If you ask any employer in the process of staffing a critical position, they’ll give you a list of the traits that interest them the most. They’ll list technical skills, like SQL certification or Italian fluency, and they’ll list core personality traits, like leadership, listening skills or extroversion. The skills and personal qualifications they list will depend on the nature of the company, the nature of the job and the culture of the team. But there’s one quality almost all employers are looking for in 2018, regardless of the job, the role, the level or the circumstances: adaptability.

Almost all employers are looking for candidates who can face the unexpected without freezing up. They want candidates who can bounce back when things go wrong and who can maintain a sense of humor in the face of thwarted expectations or constantly changing rules. Here are a few reasons why this quality is so prized, especially right now.

These are interesting times.

The working world is a place of rapid change, and both the speed of business and the speed of technology are evolving. Our workplace culture is changing as well; employee tenures are much shorter than they once were (about two years on average) and at-will agreements prevail, in which either party can sever the agreement at any time for any reason. In short, anything can happen, and a steady, flexible attitude is worth more than gold.

Independence requires flexibility.

Managers are often held back by employees who need explicit instructions and who can’t move forward without constant oversight. Flexible employees accomplish more, require less, and climb the ladder faster.

Trust requires flexibility.

You’re following your boss into an important meeting to make a presentation you’ve been practicing together for a long time. At the last minute, your boss cancels. Can you move forward alone, or will the presentation have to be called off? If you’re a flexible employee who can shift gears and change plans at the last minute, you’ll make the presentation and maybe win the contract. Your flexibility can get the team past this obstacle, and it won’t go unnoticed.

Evolution requires flexibility.

When we grow legs and exit the water, we need to leave our fins behind as well. When employees become managers, or when they switch departments, loyalties and responsibilities, they need to leave the old behind and embrace the new—even if old lessons were hard earned, they must be dropped if they no longer serve us. Flexible employees recognize this, and they grow quickly, leaving the past in the past.

Flexible employees are unafraid of the unfamiliar.

If you’re ready to try new things, travel to unfamiliar places, work side by side with new personalities you’ve never encountered before and try new ideas before dismissing them, you’re the flexible employee managers want on their teams.

To find the job you need and grab the attention of your target employers, trust the Milwaukee job search experts at Extension.


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