Job for IT generalist ...

This topic was created by Bene Pendentes .

  1. Bene Pendentes

    Job for IT generalist ...

    ... seeking advice from most highly respected commentards ... please indulge me ...

    I'm an IT generalist. I know a bit of everything - I can behave appropriately up to Cxx level both internally and with clients, and I'm happy to crawl under a desk to plug in network cables. I know a little bit about how nearly everything works - enough to fill in the gaps quickly: I didn't know any C# a year ago, but 2 days into a project using it I could see the offshore guys were writing absolute rubbish. I can talk to DB folks about their DBs; network guys about their switches and wireless networks; programmers about their code and architects about their designs. Don't get me wrong, I can do as well as talk, programming, design, architecture - but I would never claim to be the equal of a specialist (although some of the work I have seen from the soi-disant specialists makes me wonder whether I'm missing a trick).

    My principle skill, if there is one - is problem resolution, from nitty gritty tech details (performance and functionality) to handling tricky internal politics to detoxify projects and get them moving again.

    How on earth do I sell this to an employer as a full-timer or contractor? Am I doomed to a low income role whilst the specialists command the big day rates? Or should I give up on IT altogether?

    Very many thanks in advance for any comments you care to make - don't hold back (I know you wont!)

    1. chivo243 Silver badge

      Re: Job for IT generalist ...

      I too am an IT Generalist, My name is Bob, I’ve been a Generalist for my entire IT career. I’ve been coming to ITA for 6 months.

      Seriously, I am in the same boat, and will be watching this with interest. I always figure I will hit some of our vendors and associates with job inquires. But they’ve been all been down sizing.

    2. herman Silver badge

      Re: Job for IT generalist ...

      Simple, call yourself a Network Administrator.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Job for IT generalist ...

      Yes, Project Management, or an Architect role sounds like it would be a logical route for extra money, but it more comes down to your employer and what you like to do.

      Either way, you can pimp your CV different for each job you apply for, giving more focus on the applicable parts. Bear in mind that you can call yourself anything on your CV as long as you can tie it to one of your skills you have.

      e.g

      1st line support : Client Technical Engagement Specialist

      2d line support : End User Compute / Back Office Specialist

      3rd line support : Solutions Expert

      Installed pron on iPads = "extension of content consumption options for mobile users"....

      It's all bollocks of course, but sophistry works wonders for getting the interview at which point it comes down to you and preparing for the interview focusing on your skills that are applicable to the job.

      Either way, best of luck.

      1. Combat Wombat

        Re: Job for IT generalist ...

        "Yes, Project Management, or an Architect role sounds like it would be a logical route for extra money,"

        This is exactly what I am doing, after being an IT generalist for the last 15 years. Life is getting increasingly sucky for IT generalists. Employers want much more, for much less money. I was at the cross roads of "specialize in something, or get out "

        At the end of the day, my heart just wasn't in it, so I went off and did a 3 month project management course at my local Uni, and I am making the leap to Project Management.

        There is a lot of need for GOOD project managers in IT, Software Dev and telecommunications.

        Things you will need to do to be successful

        1. Get your PMP or Prince2 certification

        2. Get your Agile Certification

        3. Have an awesome reputation for not just understanding IT, but also the business side of things.

        Generalists tend to have a really good set of skills for this.

        Another option is getting into "business analyst" type roles. IT generalists have good logic and problem solving skills which lends itself to that side of the business system as well. If you can translate business needs into SQL or programming specs then you will have a license to print money.

        So, you CAN make the leap, but I am not going to lie that the first few jobs will be the hardest to get, so have a financial buffer to allow for it.

        Best of Luck !

        Check out my LinkedIn, and you can see my generalist history,

        ca.linkedin.com/pub/andrew-fraser/1b/43/514/

    4. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: Job for IT generalist ...

      Some good advice here on how to sell yourself and possible options, but my advice is not so rosy.

      Unless you get lucky (whatever that luck may be and however it manifests itself) it's pretty much only the specialists who get the big money. The specialists with experience. Who are hired directly by the companies.

      Of course there are exceptions, but that's all they are: exceptions.

      As a contractor, there is no path for advancement with the client.You will need certs to impress the contracting agency to command more money. Clients contract for a reason. "Contract to hire" is almost dead these days. Again there are exceptions, but don't count on them.

      Companies still seem to direct hire specialists, but how you get that experience they require is another enigma. You really don't see too many entry level positions for, say, UX/UI specialist or VM admin.

      I find all this quite odd. Arcane specialized skills aside, it still takes the person with practical knowledge to make sure the network functions all the way from the billion dollar data center to the receptionist's/customer's/accountants/sales person's desk. You know. The people who have no clue how a computer works but still need it to work. I've seen plenty of specialists who could not install a printer or email admins who not fix their own mailbox problems and others who swear up and down the problem is not their end until, yes, it was their end after all. Yet all making 3 times what you will be.

      That kind of crap is very discouraging.

      So why don't the generalists go on strike or hold out for more money? Simple: because of the less than stellar pay they literally can't afford to.

      All that said, good luck.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Job for IT generalist ...

      ....an IT Generalist? I personally would never use that term to describe myself. Just a few minutes ago, I made a reference to a friend and myself as IT Insanists. Now there's a term.

      It's not about how much you know.....it's about how have you accomplished with what you know. Again, what have you done......or what can you do.

      But most importantly, it's all about your resume.

      1st - It needs to be HONEST. There is a special place in hell for liars!!

      2nd - It needs to be formatted for the search engines. If not, you are a backdrop.

      I can't speak to the # of years you have to fill a resume, but I tried to fit 15 years on two pages, and had a recruiter, which did not collect a commission from my experience, change my professional career with a few bits of information.

      1. 15 years - 5 pages, at least. So 5 pages it is....my email blew up.

      2. If it isn't between a date range, it doesn't mean anything:

      SecOps, Inc: 06/2005 - 06/2010

      <Now list everything you did, in detail....and include product names (Reinvented remote access using Juniper SA4500 VPN Concentrators, allowing for increased productivity for 5,000 users) (JUST DO NOT LIE) >.

      Now everything in that list equals 5 years experience. The more years of your experience for a particular product/skill, the higher your resume will appear in the recruiter's search results.

      I am a security engineer with insane AD, Linux, and Network skills, with business process, disaster recovery, change management and architecture experience. My interview 3 days ago with a Silicon Valley company, which I'm sure you know, lasted 6 hours, and I landed the job....and now will move from the east coast to the west....and I'm going to get paid.

      I am so happy for the tips of that recruiter (Stephen Herrick of KForce). He changed my life.......just because my resume was all wrong.

      But you seriously have to know you stuff. General knowledge is not enough. For example, can you answer these:

      1. Describe the difference between active and passive FTP, and when it comes to implicit and explicit FTPS, which is more firewall friendly, and why......and what is required for the correct answer to be more firewall friendly - in both Cisco and Windows terms.

      2. What is the difference between FTPS and SFTP?

      3. Give an example of how you would use active directory to segment and protect critical applications from a malicious users using group policy.

      4. Describe the difference between stateful and stateless packet filtering, and how it applies to firewall and router ACLs,

      If you can give detailed answers off the top of your head, you are not a generalist, and you will most like make bank, with the right resume. If you have to Google the answers, you might not even be a generalist.

      But if you don't know the answers, by all means, Google it, implement it, and know it. To get the 6 figure job, you'd better know them and a whole lot more, inside and out.

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Job for IT generalist ...

      " I know a little bit about how nearly everything works"

      That's your issue. You need to learn a LOT about how everything works. And get some certifications to prove it. I make £600-£700 a day as an infrastructure consultant / architect on this basis.

      If you don't care about mind numbingly tedious documentation and basically being a very well paid secretary / administrator then project / programme management is another relatively easy route to good pay...

      1. Combat Wombat
        Boffin

        Re: Job for IT generalist ...

        "If you don't care about mind numbingly tedious documentation and basically being a very well paid secretary / administrator"

        I disagree with this sentiment, if you are a really good project manager then it can be very hands on and very rewarding. I love project execution work and overcoming problems.

        I also happen to enjoy the business analyst side of it as well. You can be a good project manager and just go through the motions, or you can be a great project manager by actually helping the client to see the best way of doing things.

        My favorite kind of projects are the one who have gone completely off the rails, and they need a "Mr Wolf" to come in and solve problems. If you have an IT background you are much better at getting these sort of IT projects back on track, or having the tough conversation with the project sponsors that you need to "old yellar" the thing and start again.

    7. implicateorder

      Re: Job for IT generalist ...

      I have seen over a career that spans 2 decades in IT, in roles varyingly as a generalist and a specialist, that the higher you climb up on an org-chart, the following things are needed -

      1) depending on the size of the organization, a good mentor/ally in senior leadership

      2) being able to quantify your work (e.g.: saved $1M in x project by reducing such and such cost, saved $250K in reduced man-hours by automating x, y and z process etc). It is not disingenuous at all, it shows that you understand what you are worth and are able to quantify your impact to your team/organization. I used this for years in organizations I've worked at and leadership had no option but to rate me at a top-performer, thereby paving the way to promotions and better pay

      3) Show that it is not just about yourself and that you play a key role as a thought-leader and influencer within your own and peer organizations.

      All of these when done with the right blend of aggression and amicability will open doors and lead the way to success.

      Being a creative problem solver is a very valuable skill that many middle-management types don't understand. But when they see one in their team, they tend to rely on these individuals for advice and when in a bind. If you are in a similar position, make it known to your leader that you know that he knows what your worth is. After a couple of times of pulling the team's arse out of a blazing inferno, the leaders will be open to suggestions about your growth prospects and references etc.

      These things (such as quantifiable achievements etc) will also help sell your resume to prospective employers. Suddenly you have a USP that you use to sell yourself better. A Creative Problem solver, multi-faceted process engineer, so on and so forth. I think you are selling yourself short. Don't. Have healthy pride in your abilities.

      1. darthsteve

        Re: Job for IT generalist ...

        hi, with regard to point #2, if you work in a large organization on large projects how would you recommend quantifying your work in terms of cash or added value to the business? I've worked on R&D projects in big blue chip biotech companies and it's difficult to quantify how much your contribution is to some behemoth project. If you're at a lowly tech level performing some function, or help a task move along the pipeline/workflow, how do you quantify your actual contribution in that chain? I've never been fortunate to have direct line of site to say "yes, that was my contribution that delivered x million dollars to the business". It's always, "I helped person x out with task y that was part of processes a, b, c, d, e, f,....."

        I would genuinely be interested in how people go about quantifying their individual contribution when working on very large industrial projects in order to sell that on their CV. I'm in the same boat as the forum post and although I have lots of "stuff" on my CV I struggle to describe how any of it was ever of any value. Certainly in my current role I wonder if anybody would notice if I didn't turn up for work for 6 months.

        thanks :)

        1. implicateorder
          Happy

          Re: Job for IT generalist ...

          I'm assuming that question was for me. Okay, it is harder to quantify work at the tactical level. However, you could do something very simple.

          Find out (if you don't know) the hourly rate that your company would be spending on labor for the work that you automated etc. The mathematics depends on many things. Or if you have contributed to some process improvement, that would reduce man-hours from 20 hours to 2 hours or something to that extent. You get the drift...

          Another thing you can do, is get a hold of the project management document (say the MS Project report/gantt chart) where your individual piece was articulated. Lets say the PM budgeted 40 hours for your task but you were able to accomplish it in 5 hours (or 10 hours), you saved that much money. And the project in effect might have got sped up by a similar factor...and so on.

          Sometimes I find things that I can do, to help improve processes, automate certain pieces of work, etc. And then I get that approved (some managers might say, okay, don't work on that as your primary goal, but you can definitely do it in your "spare" time). The first one is always hard, but then once you prove yourself, the subsequent efforts are easier to sell. By doing certain pieces of work, you are able to save time, effort, resources (whatever that might be).

          Sometimes non-technical (or semi-techincal) managers find it difficult to gauge the degree of effort needed. Maybe you do it on the side (without explicit "blessings") but you can then demonstrate what the value of your work is (how much you saved the company etc). Managers love people who do things that make them look good with their bosses. But with that comes a fine line you have to walk - to ensure that you get credit for your work...

          Hope that helps.

    8. Dann

      Re: Job for IT generalist ...

      I am an IT generalist and at the moment I work full time in the design department in a multi-national aerospace company (I ran my own IT company for over 10 Years previously). The IT generalist it seams is ideal if more aligned with the customer (rather than the ICT department).

