One of the hottest topics for every day professional is “finding a niche and becoming the expert within that niche”. With a fast moving economy, adaptability is the law of the land; technology chameleons seemed to thrive and adapt well to the new requirements but does specialization equates to painting yourself into a corner? Are you being “pigeon holed” because you are the expert who does not have an additional skill set?
Aware of the danger of such practice, finding an alternate but somewhat related field of interest is the safe way to farther your career. This is just common sense for a professional who wants to build a brand around his niche expert reputation.
Every person can master and become experts in at least 2 areas of interest. You probably and hopefully chose your career based on one of these 2 talents. If that is the case, you should constantly hone and refine this foundation skill.
In the same time, the applicable saying of “keeping your eggs in more than one basket” implies that a second skill set is highly desirable for the “always” prepared professional. The need to switch gears in the middle of a dynamic economy and unpredictable job market is choosing between maintaining your standard of living and barely making ends meet.
Meet Michelle – a technology professional who has accumulated enough experience used to spearhead projects as a Project Manager. Michelle is also interested in web design and Social Media. During her PM career, Michelle has groomed her hobby, took some design and coding classes and once in a while she takes on small jobs moonlighting as a web designer. The skills she developed as a web designer are actually contributing to her overall project management experience. She is now aware of the level of effort the developers can handle and she is able to better manage expectations.
If, for whatever reason, the world has no need for project managers, Michelle can easily switch gears and continue working as a web designer. Things might not be the same but at least she has a transferable skill set that will allow her to work and do something she enjoys; even start a business around her hobby.
The advice for Michelle would be this:
- Keep up with all the developments in the project management world
- Read up on new technologies, take classes and deep dive into the trends of web design
- Develop your professional network and constantly make new connections
It’s almost like having 2 personalities; although related and influencing each other, the 2 skill sets will prepare you for whatever life throws at you. It is very possible that you can greatly improve your level of expertise such that you might decide to start a business in this niche field. In Michelle’s case, the experience she brings as a project manager can and should augment her new endeavor.
Take a look at your career; make a list of your hobbies, your talents. Is there something you could enjoy doing outside of your regular job? Could this interest be cultivated and developed as a possible parallel career change?
Do you have enough skills in that particular field or do you have to refresh your knowledge?
It’s all a matter of finding out what you are truly interested in. Cultivate the burning desire of becoming the go to expert in matters related to this niche. Adapt to the times and develop a second YOU. Reinvent yourself to adapt. Do not paint yourself in a professional corner by becoming an obsolete expert.