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Employability Skills


The world of work is changing at an ever increasing pace so employers actively seek out graduates who can adapt to changing circumstances and environments, and embrace new ideas, who are enterprising, resourceful and adaptable.
Some people thrive on change and the unexpected and enjoy alteration to their routines: they are naturally adaptable. 

If you are the kind of person who always has a ‘to do’ list and doesn’t like it when something arises which isn’t on your list, then you probably aren’t naturally adaptable. 

What are adaptability and flexibility skills?

The ability to change (or be changed) to fit changed circumstances.

Capacity to be bent, usually without breaking

These are two very similar concepts and are often used interchangeably, or together in job descriptions. In an employment context, it could include how responsive you are to new information, changing conditions or circumstances, commitment to making ongoing improvements in systems/processes or ways of working and how well you handle or make use of uncertain situations.

Why do employers want them?

The ability to cope with change, or respond well to change, is extremely important in the workplace. Situations, circumstances or workplaces can change extremely quickly, and if individuals, and therefore organisations, cannot adapt to changes quickly, they are likely to be left behind. 

You can learn to cope with change

But you can also learn to become more adaptable and to develop your ability to cope effectively with change. You can learn how to become adaptable through experience.  You might even have the advantage over others as you will have used your planning and organising skills to change your behaviour. 

Flexibility involves:

  • adapting successfully to changing situations & environments 
  • Keeping calm in the face of difficulties 
  • Planning ahead, but having alternative options in case things go wrong
  • Thinking quickly to respond to sudden changes in circumstances 
  • Persisting in the face of unexpected difficulties
  • Anticipating & responding positively to changing environments
  • Ability to adapt to change positively in response to changing circumstances
  • Taking on new challenges at short notice.
  • Dealing with changing priorities/workloads 

Examples of how adaptability and flexibility can be developed or evidenced

  • Working part-time whilst studying, perhaps taking on last-minute shifts.
  • Year abroad or independent travel abroad.
  • Taking on different roles and responsibilities.
  • Combining study with personal commitments.
  • Moving from home to university.
  • Becoming an integral part of a company on work experience or in a job (e.g. fitting in with the team and forming working relationships, accommodating a different set of expectations, following expected conventions, suggesting and implementing improvements).