I’m in Love with T-Shape of You

Picture source: From T to Pi

T-shaped person has in in-depth knowledge in one field (vertical bar of T) and a broad knowledge of an application domain (horizontal bar of T). For example, a statistician specialised in political systems. Or, a politician who knows statistics. It is important that the two bars are connected: if you are really good at solving differential equations and know a lot about french porcelain of 17th century you cannot automatically call yourself a T-shaped person. Similarly to T-shape, there is a Pi-shape with one more leg of in-depth knowledge, and an E-shape – you get the point. In general, the more “bars” you have as a person the more interesting you are. In case you choose to be I-shaped, you can still be endlessly interesting for people who are into the same field while running a risk of being seen as a geek by everyone else.

Fun with Flags

Personally, I have been working hard on diversifying my professional profile (=adding more bars to my shape) while keeping it all connected. I gladly take opportunities of diving into new areas and shifting my focus from old areas. In the long run this strategy brings me to a shape of a Swiss army knife. There are plenty of “bars” of different shapes and directions, and they are all connected. 

Companies love multipurpose tools – if they were to close down the corkscrewing department and put more focus on cutting department they would not need to go through a tedious process of firing and hiring people. But multipurpose aspects are not valued when it comes to bringing new people onboard because when a hiring manager is after skill A he’d often rather take a person who only has skill A than a person with skills A, B, C. The latter case is called “overqualified”, when in fact the hiring manager is simply worried that skill A won’t get enough focus. So here comes a free career advice: be clear (with yourself and others) of what skills you are good at and what skills give you most energy, and go for the ones you love. One of my personal favourites would be the corkscrew.