Unsurprisingly, resilience is often high up on an employer's list of characteristics in a graduate! Referring to the ability to cope with setbacks, change, problems and stress - it’s no wonder it’s a helpful attribute in a working environment.

Setbacks, unforeseen events, obstacles and some failures will inevitably be a feature of most people's working lives. Learning not to let these aspects dominate, derail or destroy your life, but rather having strategies to manage these feelings is what resilience is about.


Why is it important?

High resilience = better emotional and mental welfare.

Starting your first ‘proper’ job is a big change in life and usually involves facing challenges. It’s common to feel some stress and anxiety, but with some resilience skills you will manage these feelings of uneasiness. Additionally, high levels of resilience often indicate candidates who also have higher levels of problem solving skills and self awareness - more attractive characteristics for employers.

Unless you’re one of the jammy few who got the first job you applied for, it’s likely that job hunting will see you develop resilience. It helps you deal with rejection, carrying on and maintaining self-belief to continue with applications.


Increasing resilience

Levels of resilience are not static, they can be increased and improved.

  • Think about things you have achieved to date and try to keep a positive mindset.

  • Try attending practical careers workshops - here you can try stuff out and it doesn’t matter if it goes wrong as it’s a risk free environment.

  • Lots of universities run resilience and stress training days - it could be worth going to check out what coping strategies they recommend.

  • Lots of people find mindfulness, meditation and positive visualisations helpful. Check out ‘10% happier’ - the mindfulness app for ‘fidgety skeptics’ and see if it helps you!

  • Review events in your life - think about things that went well and things that didn’t. How did you feel? What helpful or unhelpful actions did you take, what would you do differently?


Assessing resilience

Common questions that refer to resilience as things such as:

  • “How do you cope with pressure?”

  • “Describe an occasion when you found yourself dealing with an unexpected situation, how did you demonstrate resilience?”

  • “How do you deal with setbacks?”

  • “Describe a time when something didn’t work out as you’d hoped. What did you do and what did you learn?”

  • “Describe a time when you worked with someone you didn’t agree with.”

  • “How would you respond to negative feedback from a superior?”

  • “What has been your biggest failure and how did you deal with it?”

Just remember - resilience isn't about not feeling stress or not being upset by setbacks, but managing these problems, taking control and asking for help when you need it.

skillsMaarten Karremans