Important Adaptability Skills for Workplace Success

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Are you flexible and willing to learn? Do you accept change at work in a positive manner? Are you able to try new things and handle different workflows? If so, you show adaptability, one of the most highly sought-after leadership skills.

Leaders that can adapt to change are motivated, not easily discouraged, and are usually more creative than the average employee. Adaptability in project managers, for example, reflects the manager’s ability to integrate various moving parts of a project and deliver a quality product or service in a timely manner.

Adaptability is important because as new technology evolves, companies established in the “old ways” may have difficulty competing with major players in their industry. Employers are looking for employees who can demonstrate strong adaptability skills and become company leaders. These skills are in demand and will help you get hired.

What Are Adaptability Skills?

Adaptability in the workplace means being flexible and able to change in order to become successful. Adaptability is a soft skill that employers seek when hiring candidates. Employees in a leadership role often have to manage unusual circumstances where there are no explicit instructions. They must learn how to rest upon their own judgment and have the confidence to make difficult decisions.

If you are a person who learns quickly, it is because you know how to adapt. You can further nurture your adaptability skills by trying new things and challenging your ability to problem solve in various circumstances.

Types of Adaptability Skills

As a soft skill, adaptability requires a number of other soft skills in order to be applied successfully. You must be able to learn quickly and put that learning into practice. Additionally, you must be able to recollect what you’ve discovered, so you can identify trends and make decisions accordingly.

Ability to Learn

People with adaptability skills are never discouraged by failure—the are open to both positive and negative change. For them, failure is just a part of learning. These leaders are always learning and willing to take risks, as long as it means that they can develop personally and professionally. Skills to strengthen your adaptability include:

  • Collaboration
  • Critical Thinking
  • Research
  • Continuous Improvement
  • Attention to Detail
  • Observation
  • Memory


People who adapt well rarely feel the pressure to quit. Every challenge is exciting, and remaining dedicated to their job means pushing through even when things get hard. Likewise, they are able to stay positive and encourage their team members to stay focused during difficult times. Skills that are emblematic of persistence include:

  • Resilience
  • Positivity
  • Stress Tolerance
  • Motivation
  • Managing Expectations


Often the goal is clear, but the path to get there is not. The “traditional” way of conducting business may not be possible or effective, because there may not be sufficient funding or staffing. That’s where adaptability can be an asset. An adaptable person will be able to source new resources and techniques that less-adaptable colleagues haven’t considered. An adaptable person will show resourcefulness by demonstrating:


If you know how to adapt well to a wide variety of circumstances, then “different” doesn’t scare you as it usually does for others. Anything that stands out makes you curious. And when you get curious, you want to investigate. You are not afraid of ideas, suggestions, or constructive criticism. You often demonstrate:

More Adaptability Skills

How to Make Your Skills Stand Out

Add Relevant Skills to Your Resume In your resume, be sure to highlight any time when you took the initiative and adapted to unusual circumstances. Use some of the keywords above to describe your role in reaching unique solutions for past employers.

Highlight Skills in Your Cover Letter Mention a situation in which you exercised adaptability skills in a past job in your cover letter. Be sure to do so in just a few sentences, as well as naming the problem, the steps you took, and the final result.

Use Skill Words in Your Job Interview Be prepared to discuss times where you exercised adaptability in your past jobs. Your interview is a place for you to give a potential employer a glimpse into how your mind works. It will also show that you will succeed when faced with challenges.

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  1. ProjectSmart. "7 Habits of Brilliant Project Managers." Accessed Aug. 23, 2021.

  2. O*NET. OnLine. "Work Styles — Adaptability/Flexibility." Accessed Aug. 23, 2021.

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