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Versatility: How You Can Stand Out

When candidates abound, you do not want to be "one of the many" if you hope to be picked. Much like products at a store, you have to consider how to market yourself better so that you are chosen before any others. One proven way to accomplish just that is to be versatile. Sometimes it's not about how much experience you have on something, but rather how many "somethings" you have experience with.

Before the downturn, the industry could afford chasing specialists for every role. Back then it was not uncommon to have relatively "unlimited resources" at your disposal. This continued focus on hiring "the best of the best" drove the workforce towards specialization as a means to stand out from the competition. Some of the titles for certain positions became so specialized that could barely fit on the standard business card real-estate. So, investments in education and training were mostly targeted to enhancing skills and experience on a single (or select few) discipline(s). There was little need for knowing anything else because you could count on someone else knowing what you did not.

Fast forward past the downturn into recovery mode, when activity in the O&G industry continues to ramp up. The era of "unlimited resources" is gone (you should consider yourself lucky to even have a budget). While of course everyone wants to still hire "the best of the best", nowadays companies are forced to reconsider what that means and how to build teams more effectively with the resources available at their disposal. Which in some cases means you do not have the luxury of having dedicated personnel for specific tasks.

Here is where versatility comes to the spotlight. If you are valuable because you know how to do one thing well, think about how much more valuable you could be by knowing how to do two, three or more things well. If you strive to step outside your comfort zone and generalize your skillset, you tend to stand out naturally. I am not saying that you should deter from specializing in your field. Not at all. What I am proposing is that you should not put all your eggs in one basket.

Consider a drilling contractor needing to hire a Subsea Technician for their vessel. There are plenty of technicians that have experience with the mechanical and hydraulic equipment, but those that also know the electrical and software systems are a dime a dozen. If given the choice, who do you think has the advantage of being hired?

More and more I have found that when given the choice, those who have a wider variety of skills have a higher chance of being picked, even when they may seem less specialized than others. Why? Because their versatility is more valuable to the team. You can contract a specialist when you need one, but chances are you don't need a specialist for every day operations.

If you are looking to stand out as a candidate, consider stepping out of your comfort zone. Versatility is the name of the game. The more varied your skillset is, the more "buckets" you can be placed in, the more valuable you become, and the more likely you are to be chosen among the group.

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