A is for… Adaptablity


In the current climate it is more important than ever to show that you are adaptable.

Adaptability: capable of adapting or being adapted.

Employers want applicants to show that they can:

  • adapt to changing circumstances
  • take on board new ideas and concepts
  • adapt and develop a role and do what is required
  • rise to the challenge of dealing with the unfamiliar

Some people are naturally adaptable and thrive in situations which are unexpected and new. However, for a lot of us this is not the case.

For example, I am a “planner” I work to a to-do list and detest interruptions. However, I am adaptable because I have learned how to manage these changes and interruptions in a positive way. The key ability here is to be able to make the changes work for you and fit them into your way of working.

How can you show you have this skill?

Unfortunately you cannot simply say something like “I am flexible in the way I work and I adapt well to change in circumstances”.

You need to be able to give and example (or several). The obvious examples are working abroad, working in multiple locations, on secondment or working from home. These are big obvious examples where no explanation is necessary as to why this shows that you are adaptable. But you can also use smaller “change” situations, like the upgrading of computer software if answered correctly.

BUT Make it a good story.

If you are asked to specifically show that you are adaptable and can’t use an obvious answer you should tell a good story by remembering to talk about the following:

1. Paint the Picture: describe the situation and context

2. Identify what the problem or aim is.

3. Describe what you did in this situation.

4. Explain the outcome / result and draw attention to what you achieved.

Action Point: write a few examples to keep in your career journal.

Consider what are you aiming to show when answering this question and telling this story. These questions can be a way to show that you can:

  • make change work for you – handle it and utilise it
  • adapt to change and new ways of working quickly and easily
  • make suggestions for increasing the effectiveness of change
  • learn new methods, techniques
  • shift your priorities to deal with the demands of an unexpected situation
  • bounce back from setbacks and maintain a positive attitude

Skill Development Plan: adaptability

Experience is really your only teacher with this skill, you cannot artificially practice it or force it.

Instead your focus should be on identifying situations in your work history (or current job) where you have been adaptable and keep a note of these in your career journal.

You should also take the opportunity to consider how you could handle such situations better and assess what complimentary skills you might need to work on. Examples of such skills include: Time Management, prioritisation, problem solving and taking the initiative.