Despite improvements in the job market, it is still a jungle out there. People rarely take an untroubled journey into and throughout their working life, and what is becoming evident in these tough times is that success can be largely forged by the way people choose to deal with their struggles or failures.
The need for resilience – the ability to bounce back stronger – appears to be starting earlier and earlier. Before the job market even becomes a reality, the need to start developing work experience or internships can prove the first major hurdle and that initial point of realisation in our clients that “things aren’t as easy as I thought they would be”. This may continue not just through the search for paid employment, but resilience is also a key feature in dealing with the longer term career journey – with progression at work, the disappointments of not achieving a promotion or not winning a business deal, and of the ever-present threat of redundancy that seems to have become a feature of modern working life.
Contrary to popular belief, resilience isn’t something that people are either born with or not. Like most things in life it can be a learned skill and there can be ways in which it can be fostered and developed in order to remain on a positive path to success. So let’s look at some of the tips we can be passing on to our clients to ensure that their resilience develops and remains suitably high:
Cultivating relationships – having strong social and professional networks – will provide you with a source of support and advice that will help you through the tough times. Don’t try and go it alone. It is always easier to pick yourself up if you have friends close at hand, and it is easier to achieve your career aims when you are working within a network of well-connected colleagues. And when you’re connected, stay connected. Use platforms like LinkedIn to remain in touch with people whom you’ve met on your journey, and don’t ever burn bridges.
Be realistic and stay within your own reality, not that of others. People do things differently, so don’t calibrate your success by what someone else may be doing. The graduate who secures a job after one application is in a (very) lucky minority. It doesn’t mean that the rest of their career path will be any easier or any better. Nor does suffering a redundancy mean that you won’t go on to bigger and better things.
Work towards smaller goals
Setting yourself clear and manageable goals, particularly when times are tough and your resilience is being testing, can be a good way of ensuring you continue to move forward and take control of challenging situations. Get into the habit of breaking things down, so that goals are not overwhelming but give you a sense of direction and achievement. Look for opportunities to keep developing yourself, whether through short courses, volunteering or just helping out a friend in need. All of these can give us an important sense of positivity.
But don’t be afraid to take a break
Whilst routine can provide us with a useful grounding and a framework in which to keep moving onwards and upwards, don’t forget to give yourself time to escape if need be. Over-worrying can be counterproductive so learn to recognise when this is happening and have strategies in place to divert your attention in other ways. Have a ‘safe space’ where you can be away from the stresses and anxieties. Don’t be consumed by your job search or career journey. Have hobbies that can enable you to channel your energy positively.
Be kind to yourself
Cut yourself some slack. Take care of yourself physically and mentally and that includes ensuring you get enough sleep. A decent night’s sleep can make the world feel like a better place and staying resilient when you feel tired and grouchy is an uphill battle. But remember to stay positive throughout and reject the victim mentality. In a competitive job market, employers will be looking for reasons to reject, not select, so don’t sabotage your own chances by creating negative energy.
Accept that change is a part of life
Career is a rarely a linear journey and you will, most likely, encounter ups and downs. Things will change – your ideas and ideals will change, the job market will experience highs and lows, and companies will change the importance that they attach to certain roles and business streams. As scary and as volatile as this may sound, it is also completely normal. Accepting the need to be flexible and to adapt to changing circumstances will help you to cope with the inevitable, because some things will be beyond your control.