The Importance of Adaptability and Transferable Skills for Your Career Future

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With the rapid advancement of technology, artificial intelligence, the increase in entrepreneurs, flexible working and the increase of pensionable age, the world of work is definitely changing. Quite where we will be and what work will look like in twenty, thirty and forty years I don’t know.

What I do know is that adaptability, transferable skills, lifelong learning and the ability to handle change are becoming ever more important for sustainable careers.

An uncertain future

I hear more employers talking about the need for candidates coming into their organisation to be adaptable, and to both understand and utilise their transferable skills. This is due to a rapid change that is happening in business with new technologies and an uncertain future.

That term “uncertain future” may sound scary but I would encourage you to see the positives of this. The excitement, the possibilities, the ability to learn and develop into careers that have not been created yet. Regardless of whether you view this as positive or not, these skills and abilities of adaptability, transferable skills and handling change well are all important for all of us to understand and embrace.

Being adaptable

When it comes to adaptability, it might be that you:

  • seek out secondment opportunities
  • put your hand up to be involved in projects that are not directly related to your area
  • speak to colleagues across the organisation to find out more about their areas of work, the trends, changes and challenges and increase your knowledge of how the pieces fit together
  • volunteer in different areas
  • target a professional body committee to expand your network, exert your expertise and grow your knowledge and skills
  • identify an area to formally develop in such as a coding course, or a change management course

Transferable skills

Always be aware of your transferable skills. This means regular reflection and acknowledgement of what skills and knowledge you have, how you currently use them and how they could be utilised in different areas.

If you find yourself in a situation where you feel you are lacking key transferable skills that are becoming more important in your field, seek out opportunities to gain these skills. Look outside the remit of your role and understand how you fit into the bigger picture, how other areas affect your operations and take notice of new opportunities that arise.

Embracing change

Change is constant and for the future world of work change will continue. Embrace change, don’t be the person who hates change in your organisation, they never impress. Instead, learn to welcome change and look for how you can work a change in your favour and the favour of your organisation. Be open to supporting the management with change, and be supportive of those around you and encourage them to see the positives.

The top skills employers’ value today will likely be different in ten or twenty years’ time. With retirement age increasing a lot of us will still be very much in our working lives over that timescale. Learn to adapt, become increasingly aware of your transferable skills and where and how you can use them, and embrace change which is as inevitable in your career as it is in life. And finally become a lifelong learner. Be curious, find areas that interest you, keep abreast of changing trends, developments and take a healthy perspective on predictions for the future.

None of us have a crystal ball, but we can prepare and put ourselves in the most employable position possible and be valuable assets to organisations moving forward.

About the author: Nicola Clemmit runs the Nicola Clemmit Consultancy: supporting candidates towards successful CVs, covering letters, applications and interviews. Nicola is the author of A Step By Step Guide To Successful Job Interviews Workbook.

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