      I interface for the engineering department to the ICT department. My job shouldn't exist but most "clever" people need generalists like us to steer them through the ICT minefield.

      A few years ago I didn't even know this type of job existed. I have done it for 2 different major aerospace companies. We need more ICT generalists because they are the ones with common sense.

    9. alwarming
      Paris Hilton

      Re: Job for IT generalist ...

      There are several outs:

      1) Pick an area - any area - and stick to it. (My suggestion based on your experience would be

      perf debugging - that requires a breadth and trouble shooting skills). It will take 2-4 years to

      establish yourself and the skills will be portable.

      2) Join as an apprentice in a small <buzzword> company. Fight fires all day long and soon you

      can be whatever you want to be.. (within 12 months).

      3) Higher education. It may not have many things to teach you, but a higher degree can open some

      closed doors. (Not my personal preference, but there are people who value it). You can be

      "specialist" in 2+2 years.

      4) Incorporate. Be the sysadmin for small businesses. Set up their clouds and shit. If you are not

      making good money in 2 years, goto steps 1/2/3.

      Paris, coz she can crawl under my desk anytime...

    10. Sanlorenzo

      Re: Job for IT generalist ...

      Were I still running an ISP I would be interviewing to find someone with your skills and outlook to run support services. Good generalists are rare and have the potential to become hugely valuable assetts to any business if they are prepared to train in customer facing roles. Ultimately the best course may be to start your own business, but be prepared for this to fail (not you, the business), at least once before you succeed. To some extent being a generalist qualifies you as a team builder, and with a little training and experience, a team leader (skills that is, not titular roles). You have built a good foundation on which to build a career, corporate or startup, so don't undervalue it; but also be prepared to invest; there are many start ups that would benefit from your skills, but don't have the cashflow to support your salary.

      Best of luck

      T

    11. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Job for IT generalist ...

      I'd say to try to get it to a relatively entry level gig at a big company and work your way up. I work at a Fortune 75 firm. Started there while getting my undergrad in Electrical Engineering, worked through my MBA back to back. I started as a guy tasked with creating a program we could sell to our customers. Not a software program, just a way of bundling knowledge. I built some Excel models where they could put in their sales stats and it would project out their rebate dollars, and ergo allow them to better predict profitability. People were impressed. We had a problem with the compensation team messing up people's quota and pay. I took that over. Excel modeled it with a little VBA on the side. Sales team needed a home place to collaborate: built a sharepoint site. Need to plan their PTO, built a SP calendar on the site and integrated it to the time-off-request page. The list goes on. Now I'm the architect/design lead of the CRM strategy for North American operations. It's been 5 years.

      I don't know what you consider high income, but I do pretty well, especially compared to the standard of living in the area.

      Another possible path for you would be to get into consulting. The level of knowledge you list about various topics would make you a very good project manager for a CRM/ERP consulting firm. It is an interesting time in those places with Salesforce being relatively new still, Microsoft making a play for the CRM market and SAP+Oracle trying to get their cloud vs on premise strategies figured out. That will net you a lot more pay but will come with lots of travel.

  2. masterofobvious

    I have to agree, project management. Probably one of the worst jobs in IT though (I am one!)

    1. hypernovasoftware

      Project management (or people management in general) is not for everyone.

      I gave it a try some years ago and hated every minute of it.

      I was a technician/programmer before and was happy when my boss let me return to my old job.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

  3. Voland's right hand Silver badge

    Depends on the country

    There are countries where problem solving is valued and so is the breadth of knowledge needed to solve problems (real ones). There are countries where it is not.

    Based on my personal experience (I am also a generalist) it is pointless to apply for any job in a UK company unless you are applying solely on the strength of one particular single skill. You will only be wasting your time. Breadth is not valued and is considered a hindrance or a potential threat - "someone who can replace me as a manager, let's not hire him". You will also be paid solely on the basis of that particular single skill. Once upon a time you could get around this problem by maintaining multiple identities with multiple mail addresses and multiple CVs. Not any more. That is no longer feasible nowdays.

    So you are better off just dropping UK jobs altogether and concentrating on opportunities listed with US and to a lesser extent continental outfits. As far as Europe is concerned the "cult of the superhandiman" is the more pronounced as you go East. That is not such a bad idea - if you look at salaries in Bratislava, Brno, Sofia or Warsaw for example (as well as the buying power these salaries provide) they are definitely a better place than cranking out more useless "social" drivel in yet another startup @ Silly roundabout. You will probably be doing real work too.

    As far as the rest of the world (outside US/EU) is concerned there are countries which follow the UK tradition and countries which are more US-like. Cannot really say - my familiarity with "discrimination against the generalist" is limited to Eu/US.

    1. Nick Kew Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: Depends on the country

      Agree.

      From a not-entirely-dissimilar perspective, I've seen UK industry has no use for techies older than a twentysomething grad. If you don't want to don a Suit and/or relegate your IT work to a hobby, look elsewhere. Either abroad (US being the obvious #1 market), or self-employed/contractor if you've got the salesmanship and negotiating skills to make that work for you.

      I telecommute across the atlantic. Pay is still modest, but I get to live somewhere I can afford on it.

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Depends on the country

        All this gnashing of teeth about the state of the UK Jobs market is only half the truth.

        As a 60+yr old Generalist and proud of it, all I can say is that there are jobs out there.

        In my experience the biggest problem is the Recruitment agencies. If you find an agent who has their head switched on then you arr halfway to getting a much improved position. The agent who found me my current position is the same as for the previous job.

        Despite what the nay-sayers might have you believe there are roles for us generalists. Let me try to explain.

        IT systems are getting ever more complex. Not only Databases and networking but lots of other 'stuff' besides. Some of this other stuff has been mentioned.

        Understanding how the business works.

        Telling the so-called architects that they are talking out of their backsides because their 'cute' design just ain't possible.

        Making sure that all the bits of a project actually work when put together.

        The latter part is very important IMHO. As the IT Skills coming online are more and more compartmentalised the chances of the old 'square peg and round hole' symptom happening becomes more and more likely. Companies will soon see the value of someone who can spot these problems before they happen.

        Oh, and in may areas of IT 'Agile' is better named 'Fragile' because it does not work very well.

        In the right setting then it is great but it is not the panacea it ia made out to be.

        A 'fragile' team I was working with quoted me two sprints for a bit of code. that is 4 weeks. I asked how long would it take to actually do the coding. 2 days was the reply. The rest of the time was integrating it into their continuious build and test environment.

        I shook my head and wrote it myself with a far better test coverage and fully documented in less than 4 days. Documentation was another sprint's worth of effort.

        Go for it. There are really rewarding roles out there. You could have mine in a few years as I'll be retiring... :)

        1. Combat Wombat
          Thumb Up

          Re: Depends on the country

          AC, I couldn't agree with you more.

          The hiring system is the biggest broken part of this equation.

          People need to learn how to network, rather than using recruiters and job applications. There is a LOT of work out there if you know how to make the connections and find it. The "Old boys network" is re asserting itself again because hiring departments are so bloody useless.

      2. This post has been deleted by its author

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Depends on the country

      This reply both amuses and annoys me.

      As someone who is dead set on moving to the USA but finding their immigration systems somewhat unwelcoming, your suggestions seems awfully flippant. As a 30 year old with 14 years experience as a "generalist" with the occasional foray into short specialist contracts, I don't see that I have anything near what's required to get a job in the US from the point of view of visa requirements. Perhaps if you have a degree you're on partially on your way, but unless you're already carrying a unique specialist skill you're not just going to be able to apply for any old job willy-nilly and hop across the pond. You'll need employer sponsorship and that's going to require them to prove that there's no US citizen in the vicinity capable of doing the job that you're going to be filling. Which given that the OP is selling themselves as a generalist, is highly unlikely to be the case.

      If you know something I don't, then please do reply with the info because I will very, very happily be proven wrong and get my CV/resume across to whoever you tell me to, so that I can fulfill my dream.

      1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

        Re: Depends on the country

        Quote "This reply both amuses and annoys me"

        Err... There is nothing easier than getting a work permit for a generalist. Rule number one - you do not put generalist on the application

        A generalist by definition has more than one skill. Just list a combination of skills on the job spec. By the time you have listed 3 skills the likelihood of finding a local person from the specialist pool is in the 0.1% or less. Four or more, which is possible if you are highly qualified generalist which can apply for a mid-level job on the basis of a single skill alone,

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Depends on the country

          So you're suggesting the best process is to find someone to hire me, and then explain to them how to spec the job so that they're pretty much guaranteed to get me in on a permit?

          It's interesting because I did get a job offer from a small local company in CA but it fell through because the process seemed quite daunting/expensive.

          I'm going to step up my game based on this info. I'd pretty much resigned myself to having to find a pretty Californian girl and get married.

          Thanks for the info/inspiration :)

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hmmmm......

    The only way I know to sell these skills at a premium is to pull them out of the "techie" trench (no offence meant I am a techie myself) and start presenting them as management or strategic skills.

    After all what is a good manager/consultant (I know, I know, not a lot of these around) but someone who knows just enough about what the techies are doing to ensure a proper job is done...

    And that seems to be exactly your profile.

    The hardest part is that you would still be doing exactly the same thing but you would have to translate it into managerial speak - which can be a tortuous exercise at first....

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Systems Design/Engineering/Architecting

    Requires knowledge of all of the above and an understanding of how everything fits together. Ultimately, I would see this leading to work in technical sales or consultancy. Project management will pay the bills, but it's a dull line of work.

  6. Paul 87

    Definitely sounds like a strong candidate for project management or a buisness analyst. Being able to take your general knowledge and understanding helps ensure that your specialists will be working on the right goals. To strengthen your CV you need supervisory and managerial experience, alongside project planning and implimentation skills.

    There's also opportunities out there to move towards the Cxx level instead, particularly in smaller companies which can't afford hordes of specialists, but can invest in an individual who can handle or oversee most of the IT needs for the company. Consider looking at a software development company, they often have diverse roles, particularly those engaged in B2B software sales.

  7. DJV Silver badge
    Happy

    Interesting...

    It's interesting how things have changed.

    In 1998 I applied for a Java programming job at a "sunrise" company who were building a subscription-based educational web site. In addition to Java (which I had only been playing with for a week or so) my CV mentioned my other skills in C, Pascal, HTML, JavaScript, assembler (on several CPUs), Unix, BTOS/CTOS (yeah, go look them up!), Windows NT and several others. I didn't get the Java job as they looked at what I could do, and instead created and offered me a "Senior Programmer" post instead!

    Maybe I was just in the right place at the right time.

    DJV

  8. Tezfair

    Don't knock being a generalist as most IT people are just that. What this does give you is raw experience in real life situations.You get told an issue and you can come up with mulitple ways to talk through and resolve the problem. If you're like me, you 'see' the desktop in your mind as you chat with a customer.

    See if you can get on the books of national breakfix companies. When I worked for microtechs (who have a habit of going bust quite often) I would be swapping server mobos in nuclear power stations, or visiting MOD facilities.

    I have been in IT since the mid 90's and not once have I been asked what qualifications I have. Prospects tend to look for confidence, experience and a reasonable priced invoice.

    I will be the first to say that IT isn't very well paid. But this is my choice. I would rather work a couple of weeks a month and draw 15k than work everyday of the week for 25k. I have been fortunate to watch my boys growup and be involved in their school activites - some thing I would not have been able to do if I was a wage slave.

    1. Don Jefe

      Good for you sir! The world would be a much happier place if more people had the courage and conviction to do what that like, instead of something they hate.

    2. Orv Silver badge

      I wish I could take that attitude, but retirement looms like an oncoming truck. Given the age discrimination in IT I'm not sure how I'm going to have enough money saved up soon enough to make it.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    You pretty much describe my own skills and experience. I bounced around filling in gaps by supervising and working in networking, programming, operations, and service desk. It gave me a respect for the specialist in each area, and a good understanding of all the areas.

    We went through a long series of CIOs at a rate one every 10 months or so. When the last one made a public gaffe, they put me in at CIO on an interim basis. I been in the position about 75 months now.

    All the problems that come up to me are based in two or more of the specific disciplines, otherwise the specialists would have solved it already. If you can understand the issues and explain the solution to CxO leaders and IT people, you'll do great.

    Don't settle for just being a generalist in the IT areas, be a generalist in the business areas as well.

