Life brings with it wonderful moments as well as deep disappointments. If you’ve quickly bounced back from a trying time in your life, perhaps a difficult break-up or a disappointing academic experience, you’ve experienced resilience. Resilience is the ability to recover quickly from hardship.
In the same spirit, career resilience is about the ability to rebound from work-related setbacks and learn from experiences so that you can push towards your career goals. Setbacks could include not getting the promotion you thought you’d be a perfect fit for. Or, your contract doesn’t get renewed despite your best efforts on the job. Take for example Steve Jobs’ story of career resilience.
‘I didn’t see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life… Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith.’ Steve Jobs, on being fired from Apple in 1984
Create your own lucky breaks. Be opportunistic.
View challenges as opportunities to learn and grow in your career. While it’s important to have goals, don’t cling on to them so closely that you lose sight of opportunities. Be open to trying something different. For example, at work (including volunteer / internship / p-time work), be curious about projects that you are not involved in. Learn about them and the people involved. Explore “what else” is out there. What you discover may fuel your interests in new and exciting ways and you might even learn some new skills. For example, when I was between jobs a few years back, I had met up with a former colleague over lunch who informed me about a job. Despite not being terribly excited about the opportunity at the time (and not actively looking for work), I decided to apply. I got the job and developed skills in grant writing and project management. While my passion remains career counseling, I have additional skills that I can apply at work.
Find purpose and meaning in your career and life.
Pay attention to your work values and the contributions you intend to make in your career and life. Actively look for what sparks your interest and do what you love somewhere in your life (hobbies / part-time/ volunteer). Write your ideas down and develop a personal mission statement.
For ideas about what’s important to you, check out UofT’s career development e-book collection. Free downloads at: http://guides.library.utoronto.ca/c.php?g=373504&p=2526310
If this is important to you, explore your career interests EARLY and inform yourself about work demands that could impact your work life balance (eg. frequent travel, shift work, peaks in work hours due to critical project dates or company targets). Many workplaces offer benefits to help employees manage competing work-life demands including flexible work arrangements, fitness membership assistance and family leave policies. Knowing what these benefits are and making use of them can help you achieve greater work-life balance.
Visit the Career Centre for support. We’re here to help you succeed.
Daniela Cristini, Career Counsellor
Hannon Kerry. (2012, December 26). 6 Key Steps for Career Resilience. Retrieved from
La Trobe University (2013, September 26). Why Career Resilience Matters and How to Develop It.