Building Career Resilience


By Tanya Kett.

Is failure such a bad thing? It sure feels that way in the midst of it but think back to a time you failed at something, whether it was your driving test as a teenager, an exam as a university student, or maybe you received less-than-positive feedback from a client. These things are bound to happen, but there are teachable moments to be found within every experience that failed to achieve the positive outcome hoped for.

We can learn to approach these situations with a positive outlook, taking the time to ask ourselves “What can I learn from this? How might I do this differently next time? What will make me a better person? A better professional?”

Earlier this year I attended a CERIC-hosted webinar series presented by Louisa Jewell, titled Building Resilience in Career Transition. It transformed my approach to adversity, both in my personal life and in the work I do with my clients.

Resilience is a life skill beneficial to everyone, no matter their walk of life. And it’s a skill that delivers positive benefits throughout a lifetime. Rooted in positive psychology, Louisa Jewell’s tips are adaptable to your own personal and professional development, and also provide guidance on how to help clients develop resilience.

In my role as a Career Development Advisor at McMaster University, I feel privileged to have the opportunity to pass on to my clients the “how-to” of building resilience. As students working toward career goals, they will no doubt run into roadblocks such as uncertainty about career choices, unsuccessful interviews, and job loss, to name but a few.

Through the CERIC webinar, I learned that reframing negative experiences into positive outlooks is imperative for anyone who wishes to move forward successfully. What is the negative experience able to teach? Acknowledging immediate feelings and then using a worksheet to reframe what can be learned or improved helps clients see how they can move forward positively instead of remaining “stuck.”

This Career Minds blog post lists 10 tips for building career resilience by taking a holistic approach to overall wellness, using reflection to evaluate experiences, and identifying areas for growth and development. I encourage you to read this Forbes article, which alludes to the fact that the only constant  in our ever-evolving world is change, and that developing the skill of resilience is one of the best tools a person can possess in order to succeed. A second article I recommend is this great list of “8 Tips to Help You Become More Resilient.

Take a look at this five-minute-long YouTube video with Jill Allemang, founder and Managing Director of Jallé, titled “Why Does Career Resilience Matter?”

There are several TED Talks on the subject of resilience, too. Google “TED Talk resilience” for lots of hits. I suggest you check some of them out. I really enjoyed this one by Dr. Shelley Ball from a TEDxOttawa event last year. The title of her talk is “Passion, Grit, and Resilience Get You from Ordinary to Extraordinary.

My hope is that the subject of resilience has piqued your curiosity. Further, I hope that these resources inspire you as much as I’ve been inspired to focus on instilling optimism, positivity, and an awareness of the importance of resilience in my clients – and in myself!

Photo by Idara Ekpoh on Unsplash

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