Historically, digital professionals often came from varied backgrounds – traditional advertising, journalism, print media – and transitioned into digital by chance, resulting in many mid-career digital professionals with skills acquired in a variety of roles and learnt on the job.
I still receive requests for these generalist digital candidates from smaller organisations, but many businesses are more frequently looking for specific skills in order to execute digital strategies, rather than all-rounders. Digital professionals who are looking to move their career into the next phase increasingly need to pitch themselves as specialists when looking for new jobs. 
To position yourself as a true specialist, start by identifying what your strengths are and how you can turn a broad set of skills into a specialism with the following tips.

What skills are your strongest?

You might have experience in a whole range of areas – content, design, SEO, user experience, digital marketing or strategy, to name some broad areas. So to transform a generalist CV into a specialist one, you have to take a proactive approach to your career, and zero in on your strongest skills. 
The parts of your job you enjoy most are likely to be a good indicator of where you’ll succeed, so when it comes time to review your CV and LinkedIn profile, you can start carving out a niche for yourself based on the kinds of roles that will interest you most. Again, work the web to your advantage, looking at digital roles that require those particular skills; LinkedIn Groups often contain a vast amount of links, articles and posts that reveal valuable information – who to target, what they want, and what’s hot in industry at the moment.
This also may be a good time to tap former employers and colleagues for information. Get in touch with co-workers or even former clients who you know can give you an honest answer. Ask them what memories they have of working with you, and where they think your strongest skills lie. Sometimes, your colleagues know your working abilities better than you do.

What channels, platforms and markets do you have most experience in?

A good way to find the marketable specialism in your career is to consider where you’ve worked most – whether it’s a specific digital channel/platform, or an industry or sector. This can take you from being a content writer to being a B2B content specialist, or from a UX designer to a UX designer with a specialism in iOS apps.
This is a simple way to frame your experience in a bite-size description. However, it’s important not to paint yourself into a corner. Because digital disciplines are tightly linked to technology, there is a risk that your niche will become redundant as the next wave arrives. Instead you will need to prove your agility in a fast-moving industry, so make sure you’re always considering the fundamentals when choosing your ideal role description. That way, you can choose sustainability over flavour of the month.
Think of your specialism like a funnel. At the top of the funnel is the most general term: a digital worker. You will want to focus on a specific and broader sector within digital, such as analytics and research or web development. From there, have a handful of very specific specialisms that you can choose from when revamping your CV for a specific job or talking about your own abilities in an interview. 
Once you’ve considered your experience and your future career plans, it’s time to go after the job you want. Here are our top tips for securing a more specialist role:

Have a discussion with your manager

To build your credibility in a specialist role, there may be an opportunity for a sideways move or to take on new responsibilities in your current role. Chat to your manager about your career possibilities and explain what your goals and interests are. You may find that they are happy to test your capabilities – or even create a new role around your interests – instead of hiring in new talent. 
Every business needs digital skills, and the ability to hire from within offers significant benefits. In fact, research shows:
Hiring a new employee and getting them up to speed costs between 1.5x and 3x the salary of an existing employee
It may take as long as 5 months for a new hire to reach full productivity
A new employee in a mid-level role could take as long as 6.2 months to repay the investment in the hiring and training process
While you don’t need to parrot these statistics in your meeting with your manager, it’s good to keep these figures in the back of your mind. The ultimate goal is to convince your boss that investing in you is a worthwhile move.

Undertake training

A self-starter is always an attractive proposition to an employer, particularly in digital roles, where constant innovation means the landscape changes daily. If you feel like you need a little more experience to be able to market yourself as a genuine specialist, undertaking some courses to give you extra confidence or qualifications will demonstrate your dedication – and expertise – to potential employers.
Thankfully, there are a number of free or low-cost online courses for digital employees, which you can take at your own pace during your own time. While it may mean a few nights spent growing your skill set, the payoff when it comes time to hunt for a job will be worth it. 
As you research your industry niche, make sure you find out whether there are any ‘standard’ qualifications or courses; these should be your first choice when it comes time to boost your skill set. If you do earn certification, make sure you add it to your profiles and email signature. In a crowded marketplace, you must maximise visibility at every opportunity.
To find out what skills are in demand by top employers, contact a Michael Page consultant today.
Looking to take the next step in your Digital career? Search for current Digital roles.

Summary

Years ago, it may have been fine to simply be a digital generalist, but now you need to have an area of expertise. Here’s how to find your focus.

- Ask yourself questions such as:

1. What job would you like to have?

2. What skills are your strongest?

3. What do you have the most experience doing?

- Broach the topic with your current manager – find out what additional projects you can take on

- Develop yourself – engage in additional training

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