Universal soldiers in digital: pros and cons

Why specialists who can cover several areas at once digital marketing, there are not many on the market, what are their advantages and disadvantages and how to become a universal, explains Yulia Karpova, CEO of the recruiting agency RealHR.

In our practice, this often happens: you look at a candidate’s resume and think – it would be cool if he had additional skills. For example, a contextual advertising specialist wants to add experience in targeted advertising, web analytics – the ability to program in Python, the head of a department – skills in managing the main digital channels by hand.

And there are a great many such “that would be”, we face them every day. And with “universal soldiers” who can do everything and even a little more, we do not intersect as often as we would like.

Why is that?

Let’s try to understand why there are so few “universal soldiers”. There are several reasons for this:

  1. Specialists start their careers in one area, for example, in the context, and then they improve in it, moving from linear positions to leading ones.
  2. In the company, each employee has narrow, clearly defined responsibilities, and it is impossible to get into neighboring areas.
  3. It takes time to learn something new, and with such a heavy load as in digital, there is never enough time.
  4. After the transition to a managerial position, employees stop pumping their advertising campaign skills by hand and prefer to delegate tasks to subordinates.
  5. An employee may have a penchant for only one area of ​​digital, and he himself does not want to study others, considering them uninteresting.
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Why and how to become universal

The universalization of specialists has undoubted advantages:

  1. Indispensable in the team – these “jack of all trades” often hold entire departments and even companies.
  2. Higher salary in the market: the more skills a specialist has, the better.
  3. The ability to quickly find a job, including a managerial position. Companies are happy to hire a person who knows how to advertise by hand to a position that involves managing a department in a short period of time, on the condition that he himself will be the first employee of this department.
  4. An integrated approach to tasks that ultimately provides greater efficiency.
  5. Ability to perform a variety of tasks. This assumes that work will never be bored, which means that there will be no professional burnout.

How to become a “universal soldier”

Here are some tips for becoming a digital jack of all trades:

  1. Take tasks from new areas, negotiating with the leader.
  2. Learn from colleagues who are more experienced in this digital field.
  3. Study topics of interest on your own online or offline – how it goes.
  4. Do not stay in the “comfort zone” for a long time, where you already know and can do everything.
  5. Leave at least one complex project for independent management even after moving to a leadership position, in order to keep abreast of changes on digital channels and not lose qualifications.

So, it will be useful for a context specialist to master targeted advertising, web analytics or accounting – you can combine these areas and choose at least one of them.


A spoon of tar

But not everything is as good as it might seem at first glance. There are also disadvantages to universalization, and one cannot but mention them.

  1. Sometimes, due to a wide range of interests, the knowledge of universal specialists in specific areas is more superficial than that of their colleagues dealing with a single channel.
  2. High ambition imposes restrictions on the search for an employer: not everyone can offer interesting tasks to specialists of this level.
  3. It is almost impossible to assemble a team from such “universal stars”: each will pull the blanket over himself, not recognizing the leadership of the other.
  4. Universal employees can be outbid, so frequent job changes on their resumes are common.
  5. Employees with a wide range of tasks and a broad outlook often have a feeling that they do not know a lot, and this creates a certain stress.
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To summarize, I will say this: being a “universal soldier” is generally good, but it is important not to run too fast, not to chase an unattainable ideal, to enjoy your favorite job and realize your potential without unnecessary nerves. Working in digital is not a sprint, but a marathon, so it is worthwhile to allocate your resources wisely and not only live at work, but just live.

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