The one crucial word you’re probably leaving out of your job application

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How do you respond to change, or the prospect of change? Are you open to new ideas and ways of working? Can you shift focus at the last minute, then bounce back if things don’t go to plan?

Adaptability is already a soft skill that employers prize in job candidates, no matter the role, the level of seniority or the sector. But it’s set to become even more crucial in the workplace.

Technological development means the world of work is changing at a breakneck speed. To survive and thrive, businesses must adapt or they crumble. So in a workplace where anything can happen, it makes sense that they demand staff who can adapt to changing priorities and be flexible in the way they work and think.

When LinkedIn analysed job postings to find the most in-demand soft skills companies needed in 2019, adaptability came out as number four (only behind creativity, persuasion and collaboration). According to researchers, ‘an adaptable mind is an essential tool for navigating today’s ever-changing world, as yesterday’s solutions won’t solve tomorrow’s problems’.

With adaptability featuring prominently on the list of must-have soft skills, it must frequently pop up in job applications, right? Wrong. Recruitment research shows that actually only a small number of candidates - 15% - include the word on their CV. 

How to show you’re adaptable 

At HR GO, we encourage applicants to make more of this soft skill at all stages of the recruitment process - on CVs, in written applications and during interviews.

People naturally possess varying levels of adaptability, but the key is to capitalise on the amount you do have. So our advice is to highlight situations in your work history when:

  • You’ve used your initiative to shift gears at the last minute when there was no time for instructions or oversight.
  • You’ve thrived outside your comfort zone and beyond your experience, perhaps when you were asked to work on an unusual project or task.
  • You’ve faced a setback but were able to maintain a positive attitude throughout the experience.
  • You’ve been able to change focus from one priority to another in a tight timescale without risking the quality of work.
  • You’ve sought out change, suggesting a different way of working or a new approach.
  • You’ve shown you were keen to learn new methods and techniques, perhaps asking for training on a subject outside your normal remit. 

Flexibility counts for the future

Your mission is to show that you’re resilient and flexible enough to take on anything your manager, colleagues, or employer throw at you - and how these situations make you an even better employee. Perhaps dealing with the unexpected helped you learn new and more efficient techniques or styles that ultimately impacted positively on your project or team, too.

Hard skills you include on your CV might vary depending on the role you’re going for, but soft skills will always be highly prized. And as more and more organisations are seeking talent who can cope with a culture of change and continuous improvement, the future you will thank you for paying more attention to this one overlooked word: adaptability.

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