Contracting as a Generalist or Specialist

Oct 16, 2014 12:00:00 AM · by David Kushan

When you’re in consulting, you’re offering your knowledge and skills as a service to organizations in need of that specific expertise.

Contractors frequently express that their #1 fear is not being able to find their next contract. It’s only natural for people dealing with that concern to look for ways to acquire as many skills as possible, in the hope of casting a broad net over contracts for which they can apply.

In an effort to diversify their experience, they will take on multiple roles in several applications, believing that this will expose them to more projects.

However, in terms of staying employed or consistently having contracts, doing the opposite is actually a better strategy. When a hospital is looking to engage the services of a consultant, they want the best person whom they can find for the project. If a hospital is implementing Cerner products, the organization will not care that the consultant has done work with Siemens or Epic. They want a Cerner specialist.


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The above chart provides a hiring manager’s mental process, in terms of your ability to be well rounded in each application. If they’re looking for someone with Cerner expertise, they’re not going to consider an individual who spent only 33.33% of their professional experience in Cerner; they’re going to choose someone with 100% experience within that particular application.

What’s important is being the highest-skilled and most knowledgeable person within the markets in which you’re offering your services. Because a healthcare organization is going to hire the best possible consultant for their Health IT department’s projects, you want to match that need as precisely as possible. It may be true that if your résumé shows experience with a Cerner project, a Siemens project, and an Epic project, then you can apply to six different contracts and, perhaps, hear back. But the number of organizations to which you submit your résumé means nothing. What matters most is the number of organizations that are going to actually offer you an engagement. Having a high probability of being offered an engagement will lead to a high likelihood of constant work.

Would you rather interview for two projects with which you have a 90% chance of being offered the engagement? Or would you rather interview for four positions with which you have a 20% chance of being offered the engagement?

The focus on how many organizations to which you can be presented should be eliminated. What you should focus on is how many organizations you can apply to where you will have a very high probability of being the best person presented for the position.

You may also like: Changing Your Healthcare IT Sellable Skill Set

General, Consulting, Career Planning, David Kushan


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