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Two and a half years ago I jumped ship from the fintech industry to HR consulting, a business I knew nothing about. If you are familiar with either of these industries, I am sure you understand how big a leap this was– to be honest, it was kinda scary for a little while. But what I quickly realized was that being inexperienced in a sea of experts wasn’t exactly a bad thing. My beginner’s lens gave me a unique perspective that saw past common practice and to the green field.

Admittedly, I felt lost along the learning curve for some time, trying to learn to speak the language of HR, wrap my head around all the ‘centers of excellence’ and everything in between. But I saw things without preconceived notions; this actually became a benefit to me, my team and my clients; and guess what…I thrived! Adaptability is what got me through. This is the impetus for this blog.

A video sneak peek here:


My beginner’s mind begs the question: how much untapped potential are we missing by not consistently including the adaptive candidate along with the groomed, ‘skilled,’ and experienced one?

Looking back on my college days, I never thought this was where I would be. I started as a pre-med major with aspirations of being a dermatologist and changed my major twice before deciding to stick with Communications. Even then, I didn’t think this is where I would land.  Did you know and aspire to be where you are today? {deep breath} Likely not, and market analysts now suggest that 65% of children entering grade school this year will assume careers that don’t yet exist. So, how can we possibly prepare the rising generation of workers if we don’t even know what work they will be doing? If this is true, adaptability will be a key asset, and businesses who can recognize and groom this quality will have an advantage.

I learned I was adaptable at a young age. I was a drama geek, I went to a performing arts high school (like in the show Glee, yes). I majored in musical theatre, but the friends I made swept across a variety of majors: Art, Chorus, Acting, Dance and, of course, all the ‘triple threat’ Musical Theatre majors. If you recall back to high school or if you have school aged children, you are familiar with “cliques”. Groups of like-minded people who spend time together and who don’t readily allow others to join them. I was part of multiple cliques and always found it odd that we couldn’t all be friends. I found myself sitting with different groups of people in the lunchroom on different days, but many of my friends stayed within their cliques. I knew at a young age this was their loss, but I didn’t think much more of it and just considered myself a social butterfly. Now that I see this same trait in my daughter, I recognize this natural affinity to lots of different types of people is not a learned skill but an innate trait — a trait that not only served me well in making friends but in my life and career.

Adaptability is, by definition, the ability to adjust to new conditions. It is a trait you either possess or not (naturally). Some people thrive in new and unknown situations while others shudder at the thought. Adaptability is what made me successful when I was thrown into the fire of a new job and industry change. Further, being a true beginner made my team more successful because I brought a new mindset and fresh perspective to the table.

You know, unlearning will always be harder than learning, but it’s impossible to unlearn if we don’t have an outside perspective questioning the status quo. And we all know growth does not happen in a state of status quo.

Traditionally, our careers start down a particular path, and we build along that path. We are given training or upskilling opportunities to develop skills and seek out growth opportunities that align with roles that naturally progress us. This is what I’ll challenge: is thinking laterally or sequentially in regards to career development actually limiting or, dare i say, exclusive?

If we take an overall view, classic recruiting practices are designed to seek out candidates who match the skills and past experiences desired for an open role. While this makes total sense, I wonder if this approach is inhibiting growth and too conservative and not inclusive in nature?

In most cases, Talent Management seeks to categorize skills and map people with those skills to the jobs that need them. If the organization is really forward thinking in this area, perhaps they are even sharing trainings to match growth opportunities that match an employee’s desired aspirations or promoting opportunities to grow to those who merit the opportunity.

A thought: What if managers, recruiters or HR organizations thought more broadly about career development and offered more thought to innate traits in this strategy? I would argue there are many people with innate traits that qualify them for jobs that may be far off the beaten path they are currently on. Sadly, in most cases these qualified candidates may never get the opportunity to be considered for these positions or even recognize that potential in themselves.

The 2020 pandemic has taught us many things; resoundingly, it’s taught us we are far more agile than we ever thought possible. It has shown us we are resilient and can transform in ways we never imagined – and in a short bit of time. We all adapted quickly in the wake of a global pandemic. Personally, professionally, as communities and organizations – we were adaptable. We all worked from home in roles we never thought possible; we took on new challenges and projects we didn’t ever think we could. Did you notice some individuals or teams who rose to the occasion and adapted better than others? Or perhaps the other side of that coin — were there others you recognized as unadaptable?

“Growth happens outside of your comfort zone.” Ever heard this quote? This is true on an individual level and on an organizational level.

If we continue to hire for ‘qualified candidates’ that fit a mold based on past experience and skills, we won’t ever truly grow in a diverse way.

I’m not suggesting we stop looking at skills or developing people in a strategic way; I am simply asking if it makes sense to find roles that may benefit from opening up the guardrails and seeking out candidates that possess adaptability. Think of the roles in your organization that would benefit from having a beginner’s mindset. Or where taking a risk on a truly adaptable candidate may make sense, even benefit the team. I know I’m thankful my leaders took that risk on me!

If your organization is already doing this, I would love to hear from you. And if your organization needs help rethinking your talent strategy, I’d love to hear from you, too!




Marissa Franco brings over 10 years of sales and business development experience to Leapgen. Prior to joining the Leaper family, Marissa worked for various financial technology firms where she managed strategic partnerships and drove enterprise growth. She is passionate about building meaningful client relationships and solving complex business problems through efficiency and engagement.  Marissa enjoys traveling with her husband and two children, Lily and Liam. She’s a technology lover and dedicated yogi.


Leapgen is a global digital transformation company shaping the future of work. Highly respected as a visionary partner to organizations looking to design and deliver a digital workforce experience that will produce valued outcomes to the business, Leapgen helps enterprise leaders rethink how to better design and deliver workforce services and architect HR technology solutions that meet the expectations of workers and the needs of the business.