Soft Skill: Flexibility


In today's competitive job market, no title is too firm and no list of requirements is so rigid that it can't shift or expand, amoeba-like, at a moment's notice. If you're a TV producer, you should also expect to write, edit, and know how to point a camera. If you're a store manager, be prepared to spend some time on the sales floor. At the rate we're going, we'll be asking our waste collectors to deliver mail and write insightful personal essays. The words "that's not my job" are no longer meaningful in the modern workplace, meaning flexibility--always an important quality--is more essential than ever.

But how do you prove you're adaptable without stepping on someone else's toes, or downplaying the things that made you fall in love with your job in the first place? Fortunately, AOL Jobs has rounded up the best advice on flexibility from around the web, so take a look.

Flexibility in your job search

Stay open
"The Start-Up Of You" author Reid Hoffman speaks of being in a constant state of "beta," or adjustment and reinvention. We need to self-update at the speed of technology, whether we're learning new skills or tailoring our resume for maximum impact. Most of all, keep moving forward, and try a range of job-seeking avenues, whether it's networking or recruiters or turning yourself into a Twitter celebrity.

Following your passion is overrated (sort of)
Bear with us here. We're not telling you to give up on that kung-fu musical you've been working on for the past four years. But instead of spending all of your time wondering else is out there, why don't you try focusing on what the thing you have can offer you--now? It's a sad fact that few people have pre-existing passions that can be filtered into careers; keep striving, but stay open. And don't miss out on what's directly in front of you.

Lessons from yoga
Eye-rolling puns about "flexibility" aside, yoga encourages you to work through difficulty and embrace challenges--great lessons for the job-seeking world and ashram alike. Take a look, but don't taken the advice here literally; it's about discipline and acceptance, not listening to sitar music all day.

Choose the right job for you
We don't need to sacrifice our lives at the all-consuming altar of the workplace. If job flexibility is something that's important to you, check out the occupations listed here. Some of the most flexible jobs are also highly paying.

> Find a job as an office assistant

Flexibility in the workplace

Flexibility reduces stress
John Crowe once said, "It takes a strong fish to swim against the current. Even a dead one can float with it." But there's still something to be said for going with the flow. Expecting change (and avoiding an overly rigid schedule) will lower your stress level, and give you a reputation as someone who's positive and easy to work with. That doesn't make you a dead fish--it makes you a valuable employee.

Demonstrate adaptability
Let's say you're on a team determining whether the office should install bathroom stalls that can also be used by dinosaurs. You've proposed building a separate facility in the parking lot, but another faction wants to promote community by adding extra-large stalls to the existing restrooms. All silliness aside, it's important to remain open to various solutions, especially when your own is rejected. Consider all sides with a calm, evenhanded tone. And when you do settle on a direction, put your full weight behind it.

You're in charge of your work-life balance
Is there even such thing as a true 9-to-5 job anymore? There's certainly something to be said for working hard and paying your dues, but it's also easy to equate quality of work with quantity. If you're the kind of person who shows up first and leaves last, you need to know your boundaries and own your work-life balance. Don't burn out before you have a chance to shine!

Consider perspectives
From an employee's point of view, flexibility means embracing new opportunities and handling the change that inevitably comes in today's volatile working culture. From an employer's point of view, it signals an openness to different kinds of employees (and different kinds of needs), and fosters an environment of trust and commitment. So the next time you find yourself resenting your boss for putting you on for the weekend, recognize that this is a street that runs two ways.

> Find a job as a customer service representative

Photo source: Getty Images

Check out more quotes on the virtues of being flexible here.
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