Job seeking during a pandemic – the importance of personal resilience

Back in April 2018, we sponsored a CIPD event ‘How to build personal resilience’ with inspirational speaker, trainer, coach, and author Steve Head. It’s a topic we’re passionate about and in this month’s blog we wanted to revisit the topic due to these challenging times and in the hope that we will help people who are possibly worried about their future career.

The ONS revealed recently that unemployment stands at 4.8% in the UK which although is nowhere near as high as the 8.5% in 2011 following the global financial crisis, it is still is a big increase when compared with pre-COVID-19, so in this blog we’d like to give some ‘food for thought’ to those who may be struggling and not feeling optimistic about the future.

‘Bouncing back’ and being able to adapt to an ever changing world and environment takes mental and inner strength. Seeing failure as an opportunity to learn and grow personally is a positive attribute, and demonstrates personal resilience. In the process of looking for a new job, most people have ample opportunities to develop it, but those who are optimistic, confident, and emotionally intelligent are more likely to succeed in securing a new role.

In our current and projected future jobs market, resilience is not just important – it’s essential. The business world was in constant flux before and now there is an even higher amount of uncertainty; people within business need to be able to deal effectively with change and adjust appropriately. We are witnessing competition on the increase for many roles, therefore job seekers who can demonstrate resilience will most definitely stand out from a crowded job seeker market.

Building resilience early on in life enables people to fight the battles worth fighting throughout their entire careers. Hannah Heath was made Finance Director of JoJo Maman Bébé by the age of 30 and is currently Finance Director for SA Brain, she says: “I had to fight for my role here; there was a perception I was too young, but I had already proven I was capable of the job and managed to convince the board I was ready.”

Hannah was fortunate enough to have good roles models at home, school and in her early roles with PwC and HBOS, but not everyone gets the encouragement they need to achieve their ambitions. We urge job seekers to seek out a mentor, someone they can talk to and who can support them in the search for a new role. The good news is, we are happy to coach and support our candidates during their job search and can share information that will make them more aware of their own personal resilience.

We found Matthew Syed’s short guide on Building Personal & Team Resilience really inspiring where he tells us that people who are mentally tough tend to be ‘optimistic, confident and learn from experiences’, it’s definitely worth a read over your morning coffee!

So whatever lockdown and COVID-19 has thrown at you, we believe we can take these experiences and learn from them, and therefore build our personal resilience and be mentally prepared for whatever comes next. Use this difficult time to focus on what you can do to make positive plans for the future, take control of it and do not be afraid to ask for help and support from those who offer it; this is a sign of inner strength NOT weakness.

Ultimately, resilience is necessary because failure is inevitable at some stage in your career. As Batman responded when his father asked, ‘Why do we fall Bruce?’: ‘So we can learn to pick ourselves up again’.

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