about the market and industry sector giving me the ability to influence in my space.
    • Why would one choose a more General path?

    • It gives you more exposure, you can cut across different spaces and develop more breadth as opposed to depth.
    • You get to experience a wider variety of projects and situations, which subsequently means that you have access to more opportunities and are able to build a stronger base.
    • In the job hunt, I have candidates always asking me whether it’s better to be more general or more niche. There isn’t a single right answer and either path could work or not work for you. My take on it is:

    • If you’re a fresh graduate or you have minimal experience, it’s probably better to be more general. It definitely helps to have more exposure earlier on, where you get to experience different scenarios and projects, all of which will add more value if and when you do decide on one niche.
    • If you’re in a niche, yes you may not have too many opportunities come past you (in number or variety) but it means that you’re a more coveted resource if and when that opportunity does come up. Foreigners are finding it more and more difficult to enter Singapore from outside, and the ones who are succeeding are those who have developed a niche or built up expertise in an area which is lacking in Singapore, thereby giving them that entry point.
    • It probably makes it easier to find a job if your skills are more generic and you are already in Singapore, simply because there are more opportunities available.
    • Your skills can’t be too general – there’s no doubt that hiring today first and foremost priorities people coming from a similar industry background. If you’re moving across too many spaces, you probably haven’t had the chance to truly understand the nature of any business, which doesn’t make your profile too attractive.
    • At the end of the day, what matters is how good you become at your job and how much you’re willing to back yourself. If you want to develop a niche, than you must make sure you are willing to do what it takes to become that expert but once you do there is no looking back.