Resilience – an attractive skill for employers and your career


Career resilience means the ability to overcome barriers and adapt to change or problems in the workplace as they arise.  It is the ability to cope with setbacks and bounce back, being able to boost your self-esteem and try again. Sounds scary or almost superhuman?  In fact, resilience is a skill that can be learnt and developed. Vicky Ransley from the Employability and Careers Centre tells you more…

Why is resilience important to consider?

Resilience is a skill that employers value and seek in today’s graduates.  The need for resilience has grown due to changes in the job market.  Years ago, a good employee could hope to stay with the same company for life, loyalty being a key attribute.  It is now more likely for graduates to work for several different companies throughout their careers.  A career may move through many phases requiring different skillsets, and sometimes, you might have to face challenging or difficult changes in your work environment.  As a university student about to start your career journey, you cannot predict where it will take you, but you can be prepared.  Resilience will help you achieve success and ease the transitions you may have to face.

Resilient employees:

  • remain engaged and focussed, even when things are difficult
  • spot trends and turn them into opportunities
  • don’t get bogged down by the past, but look towards the future
  • are curious – they keep learning
  • are able to evolve with the times.

Sounds scary or almost superhuman?  Don’t worry – you can build resilience.  Resilient people have learnt behaviours, attitudes and work patterns that help them to be successful.  Beverly Jones, President of Clearways Consulting, comments ‘by learning to become more resilient you can bring power, direction and energy to your career.  You can be more comfortable in an environment where nothing stays the same and the old ways no longer work… you can create a more successful career path, and at the same time find greater enjoyment in the rest of your life.’*

How do we develop resilience?


The 5 Pillars of Resilience Model* has been developed by global consultancy The Wellbeing Project, and is designed to inspire individuals to maximise their resilience

  1. Energy

Physical energyenergy levels are crucial to our general health, resilience and stamina.  You can’t increase the number of hours in a day, but you can increase your energy levels and enhance your performance.  Energy management is the new time management, so try to eat well, sleep well and stay fit in order to achieve your best.

2. Future Focus

future-focusSetting goals helps to bring purpose and meaning to what we do.  Try to look at the big picture; think about what success might look like for you in five years’ time.  Remember, you won’t be successful in your career if you neglect other areas of your life, so make a list, write a vision statement, create a vision board or simply a mental wish list.  Even if things are challenging at university or work, you will feel better if you can keep your perspective.

3. Inner drive

inner-driveChoose optimism – positive mental energy keeps us going.  Positive people are more resilient than pessimists and you can work to become more optimistic.  Start focussing on what goes right.  Keep a record of the good things that happen in your day, the things that you are grateful for.  This will help you to remain focussed, motivated and confident in your own abilities.  Inner drive will also help you to deal effectively with inevitable setbacks.

4. Flexible Thinking

flexible-thinkingBeing able to adapt and think flexibly in the face of change prevents us from becoming ‘stuck’ in difficult situations.  Try to identify and challenge unhelpful thought patterns.  Think like an entrepreneur – you will be the owner of your career.  Even if you work for a large organisation, think about the impact you can make.  Look for new ways to add value, learn something new and expand your own skillset.

5. Strong relationships

strong-relationshipsIt’s easy to think that resilient people are fiercely independent.  In fact, research has shown that they enjoy strong relationships and have good support networks both at home and work.  Attend events even when you don’t feel like it.  Join a society.  Get to know your housemates better.  Know that you can draw on your network for support and inspiration during future challenges.

Make a start

Whether it’s a trip to the Sports Park, some positive mental thinking or a gathering with your friends, start to be aware of your resilience levels and develop this valuable skill.  Don’t let disappointing exam results or an unsuccessful application hold you back.  Make it your goal to become a resilient graduate – it will make your future career easier and more enjoyable!

vicky-square-miniThis blog post has been written by Vicky Ransley, a Careers Adviser at the University of Surrey since Jan 2014. With her background in the arts, publishing and education, Vicky specialises in working with students from the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, GSA and the Department of Music and Media.

*Kerry Hannon’s article on, ‘6 Key Steps For Career Resilience’.

*5 Pillars of Resilience from The Wellbeing Project: