Being adaptable is one skill that’s in extremely high demand. In a time when things are uncertain and unemployment is at an all-time high, hiring managers are looking for people who have an open mind and aren’t afraid of change. Companies are constantly modifying the way they do business in order to thrive and survive in this environment. As a result, they will need people who are flexible and embrace new business ideas and procedures.
Having the ability to quickly synthesize information and recognize more efficient ways of doing things is critical. Embracing new technology, new organizational structures, and new collaboration tools are a few examples.
Unfortunately, many mid-career professionals combat stereotypes about being “stuck in their ways”. Being able to illustrate adaptability through storytelling is one way to overcome this bias. Most importantly, having experienced more different twists and turns in their career actually positions older professionals to recognize and adapt to new circumstances more effectively than their younger counterparts.
If you’ve been in the same position for a significant amount of time, highlight times when you’ve faced obstacles at work, and succeeded. Focus on a time when you needed to iterate quickly or a time when you introduced an idea for greater workflow efficiency. Talk about how being flexible and the enjoyment of being challenged motivates you.
The Top 3 Characteristics of Adaptability:
- Resourcefulness: Being willing to experiment and being open to new methods. Being calm during a crisis and the ability to monitor one’s emotions and prioritize.
- Curiosity: Driven by wanting to learn new things inside and outside of work is one characteristic of adaptability. Illustrate how your curiosity led to new learnings and accomplishments.
- Attitude: Showing gratitude and talking about possibilities and solutions as opposed to focusing on negative aspects of a situation is key - now and in the future. It’s not about avoiding talking about pitfalls but rather discussing a problem that needs solving and collaborating with others, all part of adaptability. Bring a positive outlook when collaborating with others, and that attitude will show your colleagues you’re willing to be adaptable.
"Be flexible so you can change with change."
Have stories prepared as answers to the following questions:
- Tell me about a time when you took several attempts to solve a problem.
- What are three things you’re proud of accomplishing during the pandemic?
Examples of Adaptability:
- adjusting your behavior, communication style and your approach to match changing tasks, work demands or different people
- adjusting priorities to meet deadlines
- being willing to try new approaches for changed situations
- attempting to understand and embrace different points of view and approaches to address
Acknowledging change is one way to cope with it. Once it’s recognized and accepted, it’s a step towards managing it. Whatever you do, don’t try to escape it. Being unafraid of new options will serve you well in the long run.
Reviewed & Recommended:
Tedx Frankfurt "How to Navigate Our Uncertain Future" by April Rinne
Ted Residency: "3 ways to Measure Adaptability" by Natalie Fratto
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Emily’s vision for illume hire developed as part of her journey from a startup-curious sales and media professional to co-founder and CEO. Her passion is to provide resources to support professionals with 20+ years experience. Emily was part of the founding leadership team of Age Equity Alliance, a non-profit focused on the benefits of an intergenerational team.