A bright contrasting colour of question marks in the darkness whilst one shines

March 18, 2019, by Katy Johnson

Failure Isn’t an Option… or Is It?

By Hannah Woolley, Employability Education Manager


Failure is bad, success is good. Right? Maybe not. Whatever the scale of your apparent whoopsy, whether you’ve had a minor mishap at work or things have gone belly up and a job change is on the cards.

Here are three reasons why an occasional career catastrophe can actually be helpful. 

1. Learning Opportunity

Failure provides a learning opportunity. In the moment that you realise something has gone wrong, you open up an opportunity for reflection. Ask yourself: what do you know now that you didn’t know before; if and how the situation could be salvaged or improved; and, what you could do differently in the future. Try to give yourself a bit of time and space to think these things through; your ‘hot’ instant reaction is likely to be more emotional and harsh than a more considered ‘cool’ reflection a few days later. There you have it, valuable wisdom generated and banked for the future! 

2. Resilience

Failure is an opportunity to develop, and demonstrate, the ability to bounce back. It’s often said by graduate recruiters that resilience is a sought-after attribute. However, in order to acquire it something has to challenge you to dig deep and pull through a tough time. So, hooray for that bodge you just made, now you can focus on dealing with a difficult situation and prove your ability to cope in adverse conditions. Remember, people (like your manager) can often excuse an occasional error, they’re more interested in whether or not you’re able to come through things professionally. So, if things should go wrong, try to channel the ‘keep calm and carry on’ mantra and aim to move forward with a positive mindset, made even stronger by testing times.

3. You Are Only Human

Failure proves that you’re human, and therefore ‘normal’ (in a good way). Regardless of what Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn tell you about everyone else’s perfect life and career, remember that this is often highly polished and the reality is that we all have days when our performance could be described as suboptimal at best. Besides, everyone likes an underdog, so if you do fail don’t be afraid to ask for help because the chances are that other people will have experienced something similar and will often be happy to offer their support. You may even find that your employer offers a variety of sources of assistance, for example, mentoring schemes, training courses, advice clinics, and counselling services.  

For more help and support, whether things are going well or not, you can book a careers appointment with one of our expert advisers. Check out our website which will provide a variety of resources to prepare you for your future. You can also get in touch.

Posted in Careers Advice