There’s a recruiters’ rule of thumb to beware of any candidate who has spent more than seven years with one company. The concern is that the candidate won’t be able to adapt to the culture of a new employer — that they don’t have multicultural competence.
Can You Adapt to New & Different Cultures?
This problem shows up on resumes and on the job.
It’s common to see a resume where someone has had a successful, multi-year career with one company.
That stability is then followed by short-term stints with other companies. When recruiters see this, they wonder if the person has multicultural competence and can adapt to new organizations.
Beyond organizational culture, many of us work with people from different cultures than our own. Those who can work with people from any culture are more valued by employers than those who can’t.
So, how can you stop limited adaptability from being an obstacle to your job search and career?
Don’t Put Short Employment Stints on Your CV
It’s OK to omit a job from your resume, although you have to be prepared to tell an interviewer what you were doing during that period.
You can also group assignments from a given period together, along with a reasonable description of what you were doing.
Show You’ve Worked with Diverse Colleagues
Sample resume language: Managed a multicultural, twelve-person staff.
Prepare to Answer Questions About Adaptability
Here are a few examples:
1. Going from Company A to Company B must have been interesting. What were the biggest cultural differences between the two companies? Which of those differences presented challenges for you? What did you do? How did it turn out?
2. What specific actions did you take to learn the culture at Company B? Tell me about your biggest cultural misstep? What did you do to recover? How did it turn out?
3. Tell me about a time when you needed to be able to read a room to perform well. What was the situation? How did you go about reading the room? What did you then do or not do? What was the result?
Assess & Develop Your Adaptability
You can use a self-assessment tool, the Cross-Cultural Adaptability Inventory, online for about USD$10 (not an affiliate).
The CCAI lets you self-assess on four scales associated with adaptability (Flexibility-Openness, Perceptual Acuity, Emotional Resilience, and Personal Autonomy) and chart yourself against norms. You can also order forms and ask others to assess you.
If you find you want to develop yourself in any of the scale areas, you can order an Action Guide that provides some simple, easy-to-do exercises for about USD$4. You can go also hire a coach to help you.
The CCAI was an eye-opener for me. I wasn’t as adaptable as I thought I was. Give it a try!
Updated July 2019
© 2010 – 2019, Donna Svei. All rights reserved.
Donna Svei, an executive resume writer and former C-level executive, retained search consultant, and CPA, authors all of AvidCareerist’s posts. She has written for and been quoted by 100+ business, general, and career media outlets, including Forbes, Mashable, Fast Company, Entrepreneur, Time, CBS, the BBC, Lifehacker, Ask.com, Social Media Today, IT World, SmartBrief, Payscale, Business News Daily, and the Muse.
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