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Should you be a jack of all trades?

By CCCSteve ·
With an ever expanding IT world does it still pay to be a jack of all trades? Back in the day if you knew how to work a computer you were golden.

In recent IT history a person educated a computer related field was more sought after. But today if you had to know everything about everything would you even be able to keep up with everything your company asked from you or does it seem more logical to expand your team and use specialized skill sets instead?

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by jck In reply to Should you be a jack of a ...

It's beneficial to know as much as you can.

However, don't necessarily let your job/boss know what all you can do.

Otherwise, you might end up with duties and responsibilities that your position doesn't normally entail and pay you'll never see for doing "tasks" outside of your profession.

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in most aspects we are...

by Snuffy09 In reply to Should you be a jack of a ...

My boss for example has a full plate and then some. which makes me kinda glad im just a tech and even i have several duties.

Every time i check in here there is somebody that wants to know what their job title should be because they take care of active directory, server maintenance\sql, workstation maintenance, printers, program phones, and manage employee 3rd party software,ect.

with the way the economy is id say jack of all trades is going to be on the rise. if a company can get away with hiring or keeping one or 2 IT persons employed over 4 or 5 to do a job they will to save money thus less IT people mean a broader workload.

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My two longest ever contracts were simply

by Tony Hopkinson In reply to in most aspects we are...

down to being multi-skilled

One 3 month contract lasted two years.

Oh you can do that as well Tony, here's a task another three months at 50 quid an hour.

The other required VMS, Windows, Linux, Fortran, VB6, Perl, PHP, Apache and MySQl, and I had most of them.

Specialist = one trick pony. = luxury item.

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by Snuffy09 In reply to My two longest ever contr ...
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I'm with jck

by Tink! In reply to Should you be a jack of a ...

I think you should know as much as you can about everything, but if you work for a company that is going to lay alot of projects on you, you'll need to be careful about how much of that knowledge you volunteer lest it overload you.

In the smaller company environment it's usually ok to let your boss know what you know. Things are more flexible and you can tell your boss when you have time to work on certain types of projects or not.

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Don't forget people skills....

by Forum Surfer In reply to Should you be a jack of a ...

I have a friend who is very knowledgeable in several fields. When it comes to pc, server and microsoft system knowledge he has far more knowledge than I. He does not work well with people. He has never mastered the "task at hand" mindset. He's always out to fix the system as a whole, not focus on what he needs to do to get his assigned duties accomplished. Getting a clear idea of the big picture and doing something to fix the root cause of a problem within an organization is great, but you can't ignore your duties and expect the entire organization to succumb to your will at the drop of a hat. Change is gradual and takes time. As such, he has never held down a job long. He's worked with some great groups, and even worked with me on two different jobs. I really hate seeing someone with his vast skillset go untapped. I've suggested to him that with his mindset he should be a consultant, which he refuses to attempt. It always ends up the same with each of his employers. He's the most knowledgeable on his team, but refuses to work with the team to change anything. He always wants everything ran his way, right away. If it doesn't go his way, he eventually vegetates.

But yes, the more knowledgeable you are in different areas, the better off you are. I started working with pc's long ago. I was constantly expanding my skill set. I eventually ventured more and more into networking. I then decided it suited me better than pc repair and shifted career paths slightly. More knowledge doesn't hurt anyone. In today's environment you need to hone your skills constantly just to keep a position, much less move on to a higher paying position. One day you may find you are more interested in doing something other than what you currently do. I have a friend that went from pc's with me, moved on to networking as well and then discovered (halfway to becoming a CCIE) that he wanted to be a linux admin. Now he works at Red Hat. Go figure...

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It's not possible to know everything about something

by Tony Hopkinson In reply to Should you be a jack of a ...

never mind everything about everything.

Being competently multi-skilled
May mean you don't get highly lucrative niche opportunities.
Does give you more opportunities and in my opinion generally more interesting ones.

Above all you gain a clear appreciation of what you don't know , and how what you are doing could impact other areas.

I'm a client-server database developer, to do that I have to know at least basic system and network admin, database design and admin, program design and implementation, web and web admin, along with a massive pile of soft skills. Haven't even mentioned tool knowledge....

So am I a specialist, or a dilletante?

Aside from the sheer cost, monumental lack of ROI, and key man dependencies in a 'team' (mob would be a better word) of specialists.

Who intregrates their efforts?

It has to be some one technical, or they'll be working against each other, more than with.

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I don't have a problem with it

by NickNielsen In reply to Should you be a jack of a ...

I know a lot about electronics, hardware maintenance, and infrastructure, a good bit about system operation and program interactions, a fair bit about software development, and a little bit about many other things. I have often been the one to ask the question that causes the Aha! moment (® ) simply because I can not only see the trees, but know they form a forest.

For example, my primary customer rolled out a new system several months ago. It rapidly became obvious there were issues–the thin clients at some locations connected with no problems while the TCs at other locations never connected. After fighting the good fight (replacing equipment, re-imaging, etc.) to the point of insanity at three sites, somebody heard the question I had been asking all along: "What's missing at the sites with connection problems?" I had been told "Nothing."

Last week, the engineers rolled out a script update that pushed down essential (and missing!) files to all sites. It seems the initial distribution script was poorly written and didn't properly deliver the configuration file set to all sites.


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Got an email this evening

by NickNielsen In reply to I don't have a problem wi ...

The last holdout TC is finally up. After a replacement and several reimages, they found a typo in the password file on the store server.

As many times as I was told "There are no files on the store server that will affect this equipment"... X-(

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Depends on your goals...

by TonytheTiger In reply to Should you be a jack of a ...

There's probably more money in specialization, but more opportunities the broader your skill set.

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