    1. Timbo 1

      RE: 75 month CIO

      75 months? lol.

      Are you a stickler for punctuality or do you just find the job dull and spend a lot of time looking at the clock and calendar in your office?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: RE: 75 month CIO

        The guy's got a point though. CIO's a great place for someone with a reasonable depth of knowledge across a broad range of subjects and it's obviously worked for him. If you're CIO you need to be able to spot when people are talking crap and it's difficult for them to do that if you know their subject.

        I work in one of the big IT firms. We have dedicated problem resolution managers and while they may come from a particular technical or non-technical background, they may specialise in another area. A broad knowledge of customers' IT environments is critical when you're looking for resources or dealing with situations and you have little time to spare and are under a lot of pressure.

        I do a similar job. I'm primarily a techie in a particular area, but I have a good range of knowledge and experience in a number of organisations as well as a number of technical subjects. It comes in very useful when you're put on the spot by, say, a DB admin and you can explain the situation to them in language they understand, then draw some pretty pictures for management in the same meeting.

        I think it's important to be a specialist in at least one area, and management or running a business counts as one. If you've really got a broad range of knowledge you can probably take your pick and you'll still be better than some people who claim to be experts.

      2. Zane

        Re: RE: 75 month CIO

        No, this guy is just a good engineer.

        He used months as unit when talking about the other CIOs. Months is a good choice here, as it was less than a year, but much more than several weeks.

        He then re-used the unit when talking about himself. Makes it easier to compare when you use the same unit.

        He could've used weeks or days instead. That would look like nitpicking, wouldn't it?

        /Zane

  10. Steve Knox

    You may need to narrow your target

    Aside from the good advice above, you may also want to look at the nature of the companies to which you're applying.

    I find larger organizations (generally over 500 employees) or IT-specific organizations tend to have rigid structures with more specialized positions and requirements. Look for smaller firms: they'll be more likely to have need for a part-network-admin, part-dba, part-hardware guy. I also find they tend more to look at all of your qualifications and, if they like you, to adjust their organization (a bit) to fit you in.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: You may need to narrow your target

      I had exactly this at DirectGov, back in the day when it was rapidly expanding.

      They wanted someone to just install some 60 computers over the course of a couple of months - three month contract, that was it.

      When they realised I was well versed in networking, virtualisation, hardware, troubleshooting, windows imaging (which incliuded testing of images - and the test dept was technically where I worked) and pretty much everything IT related bar programming (I can parse programming languages in my head, but don't have the mental spacial awareness to write from scratch) they made a space in the organisation for me, which was as the guy who ran the 'offline' test network (IE an ADSL connnection rather than the secure government network, GSI) and the guy who consulted on pretty much everything else and could ask and answer a lot of difficult questions that the local specialists (some very good artists, programmers, web devs, content editors, etc) were perhaps less used to thinking about. Standalone Network Adminstrator was the title, but really I was a multidisciplinary consultant - who they'd talk to before going to vendors, etc.

      That went really well till I had a nervous breakdown, but that was less about the job, and more about me.

      At the moment I work as a a Specialist Engineer at a local computer services outfit - my namebadge literally reads : "IT Ninja: I know everything" as it's a bit of a truism that if something even slightly outside of the normal Windows/Networking/Server stuff comes up (Unix, complex networking (VPN trunks, heavy VLANing, someone wanting to have a portable network on sites, etc) then it almost always gets passed to me.

      It's a nice job, with good people, but not great pay.

      So I'm in the same position as OP to an extent. I'm happy enough for now (they really are great people) but I can't stay on sub £20k forever....

      Name withheld because My People read here. If you recognise me, lets keep this to ourselves, eh? And besides, you know all this already and know to keep me sweet as best you can ;-)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: You may need to narrow your target

        Same AC as above - by having an outgoing personality and the general skillz I mentioned above, I'm now a Linux Sysadmin for a largish (just breaching SMB levels and moving to enterprise as a company, I believe) hosting outfit specialising in hardcore linux hosting.

        The learning curve has been fucking vertical, but I'm working with likeminded people (ie freaks like us) who love telling me how I'm doing it wrong, and love it equaly in return when they ask me about Windows stuff and I stomp all over them with my Windows experience (as most of this lot are lifelong *nix advocates) - it's all learning, after all. I learn tail -f n 50 /path/to/file, they learn how to slap the registry to that Visual Basic doesn't break it's UI by forcing hardware acceleration, etc.....

        Pay is a bit better and completely soaked up by travel expenses, but I am perfectly happy to be out of the house 12 hours a day to work with them.

        And I'm learning lots of hilariously cool new things about datacentres, mass hosting, the FLOSS community, and other such stuff.

        Could be richer (And I'm planning on moving closer to work soon to aid that, rather than throwing £300+ a month on petrol) but couldn't be happier - and trust me, I talk from painful experience when I say that means a lot.

        I miss the guys I worked with above a lot, but they're happy to have me turn up every few weeks when I take a day off and turn up at their office to make a round of tea and chat broken biscuits, so it's all good really.

        Take a deep breath and jump into something weird or different in a more specific direction (databases, ISP level networking, etc) if you have the chops to 'blag it' - it's probably not really blagging, but it'll give you something to think about, which is half the fun in this game, eh?

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If I were you...

    I'd be looking into getting a Scrum Master qualification. Reason being that many companies from my experience bring those people into the business in order to get things done. Where I've been, Scrum Masters were always isolated roles, often created for the purpose of moving things forward, often a bunch of projects at the same time.

    The better ones I had to deal with (I'm a sysadmin guy, and sysadmin work isn't very Scrum compatible) were generalists like you. It gave them a good understanding of how things worked together in the big picture. If you understand (but not constantly speak) Cxx level lingo, that certainly helps.

    In any case, aim for middle management roles, if that's your cup of tea. Managers who actually have a good understanding of everything (not only Powerpoint presentations and bullshit bingo language) are becoming increasingly rare in some places. There's an increasing disconnect between people who know how to talk and hang out in meetings most of the time, and those who actually know what they are doing (and want to get things done). The latter would be more than pleased to have a guy like you in charge.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: If I were you...

      I'd agree. Good SMs are generalists who can speak tech, with enough experience to see through a problem and a cool enough head to talk to the powerpoint jockeys who want to waste dev time. Just don't get tripped up by the certs. Really the only one worth getting is CSP - despite its name CSM is the entry-level qualification.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: If I were you...

        The most commonly looked for and well regarded / valuable certs are MCSE, VCE, CCNA, ITIL and Prince 2.

  12. zanshin

    The jobs do exist, but I've no idea how common they are

    I am in the US, but I work for an international company for which the UK members have a strong leadership presence. My boss' boss is in the UK.

    I'm a generalist. I know something about a lot of different things, can use that to solve lots of problems, or create lots of solutions. And I've got a job where that's basically what I do professionally, where the breadth of my skills is basically specifically why I'm valued, and I'm paid very well. I've been where I'm at for some time, though, so I can't speak to how easy it is to find a job like mine, and it's something I do worry about should this job disappear or become unsavory. I *can* tell you my team wishes we could find more people with a breadth of skills.

    Where I fit in best is in a place where specialists exist in their own silos. You have developers, DBAs, sysadmins, storage teams, and networking gurus. In places that divide specialties up like that, you often benefit from someone who is a bit like a business analyst, except instead of being the interface between developers and customers, they face the other direction, interfacing between developers and infrastructure / middleware.

    What we find is that the developers often are wildly ignorant of the implications of the system's (virtual) physical design. The infrastructure teams often have no time to learn the ins and outs of the applications, in order to tune their systems for them. I help the developers create systems that won't be rubbish on the basis of the systems on which they run, and help the infrastructure folks design hardware that won't be rubbish for the needs of the application.

    The challenge is in finding an organization that values this role. Not everyone does, and that's clear even within my company. What seems to make the tuning and problem solving skills valuable to people is when they're strapped for budget and they need to expand their system or make their existing scale of system run better. Tuning things can increase concurrent users on existing footprint or reduce infrastructure for same performance. And even in a cloudy context, the ability to achieve those things can be valued. But I fear that may be rare.

    I would never do project management. It has nothing to do with why I'm in IT, and requires primarily the exercise of people skills, not technical ones. If I lost this position, I would look for a job as a systems architect - someone who looks at the big picture of software, infrastructure, APIs and whatnot and assembles it into a solution. I see a PM as someone who drives all the people involved to implement that vision. I would want to be the person creating the vision itself.

    1. cschneid

      Re: The jobs do exist, but I've no idea how common they are

      I too have such a position, they exist. The trick seems to be finding the organizations that value getting problems solved.

    2. Don Jefe

      Re: The jobs do exist, but I've no idea how common they are

      If you think you'd be OK with working abroad (and can fluently speak the language) then I always tell people to do that if they can and are looking to get a leg up. The 'foreign guy' will always get some, crucial, extra attention and if they demonstrate competence (instead of being the 'stupid foreigner', an role, unfortunately, filled by many of my countrymen overseas) then it's an easy way to move up a few notches and get international experience.

      If you've got some foreigners around your workplace, or people who have worked abroad for years, just watch. A smart manager will ask the foreigner how they do something 'over there', and ask why they do that. It might be done the same old boring way it's done where you're from, but it might be different, and all or parts of 'their way' might integrate super well and beneficially with 'your way'. Having someone ask you a question, and providing a good answer, is how you get noticed. Keep that up and you'll get closer to where you want to be. It's getting asked that's tough to arrange.

      Plus working abroad is fun!

    3. Slay

      Re: The jobs do exist, but I've no idea how common they are

      zanshin - you hit the nail on the head there. You are absolutely correct - everyone interested in this topic or affected in the same way should read and digest this. I am even going to update my profile based on these succinct comments.

  13. jmk89

    Great Question

    I'm in a similar situation to yourself, in that I can hit the ground running in basically any aspect of IT, and every job available seems to be for only one skill.

    I think there is something really interesting happening at the moment in IT.

    If you go back even a decade, a typical web development company would have say a team of dedicated HTML/CSS developers, a team of dedicated Javascript developers, a dedicated team writing the server side code, and an IT department who looked after the servers/network etc.

    Recently there have been all sorts of really cool frameworks released which quite simply make everything easier. Where it would previously have taken a team of HTML/CSS developers to make a nice looking website, this can now be done as part of one persons job with Twitter Bootstrap. Same goes for the Javascript using something like jQuery/Angular, and the server side code with a framework like Ruby on Rails or ASP.Net MVC.

    As for the server stuff, if you are using a cloud service like AWS or Azure, you really don't need a team of people to maintain all of that, again it can now be done as part of one persons job (that person being the IT generalist).

    I think there are a lot of companies out there that still have that old structure, but are using the new frameworks + the cloud. They have a lot of employees who have been there for years, and they can't just fire them so they try to find a role for everyone. When you apply for a job there, they try to fit you into that structure also, in a way that others don't feel as though their jobs are threatened.

    Because you are only hired to only do one thing, you only get paid for one thing. The solution seems to be startups, who welcome the fact that you can wear many hats, but then startups don't tend to have the cash flow of a larger company, so you may make more or less the same as you would in a larger company doing one job, but at least the work will be more interesting. I would definitely choose this over a single skilled job at a larger company, mainly to keep my skills sharp and up to date in all areas.

    I don't really have any answers, just thought I would spill my thoughts on the situation into a textbox and see what others say.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Pick one that you enjoy and specialise in it, buy the books, read them, do the exercises, do the certs/degree/whatever qualification is suitable for that area.

    You're correct in saying that a generalist won't ever earn much, but having a good grounding in multiple disciplines already puts you in a much better position than many, and it should allow you to choose a field that is growing. This may seem unfair, but it's near impossible to learn everything to the depth required to operate it effectively in a larger scale, and this is where the money is.

    The generalist will only ever exist as a filter for the specialists (i.e. 2nd line), or in a small company with small IT budget. I know this as I used to be a generalist, and tried to learn everything (Programming, SQL, Security, Networking, Windows, Linux, Telephony etc). A lot of it stuck, and it makes it easier to learn new things, but unless you do something regularly you'll never get good at it. I specialised, and I’m now 10 years later I’m earning a very good wage, with a good employer, and I’m looking to move into Architecture/Pre-Sales /Consultancy type work.

    When it comes to applying for a specialist job, focus your CV so that you only really mention the parts that a relative to your chosen specialisation in detail, and be prepared to be asked the tough technical questions to prove that what you say on your CV is true. Don’t discount the rest of your experience, mention it if you think it’s relevant to the role. If you can get through the technical interview, and your CV demonstrates the experience required you are on the way to getting into your chosen career.

