When entering the world of construction, there are two avenues you can go down. You can choose to specialize in one type of work or in one geographical area, learning the ins and outs of your sector. This can make you an expert rather quickly. But that is not your only option.

On the other hand, you can choose to become a generalist as opposed to a specialist. If the idea of developing into a well-rounded jack of all trades is especially appealing to you, this could be the proper fit.

So how do you choose which path is right for you? You can begin by weighing the pros and cons, as listed out below.

Specialist: Pros

Being an expert in a certain area of construction can be extremely beneficial. Specialization makes it very easy to brand and sell yourself to future employers. With just one glance at your resume, a potential employer in your chosen sector can see that your experience aligns with the type of work they do.

You will naturally be interviewing with competitors of your past employers when searching for a new job. Having been in the industry for some time, you will probably have some knowledge of their operations already, which makes it easier for you to impress in an interview. They, in turn, will have some level of awareness of your past employers and of the kind of work you’ve done. They may actually be aware of you in particular if you’ve made a positive reputation for yourself.

All of these factors make it easier to impress a potential employer – that is, as long as it’s the right employer.

Specialist : Cons

If you want to work in one part of the world and on one type of project for your entire career, specialization opens a lot of doors. But it does limit your opportunities going forward.

One big way that specialization could hinder you is by making it more difficult to relocate. Whether you want to move for the sake of it, or if your personal life takes you elsewhere, finding a new job in a new market could create some road blocks.

Say, for example, you live in Miami and work exclusively in retail construction. If life leads you to Houston, where the market primarily deals with oil and gas, you may have a problem adapting. Similarly, if you work primarily with wood frame construction and move to South Florida where they work almost exclusively with concrete, you’ll face some challenges.

So if you’re seeking some level of adaptability, you may want to bear these limitations in mind.

Generalist: Pros

Being proficient in a wide range of functions and markets can mean that the world is your oyster. You can move from project to project, experiencing something wholly new each time. This opens you up as a candidate to a multitude of companies and employers, all of which can find something appealing in you and your resume.

Being a generalist makes it much easier to relocate. You don’t have to worry about adapting to a market you aren’t accustomed to – you’ll be able to find a fit wherever you go. And potential employers will see it that way, too. If you’ve adapted to a new market before, that means you can adapt to theirs.

In the same vein, if you can show on your resume that you’re capable of handing any project, that means that you can get any type of project. Because their requirements exist in your wide arsenal of skills, your other abilities will only make you more marketable.

But being a jack of all trades does not always work in your favor.

Generalist: Cons

As they say, if you’re a jack of all trades, you’re a master of none. If a potential employer cannot easily see their specialization on your resume, you may miss out on that opportunity. They could see very little relevant experience in your resume, and it’s more difficult for people to see what you’re best at. The right project list could help to quell this challenge, but it will still be a road block for you.

While being a generalist may make it a little more difficult to find a fit at some companies, it may completely disqualify you from other positions. This is the difference between a door that simply requires the proper key, and one that is completely cemented shut. Some jobs simply require a specialist, and generalists won’t even be considered.

Another factor is compensation. Widely speaking, specialists can demand more money for the same job. Employers are willing to pay more for expertise, and therefore see value in a specialist. Though you may very well know exactly what you’re doing, the perception is that an expert or specialist knows has a better understanding because they’ve dedicated their career to one field or market.

As you can see, there are a benefits and drawbacks to either route. It may take you a while to weight your options and figure out what is best for you and your career. So if you’d like some help deciding which way you should go, and want to explore the options that could be available to you, reach out to the experts at Michael Page.