Specialize Your Way to More Money

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In 2008, right at the beginning of the financial crisis, my husband and I decided to move from Florida to New York. We assumed I would not have a problem finding a job in New York since I was not only a woman in finance, but I had also had a very successful six-year career in my field of work.

As I started interviewing, I never felt less special in my life. More than a few recruiters asked me what else I could do besides what was on my resume. None of my past successes seemed to add up to something worthwhile for them.

My husband, on the other hand, lived through a completely different recruiting experience. As a high school physics teacher with a background in aerospace engineering, he had his pick of schools and turned down many for the perfect opportunity.

Why did he succeed where I didn't? He was a specialist and despite my success, at the end of the day, I provided a very general service.

Over the last six years, many workers have lost sleep and stressed about the potential for a job loss and a stint on unemployment; however, those who have developed specialties that are unique and valuable have not lost a wink.

What does it mean to specialize?

There are a number of ways you can specialize within an industry or sector, and the best way to figure out a specialization opportunity is to look for problems. Specialists are those who solve a person or an organization's problems.

Finding a quality high school physics teacher with a background in physics specifically is a problem for a number of schools, and my husband solved this problem for them.

Train to Specialize

Sometimes you need to seek additional training and education to specialize and at first you might not think the cost is worth it. However, if you specialize in an area with few other problem solvers, you can demand a premium payout. I recently read about a man who charges $200 an hour for his specialized skill. If the extra education cost him $10,000, he could easily break even after 50 hours of work.

One of my friends took two extra years of training on top of medical school and general surgery training to specialize in a very specific aspect of orthopedic surgery. It would have been easy and tempting for him to become a general surgeon and start working as soon as possible; however, now he makes almost twice what a general surgeon makes and he is in high demand for his practice.

Look for Specialization in Your Past

For many people, you don't even need extra training to realize you are a specialist, you just have to highlight your background and find the experiences in your past that make you the perfect fit for a person or company with a problem.

Make sure you add those skills and experiences to LinkedIn, as you may not think your experience is something special, you never know what a company may be searching for.

A former co-worker listed experience with Sarbanes Oxley on her LinkedIn profile, and a number of recruiters have reached out to her for that experience alone. She had no idea it would be of value to someone else; however, Sarbanes Oxley compliance is a major problem for public companies and by adding it to her LinkedIn profile, she represented herself as a specialist to solve this particular problem.

We all think we are special; however, when looking for a job, many companies are looking for someone with that extra something special. If you discover or train for what that might be, then you will not only worry less about unemployment in your future, you can also expect to be paid well along the way.
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