    Good Luck!

  15. MonkeyFeet

    Good set of skills

    It seems like you're weary of committing to a specialist path but also worried not specialising is hitting your pay and prospects.

    It depends on how good your overall skills really are but the breadth is impressive.

    Architecture is something you could look to move into given how much you understand across the whole system range.

    I think you've named your own preferred area though, that being problem resolution. Live support, incident analysis etc. are all important for most companies. It can be an under appreciated area but most companies eventually understand that the person who keeps their systems running, even with sticking plaster and string, is a vital part of their organisation.

    I'd suggest you look at senior positions for support and operations, it sounds like you have the skills and interest to do very well in that area.

  16. HereIsMyHandle

    Pre-Sales.

    Pre-sales might be a good tack - if you're presentable in front of customers and can build trust based on some level of expertise then you have what is needed. Of course if you are really good at schmoozing then consider a move into pure sales as having the people and technical skills together is quite rare and valuable.

  17. cjstephen

    Sell yourself

    Sounds like you have a good grasp of the benefits you bring yourself. If you're personable and have self-confidence you should be a sure thing if you get through the recruitment consultants to a technical interview. Have confidence to sell yourself on that generalist, adaptable, not just flavour of the month, problem solving track record. Particularly emphasise how you have handled responsibility and shown leadership. Don't sell yourself short so that an existing technical manager doesn't feel undermined, if you're selling yourself up you don't need someone putting you in your place you need somewhere you can take on responsibility and build your role. Take your skills elsewhere.

    I think you sound like a technical leader any sensible organisation should hire over a niche greenhorn. Whilst HR types might be averse to someone with less pigeonholed skills, many mature organisations need adaptable problems solvers who can fix problems more than someone who knows the latest J* golden hammer and can be hired by the day from Tech Mahindra. If you've worked on large projects before, emphasise what you achieved rather than the means you used. Even in companies doing swathes of outsourcing they'll need generalists who can spot bullshit and quality control the outsourced development teams / cloud services. Non-technical managers just can't do that. Project management can be a separate stream in itself where you're competing with folk who've done Prince & that kind of right of passage management specialist stuff so not a shoe in, but having a solid technical skill base would put you in a different class for project or techical leadership essentially as you can't be bullshitted. Moving up to running a technical team or being a technical director in a small company would seem a good move. If recruitment consultants are getting in the way find better ones, use your contacts or contact employers directly and pitch yourself as a highly skilled senior technical leader with a track record solving problems on serious projects, ex of your most impressive employer rather than underselling yourself by competing as a narrow pigeonhold DB/Java/support specialist.

  18. David Rickard

    I'm pretty much identical to OP by the sounds of it. I'm principally a Cisco voice person, but I also do Wireless, Switching, Routing, Firewalls, AD, VMware, Security, and christ knows what else. I often find myself flicking between these different areas ALL the time.

    Recent events have made me question what happens to me if I do go looking for a job, because I have zero qualifications in any area, and because I'm constantly flip-flopping between things, I've found studying hard - I've tried to study for CCNA, and to be honest I could probably almost pass it anyway, but reading and trying to process the course materials is hard when I might've spent all day bashing away at LDAP stuff, then come home and try and study something completely different. For some reason that just doesn't work for me.

    So yeah, I'm kinda worried about this, as if I go apply for jobs, I've little to show for my knowledge, except for the fact I've spent about six or seven years doing it in anger. But then throw me into a problem and I'll probably dig my way through it and find a solution.

    Project management really doesn't appeal to me either, as being at the sharp end is where I enjoy things most, so whilst I will do project management, it's a means to an end, and I can't help but feel it'd suck all the fun out of working in IT for me.

  19. bbulkow

    my old title: "Utility Infielder"

    Answer first, questions later.

    Pitch yourself as having specific skills. Choose a few of your skills, pitch them. Like, you do your homework about a job, you find out it's a c# networking job, and you pitch yourself as a c# and networking guy. You get the job, you spend 6 months doing the specific job (which will further hone your skills), then you pitch some other job within the group.

    This is an essential problem in marketing. I have it in my company (a very fast NoSQL database called Aerospike). Our marketing deparment wants to talk about the speed of the database, because it's fast. And they want to talk about the reliability, because it's NoSQL that does ACID. And they want to talk about our Flash and SSD optimizations, because those are great for lowering in memory database cost. And they want to talk about our happy customers. And the real-time analytics that beat Hana. Or they talk about replacing redis and memcache and hbase. Or our incredibly robust clustering algorithm.

    What happens? We end up with rambling statements without a point, confusing everyone, because they throw in the kitchen sink of buzzwords.

    Get specific in each resume, cast yourself as something they understand, and once you're in, they'll use you for more and more.

    ( One word though: you really do have to be an excellent generalist. I run into a lot of people who say they're generalists but know so little about any given thing that they're useless for everything. They hide behind the "generalist" label because they can't be bothered to learn any single thing. If that's you, nut up, pick one thing, and spend two months without a job learning the living daylights out of that thing, then present yourself as an expert, and win jobs at that. You think you're a problem solver? Solve the problem of getting a job as a...I dunno... high scale Python expert, android hacker, whatever you fancy. That's actually another key to the tech industry that people seem to forget, and gets lost in the comments of ageism. Most older techies start to feel entitled and don't learn new things. I was taught you need to spend 20% of your time always learning new languages & skills, otherwise you get stale. Thus I am an over employed late-forties techie.)

    1. Bronek Kozicki Silver badge

      Re: my old title: "Utility Infielder"

      I think all good IT folk enjoy solving problems, question whether they are "specialists" or "generalists" is just where these problems are. For me it is software design, its complexity, performance and "fit for purpose". For someone else it might be much broader area. The important pointy is not the area - it's enjoying it.

      If you enjoy the work you do, you will keep improving (includes learning new technologies) and you have carrier ahead of you. If you pick something you do not enjoy, any improvement will be very hard to achieve.

      1. Bronek Kozicki Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: my old title: "Utility Infielder"

        Note to self: as a punishment for spelling mistake, write "career" 100x times on a blackboard

  20. nrunge

    Public Sector Potential

    I don't know what lots of money is to you or what the cost of living is in your area but generalists are very common in public sector. Specifically in the EDU space I consider the money pretty good.

    That being stated "problem solver" is still just a toe in the door to carving out a technology set. For example I currently admin NetApp SAN, Cisco UCS, vSphere, Citrix, Active Directory...etc. I am not an expert by any stretch in any one of those.

    I can also say that in the K12 space that consultants do pretty well because the limited K12 budgets mean that they usually need a guy who can walk in the door and do everything from switch configuration to spyware removal.

    So my whole industry exists without having one person who only an Oracle DBA or Linux SysAdmin.

    I live in the Midwest and almost everyone on our team (4 sysadmins) is in the 68-80k range. Around here that is good money. Consultants can pull in over six figures.

    So I would say for certain that decent money can be made with a general skillset in public sector education.

    1. localzuk

      Re: Public Sector Potential

      Totally agree. IT generalists rule in the education space (not including further education - ie. University). Schools and districts cannot afford to hire in specialists but they still need enterprise class systems.

      Problem is, at least in the UK, pay is appalling. Looking at my own role, managing 300+ workstations, a fleet of printers, 25 virtual servers on an enterprise class server setup, a voip phone system, firewall, network switching and routing, school information system, and a plethora of specialist software systems, along with running bespoke inhouse software, plus line managing a technician also, and the £26k I get seems rather low. I could get more if I shopped around - probably up to £35k in an academy chain but that's about it.

      The other disadvantage is lack of continuing professional development and career progression. It isn't unheard of for a school's support staff training budget for a year (to cover all non-teachers) to be below £1000. Once you're the Network Manager, you're somewhat stuck - you'll more than likely not be able to enter the senior leadership team as you have no teaching experience too...

      Maybe I should be looking at the USA myself!!

      1. Terry 6 Silver badge

        Re: Public Sector Potential

        With cuts etc the job prospects may be getting tighter. More funding is being diverted to core budgets and away from the (actually essential) support roles.

        That includes both the IT guys and the educational support professionals.

        I was one of the latter, and as a manager worked closely with the former.

        I absolutely needed them to be generalists. A good understanding of how we and our schools worked with IT was far more important than a deep understanding of any one kind of device or programme.

        Problem solving and listening skills were what made the difference between good support and bad for us.

        When I left our IT guy had an MA in computer forensics. But his value was that he could hear our moans about quirky inetwork access or printers doing strange things and get us working again quickly.

        1. nrunge

          Re: Public Sector Potential

          You are correct that support jobs are becoming less plentiful. So beyond the technology set that I own I guess I could also say that I am a business analyst, project manager...etc.

          Our budgets definitely force us to opt for automation and self service but I don't think that is unique to the public sector.

          Overall i think that it is hard to make blanket statements about EDU IT opportunity simply because of the vast difference in funding models.

          Its definitely worth taking a look as long as you understand that there can be certain cultural challenges. I have watched a number of talented individuals frustrate themselves out of good jobs because they were constantly comparing everything to private sector.

          It takes a certain brand of crazy to actually enjoy working in the political climate sometimes!

  21. Don Jefe

    Act Appropriately Up To the Cxx Level...

    How do you know you can 'act appropriately up to the Cxx level'?

    I ask, because that's a really confusing thing to lead off a list of technical skills with. If you're reporting directly to Executive Management then you aren't an 'IT Generalist', you're an 'IT Operations Specialist' or 'Special Projects Specialist'. Your technical abilities will account for about 50% of your value and your communications abilities will account for the other 50%.

    You're going to be competing with lots of technically competent candidates, so unless you're phenomenally exceptional technically, you're going to get lots more traction if you focus on your communications and sell your value to potential employers in a way that directly communicates how you add value to the company. Most of your fellow candidates will be completely forgotten if you explain what you will add to the future of the company instead of going on about what you added to a previous company which obviously wasn't appreciated and/or valuable. Your job is the future, not the past, that's the same job the people who hire you have, so it's good to communicate on the same plane. Generalist isn't anywhere on that plane either.

    This next bit is good for more money, but reduces your prospects if a hands on, technical role is where you want to be. However, if a senior technical position where you'll be communicating directly with senior management is your goal it's the best way to get your chance to sell yourself.

    Identify your business specialty and/or industry and support that with your technical abilities. Everybody you're interacting with is going to have technical abilities. If you focus on those you're effectively setting up a competition between yourself and any other candidates with the same skills. Who has 'the best' or 'the most' among competing candidates isn't anything you can control and reducing variables is going to be the key that gets you the opportunity to justify your rate. Let the others fight out who is the last true COBOL expert on Earth, or whatever.

    While those guys are debating the merits of various query structures you get to walk in and get the job because you talked about how you excell at accelerating new business unit growth by creating an invisible, seamlessly integrated IT environment that delivers business services that 'just work' by focusing on the needs of the users and the demands of the business through technical excellence and communication. Or some shit like that (the above is an off the cuff garbage example, don't use that in practice. Be specific about what you do :).

    You're getting hired to serve the needs of others, it's on you to figure out how your technical skills best translate into meeting and exceeding those needs and communicating that in a way that's useful and, crucially, noticeable above all the noise. I'll give you a hint though, your skills are a statement of what you have, unless you're interviewing to be robbed the only thing that matters is what you are going to give to the future. Your skills are like a tool inventory, and worth fuck all by themselves. How you're going to use that inventory is all that matters.

    I got my big break when I was hiring myself out as a professional interim executive. Mostly for hedge funds who were 'realigning' (destroying) companies. They needed somebody to go in and determine what should be kept and amalgamated with other things, and what should he sold off. Then I had to turn whatever was left into a functional, money making, business. That's about as 'generalized' as you can get. I reorganized everything from small generic pharmacy products manufacturers to two firearms manufacturers, a laboratory equipment manufacturer and finally a network equipment manufacturer where I was offered a permanent role as COO where I was responsible for getting 31,000 employees organized for an IPO six years later and coming back later to help with the acquisition of that company.

    That's relevant here because at no point was a selling myself as a 'generalist'. If you're not a technical specialist that doesn't make you a 'geberalist' that makes you an, as yet, unlabeled business specialist. You just need to find, or create, a label that let's others know what you do. These days I'm running my own little specialty manufacturing business and I'm on the board of a VC firm in DC. I've got an enormous database of business specialists I call on to put inside our portfolio companies to ensure success. Many of their day rates are in $2k+ range and the reality is most of them are 'generalists', but there's nary a single 'generalist' search parameter in my database. The system is all business oriented and organized by business specialty.

