Contracting as a Generalist or Specialist

When you’re in consulting you are offering your knowledge and skills as a service to organizations that are in need of that specific expertise.

Many times in speaking with consultants their number one fear is that they will not be able to find their next contract. It’s natural for someone facing that situation to look for ways they can gain as many skills possible in hopes to cast a broader net for contracts they can apply for.

So in an effort to diversify their experience, they will take on multiple roles in several applications, thinking that this will expose them to more projects.

However, in terms of staying employed or constantly having contracts, doing the opposite is actually a better strategy. When a hospital is looking to engage the services of a consultant, they want the best consultant for the project they can find. If there is a hospital implementing Cerner products, it’s not going to matter to that organization that the consultant has done work with Siemens or Epic. They want a Cerner specialist.

The above chart gives the mental breakdown of a hiring manager in terms of your ability to be well rounded in each application. If they are looking for someone with Cerner expertise, they’re not going to consider an individual who only spent 33.33% of their professional experience in Cerner; they’re going to choose someone with 100% experience within that particular application.

What’s important is to focus on being the highest skilled and most knowledgeable person to the markets in which you are offering your services. Because a healthcare organization is going to hire the best possible consultant for their Health IT department’s projects, you want to match that need as precisely as possible. It may be true that if you have a resume that shows experience with a Cerner project, a Siemens project, and Epic project, then you can apply to six different contracts and maybe hear back from multiple for interviews.  But the number of organizations you submit your resume to means nothing. It’s the amount of organizations that are going to actually offer you an engagement that matters most.  Having a high probability of being offered an engagement is what will lead to a high likelihood of constant work.

Would you rather interview for two projects where you have a 90% chance of being offered the engagement?  Or would you rather interview for four positions where you have a 20% chance of being offered the engagement?

The focus on how many organizations you can be presented to should be eliminated. What you should be focusing on is how many organizations you can apply to where you will have a very high probability of being the best person presented for the position.

About the author


David Kushan

David Kushan is the President of Healthcare IS and has spent the last 18 years of his career working in the Healthcare Information Technology industry assisting over 120 healthcare organizations nationwide. Visit for Dave’s company blog, articles, podcasts and more.