Being T-shaped refers to the wealth of skills and experience someone may have, and is particularly useful in the world of recruitment when looking for strong employees or the most desirable candidates.
It is something that in recruitment for Fnality we have promoted since day one; and tried to identify amongst our applicants. When explaining it to someone, I ask them to imagine a capital ‘T.’ The trunk or stem of the ‘T’ represents their deep skills and specialised knowledge, whereas the horizontal arms of the ‘T’ represent the other experience and knowledge you have, but maybe don’t have quite the same depth of understanding. For me, the stem of my ‘T’ is recruitment, as this is what I have been specialising in for the longest amount of time, and would say my expertise (or something like that!) are in this area. The cross could be anything else, such as languages, teaching English, training design, writing random blogs, and a few more.
Now, how does someone become T-shaped? They beauty of it of course lies in the variety and there is no one hard and fast rule, but here are a few tips based on my own personal experience to help you along the way.
1. You don’t need to go into a career directly related to your education.
I studied History of Art at University, and while I would have loved to continue working in the arts, my financial situation limited me, so I ended up transitioning to work in Asset Management, before becoming an English Language teacher. And yes, all before ‘specialising’ in recruitment. This may seem counter-intuitive, and a very expensive and longwinded way of getting to work in HR, but it is these changes in career that showed adaptability; curiosity and ambition which is particularly useful in a start-up or scale up environment like Fnality.
2. Read, read and read more
If I had the resources, I would have studied many different subjects and varying levels over the years. However, when doing course after course just isn’t practical, look to the wealth of information online, in book shops and maybe even (yes they still exist) the LIBRARY. Wherever you go for information, it will be endless, meaning that whatever subject takes your fancy that week, you can read into it enough for it to benefit your career. You never know when your hobby could cross over into your work life, or when that article you read on ‘How to Keep Fit During a Zombie Apocalypse’ could become relatable.
3. Grab every opportunity
I myself got into recruitment purely by accident. The chance came up to work for an agency, they trained me up and open doors, and now years later, here I am at Fnality. I thought when I worked here that I might be lucky enough to work on something outside of recruitment like Learning and Development. Little did I know, the opportunity to collaborate on tech, legal, commercial and financial work would be not only there if I wanted, but actively encouraged on a daily basis. I appreciate not every work place is the same, but if someone gives you a chance to try something new, give it a go. You don’t have to take my word for it though- Richard Branson once said “If somebody offers you an amazing opportunity but you are not sure you can do it, say yes – then learn how to do it later!” You never know what being more T-shaped could bring, but in this ever changing ‘VUCA’ world, being a bit more adaptable can’t be a bad thing, right?
Ph. Credits: Freddie Marriage on Unsplash