Hiring in Insecure Times; Generalists Rule!

The economy is taking a nose dive. Housing prices are dropping and default rates increasing. Employers are getting nervous. Should they hire or fire? Where will it all lead? Recession? Inflation?

Damned if I know! I’m no economist, to be sure!

But I do know that good things can happen during times of an economic downturn. Smart industries and the employers within them, will work tactfully to make their dollars go further. Yes, budgets will tighten, but innovation will thrive. Old, tired ways of doing things will give way to creative developments, new, well conceived business models and strategies that hopefully will generate lots of new jobs. Let’s call it “insourcing”.
Jobs for specialists with very particular training, and jobs for generalists who can make disparate parts become a unified whole will be available.  In all fields, and at all skill levels!  And right now, generalists – the folks who are real good at lots of different things – are in much higher than anticipated demand.  With so many industries requiring technical specialists, it seems counterintuitive, but with tighter budgets comes the need for smart businesses to hire people with broader – but still relevant skill sets.
Example:  A few years ago at a small company (with a staff of 25-50) that didn’t have an internal IT department, a good office manager (among many other things) might have a great contact at a computer network vendor to troubleshoot and handle repairs to their critical systems.   Today, though a company may still have a contract with a network service provider, it’s quite possible the office manager can – in addition to her myriad other responsibilities – not only troubleshoot the network, but also repair a wide array of computer related problems, or have other specialized skills.
These days the additional skills you bring to the table have more value to an employer because of how much you can save them, at least on some of what they might need to spend for necessary but outsourced services.  Any time you have real knowledge that increases the breadth of what you can offer an employer, technical or not, don’t hesitate to let the employer know.  And offering to take on additional responsibilities  – beyond what is in your job description – is always seen as a good move by employers; it makes you the ultimate team player!
So analyze your own skill sets.  Look for ways to broaden the perspective of what you offer.  If the skills/experiences can be conveyed as relevant, and satisfy the needs of the employer, your chances of being hired will climb.