Career Specialization:
Maximize Your Potential

I have yet to hear a person regret being a specialist in their field. I have heard regrets over career, job, or educational choices, but not once have I heard someone tell me that they are too knowledgeable about their line of work. Let’s face the fact that no one can become a specialist in everything, so it is wise to choose a career path and work on developing your relationship with that choice. It doesn’t mean that you can’t decide to become a nurse after you started a career in finance or a mechanic after being a web developer. Like all relationships, if your heart isn’t in it anymore and you are willing to sacrifice the work you have invested thus far, take the risk. However, be prepared that it’s not going to be easy and you will have to work much harder to catch up. You decide whether the risk is worth the reward.

Managers operate under uncertainty and therefore seek people who can make the most knowledgeable decisions for their teams. Specialists offer the confidence needed to stand by a decision and are therefore sought after in all industries and backgrounds. Here are some examples: A career in finance can be broad and span across hundreds of specializations. A specialist finance path in the construction industry requires knowledge of accounting methods such as completed contract or percentage of completion, cost estimating, and knowledge of competitors in the industry. Employers and customers will actively seek and pay top dollar for someone who has expert knowledge in their industry. I know a mechanic who charges $1,000/hour to fix car washes, he is an excellent example of an engineering specialization yielding returns. His customers are relieved to find that he can fix their problems instead of the higher cost of replacing equipment.

It is much harder to land a job in a different industry than one you already have experience in. It is possible to change industries, but it might require a pay cut, seemingly endless job applications, and luck. A company will always chose a candidate who is qualified in their industry and who possesses the exact skills they are looking for over someone outside of the industry with similar skills. Before you decide to switch a path of specialization, think about your end goal and if the switch aligns with your career vision. If it’s to flee a toxic work environment, invest your time in reframing how you currently work with the people around you and set boundaries. Leaving a job for the sake of leaving can cost you in the long run if it’s not the right strategic move for your career. Before you move on, put the effort into a strategic career plan first, do your research, and remember effective interviews do not work in one direction. Sometimes it takes a new perspective on your current position to see the big picture. Vacation time is an excellent way to distance yourself from the daily mind fog and focus on where you are and where you wish to be.

Seek advice from people who are in careers that align with your own personal goals. Ask questions about their qualifications and job experience. Compare their answers to your background and start making steps to close your qualification gaps. There is no such thing as an easy path to realize your best self, we must experience pain to learn and grow.

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