    Your technical skills are nothing more than what you use in your specialty work. You need to define your business specialty. The career path and money you're looking for are there.

    1. Pete 2

      Re: Act Appropriately Up To the Cxx Level...

      When I "act appropriately at the Cxx level" it means a combination of things.

      First of all: suit and tie. Imperative. Plus it saves a lot of time. (A modest, tailored, skirt/jacket if you prefer) Instead of having to spend the first 20 minutes of any meeting establishing your credentials, being dressed for the part and having "a firm handshake, a certain look in the eye and an easy smile" means you have at least 30 seconds to tell them something they need to know, before their attention wavers or their phone rings.

      Second: listen.

      Third: listen some more. This is more a sign of showing respect. If you've prepared properly, you will already know what they will say to you.

      When you do speak, speak slowly. Use business terms (but never cliches you picked up from buzzword-bingo). Never, ever, make the person you're talking to feel stupid or insecure. Always explain everything - you don't get to be CxO by being stupid, so they pick stuff up quickly if it's in their interests to. So make it in their interests.

      Leave your phone behind or switch it off. The chances of the caller being more important that your audience is almost zero.

      Finally: know why you have gone into that meeting and know what you are going to ask for after you've made your pitch. The primary goal of the meeting is to tell them something to their advantage. Your goal is to get what you want. If you aren't asking for anything, there's no point being there. When you do ask, don't apply pressure - try to give them as much warning as you can (maybe a comment right at the start) and don't drop any surprises on them.

  22. Should b Working

    If you want the big bucks, then you'll probably need to specialise - otherwise you will be aiming for an IT Manager role in a small to medium organisation - and they don't come up that often.

    I'd look into IT consulting, talk to some of the larger companies that you've heard of, and ask them about what sort of career progression and training they can offer. Talking to people at trade expos is a good place to start, they usually happy to have someone drop by who actually wants to talk to them, even if you're not buying something.

    It sounds to me like your aiming for an Architect or Managing Consultant type role, but you need to prove your worth on the engineering or technical consulting rungs before you climb to the top. I don't think you'll still be wanting to dive in under desks in 10-15 years time, so now is the time to think about your options. You might need to specialise in the short term in order to get you that chance to be a well paid generalist in the medium term.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Find a good local consultancy to join

    I am sort of similar to you.

    I earn £100K a year which is decent money I think.

    I can pretty much do anything out there - from any technology, to team leading, project management, etc.

    It's been built up from 20 years experience, and a gift for picking up new technology and skills very quickly and within a month or so being in a position of 'expert' in any environment you put me in.

    For a consultancy this makes you very valuable. They know that whatever requirements come there way in the 1000s of different technologies I'll be able to do it.

    I have enough history is all sort of technology too, that usually the client has enough confidence after an interview that I will be the man for the job.

    So when a blue chip client comes to my consultancy looking for 'skills in XYZ' and the fact they can't find them anywhere. they can put me in front of them - I have skills in ABC, and CDE… in the same area as XYZ, and I can show from the sheer number of engagements enough information for them to have confidence in me picking up XYZ quicker than anyone they are likely to find.

    Any single company is not going to give you these opportunities, but on the other side, you need to be flexible working for a consutlancy- I pretty much live out of hotels working on clients sites.

    For example, I am currently working on a niche SOA technology. I knew nothing about this product when I joined the client at the start of last year. However the client could see my general SOA skills, and skills with other SOA technologies. They were persuaded to take me on for 3 months.

    I'm still there 14 months later, and now assure the technical quality of the SOA deliverables.

    Your strengths sound similar:

    - an ability to solve problems agnostic to technology/prodcts

    - a proven ability to be able to pick up (to expert level) any technology quicker than the majority of people.

    Find a local consultancy, and they will value these skills very highly.

  24. Mario Becroft
    Happy

    Dived into thread to say 'you took the words out of my mouth', fantastic to hear the question many of us are asking articulated, and the many deeply insightful replies.

    My problem is I am contracting, selling myself as IT work-for-hire to highest bidder, getting unlimited work and a middle-of-the-road income, but I am bored out of my mind; it's clear that I am way under-selling myself and could be delivering so much more as a consultant, if I could figure out how to do it.

    So far I feel Don Jefe's reply spoke to me most directly--thanks for that Don. I need to build my business skills--problem is I find the management world (in my industry/part of the world) ultra-competitive and toxic. I suppose being able to handle this gracefully is what distinguishes the men from the boys.

    I will be following this thread keenly. Thanks all who have constributed your heard-earned knowledge and experience.

  25. Carl W

    Tech PM at 75k+bens perm -- get yourself on a PRINCE2 or PMI course

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "get yourself on a PRINCE2 or PMI course"

      Prince 2 and then MSP are far better regarded in general that PMI. Which tends to be a legacy of outdated American companies. Also consider ITIL (same source as Prince 2 / MSP)

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Do what's fun

    As an IT generalist with a 43 year track record of solving "impossible" system problems life was usually interesting. However company structures now favour certification. It is not until there is a nasty system interaction problem that the specialists are found to be too narrow to diagnose it. The inclination of management afterwards is to offer the IT Generalist a promotion into a management or a consultant role - both usually the graveyard of technical expertise.

    Every time I had to fill in the "ambition" part of the annual staff review I would put "to stay at least as good as I am now with whatever changes come in the IT world".

    Don't expect big bucks though. That world disappeared about the same time that certification became the be all and end all of trumpeting how good the staff are.

    You do get to be involved in cutting edge things going wrong - without having to have slogged over the hurdles of a proscribed imprint^H^H^H training programme that closes the mind ...and that's fun.

    PS It also damages your long-term health and social life pulling chestnuts out of the fire when all the specialists and managers are tucked up cosy in their beds. ...but who wants a long boring life?

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why not testing? Approached the right way, you get to use a holistic skill set while remaining far more hands on than you do if you drift into project management. A good tester needs to quickly understand a system from top to bottom to understand where the risks are, and start digging where the bodies are most likely buried. Being able to quickly find the issues that matter, articulate them in appropriate language for both the dev side and the business side, and, even better, highlight potential issues during design and planning turns out to be a highly desirable skill set. Being able to quickly knock up a complex test network, code some automated integration tests, do some SQL queries, do some network analysis with wireshark through to getting code reviewed, merged in and deployed to production is all part of the job. In terms of consultancy, you can quickly get a reputation as a very useful person to have around.

    There is a specialist aspect in that you do need a slightly evil brain to be a good tester, and if you're working with anything GUI/front end based, you do need to have more empathy for end users than your average dev/sysadmin, but this is more about attitude than skills. While not for everyone, it's a specialism that the right sort of generalist can dive into and thrive. One word of warning, there's still a lot of old school 'write a detailed manual test script in excel, then brainlessly follow it' testing out there, especially in the corporate outsourcing world. You don't want that. No one wants that.

    1. ultimate_noob

      I have to agree with the idea of going the "Verification Engineer/SQA" road. In my area in the US, there are two major defense contractors in the area and no shortage of people looking for work: PMs, IT, Software Dev, you name it. What they seem to lack is a number of people lining up to do the verification. So I picked a job working for a "managed engineering services firm" which means contracts from a bunch of companies. In the seven years I've been with them, I've watched devs, IT guys and even managers come and go from both companies and even my own. What I haven't seen is anyone who's actually a good problem solver with a strong broad skill set disappear from my department. We get kinda catered to since people like that are hard to come by. Anyone can be taught to code to requirements, anyone can make a PowerPoint slide with help but it takes a very special mind to not only find issues in the design and code but understand when not to back down on getting those issues fixed. Real problem solvers are there to the end. If you can also train, get software installed, develop solutions and run the group, that also helps. I get decent benefits, fair pay--I'm only about 10% off of where I wanted to be for my age--and regularly changing work so I'm not bored (well, it's managed to tolerable levels). In all, going this road, I make enough money to pay for my house, my car, my kids and be comfortable all with the added bonus of not having to be in before 10am most days.

  28. Charles Manning

    Nitty gritty problem solver?

    C'mon, if you're a good problem solver you can also solve this career issue.

    First off, reflect on why sales people earn stupid money compared to their skills: they realise that they are selling themselves to the company. You must do that too.

    People don't buy skills, they buy VALUE. They want to see that if they hire you they will make more money. For that you need to be able to demonstrate achievements in a way that can be linked to money.

    "I designed X which allowed the company to use Y instead of Z. That saved the company $2million last year."

    If you say "I know a bit of C#", they throw you in the bucket with all the other people that know a bit of C# (whatever the hell that is).

    If you de-congested a project, then equate that to money. "I brought the project to market 3 months earlier. That earned the company $5M extra revenue."

    You need to learn to use numbers and words like revenue, saving, bottom line and less of the "I know a bit of C#".

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Nitty gritty problem solver?

      Then I must keep running into the numpties, because I've I used those magic words and have actually helped directly save multi-million dollar deals and smoothed the way on billion dollar mergers and they still only offer me fish and chips pay.

      Yes, I bathe regularly and dress nice. (once a day and slacks and button down shirts that aren't tattered and shoes polished)

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Service Delivery: Managing Outsourcers

    Look for a company who needs a generalist to help manage the service delivery of one or more of their outsourced providers.

    You will need to demonstrate communication and management skills, and sufficient technical ability to determine when an outsourcer is blowing smoke and work with/force them to correct their behavior before it becomes a problem.

  30. DougS Silver badge

    Specialization is the way to higher pay

    It has always been this way. If you're one of only 10 people in the country qualified to a particularly narrow IT field, you can pull down $300-$500/hr as a contractor. I know a couple guys like this.

    The risk is, if things change and that specialization is no longer relevant, your pay can quickly drop to zero. What's the difference between someone who specialized in a niche for SAP back in the 90s, versus a guy who specialized in a similar niche for Baan? One is still making bank, the other is probably struggling if he hasn't moved on.

    Being a generalist is fine, but you need to have at least one niche you can point to as a specialty. If you want to do project management or architecture you can start in that specialty, and your generalist skills will allow you to break you to managing the whole project or as a chief architect, where someone who is truly just a specialist will not. I'm a true generalist with a couple specialties, and I parlayed that into architecture roles in that specialty and then to chief architect roles where my generalist knowledge has been invaluable. Someone who worried only about their specialty wouldn't have a prayer of success doing what I do.

    The other way to go is to get hired on by a small company as "their IT guy", or contract to several even smaller companies as "their IT guy". If you're fine with doing the grunt work like running cable or installing a new PC, your generalist skills will come in handy and you can maybe sell them on the idea of giving you a bonus based on a the percentage of the reduction in "added cost" IT expenses they avoid because you can do everything (i.e. not having to have some company run cable, another company configure your new firewall device, another company migrate your storage when you buy a new RAID)

  31. ewozza
    Go

    Be a specialist in a lot of things

    You're not a generalist - you're a polymath specialist. Anyone who can learn C# in 2 days, well enough to spot the mistakes, is already good enough to add value to a C# project, and would be a tremendous asset to any IT project.

    Obtaining recognition for this ability is just a matter of demonstrating your value to your potential clients.

    Before starting my own app business in 2012, I was an IT contractor in London, working the merchant banking circuit. I never had trouble landing the highest paid contracts, despite the fact each role was significantly different to the previous role.

    The reason - I never present myself as a generalist, I presented myself as a specialist with a broad range of skills.

    When pitching to a client, I work out what they want, and list recent occasions on which I used the skills they require. If I don't have that exact skill, I try to demonstrate the relevance of a similar skill.

    When I wanted to move into C++, I was straight up - I said "I don't have a lot of commercial C++ experience, but I've been working hard to learn it. I'm hoping my skills will be useful to you"

    Obviously this was a challenge to ask a lot of difficult questions - but I passed.

    When interviewing once for Microsoft, they got so desperate to find a question I couldn't answer, they started asking about internal details of SQL Server. I said "come on guys, I haven't seen the sourcecode". I got that contract as well.

    Be positive about your approach. Nobody has the exact skills clients need. But you can demonstrate that you will add value to their project, by being confident, by demonstrating your relevant experience, and by demonstrating how you have handled learning new skills in the past.

    Eric Worrall (click the link if you want to ask me more questions offline).

