Broadening out. It’s a question of balance.

Would you ask your plumber to plaster your walls? Probably not. Sure, he works in a related area, but he’s not a specialist in plastering.

If it was a tricky job you’d get a plasterer in to do it. If plastering was one of several jobs to do around the house, perhaps you’d call in the handyman instead.

So how does a specialist tradesman like a plumber become an all-rounder – an odd-job man – without the practical experience?

The digital market poses a pretty similar question (it was a metaphor!). As Neil explored last week there’s an appetite in the Search market for people to broaden their skills but how do you do it?

A lot of people feel that the best chance to gain broader exposure is to move in-house, which holds some truth given the way agencies tend to be structured. In order to justify the single focus of moving in-house, people often talk about moving to a ‘brand they feel passionate about’ but other factors remain important. Most people are reticent to move sideways or backwards on salary and don’t want to lengthen their travelling time to work.

It all comes down to balance.

If your background is in PPC, the reality is that the majority of your next role will need to be PPC for you to be seen as the right person for the job. Broadening out is often about taking smaller steps across. The more desirable the brand, the more competition you’re going to have. If you want more money, a broader role and a desirable brand, you may be wishing for a little too much all at once.

You can increase your chances of gaining broader channel experience by compromising a little on some of the other requirements for the role with your initial move. Let’s imagine you have a piece of string and four nails. You can put the nails wherever you like, but the string is always the same length:

Finding a balance

If you reduce the requirement on the salary increase (i.e. not taking a drop but not taking so much of a leap) it gives you more slack to use on the breadth of the role or perhaps the desirability of the brand. Looking at companies that are based outside of Central London will reduce your level of competition and enable you to compete for more diverse roles. (It may actually help you to look at a more desirable brand since many of them live outside of London.).

Gaining relevant sector-experience is also a key part in making the move you want to make – this is valued agency-side as well as in-house.

So it’s certainly possible to broaden out by moving in-house but you have to be prepared to compromise something on that initial move. It’s all about taking one step at a time.

To look back at why there is such a desire to broaden out from pure search see Neil’s blog from last week and stay tuned to our blog next week as Neil will be looking at some practical steps you can take to broaden your experience.