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Rise of the digital generalist
23 February 2016
“Jack of all trades, master of none” is a saying most have heard before. It’s definitely one that comes up during discussions with clients and candidates alike. However, it wasn’t until I started working within the digital marketplace, that I realised it is actually two incredibly mismatched statements.
Specialising in Digital recruitment, I spend my time consulting, discussing and planning with clients across all industries the most effective ways to build and structure digital capabilities into their organisations. Unlike other industries I have recruited for, I have recently discovered it’s no longer the specialist that rules the roost, instead the roost belongs to those who generalise.
Digital Marketing is one of the fastest growing business capabilities and shows no signs of slowing down throughout 2016, as more and more organisations embrace it. For the intermediate digital professional, there is a common pattern which creates a fork in their career path and a decision has to be made. Whether they recognise it or not, the choice is to either specialise or diversify. Regardless if it is a conscious decision made by an individual or one that has already happened without their knowledge, there are benefits to both.
Those who chose to specialise, have focused on a digital vertical such as Search, Content, UX or Social and are on a journey to master their chosen profession. Most become highly strategic marketers within their speciality and are valued by managers for the wealth of experience they bring to the business.
But what good is it to have the best specialists if they don’t speak multiple languages?
This is how the ‘Jack of all trades’ has become the master - those who have generalised, possess a thirst for learning and recognise that the 80/20 principle applies to skills. For example, learning 20% of a language vocabulary allows us to communicate and understand 80% of the entire language. Often referred to as Digital Marketing Managers or Digital Directors, they have often followed the generalist career path and are on their way to becoming the next generation of Chief Digital Officers.
By not pursuing the endless path of perfection like their specialist colleagues, these individuals stay exposed to new and diverse digital practices. Making them a perfect conduit in larger digital teams to develop highly complex marketing strategies, while ensuring specialists are working cohesively to generate innovative solutions.
Creative solutions are tough to come by and even tougher to evaluate then build off when there’s only a single person in your organisation knowledgeable about a topic. By having people within a team who overlap skillsets with others, a marketing team can invent and evolve remarkable, unique and powerful solutions.
This growing trend in the digital marketplace has created perfect conditions for us to witness the generalist’s rise to power. However, as is with all power comes great responsibility - these digital leaders are also required to take responsibility by being answerable for more than their own shortfalls as well as regularly needing to justify their role within organisations. This is where those with excellent communications and stakeholder abilities rise above the rest and take their careers to new heights.
In 2015, Indeed.com published statistics of the ‘20 Most Common Job Titles’, which indicated that the two most advertised job titles were Digital Marketing Managers and Marketing Managers, who possess Social Media, SEO, PPC, Analytics, Digital Marketing and Content Marketing. Roles that required fewer skillsets were significantly less advertised such as Executive Directors and Content Strategists.
Michael Page Digital has witnessed the thirst for digital generalists first-hand and has worked with many clients to place digital managers, with uniquely blended skillsets across Australia in the past 6 months. However, we are also seeing the appetite for specialised content strategists, paid search specialists and UX Designers continue and we don’t see these jobs declining any time soon.
We operate as a specialised boutique consultancy in the digital marketplace. Taking an equal interest in client and candidate needs, our aim is to genuinely add value through partnered talent solutions. If you need help finding digital talent, are stuck deciding your next move, or simply found this article interesting and would like to discuss things further, please feel free to contact me for a confidential discussion.
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