Why a Jack-of-All-Trades Is Just the Masterful Talent a Startup Needs

Many companies may be looking for a specialist but perhaps a generalist could fill the bill.

learn more about Chelsea Berler

By Chelsea Berler • Feb 13, 2015


Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

There are many jacks- (and Jackies-) of-all-trades out there in the world. I'm a card-carrying member of this club. Being a business owner you almost have to be.

You may have had a job at one time or another when tasks outside your job description seemed to pile up on your desk.

Such tasks force people to juggle, learn and stretch themselves beyond what they thought they were capable of. Jacks-of-all-trades thrive in these situations.

It seems to me, however, that several companies disregard potential employees with the ability to be multifaceted.

Many job advertisements seek a candidate who has reached a "master" level of a certain skill while working in a specific environment. I'm not saying such professional skills are not necessary. In fact, they are vital to the day-to-day operations in a company.

But a jack-of-all-trades can be just the employee your company needs. Here's why:

Related: How to Choose Between a Specialist and a Jack-of-All Trades

1. Fill the company toolbox.

I like to use an analogy that goes like this. A master is like a hammer, who excels at two things: putting a nail into something and pulling it out. This type can be the best to perform a specific job.

Jacks, on the other hand, are more like a Swiss Army knife, able to adapt and be useful for a variety of tasks.

And while they both have limitations, you don't want to be stuck in the middle of the woods without one of them.

Related: 7 Things You're Doing to Push Away Great Talent

2. Get past HR scares.

Jacks are creative thinkers. They are problem solvers who thrive in an ever-changing and challenging environment. I think it's fair to say that most (if not all) CEOs are jacks-of-all-trades. So why does it seem like versatile types have a bad rap?

As far as HR is concerned, a jack-of-all-trade's resume is typically full of red flags: mismatched majors and minors in college, a variety of jobs in different fields and lots of unique skills that seem to go in a million directions.

Say you intend to hire someone who has had three years of experience working as a graphic designer at an in-house ad agency.

You might find a candidate with a degree in visual art who held a position in marketing and sales as well as well as one mixing paint at Home Depot. Maybe he or she will have had a year's experience or so performing the exact type of work that you're need done, but the majority of this person's experience is a patchwork. The challenge for recruiters is to look past a resume's black-and-white. After all, where better to practice color theory than behind a paint counter?

3. Look for the true master act.

Jacks-of-all trades are always on the lookout for a new feather to add to their cap. They make great hires for a new or small business for this reason. They are happy to fill in the gaps to make a company succeed.

The bottom line is that jacks-of-all-trades are masters. They're masters at learning. Give those multitalented folks in your office a high five today and let them know how cool they really are.

Related: Stop Being a Jack-of-All-Trades. Join the Billion Dollar Unicorn Club.

Chelsea Berler

Entrepreneur, Author and CEO of Solamar

Chelsea Berler, author of The Curious One, is the CEO of Solamar a boutique marketing agency in Birmingham, Ala. She is a champion for people who are driven to bring their talent and greatness into the world on their own terms.


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