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January 24, 2011


Derek Dostal

I have not heard anyone profess to hire a generalist Jeff. I also think you are correct.

Take it one step further and focus on someone with the general financial skills you are looking for and retrain them. Go outside your industry or discipline and bring someone in that maybe is not of the perfect profile that we all would envision.

A strong generalist with willingness and loyalty....could you possibly beat the combination?

Jennifer Bowen

I think there's a median between the two that must be found. You need someone who is a specialist in their role so that they are producing the greatest quality and quantity of work. But also someone who isn't afraid to jump in where needed and wear many hats.

It's all about balance.


I agree that this is about balance, and a critical part to this is to understand clearly the strengths and weaknesses of the team before adding another person with their strengths and weaknesses into the mix.

But I think we can agree that specialists who fit in great at large concern are usually ill-suited to a startup. System Architects who no longer code, Cost Accountants, HRIS Administrators are all good examples of careers which have arced well beyond what is best for a startup (usually, there are exceptions). Of course, if a given specialist is looking to go into a generalist direction, that's another thing entirely. We all have many capabilities we bring to the table which are not present in a job title, and it's wise for candidates and hiring managers to keep this in mind as we do our dance.

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