Adaptable examples include: being flexible to changing circumstances, rising to new challenges, and changing your actions when doing teamwork with coworkers to ensure the success of a project.
People with adaptability skills are flexible and willing to change with changing circumstances.
The soft skill of adaptability is hugely important for employability. People who are adaptable will have the flexibility to change with changing industries, react to feedback from their boss, and work well in teams.
So, in an interview or cover letter, you may be asked how to demonstrate adaptability and flexibility. Below are some examples of how to be adaptable.
Examples of Being Adaptable
1. having a Back-Up Plan
To improve your adaptability, it’s a good idea to have a backup plan.
This way, you can quickly implement your backup plan when changes occur.
For example, if you have a presentation that you need to give on a computer, be prepared to present without technology if the technology fails.
Without this plan, you won’t be able to adapt to the change in circumstances. But with the backup plan, you can still go into the presentation and do an excellent job. Plus, it would improve people even more that you managed to complete the presentation under pressure.
2. Changing a Meeting Time
The simplest way to demonstrate adaptability is to be okay with small and manageable changes.
For example, if your potential employer changes the interview time, show that you can handle the change and be able to meet the new time.
This shows that you’re the sort of flexible and adaptable employee that a boss is looking for. Your workplace will be dynamic and changes like a changed meeting time will happen all the time.
3. Accepting New Technologies Quickly
New technologies entering an industry can be disruptors. We need to either adapt or our competitors will have an advantage.
As an employee, your boss might give you new software to work on and you need to be able to take it and use it effectively.
Demonstrating your ability with technologies can give you an edge in an interview process. It can show that you’re tech savvy and able to handle the tech changes that might be coming to your office in the coming years.
Related: Resilience Examples
4. Work-from-Home and Flexible Work Arrangements
With the rise of work-from-home, many employers want to know how you’d be able to handle big work conditions like this.
You may even have an example of when you had to do this. You might have had to purchase a webcam, learn to set personal accountability around being at the computer at a certain time of the morning, and learn to communicate differently via online video conferences.
5. Changing your Habits and Procedures
Many employers worry about hiring someone who is set in their ways.
The employer wants you to be able to adapt to the new workplace rather than bringing your old processes with you.
There’s a good chance your old job did things a little differently to your new one. Your boss might worry that you’re going to bring old habits from the old job into this new one.
So, demonstrate an understanding that all workplaces have their own workplace cultures and ways of doing things, and that you see your job as being able to react to those changes and adapt appropriately while keeping up a positive attitude.
6. Applying Feedback Given by a Boss
Every time you start a new job, there is a learning curve. You need to be able to get over that learning curve by adapting to the feedback given.
Your boss (or even teacher) might give you feedback on your work performance in the first few weeks. It’s your job to take that information and make changes based on it.
In a job interview, it can be a good idea to demonstrate enthusiasm to learn from your supervisors. This can show that you’re not going to be stuck in your ways, but in fact, will adapt to the training that is provided.
7. Being a Team Player
Sometimes, being adaptable means being a team player.
You won’t always get your own way when working in teams. You’ll have to do things in ways you wouldn’t have done them if you were doing it alone.
But many workplaces need people who are team players. They will expect you to be able to work in your team to get things done. This means making changes when your team members want you to and compromising with your team members to come to agreements.
To demonstrate your adaptability in a job interview, you could talk about how you like to work in teams and learn from the team. Discuss how teams might have changed your perspectives in the past, allowing you to improve how you do things.
8. Being Calm Under Pressure
Adaptable people need to be calm under pressure.
When pressure arises, some people would stand there like a deer in headlights, feeling confused and unsure what to do next.
Others might react by quickly thinking-up ways to tackle the problem they’re faced with and respond.
Pressure is often caused by changes and adaptability is the ability to react to those changes in order to secure success in changing contexts.
9. Being Willing to Try Out Other People’s Ideas
Trying out other people’s ideas shows your ability to be adaptable to the input of others.