  32. Jay Zelos

    Most of the roles I've seen tend towards one of either, developer, db admin, systems admin or network admin. (systems being servers, no one ever mentions desktops).

    At the coalface this is fine, probably a good idea since the skills are so in depth these days. However someone needs to tell all these folk how it all links together and this is where the architect role comes in. It's typically more design and emergency problem solving than operational day to day stuff, great fun, varied and rewarding.

    I performed that role for a government agency for a few years with fair bit of project management thrown in as well. The pay was terrible and recognition less than ideal at the very top, but since leaving for the private sector I've found my skill set in huge demand. Typically after I've taken a job as a developer (my primary skill of choice) my other abilities and knowledge get me moved onto urgent projects that are behind and in need of expert assistance. I then get asked to help out with planning and design to stop the same situation arising again. I'm currently in my second stint with my current UK based employer precisely because this employer valued those skills and was willing to chase me down and offer the rewards they deserve. Its a hard sell, but once you're in a company, all your skills will get noticed and promoted as long as you volunteer and get stuck in. It may take some time to find the right placement, but it will happen.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's a very tough sell.

    Most of the elite IT people I have met over my 3 decades have come from a hobby / general interest and hence generalist IT background.

    Most the the over paid paperweights (Management excluded) have come from pigeon holed techs who have badges up to their arm pits but haven't bothered to peer around the corner their coop and think ten years doing one thing one way for globalmega corp is worth real money in the real world.

    If you are passionate about IT it is important you stick with what you enjoy - if you get enjoyment from being able to find solutions to dead ends other people have created then something like product development within a consultancy (sound daft by name) could be great for you.

    I bailed about 10 years ago and started my own consultancy looking at predominantly financial, but basically any SMB holistic solutions as well as more 'fancy' stuff for larger organisations. We all daily do 'fun' stuff like server roll outs, automation, firewall builds and pen testing - but I also ensure even seniors (myself included) answer the phone and do our fair share of 'have you rebooted it', 'change language to GB', 'Is there a disk in the drive' and so on and so forth. Keeping up to date with how a receptionist works is just as important as keeping up to date with the IOPS and latency readings on a SAN - IMVHO.

    Like you, I (well, we, now) have a massive skill set which pretty much makes keeping qualifications up to scratch impossible - but that doesn't mean I don't do training or spend most waking spare time reading white papers and best practice guides. Knowing where to find information - having an aptitude for what that means with regards to business and systems analysis and not being scared to ask for (or pay for) expert help when the times comes is only second to being able to confidently delegate whilst maintaining ownership.

    The latter is very hard - on all levels, but if you are going to earn cash and enjoy yourself, it is a skill you have to master above all others.

    And don't feel superior, angry or smug (well maybe in little bits) just because from time to time you still get to flex your generalist skills - I recently introduced a 30 year old 170k virtualisation specialist to the wonders of tokens in batch files, when bash and cygwin were not viable.

    If you choose to go it alone, be prepared for a few years of being poor and scared.

    You sound like the good sort, and perhaps the sort to get hired by a properly good consultancy who care about their clients and not just reselling whatever gives them the best margins, lock in and easy income. But to make proper money you would obviously need to get a directorship, ideally.

  34. DesktopGuy

    Work for yourself - be in charge of your own destiny.

    Specialisation does bring in more income.

    In my case, it is not skill set specialisation, but industry specialisation.

    90% of my work is with creative industries - design, advertising, publishing, video, photography.

    Like anything else you need to adapt and specialisation can make you harder to employ if your field/industry takes a downturn.

    Originally I worked solely in publishing fields as I have a trade background and know the workflows involved, the industry lingo and key industry players.

    The entire publishing industry has taken a massive hit in the last few years so I diversified into video and also do some work with non-profits (to scrub my soul clean!!)

    I am seeing a big downturn in photography over the last few months so will probably need to adapt again.

    As a side not, I am often brought into large companies as a consultant and more often than not, come to the same conclusions for workflow/processes as the internal IT, but when someone from outside recommends something, its like - WOW why didn't our guys recommend that (roll eyes).

    Lastly, it may sound counter intuitive, but don't cast your net too wide.

    Pick clients that match your skill sets and set realistic expectations - if the arrangement isn't working out, recommend them to a colleague/competitor and get out without souring the relationship.

  35. Mikel

    Making other people rich

    Most people don't get this, but the reason why people pay you money for your work is that they turn a profit on it. As soon as you can, look into working for yourself. I guarantee your boss will be the biggest ass, the most demanding jerk you have ever worked for - but you get to keep the money.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Making other people rich

      The alternative is to change employers frequently. Once you work for one employer for while then you will find your pay is dropping behind that of new people of lesser ability/experience. You can also usually rejoin your old company after about a year - when they are happy to pay market value for you.

      An enlightened boss decided to do a market survey of pay for the long-serving members of the team - with a view to guarding against losing their skills. He was horrified to find that they would command about double - and HR would only allow him to pay a 10% rise for "retention". He was fortunate that they enjoyed working for the company. Fancy job titles and money per se were not their motivation.

  36. DainB Bronze badge

    IT Generalist

    n.

    Person who thinks that he knows more than 5 separate IT Specialists and confident that he can easily replace all of them but somehow gets paid less then each of them. Successful if confined to lower management roles and not allowed to touch anything at all.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      IT Generalist

      n

      Person who actually sees the global picture, thus allowing 5 (or less) separate IT specialists to cut time faffing about trying to figure out what each other is saying.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      A decent IT Generalist knows they don't know everything. However - they expect the specialists to be able to answer in-depth questions about their specialism. The generalist is the interface - communicating and translating between the specialists - each with their own terminology. The generalist sees the bigger picture - and has the ability to find the pieces of the jigsaw.

      Specialists these days are often quite shallow in their knowledge in their specialist area. They tend to assume that the lower layers on which they depend are perfect and have no contextual constraints.

      In this respect "Architects" are often merely another set of certificated specialists. They have been taught how to design systems according to set recipes. They often do not understand the basics of computing or networking that would enable them to produce innovative solutions specific to a customer's needs.

      1. DainB Bronze badge

        "The generalist is the interface"

        Interface here is speech, not a person. Get 5 specialists into one room and you'll see they easily figure out solution using their cross-discipline skills without anyone else required.

        What OP is a Jack of all trades in IT. Master of none.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          >What OP is a Jack of all trades in IT. Master of none.

          I think you're totally right but you're only going to get a stream of down votes.

          You have to consider that a lot of register readers only have basic skills but think that they are the cutting edge in "IT". I dare say many people here need to have this illusion of "specialists need normal guys like us to act as middle man to integrate them with the rest of the company" to keep their job that could otherwise be outsourced to a generic Indian or Chinese offshore worker.

          What is my basis for this opinion you ask... look at articles like the recent one about IoT requiring IPv6 adoption to survive. So many posters had arguments like "I'm a network administrator, I don't want to type or learn how new things work so IPv6 is bad". Discussion of the technical issues was non-existent. Any post about some recently discovered bug in Linux or other large open source project has comments that are >3/4 "hah, told you Windows is the bestest!".

          I'm not saying we don't need jack of all trades. Companies need desktop support etc.. but a guy that knows "a bit of Java" or something that tries to get in the middle of technical discussion is beyond annoying. The OP wrote something like "I don't know C# really, but I learned enough to look at some outsourced code and tell my boss is was bad". The code could have been bad or the OP didn't have the experience required to know why it was how it was. With limited insight it's very easy to imagine that everything should be intuitive and clean but in the real world that's not the case. It doubt it matters for an offshore guy but if I had just worked my balls off on something really difficult and it looked like a dog's breakfast because of all the edge cases involved and some guy that would spend most of their time replacing mouse balls if they weren't all optical now started trying to inject their uninformed opinion via their boss etc I wouldn't be best pleased.

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Architect

    Earlier in the thread someone suggested the architect route. TOGAF seems to be the must have certification for this week (sigh). But if you can learn a bit of nay of the main methods (e.g. Zachman) and show how your previous projects aligned to it then that may well be enough. The big consultancies will put you through a case study / role play scenario as part of recruitment so impressing on the day counts for a lot.

    There's also good money to be made as a technical PM: the key problem there is that you are not really in charge of the solution - but making sure that it goes in as designed. And you will be measured solely on delivering on time etc. But having the nous to spot when it's going to go pear shaped and know what to do to fix it early is very valuable.

    The main thing to note, IMHO: the very nature of your question suggests that you are not yet 'branding' yourself as architect or PM or whatever role you think you can do and which pays better. So you need to review your previous 2 - 5 years' work and see how you can portray it in the terms of the role you are going for: identify (i.e. be clear in your own mind) what was consultancy to CxO level; what was project management; what was mentoring staff; what was managing teams; what was managing third-party suppliers etc. Then when you prepare a CV, or answer interview questions, you can quickly highlight the right bit of your experience - and if you don't have it exactly you can say so quickly and honestly, but perhaps point to a project where you worked closely with the person who did do that role, so you've seen it done etc.

  38. dan1980

    It's a sad fact of life that you sometimes you have to choose between doing what you love and getting paid more.

    If the idea of specialising is really not what you want and would not give you job satisfaction then perhaps that's just something you have to accept.

    There are so many choices in life and this is one of them. But even then, those aren't your only options. You can work towards a stronger management position or start your own firm, as many in your position have. But, again, perhaps those options don't appeal to you.

    There is great value for companies in having a technical project manager who has enough breadth to see the big picture and make sure the end result is achieved but with enough specialised knowledge to make sure that the details are in order. Those kind of roles, however, are management roles. If you find the right fit of company then you can get a respectable salary and it can be a really fulfilling position because you get to see a project unfold under your direction, knowing that you actually earned the credit you recieve for it! (Unlike some project managers I've known who have next to no clue. Employing people who know what they're talking about it very important but it's just as important to know when you're not being told what you need to know!)

    I suppose the question is, what's wrong with getting an average wage? Sure it's nice to get 'the big bucks' but it's up to you if you're willing to do a job you don't enjoy to get them!

  39. gr00001000

    Business with I.T

    Companies do like staff who align their skills with the company products. IT software firms, ISPs, Telecoms, IT Health products, product product product.

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Married or Single? Willing to travel? Ambitious? Confident?

    You may be approaching this all the wrong way. Most companies are run by donkeys who hire donkeys, the pay is crap and the smart money goes to a select few... Think about that for a moment... Finding work is intimidating, but once you have a job, how quickly do you outgrow your job? Be honest with yourself about that..

    If you're better than most of the other techs around you after 6 months, then stop underselling yourself even if you are a generalist! It doesn't matter anyway, the crucial question is this: Are you working in an important area or an important project? If not, then why not?

    Your work hunt attitude comes across as slightly vulnerable, so for starters be mindful of this and purge any quiet defensiveness and don't give off the vibes of the guy whose desperate for a date. Confidence is everything! For starters stop apologizing like someone singing badly at karaoke and tell us what your goals are, what your dreams are, and keep it practical by way of including a salary / contract range and desired positions, for now and in 5 years etc?

    You sound conscientious, the type of guy that will deliver on crucial projects, so try to leverage that. I would actively seek out recruiters struggling to find staff for distressed projects, but only accept those with attractive payouts and seniority. Once you succeed at this a couple of times, no one will ever question your weak points again and they'll see the battle scars. Why? Because when you talk about succeeding in difficult scenarios you take on a whole other persona that is quite powerful in selling yourself without actually selling yourself or selling out etc. So come across as person who delivers. Full stop! ... Because that's what this IT game is about really.

    IT is such a shit-hole career now. On a personal note I've stayed in contracting most of my life and tried to avoid those gigs that might be a nest of vipers. Instead I set my sights on tax-free havens such as HK, Dubai, Bermuda. Sometimes I won these, sometimes I didn't like anything else in life. But I kept my high standards regardless. To survive I needed a decent float, at least one or two lucrative earners every couple of years where I could bank it all. Keeping the float intact was surprisingly easy as I was just too busy to blow it all... But here's an Important caveat. I only managed to do this because I wasn't married and was mostly unattached during high income years... Otherwise I've have gotten more than a few P45's in my relationship Christmas stocking!

