What Exactly Do You Do?

Jobs are getting harder to describe. Many people I meet are able to describe the general nature of their work in a phrase or a sentence. But when you ask about specific tasks and duties, the number of sentences needed grows quickly.

Part of the problem is that we tend to present ourselves as generalists, so as not to limit the scope of work that may be offered. By positioning yourself as a specialist, you may be discounting your talent in other closely related disciplines. And managers may not be able to picture certain individuals in roles beyond their current area of focus.

Instead of saying that you are a Google Adwords specialist, you might identify yourself by saying, “I do interactive marketing.” Because a current or future employer may decide to cut back on recommending Google Adwords for clients, but will still need workers to cover other areas of interactive marketing.

Some career advisers may suggest that you specialize and, in some industries such as medical, that’s a good tip. But in today’s vast and quickly changing world of marketing and communications, it is best (I think) to be a generalist with a wide range of skills. If you choose or are forced to specialize for the present, keep your eyes open across the entire horizon for new opportunities and new possibilities.

I would also suggest to managers that you have an open mind about employees, their talents and their dreams. If a talented employee in a certain area has a strong desire to work in another area, you should be willing give her (at least) a tryout in the job of her dreams. If you don’t, a competitor might. And, in these days when work staffs are often required to wear multiple hats, you will have an employee who can handle multiple tasks.

Employees who want to expand or change their position within a company should make these wishes known to bosses. It’s happened to me: An opening is filled from outside the company. I ask why wasn’t I considered. I am told, “you should’ve told us your were interested. We didn’t know.”

Meanwhile, there is work to be done this week. Whether yours is one that focuses on a single area or, like mine, a job that includes numerous varied tasks, work hard! Thanks for reading.

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