Better to be specified

Are you a master at one or are you good at all? I am asking this question to see if developers want, need and like to be a master at one topic or if they think it would be better to be multi talented.

Just a quick background blurb of why I question this. I started at a small company, where I was taken on as a web developer. I started to learn all areas of this area including not just ASP.NET, HTML, and CSS,  but also server set-up, maintenance, e-shots, cocoa touch and SEO plus more. So I was an all rounder at the web development, then I moved to A larger company. I was taken on as a back-end developer as I thought I would like to specify in the ASP.NET language. However when I started to show I could cover most other roles, I have taken on more responsibility of all the areas. So I am now an all round developer again and this then brings me on to if it is better and also who for.

The great thing about this subject is it can apply to any type of job, as we all have the same decision.
The all rounder

How is it for us

To be an all round kind of worker you have got to work much harder due to the amount of things you need to know to be great. For my application I need to know HTML, CSS, JavaScript, ASP.NET, servers and some other languages just in case like PHP plus more!. To keep this up is hard, but is it worth it? I have found I have gained more respect and knowledge by covering all these areas as people know they can come to me for that knowledge, advice and decisions. It also, with my line of work, brings the overall project together. I can see how a website needs to be built for the server set up, front end, back end and then maintenance. For example if it needs optimisation then I know where it would be best to shave off load time in what sections and how it would affect the other sections.

Job prospects become hard though as an employers wants the best of the best, but with out killing off all social life and fun, you can’t know everything. Especially as much as someone who is religiously learning one section constantly.

This can also become a problem when  you can mange all areas, then you need to work all areas. You would need to be invoked in every project, while also delivering results like you are working on one project. It is like taking a bite from multiple apples at the same time, possible but very very hard.

What the client thinks

WINNING… Well they might be depending on how good you are, but then again they probably still will be even if you only have a little knowledge in most areas. You should have a basic understanding of what ever the other subjects are, so for example I am a front end developer, but I have a basic understanding of back end. This still gives the employer an advantage as you understand basically how they work together and can appreciate the work going on in the other sections.

If you are close to master at most areas then bingo. They then have someone who can make, create and manage all their areas of work, so if one person is off you can cover all and hopefully very well. This also can become new avenues, like I know Objective C with COCOA Touch for iOS APPs which my employer is not currently doing. Therefore I could be the growth of the company which is of course is in the interest of the company.

Overall

If you don’t mind working your ass off then, you can become great and go far in this type of role. You can cover all areas and therefore would make a great team leader or manager as you can support the whole team. This also gives you safety for if they cut areas of the company or team then you can easily transfer.

It works for the employer, but if you want the best of the best then this is not going to work. You can only learn, listen and become great at one thing, but good at multiple things.

I think this kind of role is best for small companies that need to pay less and get more, though that can work for both parties.
Master of one

For us

Becoming the Yoda of a subject is the best thing ever. If you can become so valuable in that subject then everyone will want you. You can then move to the top of the food chain and teach all the others. Employers would want you in their company as you can produce the best work, but there are some pitfalls.

You may be the best, but there is always some one better and new information being release, so you can’t just relax. You would still need to work as hard as you can to keep up the top and be competitive to others like yourself, which can be harder as it is harder competition.

Being in this role may make it harder as well to understand how other areas work together. In all though it does reduce the amount of things you have to learn and worry about so you can concentrate more.

For client

WINNING… And again the client wins. They have a hard working, determined and great employee that is a master at just the subject they want. If they need anything to happen in that line of work, then you are the go to person. This, in their mind, would secure your job as you are a required asset. They would hope that with your knowledge they can gain the advantage to push their business to the next level and surpass others. You would know what is best to go with at current and future, so why would it be bad.

The problem would lie that they can only rely on you for that area of work. If they need a section fixed and that guy is out then your amazing skill turns to nothing. This will then start the cogs in the employers mind, what if we had an all rounder? How beneficial is this person?

Overall

In the end you are the master and you can become valuable to the employer, so it is probably the best way for you and the employer. It would be less stress for you and also more fun, as you can become a guru. Then employer will be happy as you can do the job not just well, but very well. Though you have to make sure you are required all the time or questions could pop up.

Summary

Not the ending you want, but it’s up to you. In the end it always does.

You have to decide if you want to be the all rounder and have a whole bank of knowledge or if you want to be the master with amazing knowledge in one area.

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