Six Tips for Building Resilience in a Tough Job Market

Article written by Jessica Venturi, a career counselor with the Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics.

Political forces, emerging technologies, and other unprecedented pressures on the job market can feel particularly daunting to job seekers. We can do everything “right” and still not be rewarded with the outcome we desired.

When that happens, what can we do?

Cultivating a resilient mindset can help us bounce back stronger when faced with adversity. Remember that resilience isn’t about avoiding setbacks or ignoring the negative. Resilience is about unlearning helplessness and developing the ability to pick ourselves up and protect our well-being despite the challenges we encounter.

Now, let’s take a look at a few practical strategies for cultivating resilience:

  1. Maintain a Growth Mindset

Rather than viewing setbacks as failures, try to see them as opportunities for learning. It can be tempting to play the blame game (toward ourselves or others), but that is not a productive use of time or energy. Instead, reflect and adapt based on each experience. Know that you’re getting wiser and stronger every day.

  1. Focus on What You Can Control

You cannot control the job market, or what other people choose to do. All you can control is your approach and your attitude. Sure, the market can be rough. Yes, it was uncool for that employer to ghost you. No, that wasn’t the fairest interview question. But if you did your best and you kept in alignment with your goals and priorities, take a deep breath and move forward.

  1. Diversify Your Definition of Success

What does success mean to you? It can be easy to develop tunnel vision and define success in strict black-and-white terms.

“I’m a failure if I don’t get a call back.”

“I’m a winner if I ace the interview.”

But this is a narrow view. A successful life has many different interlocking pieces that may include family, health, friends, hobbies, spirituality, and creativity. Remember that your professional life is just one piece of your puzzle.

  1. Practice Gratitude

When things get rough, the last thing we want to hear is someone saying, “Be grateful.” But extensive research in positive psychology shows that people who orient their thinking around gratitude are generally happier and more resilient.

Gratitude rewires the brain to notice the things around you that evoke positive feelings. Rather than zooming in on the clouds, resilient people notice the rainbows in the corner.

First, go ahead and acknowledge what was difficult today. This isn’t about “squashing down” negative thoughts. Then, try writing down three things that went well or brought you joy. It may feel silly at first, but with practice your brain will learn that you can acknowledge hard things while noticing what’s worthy of gratitude.

  1. Take Care of Yourself

Remember to take care of your physical and mental well-being. Eat nutritious foods, get enough sleep, and incorporate movement into your day. Treat yourself to things that you enjoy — a favorite latte or going out to the movies with a friend. You don’t need to “earn” these things or put them off until you have achieved something “productive.”

  1. Give Back

Research shows that focusing on others has a positive impact on our ability to recover during challenging times. Helping others allows us to step outside ourselves and view the world from a new perspective. Volunteer your time for a cause you care about, or offer to mentor someone with less experience. Help a friend. Raise each other up.

By cultivating a resilient mindset, you’ll not only navigate through tough job markets but also emerge stronger.

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