Narrowing Your Focus

From my blog reading, I stumbled across SchmidtHappens’ post.  He argues that a web developer is not the same as a web designer.  Yes, they both deal with the web; however, each job actually encompasses a different skill set.  He further argues that a company that places a job ad requiring both these skill sets for one job is actually cheating itself.  The reason being, instead of hiring a talented web developer or hiring a talented web designer, you end up attracting candidates who ‘kinda’ knows this and ‘kinda’ know that.  The candidate will have general knowledge, but no mastery.

I wholeheartedly agree with what he is saying, especially about being a “One Trick Pony”, that as a developer or a designer each of us should master the skills for that craft.  Thinking about this, it reminds me of the best advice I ever gotten.  It was from one of my career mentors.

At the time, I was right out of college  and looking for my first development job.  I was looking for any development job.  It didn’t matter what it was, I wanted anything.  My career mentor took a look at my resume and listened to my job search stories.  She pointed out that I was casting too wide of a net and needed to be razor focused in my job search. That by being highly focused you’ll not only get better responses from potential employers, you’ll find the job that best fits your skill set and interests.

In my resume, I had listed every possible skill I could think of that I learned or fought through in school.  I could see what she was saying.  I pruned a lot out of it and even made a point to place plenty of whitespace,  making sure that at one quick glance, you can tell I was a web developer.  Needless to say, I got immediate responses from my updated resume and was hired before even graduating.

However, I don’t want you to mistake my story as a point to become a myopic specialist; not learning other things outside of what your current job role.  That is not my case.  In terms of your career and your job search, you must have a clear distinction the role you want to fill.

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