Why You Should Care About Career Adaptability

There is a lot of research out there that looks at the reasons why people can effectively transition throughout their career and the reasons why not. It is something that has a lot of people interested in understanding purely because the research is saying that having a level of career adaptability as an individual appears to link to an individual’s ability to be successful throughout their career.

What is career adaptability?

In a nutshell, career adaptability is the ability for an individual to cope with current and future tasks, transitions, and challenges within their career. This definition is not specific to an age or cultural demographic as the research has looked across cultures and demographics on the value of career adaptability and identified the same definition.

What is the value of career adaptability?

Career adaptability has been linked to the ability to achieve more career satisfaction regardless of the situation the individual is in. This has included identifying lower levels of work stress, increased person-environment fit and other positive outcomes such as increased levels of overall career enjoyment. Amazingly, individuals do not link their ability to be adaptable to success, many times they look at the opposite being a career strength.

What does it take to have career adaptability?

There are a number of different components to career adaptability. These include having a concern about your career outcome, a level of control and control acceptance, curiosity and confidence. To become career adaptable you need to be focused on what it is that you wish to achieve. Specifically, people who are career adaptable show signs of being forward thinkers and planners about their career goals, the opportunities available to them and the possible changes in their chosen career that may require them to alter their current career pathway.

How can you develop your own adaptability?

As you can see by the different components of career adaptability, individuals wanting to develop this need to start with ensuring they have clarity on what it is they are seeking to achieve in their careers. This will include looking at your current skills and interest areas, how these will support them in the future, what is missing and what you can do to achieve this. Once you have this level of clarity then you can focus on building your confidence in your direction and in turn your own capabilities. Without looking specifically at your career plan it is very hard to build confidence which is one of the fundamental personal attributes needed to become adaptable, but also to be focused on your career development.

What if I don’t become adaptable?

The world of work is changing. It is volatile, it is dynamic and it is unknown. Regardless how much research we undertake, businesses are unable to state with certainty what their business will look like in the future. What the skills are that they will need to recruit into the business and in a lot of instances, what the business will be offering out to its client base. This level of unknown means that if you do not become adaptable you will not be able to transition with the business as it identifies the need for transition. Being adaptable is key to continuing to develop your employability and remain employable in the future.

Can this guarantee my job?

The reality is career adaptability on its own cannot guarantee that you will remain employed in a role. What it does guarantee you though is:

  • The ability to focus on what it is that you need to be satisfied in your career
  • The knowledge on what you have to offer as an employee
  • The opportunity to develop confidence and remain confident in your own capabilities
  • The ability to articulate to others what it is that you need, have or want in your career to remain satisfied
  • To be able to transition at the times that you may need to
  • To be innovative and supportive in new business environments

How adaptability impacts and supports your career is unique to your own experiences. The benefits of this will be based on how you develop your adaptability and how you use that throughout your career. The reality is, however, if you don’t consider it to be important there may be a point in time where you are required to be adaptable and in not being able to do this your career may be impacted.

By Rebecca Fraser

Rebecca Fraser is a Leader of learning and development for organisations and individuals. She is highly recognised for her contribution to the industry and for her work in the media providing information on modern day job search strategies. She is the author of ‘How to get a job in the 21st century’, her newest release on job search and resumes.