Like most things in life, the truth is that a smooth, predetermined career path is rarely something most people will get to have. And in today’s working world, it’s constantly changing and volatile in a myriad of ways. Whether it’s an upheaval triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic, or rapid technological changes and developments within the industry, it should be understood that even the most thought-out career plan can be at the whimsy of change.
And for someone who has just freshly graduated and about to embark on your own career journey, that might be a little unnerving for you! But thankfully, this is where developing career flexibility will come in handy.
A primer on career flexibility
But what does it mean to have career flexibility? In short, it’s the ability to deal with unexpected changes and challenges in your career. This doesn’t just include shifts in working hours or work environment, but in some cases it can also involve you taking up new responsibilities that may initially be out of your job scope. Having this trait is nothing short of vital if you want to enhance your employability. For one, when you’re flexible, it means that you’re resilient, versatile and responsive to changes, which makes you a suitable candidate capable of weathering through tough challenges in the company.
Moreover, this is a soft skill that just about any employer will want in their employees, so taking care to nurture this trait can go a long way! After all, no industry is immune to challenge and adversity, and the more employees they have that can handle the changes that come their way, the better it is for the organisation as a whole.
As important of a skill it is, developing flexibility is actually more inclined towards being a lifestyle, rather than a skill you pick up along the way.
In truth, being able to adapt to and thrive in different and changing situations is more an approach to life than a skill. However, there are ways for you to cultivate it:
1. Stay calm, and don’t panic
It can be hard to accept it at first, especially if it’s an unwelcome change. But by keeping an open perspective and being willing to accept (or at least tolerate) that things change will go a long way in being flexible.
After all, change does not always foretell bad things – there are times where it is necessary, and by accepting it, you can reduce the sense of fear and anxiety you might have, clearing your head to face any adversities head-on.
2. Look on the other side
One way to be more willing towards change is to try and see it from another perspective, not just your own. For example, rather than seeing a new role in a project as something you’re forced to deal with, try and look at it from another angle, and listen to the opinions of those who will be involved.
For example, by working on this project, this could be an opportunity to pick up some skills you’ve wanted to learn, or completing it will be a great asset for your portfolio or even mark a significant step towards your career advancement. It can even be a good chance to see if this new position could be something to pursue seriously as a career option.
3. Take charge of your development
That being said, if you don’t take effort to plan ahead, you’ll find that even when unexpected changes occur, you won’t be well-equipped to deal with it. So do your research and stay up to date with the industry trends!
Make an effort to learn more about any new technologies and research that catches your attention, and if you can afford to, learn something new, too. You can consider them as ‘stretch goals’ that you can strive to achieve whenever you have the bandwidth to do so. You can even suggest these to your supervisor – not only does it show initiative towards self-improvement, but they may be able to assist you, such as suggesting courses or giving you some time off to work towards your goals.
4. Fall back on your network if you need it
No man is an island, and there’s a difference between being able to handle things on your own, and blindly refusing assistance because you have something to prove. And no matter how tough things get, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with asking for assistance if you need it.
With this in mind, build up relationships with your colleagues, and get in the habit of asking them for assistance, or helping them out in return. If you already have an existing relationship of collaboration and teamwork, it’ll be easier to cooperate with each other.
As time passes, the way businesses and organisations operate will continue to evolve. As a result, it has become all the more crucial that fresh graduates breaking into the scene do all they can to not only stay on top of trends, but also know what it is recruiters are after so that you can nail down your dream job with confidence.