Print this page

Employability skills

Adaptability & flexibility

What are adaptability and flexibility skills?

Adaptability

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

Flexibility

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.

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).