Work Experience Gleaned from an Agile Environment
By Tamara Sheehan
Director of Business Management
When you vet résumés for potential job candidates, the skills section can be telling. Your company might look for industry-specific skills or mentions of commonly used software or equipment. But what about experience working in an agile environment? Is that a skill you’re looking for? Is it even worth mentioning on a résumé?
In the era of agile work, experience in free-assign and flexible workplaces is important. Like any other trait in the skills section of a résumé, it speaks to that person’s ability to thrive when put in certain situations. Workplaces play a big role in how people do the job they’re hired for. Just because they have the qualifications doesn’t mean they’re equipped to do a good job in an environment they’re unfamiliar with. Conversely, someone who knows what it's like working in an agile environment might not have any trouble getting up to speed.
Not only is experience with agile working a skill, it’s one worth looking for on incoming résumés. The newest addition to your team is likely someone familiar with the work styles and culture already present in your agile environment.
Why is prior experience important?
Consider someone who’s only ever worked in a traditional office. They have their own desk and personal private space with a phone extension and computer. Now, imagine taking these things away from that person and telling them to do the same job they’ve always done, only in an agile environment. It’s apples vs. oranges; Mac vs. PC. Say goodbye to what they know.
For most people, adapting to a new workspace is stressful enough. Change the entire dynamic of what a workplace is and your new hire may feel even more out of their element. This isn’t to say they can’t learn to embrace agile working—they’re just at a disadvantage.
What does agile workplace experience say about someone?
Experience working within an agile workspace translates into many other traits. Think about what an agile workplace represents, then track these traits back into skills:
- Workplace agility teaches a person to adapt quickly to new situations.
- Using different types of workplaces imbues workers with strategic understanding.
- Collaborating in agile environments develops strong communication skills.
- Self-managing in free-assign workplaces teaches accountability.
- Familiarity with agile workplace systems promotes critical thinking.
All these traits come secondary to working in an agile work environment, but come with real ramifications when it comes to developing productive habits. Agile work experience shows a person’s ability to function at a high level, in an environment that’s ever-changing. This type of person is an asset to the business and someone who can continue to adapt to the demands of a growing, changing business.
If it’s not on the résumé, ask about it
Not every employee will think to put “experience working in an agile environment” in the skills section of their résumé. Employers shouldn’t overlook it during interviews and applicant surveys. Like any other skill a candidate brings to the table, agile work experience is an asset.
If your company hiring process involves a questionnaire, focus one or two of the questions on workplace experience or willingness to adapt to an agile workplace. For in-person interviews, ask pointed questions about it. “How do you feel about working in an environment that changes every day?” or “How do you adapt to environments that force constant change?” Make it clear that you operate an agile workplace and talk about what it means for your company.
Workspace conversations are much more productive in the interview phase, as opposed to after a hire. The last thing you want to do is hire the perfect candidate, only to find they’re incompatible with the workplace culture of an agile environment.
Make the transition into agile work simple
Every agile workplace has its own degree of dynamism. A workplace with 10 employees has a much different feel than one with 100 coworkers. Likewise, adapting to different types of breakout spaces, a new floor plan, and different workplace protocols is all part of easing into a new environment.
Whether they have agile work experience or not, take time to ease a new hire into your workplace. Immersion time is often lower for workers familiar with agile workspaces, but a well-run workplace will foster inclusion for anyone, experienced or not. The smoother you make the transition, the easier it is for your new hire to integrate.
Keep reading: Understanding Agile Workplace Pros and Cons