    One last option that some seek out or like me accidentally fell into, is to work for trading shops. But this business is changing so fast its hard to know where the hot areas are right now. After the meltdown hedge funds, LBOs and M&A and HFT shops were the places to go for techs, but I'm not sure anymore. Bloomberg write articles about this from time to time so look under 'view'. But be wary accepting gigs at any of the big banks. If you work there you probably won't even make it to the middle or back office never mind the front desk. Overall, its not very nice work either, but early retirement is definitely on the cards... Strong math is a mega-advantage, but the ability to communicate highly technical ideas to distracted traders in a fast, fun and humorous way gets you noticed!

    But mostly, good luck!

  41. Levente Szileszky

    Sounds like an IT Project Manager or Operations Manager...

    ...to me, perhaps a better-paid Systems Administrator - seriously, just go for IT Project Manager or Operations Manager.

    However regardless of what some people say here do NOT try to sell yourself as an Architect in any of the segments unless you DO have a *real* in-depth knowledge of the solutions out there - eg ask yourself: tomorrow, based on customer requests, can you scope out, design, propose with deadlines then successfully build & deploy clustered setup within your proposed time frame, including storage & servers & networking with all the latest ins and outs, write and implement policies etc as well? If your answer is no/not really then you better stay out of architecture design until you gain enough experience so you can build a strong reputation later - because though it's true that there are plenty of snake oil architects out there but credibility is everything, you can only blow it once with every client and bad rep travels faster than wind...

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Depressing to say the least!

    We all have the same challenge in IT - simply put, contantly having to justify our existence! The "system" is designed to keep prices pushed down - most larger companies hire external consultants / resources through their very stringent and often limited procurement processes (basically ordering people resources like they order office furniture!) - they prioritze on price more than quality & competence - and often have very aggressive terms and conditions (like 90 day payment terms!)

    Also, these days - most companies insist on "all-inclusive" rates which mean us consultants have to pay the overhead of doing business with them. On top of that, there are the middle companies involved (recruiters, brokers, service delivery & outsourcers) which sqeeze the prices down adding their markups on top.

    What always baffled me - is that most organizations today don't blink an eye when spending literally millions on hardware and software, but when it comes to competence & skills, they cut corners evrey which way (outsourcing, offshoring, etc.) - Unfortunately, Technology is simply a tool (a very powerful one at that!) and is most effective when it is in the "right" hands.

    It is very challenging these days to push through the "chatter" on the open market and promote ones skills properly - nobody has the time or the patience to read through CVs properly anymore - especially when they receive 300 responses to their mostly generic job descriptions posted on the internet (and on less than 3% of those are actually quaslified candidates!) - sad really.

    The more diverse your skill set is, the more difficult it is to promote and sell. You not only have to convince initially the recruiter, then the procurment department - then finally the decision making hiring manager (if you get that far) - that you really have the skills they seek - above and beyond the paper tiger you call a CV or Resume.

    The key to success is to stay focused and keep up to date in a few areas of "expertise" of your liking (ie: security, architecture, project management or specific industry experience) - and learn to promote yourself - selling your skills goes far beyond just having a resume these days.

    Hope this helps - (don't want to paint the picture all black, just a dose of reality)

    Cheers -

  43. GoNoGo

    Get paid for doing multiple roles

    In my case, I perform the duties of a facilities manager, electrical engineer, participate in server room design and build, set up servers, network equipment, understand databases, software development cycles and a few other things which are known to be critical for company operations. Basically, I do the job of several people and have presented myself as a "do more with less solution" to the company. After 20 years in the business it gets easier to do. Oh, and by the way, make sure you understand what are the cost centers and profit centers in the company. Ensure that the profit centers can vouch for you in times of need.

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Google, Hardware Operations (yes, really)

    Full disclosure, I work for Google. Hardware Operations is always specifically looking for generalists and boy are good ones hard to find in a world that emphasizes specialists!

    Have a look at the jobs site:

    http://www.google.com/about/careers/teams/ops-support/data-center/

    And an example of a specific job posting (just one of many countries);

    https://www.google.com/about/careers/search/#!t=jo&jid=726002&

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Google, Hardware Operations (yes, really)

      Great recommendation! I've bookmarked it and already sent in several applications!

      Thanks for the info!

      Upvoted!

  45. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Interesting read here. I am a Generalist too. I do enjoy being a generalist, I get to do what I want within reason for about 30-40% of the time I am at work. I am not sure my managers are aware of this, but everything is running smoothly and I don't have much else to do half the time. I have learned a great deal of things over the last few years, vmware, citrix, bits of SQL and oracle, AD, exchange ect, but it is all in a test environment since I build environments for developers and case resolution. Nothing is actually proper production environment.

    I have applied for another job paying way more for probably less skills, but I might learn a bit more about networking and it is closer to where I live. I am at the point now when I think I should start to specialist. My career goal is to be an system architect of some sort, but right now in my early 30's I want more money :)

  46. darthsteve

    science generalist

    I'm in the same boat in biology. I can do some molecular biology work, but also mathematical modelling and simulation.

    At the moment I work well at interfacing projects, aligning experimental teams with increasing requirements of data scientists and mathematical modellers. I'm at the technical level however and never moved into any kind of people or project management and now I'm being made redundant.

    The job market favours the specialist who can parachute in, do a particular niche job, and parachute out when the contract ends. I read things like "Average is over" and worry that the generalist is over. It seems like only those that are able to see "the next big thing" and jump on that key skill can retain employability, but how many times do you have to do this? And how long can you keep re-training for before you're too old to be constantly rebooting? I'm in my mid 30's now and have had 6 jobs since my degree, returned to university for a doctorate, and again rebooting. Is it normal to be constantly moving on in today's job market? I don't think it's a bad thing, but it's certainly a frustrating thing.

    Regarding the question posed for this thread, I would say that the generalist is a dead man walking. Specialise, then specialise again, and again, and again...

  47. Erik4872

    PM? Not if you actually like doing the work

    You mention your generalist status as something that prevents you from getting work. And in a "traditional" company I'd say you're right. However, why not seek out a company that needs your kind of skills? You have lots of strengths as a generalist -- I can't believe how many people I know and work with who have been pigeonholed into an extremely specific job function at a large company. True IT generalists, defined as people who are flexible enough to learn new things fast, are sought after, but unfortunately the flashy "SAP genius" or "Oracle performance tuning rockstar" gets all the glory in most companies. This is because most companies don't do IT as their main business...they prefer to bring in the rockstars as needed, so they advertise for them.

    IT services companies love people like us. Well, maybe not "love," but they do staff most projects with a couple good people to offset the wastes of oxygen that the customer sees. My employer values my skillset and that of our group because we are the sorts of people who will dig into a system and figure out what's what, regardless of whose job it's supposed to be. I've been with my current employer for almost 10 years (I even left and came back!) and my job has never been the same for more than a few months. Since I'm the kind of person who likes to get involved with everything, I get assigned challenging work and it's always different. My experience over my career has been that you really can't learn everything about all aspects of technology, but you _can_ work on one aspect, do a project or two with it, move on, then come back later. I've done this with Citrix, working on 3 different versions of the product, and jumping to something else when the time came. Being a generalist, and knowing enough concepts and fundamentals makes it easy to pick up new stuff. I'm currently fixing a horribly broken implementation of CA's client management tools for a customer, and it's clear that these tools are so poorly documented that they could generate several full time jobs' worth of effort to maintain them. Specialists would relish this, because they could just implement the same tricks over and over again once they learned them (cough SAP cough). The problem is that being a specialist could mean you're stuck when the product isn't useful anymore, and you don't have the flexibility to adapt.

    Some people are suggesting PM work. I strongly recommend against that if you actually want to keep doing technical work. PMs, although incredibly important, are glorified secretaries that beat you over the head with Gantt charts. You just boss around the people doing the work, and don't do anything yourself. I would say you should find a consultancy / IT services firm (preferably small to mid sized) and sell yourself as a flexible fast learner. Just because the SAP guys are billing $300+ an hour doesn't mean you can't make a decent living doing more interesting stuff. Bonus points for you if you can actually talk to the execs in their language.

  48. OzBob

    In response to your question

    "Yes"

    [Ding!]

    Next patient, please!

    1. Vic

      Re: In response to your question

      [Ding!]

      Next patient, please!

      Send in another victim

      Of Industrial Disease!

      Vic.

  49. Christian Berger Silver badge

    So what _can_ you do?

    I'm sorry, but you are really not selling yourself well here. From what it reads like, you can barely program.

    If you want a high paying technical job, you need to be able to quickly learn about new things. To be able to do that you need to already have some knowledge about the world outside. There's plenty of people able to install Exchange, but those will likely be outsourced as running Exchange yourself provides little advantage over some cloud service.

    1. the spectacularly refined chap

      Re: So what _can_ you do?

      I'm sorry, but you are really not selling yourself well here. From what it reads like, you can barely program.

      I first read this on Friday and I was thinking pretty much the same thing. There's plenty of soft claims here but very little demonstrable, and things like that C# remark don't impress me but give me immediate cause for concern. What was this mistake? How did you know it was a mistake and not something that was simply incomplete? Is it possible things had been arranged like that for a reason.

      Of course you are not going to post your entire CV here but I want to see evidence. Qualifications, certificates? Work history? Saying you can program in twenty different languages with nothing to back that up will get your CV deleted with no further thought. Two or three and you might have bought yourself a few more seconds consideration. Then I might start asking for evidence.

      So you can program? Where's the two years experience as a programmer - no your degree doesn't count, but I'll accept a 10,000 line hobby project as alternate evidence. That takes a hell of a lot longer than two days to compose but anything less and you're not properly seasoned.

      As it stands based on the limited information available I doubt I'd consider you even for a junior position. Instinctively you sound to me not as a generalist but as a pre-specialist, and trust me there is never any shortage of those applying for pretty much any job we advertise. That is to say you've got a minimal broad-brush knowledge and think you know the business when in reality you've yet to learn how much more you need to learn. The true generalists I know generally went through a specialist period, gaining advanced skills in one area and the ability to demonstrate them in a concrete manner, before slowly branching out again after they had gained a little mid-level experience.

      Yes, I know my tone sounds harsh but it is reality. I focus you in to two basic options: Firstly take a graduate recruitment programme for one of the multinationals if you are eligible for those. Those will preserve you generality to at least some degree but you may not have as much choice in your initial career path as you would like. The second is to find a specialism and focus on that for two or three years. Once you have a concrete skill under your belt employers are more willing you invest in you, expanding your skill base into additional areas and allowing you to branch out into a more general role.

      1. Getriebe

        Re: So what _can_ you do?

        I back up what the spectacularly refined chap says. Any CV has to have solid evidence of what you have achieved or done - must explain responsibilities and have numerical evidence. A list of things you know is useless

        HR reject CVs if there is no sign of achievement before they send them to me as they know they will be binned.

  50. Pete 2

    Bridge the gap

    There is an almighty gap between management and technical staff. In large companies the rift can be so big that the two camps have little in the way of communication, no trust or even a basic understanding of what the other guys do.

    That's where you come in. As someone with a foot on either side of the divide, you can act as a translator between tech-speak and management-speak, arbitrate technical requirements that are clearly impractical, explain management strategies that appear nonsensical and be each side's "trusted friend and ally" in the common battle to get stuff done.

    One day you might be explaining in business terms to the CIO why he/she/it needs to spend £100k on a new storage array and the next you could be telling the developers why their pet project is doomed to fail and they need to focus on testing the new products instead.

    The big problem is that most companies have their heads inserted so far ... , that they can't recognise the need for such a person as yourself. Both sides are firmly convinced that they are right, if only "those idiots could see what we are doing" and neither side has any respect for the other's point of view. You need an "in" which would probably only come from a (social) networking contact, rather than through an agency - which would be blind to this sort of role. You also need a direct (if "dotted") line to a C-level person, so I suggest you take up golf, too.

    As for a job title: Recto-Cranial Removal Specialist might work.

  51. ukgnome

    Reputation

    It's a difficult one, but I found doing the contractor rounds very good for building my reputation. What's that company X, can I sort out your Citrix gateway?......Yeah of course I can.....and hope for the best.

    Because of this foolhardy way I have applied myself I have found that I often get (got) contracts that were a bit above my mixed skill set. Although I have for the past two years started a full time in-house role. I don't get as much cash, but at least I know I can feed my family and stuff. I guess it's about money, and how much you want.

  52. Jim 59

    Generalist

    Project management is a strong possibility. Or if you prefer to remain hands-on, seek work in a specific area and obtain specialist knowledge, rather than pure IT. Eg work for a silicon chip manufacturer on their CAD systems, or a mobile phone company and get skills in mobile telephony, or work for a car company and move toward engine management or whatever they do. The nearer you get to pure IT, the lower the salaries are.

