Being A Generalist Could Make You A Better Employee

Being A Generalist Could Make You A Better Employee
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It’s often thought that having a precision focused skill set is the way to get ahead, because you can show off how clever you are, but those with a wide spread of skills may make better employees.

Analytics picture from Shutterstock

That’s the thinking of LinkedIn’s Reid Hoffman, who cites hiring people with specific skills, rather than generalists, as one of the big three mistakes he made at an earlier company, SocialNet.

What he learned, however, was that there’s a need for those with general skill sets, because companies evolve over time, and being good in just one area might not cut it if your company changes over time, which it certainly will.

So how can you adapt this to your own career? If you’ve got general skills, tout them, and point out how they demonstrate flexibility to change in the work environment when going for a new job. If you’ve got specific skills, it’s fine to mention them, but try to phrase it around how they could be applied in more general application methods.

LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman shares 3 lessons he learned from the failure of his first company [Business Insider]


  • This is exactly the hardest thing to explain to HR people. Transferable skills and a diverse professional background make you damn near unemployable at anything above entry level, no matter what the industry.

  • Though I believe this is a great thing, I have no faith in any major Australian company of ever recognising this…

  • I would think that having a diverse skill set would be great for a boss, then they could understand and relate to what all the employees are doing under them. They would know whats hard whats not, when you are taking too long and working fast. Maybe could even say something useful now and then, help tackle a problem lol.

  • Being a generalist does make you a better employee, along with being flexible and easy going.
    Throw in a bit of laissez faire and you have it made. Then when you are the boss that is what you look for in new employees.
    Keep this in mind the best way to get on is “Always do it with a permanent smile on your dial”.

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