Niche Players: How to Bump Your Skill Set into the Specialized Zone
A niche skill set can be a valuable asset. Not only does it set you apart from the pack, but it makes you less dispensable than other workers. As such, niche players tend to make higher salaries and have greater job security. They are also more likely to find their work rewarding because it focuses on a particular affinity.
Of course, all of this sounds great. But how do you actually go about making your skills more specialized? Here are some tips that can help take you from run-of-the-mill to running the show.
1. Choose a path
If you want to develop niche skills, you first have to determine what your unique interests and talents are. You can’t just say, “I want to develop niche skills in information technology.” You have to research what niche skills in IT are, then narrow it down to a particular focus. For example, you may decide you want to specialize in low-code application platforms (LCAP), or even a specific platform, such as Mendix.
Just remember, the narrower your specialty is, the more valuable you could be. But at the same time, the more limited your job opportunities may also become.
2. Educate yourself
Most valuable niche skills require an education. Whether that means you can learn on the job, or you have to take night classes online, you need to be willing to put in the extra effort to grow your knowledge. Although some skills can be self-taught, most require some type of formal education or certification process.
3. Get a mentor
One of the best ways to learn a specialized skill is from a mentor. Mentorship can be extremely worthwhile. According to Startup.Info, “You can find mentors online through mentorship networks that are designed specifically to link experienced mentors to aspiring mentees. Some of the most popular sites for meeting mentors are Mentor Cruise, Mentoring.org, and Find a Mentor.”
4. Attend events
Just about every type of skill set has a matching set of events that can be attended to: learn more, network with others, and see how your niche capacities look in action. Most of these events can be found online, and some may even be held virtually. Sometimes all it takes is a simple Google search to find just what you’re looking for.
5. Read up on your specialty
Signing up for subscriptions to publications that provide the latest information on your niche of choice is an excellent way to stay apprised of what your opportunities are. Engaging in the latest articles on advancements in the field, or reading personal stories of success and failure, can help guide your journey in a positive direction. It can also help motivate you to stay on track even when you get frustrated or discouraged.
6. Seek out opportunities
If there are opportunities that allow you to develop your niche skills in your current job, make sure you take advantage of them. Even if it means asking your boss for help, or going outside your current department, it’s worth it to gain more experience.
If you do not have access to those types of opportunities on the job, you may have to create them elsewhere. For example, you could be able to find volunteer work that lets you practice and improve your proficiency off the clock. There might even be ways to hone your craft at home or in your community. The opportunities are there. You just have to find them.
7. Don’t give up
There are going to be times when you’re going to feel like the effort you’re putting in simply isn’t worth it. Put that annoying voice in your head on mute. Remind yourself that as your value increases, so will your salary. For example, according to Business Insider, “If you're in the IT industry and possess niche skills, expect to get 25 percent more pay than your colleagues.”
Ultimately, becoming a niche player will be worth the investment. Even though you may be limiting the quantity of career opportunities available to you, you will almost certainly be enhancing the quality.