Last week within the Kick Start Your Career Change Mastermind there was a general theme amongst a number of the cohorts that they had become ‘Jack of all Trades' within their careers. Over time they had seen their job grow in remit, taking on many things that were outside their initial responsibilities and this got me thinking and wondering are we all becoming Jacks and how does this impact the career change process?
On reflection, I think there are three reasons driving this trend. Firstly, the drive for greater cost efficiency in organisations. Many of us have been in situations where a restructure has seen the responsibilities of colleagues’ roles being added to our own, over time we have seen the amalgamation of teams, the closure of departments in a drive to be more cost-effective and with advancements in technology meaning we can be more self-sufficient. Think about how the expense process has become automated, the purchasing of stationery and the recruitment process have all evolved, with aspects being automated and tasks being decentralized to the end-user.
Trust is another reason, having the belief in a person to get the job done to the standard required. It may not be their area of specialism but they are resourceful and their track record instils confidence, they are a safe pair of hands. So when faced with a pressing need, a high profile task or an emergency situation people turn to the team members they know will get the job done and not necessarily the person who actually is responsible.
In both of the above, we are seeing the expansion of people’s roles being driven by other people, the restructure or the safe pair of hands. However, there is a third reason for the Jack of all trades phenomena and this is driven by an individual’s desire for something new, whether they are looking to progress their career or are searching for greater fulfilment or escapism from their existing role.
When a person is looking for something new, taking on a project or volunteering for additional duties can be a great way of building knowledge and connections in different areas. It can be an opportunity to raise visibility with stakeholders and decision leaders and to create new sponsors and champions.
Perhaps the most advantageous element is the opportunity to test out potential career moves for their fit without making any big changes. The risk of making a ‘bad decision’ can be a huge hurdle to overcome for many considering a change, however, taking on additional activities which provide a taster can help overcome this fear. Furthermore, when a person has credibility within an organisation a company may be more willing to support a career change as the person is known to them and they have the knowledge and experience of the organisation.
Whether you have become a 'Jack of all Trades' through design or had it imposed on you I would argue that this is not a bad thing if you are considering a career change and that you are very far from a master of none!
“We now use 'Jack of all trades, master of none' in a derogatory way. Originally, this wasn't the case and the label 'Jack of all trades' carried no negative connotation, the 'master of none' part being added later.” Gary Martin from Phrases.org.uk
As a Jack you have more skills in your tool bag, you are likely to have a wider point of reference and more connections. All components which are key in figuring out a career change.
On reflection, I believe that a 'Jack of all Trades' is not only a good way of testing out potential career moves but also is evidence that you can teach a dog new tricks and that we are not too old, or too set in our ways to take our career in different directions.
In fact, if you have been considering making a career change but the fear and doubt are kicking in, I would encourage you to reflect on those times when you have taken on new responsibilities, yes it may have been in the safety of your existing company, but you still had to perform, you still need to deliver. Although you may not realise it perhaps you actually already have made a career change it just wasn’t obviously labelled as such!
Do you need support with your career? Feeling undervalued, struggling to integrate work with your personal life or just feel that there must be something better out there? Help is available. Why not start today and book a free introductory call to see how coaching could help and if I am a good fit for you.