T-Shaped Specialist: Who Do You Need to Become in Order to Receive 10 Job Offers per Day?

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The biggest career achievement is to become successful. “Clever people” created a term that unites qualities and experience – the T-shaped specialist.

In the 21st century, the biggest career achievement is to become successful in your own career path. It could be anything, from arts and fashion to marketing and web development.

In our fast and modern society “clever people” created a new term that unites soft and hard skills, personal qualities and job experience. It’s a T-shaped specialist, baby!

You probably heard about T-shaped marketers, designers, and developers many times, as the T-shaped term has become extremely popular in the last few years. But let’s dive deeper into what it means to be a T-shaped person and how it can affect your job performance and career goals.

The idea of a T-shaped character comes from our dearly beloved HR department and represents the skills that a person brings to a job — their depth and breadth of capability. The vertical stem of the “T” stands for one’s depth in some professional areas, and the horizontal stem of the “T” stands for one’s breadth.

The first thing you need to know is that becoming a T-shaped specialist requires a lot of time and effort from your side. Sometimes it can be surprisingly arduous, but you know what they say — good things come to those who wait.

The process of becoming a real T-shaped master requires “active waiting”, together with assistance from your team-lead and more experienced co-workers. One of the most crucial things is to use every new opportunity to learn more and to mature better every day. Dr. Phil Gardner, Head of the Collegiate Employment Research Institute at Michigan State University, named the excellent job applicant as a “liberal arts student with technical skills”

Things change really fast. A set of skills that could bring you an ideal job offer in 2010 is no longer relevant to actual market trends. New technologies arise every day and only the person with highly evaluating adaptive abilities can count on becoming competitive in today’s market. Recent market research shows that in 2020 critical thinking, creativity, negotiating, cognitive flexibility and emotional intelligence will become the TOP-5 market skills, that will produce you as many projects offer as you can accept. Case studies from the latest project reviews at LaSoft, are living examples of that phenomenon!

Marketing experts confirm that, although skills change really fast, we learn even faster. The secret is not only being able to adapt yourself to live conditions but also be able to improve your professional expertise in your own sphere by becoming “the longest T” in the arsenal of your company.

Adaptability is the only thing that stays stable. So you have to be ready to change as fast as you can, and as soon as you’ll do that, start running even faster. Some people could say that it’s laborious to do and that they can’t live their lives that way. But the thing is that you need to love what you are doing and do it with a great passion. And only after that, you’ll love to learn more and change rapidly.

Ten years ago, IDEO CEO Tim Brown put a lot of efforts in popularising T-shaped concept in the real world. In general, there are three points in becoming a T-shaped specialist:

  • First, identify the need to be more T-shaped. Consider the benefits of developing a broader set of skills.
  • Second, start to acquire extra abilities by leveraging online courses and also look forward to developing a mentor relationship with an associate worker, who is a master in the discipline you’re interested in.
  • Third, broaden your skillset by including a variety of personal interaction and collaboration skills.

The curious thing about the following concept is that together with T-specialists there are I-shaped, “generalist” and X-shaped specialists. The first one is an expert in one sphere, or strict niche, as the second is more likely to be an “everything at anything”. X-shaped specialists, as usual, are great leaders and rooted in the depth of both their subject knowledge and their professional credibility. This isn’t for everyone, as X-shaped personalities tend to be focused on the strategy and management of the team.

Each professional should strive to become T-shaped, as an expert in one thing and generalizer in many others. In order to do that you have to transform your knowledge base from torn dark segments of chaotic material to “the T-letter” with a lengthy tailpiece. The biggest challenge in the T-shaped concept is to go towards your goals together with meeting requirements from your direct PM, or team lead. Sometimes it’s hard to take courage and fulfill “lazy hours” at work with online course or training, and otherwise when you sacrifice project deadline in order to visit another webinar or networking.

When you’ll finally become a T-shaped specialist you’ll be able to solve more complicated tasks for the less amount of time and with a wider range of view. As an expert in one strict field and well-educated person in adjacent fields, you’ll be an indispensable part of every team, especially the most desirable one as well as solve more complicated problems as a result of a wider range of views.

What about T-shaped teams?

In today’s world, every project team includes qualified managers, designers, marketers, developers, engineers, analysts, technical writers, lawyers, and many more, depends on the type of the project. Generally, it doesn’t matter which role you play, the only important thing is to evolve yourself and your colleagues every single day.

Actually, to have a triumphant career, you need to do one simple thing: create a short and easy T-shaped matrix with your skills and plan for continuous improvement. You can do that in Photoshop, or on a piece of paper but important to keep in mind that your T-matrix is the key to your future success.

So stop reading and procrastinating and start doing it right now!