Resilience: The Most Important Thing You Can Take From Your Job Applications


In this post, we are discussing resilience, and why it is such an important skill to take from your placement, internship or graduate job search. It’s a skill that is not only useful in the job-hunt process and professional life, but in day-to-day life as well. Read on to find out why.

The job-hunt process – a thought to strike fear into any sane finalist. For many students, job applications will be their first experience of real, actual failure. You thought that stellar academics and hard work would land you the job of your dreams. But the real world is more complex than that and, fifty applications down the line, things aren’t looking good. You feel lost and powerless; the last thing you want to do is write another cover letter.

The answer? Knuckle down and get on with it. Because the first thing this experience should teach you is the importance of resilience.

What is resilience?

Resilience is not about avoiding failure. It’s about being able to fail, suck it up and keep going.

Why’s it worth thinking about? Resilience isn’t just something you can apply to uni work, or those rejection emails currently flooding your inbox. It is an essential soft skill that will benefit you throughout your career, improving efficiency and capability while minimising the blows of mental illness. What’s more, it’s a perfectly learnable behaviour; if you want to be more resilient, you can.

Why is it important? 

It’s no surprise you’re worried, youth of Britain. The post-uni job hunt is tough for grads the world over. But you’re not the only ones; the already-employed are feeling just as put-upon.

The World Health Organisation has described stress as “the global health epidemic of the 21st century.” This, anxiety and depression accounted for almost 10 million sick days in workplaces in 2014-5. That’s 23 days per person, in case you’re wondering. Similarly, analysis of Global EAP data shows that depression, anxiety and stress constitute 82.6% of emotional health cases in Employee Assistance Programmes.

The best response? Good resilience. In the technological era, an ability to stay strong and focused at work is invaluable. A 2014 global survey suggested that 57% of organisations fail to help employees manage difficult schedules and information flow. Resilience training among employees in technology sectors is one of the few ways to fight this crippling information fatigue.

Obviously, it is the responsibility of company leaders to minimise the effect of mental illness on workers. Still, there are techniques that you should use to protect yourself and boost personal resilience – through the job application process and beyond.

What practical steps can I take?

Resilience is a primarily mental skill, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t practical solutions to unemployment. If an approach to job apps isn’t working, you should switch things up.

Ensure you’re not making the classic mistakes – copy/pasting cover letters, not updating CVs etc – and that you’re visiting your career centre or website on a regular basis. Try to target smaller companies; those mega-corporations with highly competitive grad schemes may look appealing, but it’s SMEs (Small-to-Medium-sized Enterprises) which are more likely to give you a shot.

Widen your job search to encompass similar roles. Alter the job boards you look at, or go for a social-centric approach. After all, 80% of jobs are filled through networking.

And mental?

You might have heard of mindfulness before, but did you know that it can reduce stress, boost cognitive ability, increase flexible thinking and improve overall performance? A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Programme run by MIND in Salford caused a reduction in stress levels and anxiety, improvements in sleeping patterns and general improved mood. Mindfulness is easy to get involved in through websites like Be Mindful – and could seriously improve your health during your application process.

Next, this is a time to learn how to detach and compartmentalise, if you haven’t already at university. It may seem counter-intuitive, but being able to detach from work and ‘sign off’ means that the work you do accomplish is likely to be stronger, more focused and more efficient. Applications are important, but they shouldn’t make up your entire life. When you stop sending off cover letters, actually stop. Limit job site updates to once a day maximum – less, if you can bear it. Watch a film, see friends and don’t hermit.

Finally, indulge in a little perspective. Reading your fifteenth rejection email? Respond to it as you did your first: accept and move on. You can always ask for feedback, but never let a missed interview send you into fits of despair. It’s not the end of the world.

Still not a-okay? There are plenty of guides to improving resilience all over the net. And if it all goes wrong you can always get a dog – we hear they work pretty well.

Susanna Quirke writes for Inspiring Interns, a graduate recruitment agency which specialises in sourcing candidates for internships  and giving out graduate careers advice. To hire graduates or browse graduate jobs London, visit our website.

For additional guidance on how to foster resilience, or any assistance with CVs and applications, don’t forget to check out the Careers website, or book an appointment.


Filed under Advice

3 responses to “Resilience: The Most Important Thing You Can Take From Your Job Applications

  1. Pingback: Is My Career Goal Realistic? | University of Leeds Careers Centre Blog

  2. Pingback: How I got my job – Placement year with UCB in Belgium | University of Leeds Careers Centre Blog

  3. Pingback: Tackling the Application Process & Being Open about a Disability: Part Two | University of Leeds Careers Centre Blog

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