Adaptability Skills: Definition, Examples and Tips

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 13 September 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

The ability to adapt to changing work environments makes you a competitive job candidate and a solid professional. Being adaptable means being open and willing to learn new skills as well as adjust to changes at work. Honing your adaptability also entails cultivating other soft skills, such as communication and interpersonal skills. In this article, we discuss what adaptability means, why it's important, how to enhance your adaptability and ultimately, how to demonstrate and highlight these adaptability skills in various ways, such as on your resume, cover letter and during a job interview.

Related: Interpersonal Skills Definition and Examples

What are adaptability skills?

Adaptability essentially means the ability to be flexible and adapt to changing conditions, factors or environments. As all industries and companies can be unpredictable, adaptability is valued in almost all workplaces. It is a trait that enables you to quickly adapt to changing circumstances in your environment. Being adaptable at work can mean being able to react quickly to changing ideas, responsibilities, strategies, trends, expectations and other processes. Adaptability also entails having soft skills such as interpersonal, creative thinking, communication and problem-solving abilities.

Why is adaptability important?

Adaptability can be important when developing strategies, working on projects and implementing different approaches to achieving goals. There are instances in the workplace when you may encounter unexpectedly upsetting events. Being flexible and versatile to change can help you overcome these unexpected obstacles. Adaptability also leads to enhanced job satisfaction and morale. By being adaptable, you may show your motivation and dedication to try new things and learn new skills. Also, you can show your ability to be resourceful and analytical. Listed below are some additional advantages of workplace adaptability:

  • Being a more valuable team member and employee

  • Being a better leader

  • Being more prepared to overcome difficulties

  • Being more content and satisfied with your job

  • Finding it simpler to adjust to professional and personal changes

Examples of adaptability skills

Adaptability encompasses a variety of soft skills that can essentially help you adapt to change and deal with change in a positive and proactive way. Outlined below are some examples of such skills:

Communication skills

Communication skills, both verbal and nonverbal, are essential to being adaptable. Finding additional information or resources for a new and unfamiliar project can show your team leaders your motivation, dedication and the ability to ask for help. Active listening and other forms of nonverbal communication, such as body language, are also important aspects of adaptability. Active listening demonstrates that you're alert and prepared to head in a new direction. Cultivating your nonverbal communication skills can help you deal with changes in relationships or team dynamics at work.

Related: How to Improve Communication Skills

Interpersonal skills

Like communicating effectively with others, good interpersonal skills are important to be adaptable. Interpersonal skills entail other soft skills such as patience, active listening, motivation, leadership and dependability. Being able to interact with others in healthy and positive ways can help you avoid communication problems and conflicts during work shifts.

Problem-solving skills

You can utilise your problem-solving skills to discover creative solutions to difficult problems at work. In addition, observing and analysing your approach to overcoming a problem can demonstrate your openness and willingness to adjust and deliver better outcomes to your manager and supervisor. This requires critical and strategic thinking skills. For example, developing new ideas for how to market products, finding ways to adapt to a changing market and implementing methods of improving and developing new strategies can help you demonstrate your general adaptability skills.

Creative and strategic thinking skills

Adaptability may involve creative thinking as well as the ability to think strategically. Creative thinking entails the capacity to analyse things in a new and innovative manner. It includes open-mindedness, excellent analysis, problem-solving and organisation. For example, generating new product marketing concepts, adapting to a changing market and applying techniques to enhance and build new tactics may all demonstrate your ability to be adaptable.

Read More: Creative Skills in the Workplace

Teamwork skills

Teamwork skills can be critical in adapting to different personalities and work dynamics. Your colleagues may come from diverse backgrounds and have different skills and experiences. The ability to work and deal with conflict in a diverse team of people, different ideas and other dynamics that may arise can positively affect your adaptability in a team environment.

Organisational skills

Organisational skills can encompass a variety of elements. This skill is important for developing your ability to adapt. Maintaining an orderly work environment, including paperwork and digital data, can help you be more prepared whenever operational changes occur at work.

How to enhance your adaptability

Adaptability and openness to change may not always be easy. However, you can consider the following ways to cultivate and hone your adaptability abilities:

1. Be aware of changes in your surroundings

Being aware of changes in your work environment is a vital way for developing your adaptation abilities. It's essential that you remain knowledgeable of rules, procedures and other operational processes. This can help you adapt to varying corporate practices.

2. Cultivate a growth mindset and attitude

Being flexible also entails being eager to learn and experiment with new things. Professionals with a growth mindset focus on improving over time. Developing a growth mindset can improve your capacity to take on new challenges, find new ways to expand your knowledge and contribute to new initiatives.

3. Set objectives for yourself

Setting objectives for yourself is another approach that may help you enhance your ability to adapt. For example, if you believe you're less skilled in nonverbal communication or procrastinate when faced with difficult tasks, you might want to create a goal to work on for each area to improve your capacity to adapt to changes in the workplace. Creating clear objectives can encourage you to achieve your goals.

4. Get feedback

As your career progresses, you may consider seeking feedback or constructive criticism from your managers so that you can improve on your weaker abilities. Positive and negative comments may both help you create objectives and achieve success in your work. Consider carefully reviewing your feedback and using it to grow.

5. Learn to recognise and embrace change

Recognising changes in your job can help you plan for and adjust to changing situations. Furthermore, knowing how to embrace change may be an important step to identify when it's good for you to make modifications to make change easier for yourself. You can develop this ability over time by practising adaptability and viewing change as a positive thing.

Adaptability in the workplace

Here are some additional tips to help you apply and demonstrate your adaptability skills in the workplace:

  • If there are changes to methods, methodologies or operational procedures, you can reach out to teammates and superiors for clarifications to help you better plan for transitions.

  • You might ask for opportunities to work on activities that are unfamiliar to you or offer to take on duties that require innovative thinking.

  • If expressing your thoughts to your coworkers makes you nervous, you may want to challenge yourself to contribute during team meetings and collaborative work.

  • Organise all aspects of your work, such as documents, needed paperwork, projects and other work information, so you're ready if there are job transfers.

Tips to highlight your adaptability in various settings

Being adaptable can require a variety of combined skills. The subsequent statistics illustrate how you might exhibit those abilities in your resume, to your cover letter and at some stage in an interview.

Showing adaptability on a resume

You can take note of the desired skills and think about your own skill sets. You can then highlight these abilities on your resume by including examples of the way you had been successful due to your capabilities. A few talents you can include might be your communication skills, teamwork abilities or leadership capabilities.

Showing adaptability in a cover letter

You may describe your accomplishments that resulted from your exceptional adaptability skills. Perhaps you efficiently solved a technical problem on a software program development project, or you found a creative way to resolve a sudden emergency. Whatever the case, if you believed that your ability to adapt has helped you attain goals, consider citing it in your cover letter.

Showing adaptability in a job interview

You may demonstrate your adaptability by sharing with the interviewer instances of how you've used your talents in previous positions. For example, in your previous career, you may have depended on your strategic thinking abilities to develop innovative marketing tactics that would put your firm ahead of the competition. You can utilise your previous experiences and accomplishments to assist you to answer the interviewer's questions in a manner that highlights your flexibility and adaptability to the situation.

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