Sometimes a boss, team member or colleague will give you an idea on how to change up how you do things.
Some people, especially employees who have been in a position for too long, might be resistant to the idea of changing what they do. They might think that their way is the best, or that there’s no reason to make a change.
Others might see the idea of someone else as a chance to adapt and improve. As a new employee, you usually want to be the one who is willing to adapt and try things out rather than coming into the new workplace and ignoring the ideas of your new colleagues.
10. Thinking Quickly to Solve Problems that Arise
Adaptable people need to think quickly on their feet.
This is the ultimate way of showing your adaptability skills. When something happens that causes a change, how will you respond?
Often, this has a lot to do with your experience in the task, job, or industry. An experienced teacher, for example, will adapt quickly when they realize the lesson they planned is too hard for their students. An inexperienced teacher might not know how to adapt and be unable to change their teaching.
11. Using Ongoing Formative Assessments for Course Correction
Ongoing formative assessment allows you to make changes throughout a project to ensure it succeeds.
Formative assessment is the act of assessing things part-way through rather than only at the end. The simplest example is a pop quiz a teacher gives in class.
But you can use these formative assessments on yourself. Look at how well you’re doing at aiming for a goal. If you feel adjustments need to be made, you’ll need to make them, so you make sure you stay on your path to success.
We could call these small changes “course corrections”.
12. Taking Shifts at Short Notice
If you work in shift work, your employer might want to make sure you can take up a shift at short notice. This can help with the smooth operation of the workplace and ensure you’re a good team player.
Your colleagues will also be very appreciative of you if you can take shifts if they are sick or something comes up in their private lives.
How to Improve your adaptability Skills
The following soft skills are important for adaptable people:
- Work on your Problem-Solving Skills: People with good problem-solving skills can use creative thinking to respond to new things that they come across. They might work with coworkers to think about new ways to address new problems in order to overcome obstacles at work.
- Work on your Communication Skills: Listen to others, learn why they need you to be flexible, and learn from their advice. One great first step is to use active listening by looking people in the eye when listening, nodding when appropriate, and repeating what they said back to them.
FAQs about Adaptability Skills
How can you be adaptable in the workplace?
Being adaptable in the workplace means being able to change to changing conditions. An employee needs to adapt when they get a new project brief, a new boss, or when new technologies are introduced. An adaptable employee is one that is primarily flexible and capable of reacting to changes to make sure they can satisfactorily complete their projects on time.
How can you be an adaptable student?
Being an adaptable student means being able to respond to a teacher’s feedback, make changes to how you complete your projects, and compromise with teams on group projects. The goal of an adaptable student should be to take on advice and support to improve how you learn so you can get the best personal results possible.
How do you adapt to change?
Some ways you can adapt to change include:
- Having a backup plan for when unforeseen changes occur.
- Always assessing what’s going on to identify opportunities for change.
- Looking for feedback on ways to improve at your habits and processes.
- Doing ongoing professional learning so you’re aware of changes in your industry.
- Working within teams to identify solutions to problems, then implementing those solutions.
What are traits of adaptable people?
Adaptable people have the following traits:
- They’re flexible
- They’re calm under pressure
- They think quickly
- They think several steps ahead
- They assess situations and identify threats
- They are ongoing lifelong learnings
Related Required Skills For Students And Employees
Here are some other skills you might need to be able to demonstrate as a successful employee or college student:
Adaptable people are in high demand in workplaces of the 21st Century. They are people who employers want because they’ll be able to keep a workplace at the forefront of changes within their field.
Demonstrate your adaptability in job applications, a cover letter, and interviews by giving examples of ways you have been adaptable in the past. The best examples of adaptability are ones that demonstrate your skills in being both proactive about foreseeing change, and reacting to changes when they occur.
Dr. Chris Drew is the founder of the Helpful Professor. He holds a PhD in education and has published over 20 articles in scholarly journals. He is the former editor of the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education. [Image Descriptor: Photo of Chris]