Do you describe yourself as a specialist or generalist? Any perks either way?

AskDo you describe yourself as a specialist or generalist? Any perks either way?
Will Sykora Staff asked 7 months ago
5 Answers
David Gargaro Staff answered 7 months ago

I’m a generalist, as that is how my career has developed. I think that it allows me to be more flexible in the types of projects I take on, as I have enough experience in many different areas, and I write well enough, that I can be an asset to my clients.

Brandan Baki Staff answered 7 months ago

Years ago, I made a decision to become more of a specialist. I worked for a company and was going after a title of Flame Artist. I think the cons there were that there weren’t a lot of companies that needed that specialty but when they did, they paid well for it.
I’ve since gone freelance and lean much more on my editing and motion graphic skills and definitely consider myself a generalist now. I find I can help more people that way. It doesn’t pay the same premium but I enjoy the clients I get from it more.
I feel like that’s the delicate balance between the two. Specialist make more but have less work. Generalist make less but have access to more. That may just be my industry or my experience. But I think since there are fewer specialist in an area so that makes them scarce when needed.

Sean Heavey Staff answered 7 months ago

lol, I describe myself whichever way I think the client is leaning. If they’re not looking for coding, why mention my front-end experience? Or vice-versa with design. If they’re looking for a jack of all trades, then I talk about how I’ve touched on every aspect of the life-cycle of a web product and can liaise between different teams as needed.
Just don’t claim you’re an expert at something when you’re actually a novice… fast way to get in over your head.

Jason Barrie Staff answered 6 months ago

I’m both. I call myself a Full-stack UX Designer to set myself apart from the crowd of UX wannabes that are really just UI designers. Previously I was a web designer, and kind of fell into UX as making pretty pictures got boring. After a few years in the field I now think of myself as both a UX specialist and a UX generalist: specialist because it’s a narrower field but generalist because there are many smaller facets of UX.

Makiko Harris Staff answered 5 months ago

I call myself more of a specialist, because that’s how I like to work – I focus on interaction design and user research within the umbrella field of UX. This means that I don’t really do visual design or general web design. The type of work that comes my way is more specific in focus, and that’s intentional.
I think there can be benefits to describing yourself either way, it just depends what your goals are and how you like to work.
If you market yourself as a generalist, it’s likely you’ll be appealing to startups / smaller companies that don’t have the bandwidth to hire someone in each specialized field, as well as folks who aren’t as familiar with your field but know they need to hire someone to help (for example, someone who wants a website redesign but doesn’t know what exactly they need within that project). You’ll get to explore a lot of different types of challenges and problems, but at a shallow level for each. 
If you market yourself as a specialist, you’ll likely be more appealing to larger companies that have the bandwidth to hire for each specialized field, or to someone who knows a lot about your area of expertise (for example, a design agency who wants to hire someone specifically for motion design). You’ll focus on a specific area of expertise deeply, and hire out or provide referrals for any work outside of your scope. 
Hope this helps! 

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