One question people ponder when hiring freelancers is whether to go for a specialist or generalist. And the advice for all freelancers is to ‘niche down.’ It’s advice I’ve always ignored. I work across all communications – marketing, PR, copywriting and social media – and do so in multiple sectors, from charity to tech, B2B to arts, pharma to retail. It makes me better at my job being a generalist. Here’s why you should consider a generalist as your next hire.
Generalists see the big picture
Yes you could hire a copywriter to sit in their shed and write 3000 words of copy. But what good is that if it doesn’t fit into your wider communications plan? Generalists understand the strategic importance of your marketing for business objectives and how it all fits in to the bigger picture. They know what they do impacts the rest of the business and ensure that impact is a brilliant one.
Generalists can be flexible
If you want to hire a freelancer for a long term relationship it can be beneficial to choose a generalist. They can remain adaptable and flexible to serving your business as needs develop and change, delivering the right service at any one time, in an agile way. Without the need for you to onboard someone new to your business.
Generalists bring a different perspective
If generalists work in different sectors they can often bring ideas from one to another. This boosts creativity and can bring a fresh perspective to your field. You want your business to be uniue and innovative, and that outside in approach can help you do just that. Full-stack employees are prized by companies like Google because they believe “innovation is found at the boundaries between disciplines.”
Generalists are great at leading teams
Because generalists can apply their skills to a range of issues, they tend to have a good understanding of the different roles that people in a team can play. They’ve been there. This makes them great at leading teams and building strategies for success. They have a variety of experiences and each one of them shapes their approach and understanding of what makes people tick.
What do you think? Generalist vs specialist? I’ve written about why you don’t need a niche here. Let me know!