CIO posed what they consider to be “The most important career question you’ve never even considered.” While Glen, the author, goes on to explain in more detail, the ultimate question is this – do you want to make yourself a “hot commodity,” someone who has a unique skill but is a transactional relationship, or a “treasured stalwart,” who is intended to be a long-term employee but rarely works in the “hot new skill” industry.
As the author states, neither is wrong, and both have their various characteristics. So, we’ve opted to expand a bit upon the two options to help clarify some of the pros and cons of each.
The general idea of a commodity worker is one who works contract or part time, and who specializes in a unique skill; one that the company, for whatever reason, doesn’t want a standard full-time employee for. It could be implementing a new network or part-time SQL DBA – there’s no specific field, but it tends to fill the short-term needs, rather than long-term trends.
- Generally higher pay (in the short run)
- Provide necessary and sometimes difficult skills
- Can contractually work for flexible periods of time and flexible projects
- Not always a steady, consistent flow of work (e.g. occasional periods of unemployment between projects)
- Not usually “developed” as a tenured employee would be in understanding the overall picture
- Culture doesn’t always fit with company
On the other hand, the stalwarts will have different characteristics. They tend to retain long-term employment, and operate in fields that the business will need either indefinitely or for extended periods (think: Java programmer).
- Consistent, stable employment
- Developed as an asset to the team (which can increase flexibility)
- Understand business culture better
- Doesn’t cash in on “hot skills”
- Generally lower pay (in the short run)
- Less flexible hours
While there isn’t a right or wrong answer (and not everyone fits neatly into a single category) this goes to show the evolution of the IT sector. Generally, IT professionals tend to gravitate somewhere in the middle, rather than polarize at the ends.
At The Armada Group, we can help you not only ascertain the best fit for you, but we can help to pair you with a business that is looking for your work style as well as skills. We work with some of the best and most innovative talent in the industry, on both sides of the spectrum, and we want to help you find the next step of your career. Contact us today for a consultation.