Competition seeps broadly into many realms once you befriend and welcome it.
Striving to achieve greater things brings with it an astute recognition of those trying to do the same. The feeling of turning a corner and seeing someone already there – having discovered a path before you, being ahead – is initially a startling revelation. The insights you worked so hard to discover and implement have already been thought of and implemented by others. It’s discouraging until you muster the courage to keep going, to keep improving, and to keep competing.
One competitive insight you’ll either discover yourself or learn from others is specialization. Especially in the corporate domain, specializing means gaining leverage and a competitive advantage. The specialist whose services are needed has advantages with job prospects, earning ability, and job security.
This article is about the principles of specialization with the goal of improving your competitiveness and leverage in your career path.
The Alchemy of a Specialization
Determining what to specialize in and how to do it is only a question you can answer. Others’ advice may come in handy, some may even point you in the right direction. The nature of specialization involves scarcity however. Information on various specializations is often limited and hard to come by. Carving out a new specialization will test your ability to do your own research, formulate your own plan, and pave your own path.
The easiest way to specialize is to combine two skills you’ve developed individually in a creative way. Determining whether you’ve used your time well enough to become skilled in two things is the easy part. Combining them into a specialization with market demand will require some imagination.
Anticipate Where Things are Headed
Remaining keen on the progression of any market will only affect your desire to specialize positively. Trends are old news because they’ve already been observed. The ability to gather evidence and summate that evidence into an accurate projection is an ability that will increase your chances of specializing successfully.
Projections are made by adopting an unbiased observer identity. The full range of possibilities and scenarios of any particular domain’s future need to be accounted for and organized. Bias that rears its head in this phase of your desire to specialize has the ability to not only lead you astray, but toward a dead end.
Determine which sources of information are trustworthy about the subject of your interest and analyze as many of them as you can. Take yourself – your interests, your skills, your experience – out of the picture and account for all credible perspectives related to where your field is moving toward.
Focus on Evidence Rather Than Conjecture
A mishap many make in their general analysis of reality is to look past the existence of evidence. Either for claims made by others, advice given by elders, or your own decisions made in haste, attainment and analysis of evidence should always be a prerequisite to conclusions made.
Ensure to have real verifiable evidence for decisions you make in your desire to specialize professionally. Ensure to look for, or collect, data that objectively supports your decision to specialize in a specific niche, field, or domain.
Some examples of gathering data prior to specializing in one’s career path are:
– Conducting interviews with professionals who are already working in the niche, field, or domain you are interested in. This can help you understand the skills, qualifications, challenges, and opportunities that are relevant to your specialization.
– Reviewing academic literature, industry reports, or online courses that provide insights into the current trends, best practices, and future directions of your specialization. This can help you learn the theoretical and practical aspects of your specialization and identify any gaps or areas for improvement.
– Participating in internships, projects, or volunteer work that expose you to the real-world scenarios and problems that your specialization aims to solve. This can help you gain hands-on experience, build your network, and test your aptitude and passion for your specialization.
Educating Your Employer or Business Partners
If aiming to specialize within a current role, you’ll find yourself needing to play the role of an educator. Remember that your business partners or employers do not care about your career progression as much as they care about business outcomes and their own personal successes. Cater to those values.
If you can’t make a clear, direct connection to how a potential specialization within your current role will improve business, project, or profit outcomes for your business or organization, then don’t bother with presenting the idea.
Your act of educating your professional partners on a potential specialization within your role should be approached strategically. Emphasize the tangible benefits such as increased efficiency, productivity, or revenue generation that your specialization can bring to the table. Use data-driven arguments and case studies to illustrate the potential impact of your specialized skills on the organization’s bottom line.
Furthermore, consider framing your specialization as a solution to existing challenges or as a means to capitalize on emerging opportunities within your industry. Highlight how your unique blend of skills and expertise can address specific pain points or contribute to achieving strategic objectives.
Ultimately, positioning yourself as a valuable asset with a specialized skill set requires not only showcasing your capabilities but also aligning them with the overarching goals and priorities of your employer or business partners. By demonstrating the direct relevance and value proposition of your specialization, you can garner support and buy-in for pursuing this career advancement path within your existing role.