Is it better to be a procurement generalist or a procurement specialist? In this two-part article series, we’ll explore the benefits of both.
Originating in the late 1500s, the saying “jack-of-all-trades, master of none” refers to someone who has demonstrated competence in several areas, but doesn’t excel at any one skill. Whether employers consider this to be a desirable or undesirable quality in their employees depends on who you ask, the unique circumstances of the time, and what industry they work in.
For procurement and supply chain professionals, being a generalist is often considered to be a good thing. Not only are professionals taking on more and more responsibilities, but they are also expected to be agile, reactive, quick-thinking, and highly adaptive – attributes that go hand-in-hand with being a generalist. In addition, because the responsibility for mitigating risk and responding to supply chain disruption largely falls on procurement’s shoulders, many professionals believe it’s best to assume the role of the generalist because it enables them to respond quickly and effectively to sudden changes in the supply chain.
But, while most organisations benefit from employing both generalists and specialists, data from LinkedIn reveals that the fastest-growing jobs are specialist positions.
In order for procurement professionals to stand out from the crowd and advance in their careers, it may be better to position themselves as specialists.
1. The rise of the gig economy
The rise of the gig economy will see specialised skill sets becoming highly desirable as employers look to recruit talent for specific projects or for a set period of time. This is particularly true in the wake of COVID-19 with many organisations reluctant to hire lots of new workers on a full time basis.
2. Recruiters and hiring managers want to make quick hires
Employers, recruiters, and hiring managers won’t be interested to hear that you’re a fast learner or highly adaptable if they can simply hire someone who already has the specialist expertise they require.
3. Earn more money
As a specialist, you’re likely to make more money, either as a full-time employee or a contract worker.
Firstly, employers are most likely to seek out specialists when things get complicated, challenging, or urgent and, as a result, they’ll be willing to pay a premium.
Secondly, as a specialist, you are more likely to have completed additional qualifications, which increases your worth.
Finally, if there are few job seekers with your specific skill set, employers might end up in a bidding war. You’ll be able to choose where you work and negotiate your compensation.
4. Job security
Generalists are easy to replace because their skills aren’t unique or hard to come by.
Organisations will try much harder to hold onto their talent with a specialist skill set because they know it will cost time, resources, and money to replace them. Not only does this provide job security, but it puts you in a good position to negotiate with your employer about your compensation package and other benefits.
Professionals with a generalist skill set may find it harder to get noticed in the workplace. While they might be hard working and productive, they are less likely to dazzle leaders with their output and get the same recognition as someone with a very specialised, highly technical or niche skill set. If there’s only one person in the company who can do what you do, people will notice you.