Is it better to hire versatile employees or specialists in a narrow field?

Is it better to hire versatile employees or specialists in a narrow field?

Published on: 11 Oct 2018

Who would be a better employee: a person with some knowledge and experience in many fields or a person with huge knowledge and experience, but only in one field? The answer is simple: it depends. We don't like such an answer but in case of recruitment in the modern world we must say it. It depends on your company's size, the requirements of the job position and even future plans for your company's development. Each choice has some advantages and disadvantages. You have to decide on your own what would be the best solution for your particular situation. What are the pros and cons of both options?

Advantages of versatile employees

The world is changing so rapidly, that nobody can say that their knowledge from the university is completely up-to-date. Lifelong learning is not the option, but it is the necessity. This is true in all industries, but in technical ones, it's one of the most important values. If you deal with engineering recruitment, you have to take it into account. Versatile employees are used to the idea of lifelong learning. Since the moment of starting their career, they have learned a lot of different skills from many different fields. That's why you don't have to worry about acquiring new knowledge by them. It's their bread and butter.

The other advantage of choosing versatile employees is the possibility of saving money. You can hire fewer people, who would have more duties connected with many different fields.

Disadvantages of versatile employees

Versatile employees have some knowledge in many fields, but they aren't really perfect at anything. It isn't the matter of their intelligence but simply it's impossible to learn every detail of knowledge from many fields. A day is too short to do that.

The other important factor is the reason why a particular employee is so versatile. It can be caused by the requirements of the job market, but it can be also caused by the fact that the employee has some difficulty with finding a niche which would be interesting for them and they become easily bored. In such a case, they can change work frequently.

Advantages of specialists in a narrow field

The ability of learning new skills from many fields is important, but in some niche markets, it's not necessary. The most crucial ability is learning and acquiring new knowledge only in one particular field. Finding best candidates in engineering recruitment process may mean finding the best specialists, who know only one narrow aspect of work but they know it inside out. Such people aren't usually versatile, because... they don't have enough time for anything not connected directly with their work.

The other advantage of these specialists is the certainty that you can trust them. They don't make as many mistakes as versatile people.

Disadvantages of specialists in a narrow field

Specialists in a narrow field aren't interested in any other aspects of work than the niche one, in which they specialise in. It can be really difficult at the times when different industries interpermeate.

Moreover, such specialists can be too self-important because of their huge knowledge and experience. In such a case teamwork can be problematic.