How to bounce back in a tough jobs market

Resilience is the ability to ‘bounce back’ from or adapt to difficult experiences. It’s a skill that can help you cope with all of life’s setbacks including those in your career.

Being resilient will make sure that you are able to deal positively with challenging situations like:

  • interview rejection
  • exam failure
  • redundancy
  • not getting a promotion
  • unexpected life events

Like all skills, resilience can be learned. With practice you can develop the thought processes and behaviours that make it possible to recover quickly or more easily adapt to change.


Build your resilience

There are some typical characteristics of truly resilient people. These include:

  • having a positive frame of mind and a willingness to try new things
  • being keen to meet new people and making them part of a support network of trusted friends and colleagues
  • knowing who to turn to and having the courage to ask for help and advice

Trying to boost your resilience and build a support network can feel daunting. To help with this you could:

  • start a course - even online courses give you the chance to meet and chat with other learners
  • join a local or online interest group
  • take up a new hobby you can do with others
  • join a sports team or do something active
  • stay in regular contact with friends, family and work colleagues

If you’re in school, college or university remember that there are professionals like teachers, mentors and careers advisers who can help you.

In the workplace you can draw on the support of a manager or get help from human resources professionals.

If you're out of work you could speak to a Jobcentre work coach


Learn from your own experiences

When things don’t go as planned it can be a great learning opportunity. Use your past experience to identify ways of coping that worked for you in other situations. For example:

Think of a time when you:

  • achieved a goal - what were the steps that you went through and why did it turn out well?
  • had a setback that led to a change of plan – how did you feel? What did you do? If you were experiencing that now, what might you do differently?
  • asked for feedback from others – how did you respond? What did you do as a result?

When thinking about these experiences try to:

  • focus on how you got there, rather than the end result - this will help you understand the right steps to take to be more adaptable in the future
  • explore your feelings to help you ‘reframe’ negative thoughts about a problem - this will help you to develop a more positive ‘can do’ attitude
  • think about how you react to and use criticism - this will help you to learn how to make the most of the advice others can give

Tips to become more resilient

When things don’t go to plan try to:

  • make a list of all the times you have adapted well – remind yourself that you have coped before and you can do so again
  • see your experience as a chance to grow and improve
  • ask for constructive feedback – for example, after an interview, following an exam or a work appraisal
  • have a positive outlook – you may not be able to alter the situation but you can change the way you think about it
  • connect with others and ask for help
  • focus on the things you can change and accept those you cannot
  • set yourself small goals and celebrate your achievements as you go
  • be kind to yourself – not always succeeding is a part of life
  • reflect on your experience and try to learn from it – it will make you stronger in the long term

Find resources and further help

Find further help from organisations, like: