How to Stand Out in a Sea of Specialists
Photo courtesy of Jesslee Cuizon

How to Stand Out in a Sea of Specialists

Written by Emilie

Topics: Work

I often get asked how multipotentialites have a chance of standing out among specialists. How can you compete with someone who has put in so many more hours than you? Is there a way that your multipotentiality can give you an edge?

According to the mainstream story around career and calling, being The Best at something is all that matters. Your medium is your identity, and mastering a field is where you derive your sense of purpose. We are taught to compete on “price.” (expertise, credentials, hours logged– however you want to frame it).

The Changing Landscape

One little problem. The arena is changing. In 2012, knowledge is easy to acquire. Masters degrees are a dime a dozen, and it’s easy to educate yourself with the click of a mouse. As a result, there is far more competition than ever before, and it’s become increasingly difficult to stand out based on expertise.

Luckily, multipotentialites play an entirely different game.

Instead of competing on price, multipotentialites compete on uniqueness. We don’t stand out by trying to be the Best, we stand out by bringing our other interests into the mix and providing our own unique blend of talents.

When you’re looking for a way to set yourself apart, take a look at what you’ve already done. What past pursuits can you smoosh into the mix? Can you use your background in speech pathology and neuroscience to give your coaching practice a different spin? Can you use your background as a party promoter in New York city and your knowledge of slick advertising to create a charity that people actually think is cool? What about using your love of pop culture to make Personal Development hip?

As a multipotentialite, you have tons of experiences from which to draw. Don’t minimize what you’ve done. Remember that one single calligraphy class was enough for Steve Jobs to draw from to inspire the beautiful typeface for the Apple computer. Use your multiple pursuits, combine them in a way that nobody else can, and create something unique.

Specialists may be excellent craftsmen, but we are fabulous creators. Being highly skilled sounds great, but I’d rather be inventive.

Your Turn

How have you used your multipotentialite background to stand out?


  1. ZenPresence says:

    To sum up in a few words ” be yourself, your full potential self”.

    Dan Garner

  2. Margaret says:

    This is a positive boost for framing our multi-talents, and I definitely need to keep this in mind in the next 6-12 months, as I force myself to dive in to self-promotion and not do a belly-flop! Thanks, Emilie!

  3. Hannah Stephenson says:

    From my experience working boring monotonous jobs doing routine tasks I have learned to value the importance of repetition and consistency necessary for successful/reliable branding and customer happiness! See! I’ll bet that specialists working the same jobs might struggle to distinguish that connection!

  4. Kristina says:

    This is a great reminder that encouraging self-development is key in work AND play. Thanks, Emilie.

  5. Anna says:

    I once tried to apply for a job (field of web development/management) and was actually worried and scared. I know there are others out there better than me. What I know about the web was self-taught — troubleshooting, copywriting, coding, etc. — and I feel I was short of a lot of things since I have never taken a course on that field. But during the interview, I guess they saw how I was clearly passionate about it that they hired me. I was thrilled! :) When you truly love what you do, everything falls into place and good things follow. (There will be bumps along the way but we grow from mistakes and bad experiences, don’t we?)

  6. Jason says:

    One safe way to accomplish this without to much risk is to test the waters with statements related to your interests. Casually weave these into your interview answers and see if you get a reaction. You can even do this right at the beginning! 100% of the time the interviewer will ask you “How are you doing today?” or something of that nature. Thi is your chance to have a creative answer..”I am doing great but my body is still a little soar from skiing hard last weekend, the mountains were beautiful. This is making me forget the soarness because I am so excited to be here and talk to you about this postion.”

    If you don’t get a reaction try a couple of other approaches and asking questions is always the best way to find out about somebody then create a connection. Hey, you’re allowed to ask questions at interviews too!!!:)

  7. amelia says:

    This is going to sound crazy but I always push my varied interests when dating. If they cannot accept that I am into just about everything and will be reading and trying to learn about things and sharing what I learned for the rest of my life then they are not for me.

  8. Marina says:

    My current job as a games & apps developer for Android devices, I’ve got it because of my multipotentiality. One of my job interviews was a light chat about my tastes and hobbies; another one was about my technical skills, but it was held at a café. It’s like a company value, all the employees have one or several passions or extra-curricular knowledge. It’s a great place to work.

  9. Angela says:

    I had an interview once where I tried to be a part time counselor to build experience in the psychology field. I told the lady who was interviewing me about the experience I had in the field, about my degrees. I also told her about how I love art, that I’ve shown my work around the city, and thought of doing art therapy in the future. Sounded good right? Nope. She pretty much told me that I’m better off doing just art for some reason and didn’t hire me (maybe she’s the type that thinks you can only do one thing at a time). Some jobs do really like if you volunteer or are active in other things, like the one I have now because the company even sets up random volunteer events, encouraging it. I guess its a hit or miss type of thing.

    • Hannah Stephenson says:

      I think it really depends on whether the person making the hiring decisions is a multipotentialite (it’s really annoying that my computer recognizes this as a mispelled word) or not. In University I studied for a degree in Music and Dance. Sounds fun and very mutipotentialite eh? Not enough for me! I was expected to concentrate most of my efforts on JUST ONE musical instrument, and whenever I would express my preference for a different instrument to the one I’d been studying, I was told to be realistic, the faculty considered me to be ‘not focused’ and I was always hearing this “Jack of all trades, Master of NONE, None, none…” echo through the hallways.

      Consequently I felt that some of my interests became chores and that my potential was being stifled.
      This is ironic because the reasoning that the faculty had behind my concentrating on one instrument was so that I could reach my full potential and become an expert of that instrument.

    • Emilie says:

      Angela, or maybe it wasn’t the right gig for you. You might have been really unhappy in such a specialist-oriented job.

  10. Ian says:

    Specialists are limited by definition! I gain all of my customers because my multi skill set saves them having to hire 5 or 6 specialists.

    In fact, they can’t even hire the specialist for these smaller jobs because they are not interested! Smoosh the 5 or 6 jobs together though and I have a full day or two :-)

    The only problem being able to do ‘most things’ is that it often means you end up doing everything, which is a little lonely!

    Stay well Emilie!

  11. First off Emilie I had never come across ‘multipotentialites’ before so your post immediately caught my attention!

    Looking at it from a bloggers angle I had seen the fact that I don’t blog in a niche as a disadvantage however maybe the fact that I can write on all sorts of subjects by bringing my skills and experience to bear is more of a positive than I thought.

    So maybe I am a ‘multipotentialite’ blogger rather than the ‘Jack of all trades’that I thought I was – I’m feeling better about myself already!

    Many thanks for your interesting and thoughtful post Emilie.


  12. Jay says:

    Good post Emilie.

    I completely agree that’s why I creates a company called 5ToolGroup to teach and help small high tech companies increase their market valuation.

    I feel that you have to integrate multiple disciplines in acquiring customers. Sales is just not enough any more.

  13. Esta says:

    My not “being normal” is what makes me unique. I love to get things done by myself but I ask for help when I need.

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