A critical factor that employers are looking for – from Amazon to Apple – is ‘agility.’ If you live in one of the 20 cities that were named as finalists for the Amazon HQ2 sweepstakes, you might be dusting off your resume right now. Amazon plans to create as many as 50,000 new jobs in the city where it decides to locate.
Even if you don’t live in one of those “lucky 20,” or if you do but just don’t think Amazon is the place for you, the reality is that there is a lot of hiring happening in America right now. The big question is: How can you take advantage of it?
This doesn’t mean being able to touch your toes, run the 400-meter hurdles or ski the giant slalom (in honor of the Winter Olympics). It means being adaptable and able to adjust to new and dynamic circumstances. Employers from Amazon to the little company down the street value agility because it’s getting more and more difficult to know exactly what a job will entail six months or a year from today. Attributes like being able to work with constantly changing teams and interact effectively with people who have different skill sets are essential in this type of environment.
Another reason why agility at work matters so much? The growth of artificial intelligence in the workplace. A report from Deloitte finds that AI isn’t necessarily taking away jobs from people, but creating “more human jobs” that require traits like empathy, communication and problem-solving across different disciplines. In short: agility.
Show it. Don’t use your resume to simply outline the tasks you’ve done or the jobs you held. Make sure it tells a story – the story of how you are an adaptable thinker and doer. Instead of talking about how you completed a major project, reframe the conversation into one about how you worked across different teams or completely re-thought how to do something that mattered for your organization.
Prove it. Who can tell the “Agile You” story better than you? Well, if that story rings true – your references definitely can.
More than anyone else, your job references will be the people who have seen your adaptable, team-oriented approach firsthand at work – and they’ll be able to speak to it. But you have to make sure your references know that agility is a key area you’re pitching about yourself. Tell them they should be ready to emphasize it when contacted.
In addition, think about providing a diverse set of references. While managers used to be the default setting for references until quite recently, today employers are increasingly looking to speak to both managers as well as co-workers. Why?
Because managers and co-workers can provide different types of information about you, and both kinds are valuable. Managers tend to focus on job skills and accomplishments, which makes sense – that’s what they need from you and what they’re measuring you against. Co-workers tend to share a lot more about your temperament, attitude, approach to teamwork and communication skills – many of the elements that speak to agility. In fact, SkillSurvey has done research on this very topic that was published last year in Harvard Business Review, driving home the importance of employers requesting both types of job references.
Repeat it. Don’t be afraid to stay on message during your interview and in every other interaction you have with a prospective employer!
You may be getting bored with yourself when you’re making the same points about your workplace flexibility to various interviewers and in your resume, thank-you notes and even your LinkedIn profile – but don’t worry. The employer won’t be bored. Remember, this is the first time they are hearing from you. Most likely, everything they are learning about you is completely new to them. Driving home your key messages – agility being one of them – is a big part of achieving your goal.
So, whether you’re aiming for a great job at Amazon’s HQ2 or a new role at a place you’d like to be your own career HQ for the next several years, focus on pointing out your workplace agility and you’ll be going a long way toward increasing your odds of success.
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