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How Does Diversity Boost Your Career?

07/16/2014 04:11 EDT | Updated 09/15/2014 05:59 EDT

It is said that "necessity is the mother of invention." This refers to the drive to create a solution to a problem, like a caveman making a spear to kill that night's triceratops dinner. But in business, there is a certain necessity that makes for a more rewarding and fruitful job experience -- diversity. The "D" word is not something that feels comfortable with everyone. Our comfort zones are typically more focused and defined. So what is it about diversity that opens the doors to better career opportunities?

Today's economy forces companies to do more with less. No longer are people hired into a job to do just one thing. Sure, there are experts or gurus out there who have very specific jobs, but these are typically few and far between in most companies. The idea of getting "more bang for the buck" usually defines the need for workers who are either very fast learners, or those who can come into a company hitting the ground running.

To enter a new job having a collection of various-yet-related skills helps the company to take care of more while carrying a lower head count. Less employees equals lower costs in salaries and benefits, while reducing requirements for building space, furniture and equipment. It is this ability to get the work done with fewer workers that is attractive to employers.

But what about very specialized, technical jobs? If a person has very specific skills in programming for example, how does that person benefit from diversity in his background? Diversity can have different definitions to different people and in different companies. Diversity in a furniture shop many consist of being able to operate various machines, where diversity in a software company may consist of programming in various programming languages.

Though people are not Swiss Army knives, we do become more attractive to employers when we bring more to the table. Besides being able to do more, we also demonstrate that we are willing and able to learn new things, to help carry the load of those around us, and increase the overall efficiency of the company.

Consider what your list of skills looks like. Is it diverse, or does it focus on doing the same tasks over and over, job to job? Find ways to increase your diversity list, and you will begin to see more interest from potential employers who notice your stand-out resume and it's ability to cover more tasks. Don't fall into your comfort zone of doing one or two things really well.

... because even cavemen had to invent more and better tools, to get things done...