Job hunting? 5 Ways To Build Resilience During Challenging Times

by Elizabeth Taylor

April 2, 2018

The process of career transition is one of inherent ups and downs, highs and lows. As a job seeker, you need to be especially resilient – ready to rebound and keep moving forward when faced with a disappointment or apparent setback.

“The good news is you don’t need to be born with resilience, you can learn it just like any other skill,” said Robyn Winters, Career Strategist at TampaBay-Job-Links. “Like exercising a muscle, you can build powers of resilience that will keep you going through your job search – and any challenges you face in life.”


Behavioral health scientists have identified specific traits shared by people who demonstrate the ability to bounce back most effectively after life’s difficulties – not just once, but over and over. Based on this research, Robyn shared several tips for building your powers of resilience during a Monday Morning LINKS session, a weekly program available free with advance registration.

Here are five ways to strengthen your powers of resilience:

1. Be a Positive Thinker

While you can’t control your experiences, you can control what you think about them. On one hand, pessimists believe the things that happen to them are their fault, are part of a larger negative trend and will last a long time. In contrast, optimists think that “stuff just happens” as isolated events and any setback is temporary. Which one are you?

In his book, “Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life,” psychologist Martin Seligman wrote, “when you find yourself down, anxious or angry, ask what you are saying to yourself.” Are you spinning negative stories? Is your bleak picture really accurate? Since negative beliefs are usually distortions, Seligman said you should challenge them. Then put it behind you.

“Put the setback in your rearview mirror,” said Robyn. After all, when you focus forward on your windshield instead, you get a much wider vantage point.

As someone who experienced a number of layoffs herself, Robyn also recommends looking for “the gift” in whatever comes your way. “When you look back on past events, even losing a job often leads to something much better than you even imagined,” she said.

2. Develop Flexibility.

Flexibility is the same in psychological and physical terms: it means to be elastic or pliable. With technology constantly bringing new ways to work, companies want employees who are flexible. “If we’re not flexible, we’ll be left behind,” said Robyn.

Instead, show prospective employers that you’re open and flexible by giving examples of when you championed a new process or recently took the initiative to learn a new skill.  Flexibility may also mean taking a job that’s not exactly what you want because it could lead to something better.

3. Embrace Change.

As change keeps coming fast and furious, resilience plays an essential role in how you roll with it. From road detours to job changes, change is part of everyday life. You need to learn how to respond effectively – rather than react reflexively — to stay on the road. When difficult changes come, Robyn suggested you ask yourself: “How will my life be better as a result of this?” You may uncover opportunities to grow, get stronger or even to try something you’ve always wanted to do but put off.

Still, some changes, like losing a job, are really lousy, especially in the beginning. In such cases, it’s ok to go ahead, throw your tantrum – in private, of course. “But then put it in the rear-view mirror,” Robyn said.

4. Seek Positive Role Models.

Look for people in your life who demonstrate resilient behaviors to inspire and motivate you. Who do you know who approaches life with optimism and an upbeat attitude? Is there someone who always seems to persevere even when the deck seems stacked against them?

Make a list of people who display the behaviors you want to emulate. Besides optimism and perseverance, other qualities to look for include being honest and respectful with others.

5. Build Your Support Team.

Since we’re social beings it’s much easier to maintain resilience when you’re not alone. Assemble a support team of people who believe in you, who’ll be your cheerleaders. “They also need to be 100 percent non-judgmental about you,” said Robyn. Power tip: These are NOT the people who ask why you haven’t found a job yet.

Fortunately, you don’t need to be an extrovert to build a support system. You can recruit team members from friends, family, clergy, and counselors. Who would you like to be on your team? Make a list of three to five individuals, and make a plan to contact them regularly.

Looking for more tips on making a successful job transition? Click here to see upcoming workshops. Better yet, make sure you don’t miss our valuable learning and networking opportunities by subscribing to our E-News List.

Elizabeth Taylor is a freelance content writer based in Tampa.




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