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November 19, 2020, by Abigail Rowse

Don’t Be Afraid to Fail: How to Build Your Resilience

The Career Wellbeing blog series. We know that thinking about your career, applying for jobs, and moving into the workplace can be exciting, but we also know that sometimes it can present challenges and might be a source of stress or anxiety. That’s why, in this blog series, we will explore some of the things that might cause you concern and provide helpful insight and advice, alongside ideas and inspiration for your future career wellbeing.

By Vicky Harsant, Nottingham Advantage Award Manager

Have you ever encountered a situation that didn’t quite go to plan, or where the outcome wasn’t as positive as you had hoped? Have you ever faced a setback or made a mistake? The answer is probably yes! This happens to us all and it may feel challenging but it is how you recover and move forward that is important.

Resilience is generally understood as the ability to recover from, and adapt to, difficult or challenging situations. Resilience is something that can be built over time, through the development of a range of skills and behaviours including adaptability, self-awareness, problem-solving, self-management, goal-setting, self-efficacy and communication. You probably recognise, and possess, some of these as the result of your academic, work and extracurricular experiences.

Why is resilience important to graduate employers?

Applying for and starting a new job means facing a variety of challenges. You may experience rejection during the recruitment process, or it may take time to adapt to the work environment. Once in the role, you will find that the workplace and role are subject to regular change.

Being able to develop behaviours to help you manage this change will be important for your ongoing development. Ask your employer for help if there are things you are finding challenging as managers and peers may able to provide support or identify further training.

Employers may also assess your resilience through the recruitment process. They may ask direct questions about resilience, or they may ask broader situational questions designed to explore further how you manage challenging situations.

We offer resources on our website to help you with preparing for applications from CVs to interviews and everything in between.

Build your resilience

There are lots of ways to build resilience. Start by reflecting on where you are now and what you might want to do next. Even in the current circumstances there are lots of opportunities to build the skills you need.

Reflect on your academic, work or extracurricular experiences. Think about an experience that was challenging or didn’t go to plan. What happened? How did you feel? What have you learned? What would you do differently? If you can, get some feedback. How did your peers or colleagues feel you managed the situation? It can be easy to dwell on what we feel we didn’t do well but another perspective can help us see the situation differently.

Get to know your skills and strengths

Building self-awareness is essential. Don’t compare yourself to others, but reflect upon your unique skills and strengths that could help you manage challenging situations. You could try out a skills audit exercise to assess the skills needed for resilience. What examples do you have where you have put these into practice? What opportunities can you spot to build skills further? This can inform your development goals. Access the resources on our website to find out more.

Getting experience

Taking part in volunteering, part-time work, internships and projects are great ways to develop the skills required for building resilience, from problem-solving and communication, to adaptability and self-management and for confidence building. These experiences will also give you a range of examples to draw on during the recruitment process to evidence resilience.

Don’t be afraid to try, and don’t be afraid to fail!

Try to re-frame your thinking to help you to see things differently. At some point we may feel as though we didn’t meet someone else’s (or our own!) expectation, either due to factors out of our control, or because we are still developing the required knowledge or skills.

Don’t put off trying something because you are worried about making a mistake. You won’t have all the answers or get everything right first time. It is important to give things a go and use these experiences to reflect on what happened, what went well, what didn’t go so well, and how you can take this learning forward in the future.

Looking after yourself

Looking after your overall wellbeing is important to deal with change and challenges throughout your career. Mindfulness and meditation may help and employers may also offer wellbeing support so look out for this when undertaking your workplace research. Listen to our Employability Matters podcast and in particular, check out the episode on how to be more resilient.

Look out for the next post in our Career Wellbeing blog series, it will be available on Friday, 18 December 2020 and will focus on dealing with anxiety during recruitment activities.

Posted in Applying For JobsCareer wellbeing