Growing up, I was always very good in every subject at school. Even worse, I actually enjoyed every single one of them. So to keep up with their easily bored child, my parents signed me up to three different sports at the same time. I then chose a university that was centered around the very thing I later discovered was looked down on by other institutions: being a jack-of-all-trades.
While some might argue that being a jack-of-all-trades is, in fact, being a master of none, multi-talented people often have unique competitive advantages. In fact, the original phrase was “A jack of all trades is a master of none, but oftentimes better than a master of one.”
But this is not the point of this article. When looking for a job, and sometimes even while doing the job, you might feel reduced to a single one of your many skills. I get it, you’re a Swiss army knife and you don’t want to end up on a keychain. You want to be proudly carried by Bear Grylls who will use every one of your functionalities in every way possible.
Here is how you can avoid being miserable at your job or at the prospect of finding one when you’re a multi-passionate millennial:
LOOK FOR MULTIDIMENSIONAL POSITIONS
Look for cross-functional roles matching your passions and skills. Contrary to common thinking and many articles online, multi-dimensional roles aren’t limited to the startup world. I understand that working for smaller structures allows you to wear different hats, but if your dream is to work for a specific company or you want to have your start in the big corporate world, it doesn’t have to go hand-in-hand with being miserable. I worked for a major food company in Latin America; they not only offered a rotational program between their different departments but also across their offices around the world.
Look for similar programs through your university’s careers office, by looking online, or via LinkedIn.
DON’T BE AFRAID OF THE “NO”
So you’re currently working in a job that you think is not so fulfilling. You are craving another position where you can use all of your skills and feed all of your interests. Quite often, you don’t need to switch jobs, you just need to grow some guts.
Don’t be afraid to pop into other people’s offices. Even if they’re your senior. We always idolize our managers and corporate superiors. The reality is that they were exactly where you are now. So schedule a sit-down with them. If knocking on their doors is too scary for you, try to set up a quick lunch with them or get to know them during your company’s events.
When I used to work in finance in New York, I was filling a position in the hedge fund arm of the company. As I was craving for more dimension, I gathered all the courage I had and showed up in a private equity partner’s office, 40 years my senior at the time, and asked to be on calls with his team whenever I was free. This encouraged me to get to know the private wealth department or meet individual traders and ask to shadow them in my free time. You can do this in every field possible. And it gives you bonus points because you actually care about the different scopes of the company (just don’t forget you have a job to do along the way).
LOOK FOR MENTORS OR ROLE MODELS BEFORE YOU START THE JOB
When applying, one thing that would usually make a boring or limiting job sound a lot more interesting is the ability to meet people who will feed your need for diversity. So when applying or interviewing, you should try looking for potential people that might help you shape the person you want to become. Even if they just work at the company and are not part of your interview process or your team, having the job will get you access to them, their experience, their knowledge and their network.
Google the staff and select people that you can benefit from within the company. It is a bit creepy, slightly stalkerish, but serves you well in the long run. Don’t underestimate the importance of your own self-development when developing your career. Sometimes, I would accept job offers because of what I would be able to learn from the people around me, rather than for the job itself.
INTRAPRENEURS ARE THE SECRET WEAPON OF THE CORPORATE WORLD
Theoretically, intrapreneurs are people within a large corporation who take direct responsibility for turning an idea into a profitable, finished product. Realistically, intrapreneurs are individuals hired by a company to work on the implementation of a specific project.
Your goal is to look for companies offering the opportunities that will foster your multipotentiality. If you already have a job, find out about potential projects you could join. Even if you’re not the lead yet, this will help you develop your skills and have a track record to showcase when wanting to lead intrapreneurial projects within your company in the future.
EMBRACE YOUR SUPERPOWER BUT KNOW THE GAME
Applying for a job can be excruciating when your CV shows a variety of experiences, skills, and qualifications. The good news is that there is a new freedom of movement within the corporate world that appreciates applicants and employees who can do it all. The bad news is that a lot of people will reject anyone who isn’t niche enough. By seemingly being a match for everything, you can overwhelm the hiring managers and even look overqualified, resulting in you matching nothing.
So now that you know how the system works, understand the problems your prospective employer is looking to solve. Take your experiences and extract the skills that will help solve them. Have multiple CVs matching different jobs that you’re looking into. I am not telling you to quit being so versatile. I am telling you that you just need a way in and to keep in mind and apply the tips above.
In the end, a job is really what you make of it. Focus on the people and the experiences that come with the job. Keep educating yourself in every way possible. Don’t just be a jack of all trades, become a master of many.