    Of the many skills you mention, your networking knowledge is likely to be most profitable. Choose a job that focusses on that area.

    Cheers.

  53. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Man, there has been some good advice on this forum.

    As a fifty-something specialist/generalist myself, I fully appreciate how difficult it is navigating through a hiring economy obsessed with automated CV filtering, bullet lists and spotted unicorn recruitment.

    But first, let me applaud some highly relevant material:

    1) Thanks to ewozza who said you should present yourself as a specialist with a broad range of skills. DONE

    2) Thanks to Don Jefe and others who said be true to yourself and find the kind of jobs you love to do.

    YES !

    3) Thanks to Pete 2 for providing a snazzy new skill-set to put on the resume.

    MAYBE NOT! BUT I LOVED IT!

    And although a bit off topic (well not really) read this article. It explores the differences between knowlege, wisdom and insight (experience is missing, but I couldn't find that link):

    http://www.lifehack.org/articles/communication/what-are-the-differences-between-knowledge-wisdom-and-insight.html

    To apply a fairly simple example:

    Knowledge is knowing what TCP-IP and the OSI layers actually are

    Experience is spotting and replacing the frayed network cable that is helping pollute the network.

    Wisdom is understanding how that frayed cable is just one small part of bigger problems in the client's infrastructure.

    Insight is being able to succesfully design, recommend, market and sell a new network architecture and solution to C-level management.

    All of the above resources are needed in our industry but some are very scarce. Figure out which one(s) the employer/customer needs and then pitch it. People with solid, broad generalized knowledge and lots of experience tend to rate highly on the wisdom / insight scale.

    With 5000+ IT specialities out there, no one person can even list them all (let alone master them!). But anyone with hard-won experience, some balls and unafraid of hard work can hack through the jungle and find a job, even if it sucks sometimes.

    Meeting the right people, marketing yourself and convincing contacts that you will provide better results than unicorn hunters and their recently hired unicorns is important. Remember that unicorn herding (PM or other technical management) is another useful skill, often overlooked.

    You really need to go out there and sell yourself as a problem solver (not as a potential problem) and remember that YOU will have to make it happen. Mainstream hiring systems are broken and beyond all hope of repair. You must bypass them and find the people who are actually seeking value, as opposed to a risk-free existence.

    Good luck!

  54. Vic

    I suspect the problem is not in your skillset, but in how you are selling it...

    There's an old adage "A wise man knows what he does not know". Given the size of our industry these days, we're all specialists of some sort - one man simply can't hold much information about everything.

    So when someone claims to be a generalist, that tends to come across as someone who hasn't yet realised just how much there is to know - and that's the point you are politely shown the exit.

    My advice would be to do some head-scratching and work out where your forte really is - go through your last few jobs and write down five achievements and five responsibilities you had for each. Now look for correlation between them - and there's your speciality. That's what you do.

    Sell that skill, then when asked if you have anything else, come up with a few bonus skills - that makes you look like a specialist who has read around the subject, rather than someone who hasn't bothered to learn anything properly. But the skillset you're selling is exactly the same...

    Vic.

  55. 0laf Silver badge

    Information Security for you.

    That was me. Have done programming, networking, support, web design, databases and lots of other odd things. Never to a degree to become an expert and never with any certs since no one pays the generalist to become a specialist.

    Like you I've very good at problems solving and leading the experts, who can be blinkered, to come to good solutions.

    I fell into Information Security / Information Assurance 10yr ago and it's a good fit for someone who knows a bit about everything and can learn about anything quickly. You need to be generally aware because the problems come from all angles on all subjects yet you can never be an expert in them all.

    Not a lot of money until you have experience but if you can get CISSP or CLAS then plenty of well paid consultancy.

    You might want to bone up on ISO27000, CISSP domains, PCI DSS, BASIL2, PSN.

  56. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    You sound like a Solution Architect to me; you just don't know it. Look at job specs for SA roles and see whether with a little re-writing of your CV, it could be applicable to the role. Most SA work is between the techies and the business; understand enough of the problem and enough of the potential solutions to marry them up. Many SA roles are more like technical PM. All the co-ordination activities without the hideous tedium of maintaining an MS Project file.

  57. Getriebe

    Money and people

    " I can behave appropriately up to Cxx level both internally and with clients, and I'm happy to crawl under a desk to plug in network cables"

    Can't do both. If you have the mind that lets you talk to a CEO of some multi-million turnover company you will not delight in scrubbing under a desk.

    I am a waster of a manager with a magnificent superiority complex that most of you think you would hate. I also wheel my salary home in a wheelbarrow.

    How come? - money and people. The two most difficult items to handle in any project It, bringing a car engine to market, or designing a thing. All of which I have done or been associated with.

    If you can summarize a complex problem in the terms of your audience, relate it to their wants and also provide ££ based choices you can talk to a CEx, but those features are the opposite of sitting down trying to fix a buggy program.

    I know enough about JSON, C#, IP routing, database design and so on that I can have a decent discussion with the people perpetrating the work, but more importantly I can translate that into something that people way above me or at a customer can understand just enough for them to make a decision which mostly I have made for them.

    If you can't do that, stick to some aspect of computing but be fucking good at what you do - the best in your group. I do not employ generalists, only people highly skilled in their own area, but they can also communicate to their peers. They form ad hoc teams to build systems and solve problems, but unless you are damn good you can't do the work fast enough.

  58. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Similar Boat

    Sounds like i'm in a similar boat to the OP. I've been a sysadmin for 3 years but now i'm sodding it off to go study Mechanical Engineering instead.

  59. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Keep an eye out for specialized roles that you can fill. Because you are a generalist, you will be able to apply to many of these types of positions.

    One anecdote here: I had been playing with OpenStack for awhile at a previous job. I decided to try moving on due to some nasty internal politics. One of the interviews I got due to OpenStack was at a company that was a big EMC shop and a key qualifying factor was EMC experience. I had played around with a CX300 enough to be able to put it on my resume but I was certainly no guru (and told all the interviewers as much).

    After a couple weeks of interviews I got the job which was a 50% increase in salary -- but the role ended up being a NetApp storage architect.

    So my advice is to be flexible and tailor your resume to the particular position you are applying for. Many of these "specialist" positions are hard to fill so you have more of a shot than you think.

  60. Bene Pendentes

    Very many thanks!

    I knew you folks wouldn't let me down! One of you suggested that if I really thought about it I'd know what to do - indeed, I did! I'm a long time resident of El Reg, and familiar with the wisdom of the commentarderate, so I created a new account, made a few posts to qualify as a topic starter (no anons allowed, apparently) and here we are. A most useful and entertaining thread, and I thank you all.

    I'm not currently low paid at the moment - my compo is probably not far from $100k (not that it goes far in the UK) - but I work for one of those companies whose 'transformation' is just a synonym for making the old guard redundant and filling the ranks with offshore noobs, many of whom are not all that great, as we are too cheap to pay for any of the many offshore guys and girls who are any good.

    The impending ax, and the low pay of the apparently available jobs, is what made me ask the question - do I have to go for a low pay role and start working my way back up again, or could I somehow transfer my own experience which, as you can see, is fairly unspecific - and definitely uncertified - to a rewarding role without taking a big pay cut?

    Project management has been confirmed to me as an option, though I think the Scrum Master roles look like a more interesting approach here, I will look further into agile certification, many thanks to those of you who have opened my eyes to this path.

    Perhaps, as some of you very kindly suggested, I am underselling myself; I just don't feel comfortable about saying, as one of you did, "I know a LOT about everything". It's one thing when your own managers or sales team introduce you to the client as "the smartest person in the room" - and it's nice when colleagues invent vaguely flattering nicknames. But I just cannot bring myself to really, well, I would call it bragging. And it's not completely fair, either. For instance, in terms of claiming credit for things I have done, these are almost all as part of a team. I'm pretty sure my team would have figured out why an FTP transfer mysteriously stopped working when they switched on encryption - but it was me who first realized an intervening smart firewall was no longer able to snoop on the PORT command. How much time / money have I saved over several such instances? I really can't say.

    I was once client-facing technical lead on a team on a major production performance problem for a moderately well known financial institution. When we fixed it (which included a major fix to another vendor's well known architectural platform) the head of the division bought us all a bottle of very expensive single malt, and gave me two. When I said this was very generous, the CIO joked that, if the division had the budget, he'd have erected a life-size bronze of me in the car park! But I still wouldn't feel comfortable about saying "I did this" - a team I was part of did it. And again, I feel they could probably have done it without me, I can't be unique, can I? I know we, as a team, saved that institution a bucket load of cash, and rescued a badly broken client relationship for our own company. But I cannot say that *I* did it, and I blushed so much when a senior exec of my own company told me it 'was all down to you' that people just laughed at me.

    And what about when you knew it was all going wrong, but you couldn't get anything changed? For instance, working on a major government contract which was going to go badly pear-shaped. How much credit can you claim for "knowing and saying all along" when you could never get any changes actually made?

    Some of you were kind enough to challenge me with questions; and some of you were kind enough to be properly brutal. This tells me there is something very wrong with the way I sell myself. I'm not suitable for a 'graduate entry scheme', -- I'm a 50 year old with a 1st class degree, a PhD and two decades of IT consultancy. I call myself a generalist because I really am - no wonder some of you are jaded if you have people telling you they are generalists when they've only done a few years work and couldn't answer some basic questions (though I admit I don't know as much about Active Directory as I should :-).

    If anyone is interested, I'm also not someone who can 'barely program' - As soon as I could read C# I spotted that the offshore code I was reading was rubbish because a multi-stage calculation was done pretty much by a single object with a single method, one of whose arguments was an integer which indicated which stage should be performed, and which sometimes called itself recursively - do I need to say more? I realized straight away their config management was wrong because they had branches named after test environments and were moving individual patch sets from one to the other as bug fixes were tested. Whilst resolving this, I gave the client the confidence that it was under control by being simultaneously honest about the problems and clearly explaining the solutions, in terms the business could understand.

    Yet I feel uncomfortable even writing this under a pseudonym. It just sounds so bigheaded, and I guess my biggest concern is that people won't like me; I'm dreading the downvotes already. More than anything I want to be part of a team that revels in getting things done well - quickly, reliably, at a reasonable cost and at the highest quality that the time and budget allows. I'm not even that bothered about the money, to be honest (although I can't afford a massive drop), but I want to be doing something interesting, not wasting my time writing Word Documents for a lumbering behemoth whose idea of a solution is to immediately reach for a bunch of other vendors' proprietary technologies and stitch them together badly using hastily assembled teams of not always brilliant offshore labor.

    tl;dr: thank you everyone for your input, you have really inspired me. Sorry for rambling.

  61. jcitron

    Bene, you sound a lot like me!

    Don't knock your skills, Bene. You have a lot of good things to work with. I too was an IT generalist. I am now retired and no longer seeking employment.

    Let me explain... I started as a hardware guy - a technician to be exact that repaired circuits right down to the component level. As these jobs disappeared, I ended up in MIS working with VAXs and IBM mainframes then transitioned to servers. Finally after a short stint in the graphics industry with a family-owned business and a couple of other graphics-related jobs, I ended up back in IT again and this time as a PC support specialist. This position went from a 3-month contract to a full-time network administrator/ system administrator position that lasted 11 years with the same company until that company closed. Eventually, I became a Tier-3 support guy at a very, very large company and retired from there.

    On the way I learned about project management, built and designed computer rooms, moved a company twice, setup networks, servers, and tons of workstations, learned various operating systems, network protocols, Avaya, CISCO telecom, etc. In the end I was helping C-level management and became the go-to-guy for whatever technical problem the user base suffered from. I was there to help.

    In the end, just before I retired early due to medical reasons, I earned two awards from upper management. One for bringing on line over 300 new employees and the other for always being there to help no matter what. Both I didn't expect as I was doing my job as I always did it.

    Good luck.

  62. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sorry to hijack, but if anyone is interested, my company are looking for an IT generalist (based in central London).

    https://www.linkedin.com/jobs2/view/12495700

  63. donaldrvogel
    Go

    Call yourself as a Client Technical Engagement Specialist or Network Administrator. It sounds like a professional and you can update your CV with these names. You will get best suited jobs in IT sector "http://finditjobs.com/ " by the top recruiters.

  64. sltech
    Thumb Up

    Excellent thread with excellent input.

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