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Building Resilience in Your Job Hunt: How to Progress Your Career Planning and Overcome Setbacks in Challenging Times.

By Joe O'Brien, on 26 May 2020

Read time: 3 minutes

Written by Nicole Estwick, Careers Consultant at UCL Careers.

We have all experienced setbacks, in one way or another, during our lifetime where things may have not quite gone to plan. The world of work is no different and in the current situation we find ourselves in, many individuals who are looking to gain work experience as part of their career planning or secure their first full time role after graduation face a number of challenges ahead. What is key though, both in the current landscape and in your future career, is building a level of resilience to ensure you can keep moving forward in spite of challenging circumstances.

Resilience, in its simplest form, can be defined as the capacity to recover and adapt to new and difficult situations and it is a skill that is highly regarded by employers across a range of sectors. But for many, perseverance in the face of adversity is easier said than done.

So how do you keep going with your job hunt at a time where vacancies have been impacted, competition for roles may have increased and employers are making changes to their recruitment processes?

The answer is in the 3 A’s: Acceptance, Adaptability and Action

  1. Acceptance

Although a large part of resilience is focused on the ability to move on, another aspect of the skill is accepting the reality of a situation and keeping a sense of perspective.

In the context of your career, speaking to friends, family and even connections made through LinkedIn can often be great source of support and give you a fresh perspective in helping you to see that highs and lows are often part of the job search and you are just one of many who may have to make a few attempts before making headway into your preferred career.

What is important in accepting setbacks is seeing it as part of the bigger picture which in this case is an unprecedented situation, reflecting on what you can learn- whether that’s through sourcing employer feedback or reviewing past applications and using this to grow and move forward with your job search.

  1. Adaptability

A key part of resilience is also the ability to be flexible and adapt to changes that are happening around you.

In practical terms, if your current job search isn’t producing the results you hoped for, you may want to consider changing your approach, much like employers who are changing some of their processes based on the current situation.

This could be as simple as applying for a broader range of roles within the company or sector you are interested in, based on increased demand for certain types of roles over others during this period.

Additionally, you could also look to adapt how you are searching for vacancies. For example, if you have solely been applying for advertised jobs, consider proactively sourcing contacts, sending speculative applications where appropriate or putting yourself forward for volunteering especially as many organisations are seeking extra support at this time.

In being flexible and taking on a range of approaches in your job hunt, this could open up new opportunities that you may have not come across before.

  1. Action

Finally, a key part of resilience is the ability to take action to move forward and in the context of careers there are a range of things you can do to increase your chances of success in your job hunt.

A good place to start with this is by making a plan of action whereby you can set yourself some clear, manageable goals, such as completing a certain number of applications a week to have a sense of direction and focus- which can be a great help at a time where things may seem overwhelming.

Your actions also do not have to be solely based on making applications, but you can also look to invest in your personal as well as professional development. Why not focus some of your time on upskilling yourself in areas you would like to improve on or gain a broader range of skills by volunteering? Both of these can be used to strengthen future applications you make too.

Lastly, it’s important to remain positive and celebrate successes no matter how small during your job hunt as this will drive you to keep going despite the bumps you may face along the road. Take the time to remind yourself of some of your achievements to date as a reminder of how you can reach the goals you set for yourself and will do so again in the future.

Although job searches will vary from individual to individual, resilience will no doubt be required at some point in everyone’s career- what is and will remain key though is ensuring that if you fall down, you can dust yourself off and get back up again whatever the circumstances may be.

To find out more about the importance of resilience visit the UCL Careers’ Skill Hub page.

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