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Is career agility the new intelligence?

Rachel Brushfield looks at what career agility is and how to acquire this competency.  Rachel is a career coach specialising in portfolio careers and Founder of Energise.


In a fast changing and uncertain world of work and legal profession, career agility is a ‘must learn’ competency.

This guest blog for Legal Women explores career agility, portfolio careers and shares some practical tips and self-reflective questions.

Impact of Covid-19 on the world of work

“When the winds of change blow, some people build windmills, others walls.”

Chinese Proverb.

What does career agility mean?

Source = Dictionary definition.

What does career agility mean at a practical level?

What’s your view?

5 career adaptability competencies

Interesting research by UKCES/The University of Warwick in August 2011 about career adaptability, defined 5 competencies, the ‘5 Cs’: bimrose_ca_main.pdf (warwick.ac.uk)

The 5 Cs of career agility

How can you develop career agility?

These are career agility behaviours:

Why a portfolio career is useful for developing career agility

Every portfolio career is unique. They are a changing mix of part-time employment, self-employment, volunteering, study, travel and rest.

Non-executive directorships and trustee roles are a common component for lawyers to begin to develop theirs.  

A portfolio career helps you develop career agility because:

What do lawyers + experts say about career agility and portfolio careers?

These are extracts from ‘The New Polymaths’, an Energise white paper about career agility.

“We need to realise that we can’t be experts in everything because it updates so quickly.”

Coral Hill, Editor in Chief, Legal Women magazine.

“Career agility means giving yourself more than one career option – a career plan ‘A’, ‘B’ and ‘C’.“

Elizabeth Rimmer, CEO, LawCare.

“Career agility must mean flexibility in terms of outlook and expectations, and also attitude.”

Stefan Stern.

“A portfolio career ensures that you never stop learning.”
Sally Penni

“Career agility is ‘the proactive investment in continuous learning.”

Maggi Evans, author, conference speaker, consultant and psychologist.

“You need to be able to think ‘out of the box,’ be strategic, commercial and find solutions to problems.”
Nicola Raj.  

“Career agility is about taking action when necessary or appropriate to craft one’s own future direction, willing to take calculated risks and not being limited by career choices taken previously; taking a positive stance and constructing a future forward path when faced with unforeseen circumstances.”

Evelyn Davies-Jones.

“Career agility means adaptability to me. I’ve had to be adaptable with nearly everything I do since my career began. It means choice.”

Jayne Nicol.

“I relish my portfolio career – it is stimulating, I am never bored, and I know that steps I take to evolve it today will lead to new exciting possibilities tomorrow for me, and to continue to make a difference.”

Christina Blacklaws.


So is career agility the new intelligence?

What is your view?

Key points

A portfolio career:

4 tips to build your career agility.

1. Choose 1 of the 5 career adaptability competencies and block out 20 minutes each week to develop this career adaptability ‘muscle’.

2. Keep a learning and mistakes diary each week, and review it once a month, highlighting the key development areas.

3. Seek the advice of respected recruitment agents to gain their perspective on what employers are looking for.

4. Draw a line graph for your career showing the ups and downs and reflect on insights at these times to inform your future choices.  

7 Self-reflective questions

1. How could I develop a growth mindset?

2. Who in my network could I proactively seek feedback from to develop my self-awareness?

3. What 5 emerging specialisms in my area of law would enable me to build my career agility?

4. When, where and how can I develop my career agility?

5. How would I score myself against the 5 agility competencies?

6. What is the best way for me to explore if a portfolio career is for me?

7. What CPD would help me to develop my career agility?


To receive your free copy of the Energise white paper about career agility: ‘The New Polymaths’, please e mail us:


Want to feel more comfortable marketing yourself?

Energise Seminar: “Marketing me: Successful proactive marketing.”

6-8pm Thursday 9 September 2021 on Zoom. Early bird ticket sales end 31 August 2021. Book now.


LinkedIn profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/energiseliberateyourtalent/

Web site: EnergiseLegal https://www.energiselegal.com/

Web site: LLClub - Inspiring Portfolio Careers for Women Lawyers: https://www.llclub.org/

Tel: + 44 (0) 7973 911137

July 2021