Productivity

Apply the Resilience Theory to Your Job Search

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If there is one lesson to be learned from the current health crisis – it’s that nothing can ever be taken for granted.

Every aspect of our lives can be turned upside down within the span of just a few weeks. The habits and routines that we believed to be ‘normal’ can quickly become distant memories.

We are truly in an unprecedented time of our lives.

COVID-19 Has Changed The Job Market

Hundreds of countries around the world are in total or partial lockdowns with billions of people affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Travel has practically halted. Massive economic implications are already affecting millions of people, which further compounds the stress of potential health risks and emotional and mental wellbeing that many are struggling to maintain.

Unemployment in the US has skyrocketed to levels that haven’t been recorded since the great depression in the 1930s and if you were in the midst of your job search when the pandemic struck North America, then you may be feeling discouraged against new challenges in the job market as a result of the pandemic.

However, there is hope!

A Guide to Applying the Resilience Theory to Your Job Search


“It’s not the nature of adversity that is most important, but how we deal with it.”


While there is no doubt that there are new and evolving difficulties in seeking employment at this time, there are strategies and perspectives that should be considered to help you get ahead, instead of falling behind, during these times.

We have put together this article to provide a guide on how you can apply resilience theory to your job search and enable you to find opportunity within a seemingly desperate situation.

What is Resilience Theory?

Resilience theory is a psychological concept that argues that the outcomes of our lives are more connected to how we react when confronted with hardship, rather than the actual cause of that hardship.

COVID-19 pandemic aside, there are always hard times and challenges that can appear in our daily lives. Not everything goes to plan and events can always take a sudden turn. This is true regardless of a global catastrophe or not.

If we can agree that adversity persists regardless of the greater global context, then one crucial question remains: How will you react when confronted with difficult challenges?

Do you give up?

Do you blame someone or something else for your shortcomings? 

Or do you adapt?

Understanding the Definition of Resilience

Resilience is defined as “the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.”

executive thinkingThat said, there are many ways to apply resilience to your emotional, physical, and mental state. What’s important to understand here is that difficulty is inherent to our lives, but how you respond to that difficulty is up to you.

If you respond proactively and put in your best effort despite everything else, then you are resilient.

If you shut down, give up, or quit, then you will likely face even more challenges as your options become more limited. Of course, it is human nature to go through various stages of emotional processing in a crisis like this. Being resilient doesn’t mean you never feel defeated, stressed or worried. What it does mean though is that you have space for those natural feelings and you are also able to create space for moving past them and charging ahead even when it’s hard.

Specific to seeking work in the middle of rising unemployment and a downturn in the economy, resilience will help you move from crisis and unemployment to problem-solving and finding a new role.

How To Apply Resilience Theory To Your Job Search

With an understanding that adversity is ubiquitous within the job market, the first step in building resilience within your job search is to find confidence in the economy.

It sounds simple, but this mindset can help you stay focused and optimistic. It is critical to understand that people will never stop needing other people. Humans are the foundation of our economy and for this reason, there will always be a job to do.

Yes, industries may get turned upside down. Yes, some jobs will become obsolete. Yes, the way we work will change, but you must ask yourself:

Can my skills be applied to different industries?

Does my experience give me perspective against common challenges?

How can my education be applied to new lessons?

Understanding you strengths and weaknesses in light of a challenge are key to overcoming it.

That said, it is critical to also understand that resilience is not some type of ‘magic’ solution. There are circumstances that are not so easily changed, and challenges arise that are not necessarily in your power to overcome. Possessing resilience does not guarantee that you can rise above everything that life throws at you. Rather, it’s about how you respond to those challenges and  and if you do your best, regardless of the circumstance you find yourself in. Resilience also doesn’t mean that every effort succeeds, it does mean that you keep trying – even if you need to take time in-between to regroup.

This type of attitude extends directly into your job search. Finding employment in today’s job market won’t be easy. However, if you maintain a resilient outlook in your job hunt, then you are much more likely to find what you are seeking because you’ll keep reaching for it. Even if it takes longer than expected.

With this in mind, here are a few tips to help you strengthen your resilience during your job search.

1. Maintain Your Physical and Mental Wellbeing

While many people’s daily health requirements and exercise routines have been interrupted, it is still possible to stay mentally and physically healthy from home.

Being resilient is about finding alternatives. There are many of us who rely on critical support networks that simply won’t be available due to social distancing and an overburdened health care system, but we must do our best to stay healthy despite the hiring biaslimitations in our options. What kind of creative solutions can you employ that will keep your spirits up, your mental health steady, and your physical body cared for? “Staying healthy” does not mean that you need to have shredded abs by the end of a self-isolation period. It’s about keeping your mental and physical health within the balance that you need to protect your well-being.

Everyone is at an added risk during this pandemic. “Staying healthy” means being proactive and taking precautions to maintain your personal benchmarks.

For example, if you face mental health issues, then ensure you are able to maintain contact with a counselor or other people in your support network by establishing methods of communication that are consistently available to connect you with them. If you are managing a physical disability or chronic health condition, take advantage of telemedicine services to keep lines of communication open with your medical support team and use the power of the internet to stay connected and active.

2. Learn How To Create Your Own Opportunity

In a time when the economy and several industries are under unprecedented strain, opportunity is becoming more scarce. The job market will not be generous and job offers will be harder to find while unemployment spikes.

Being resilient in times like these means finding opportunity when there is none.

Consider this – employers are struggling as much as employees due to the pandemic. Now more than ever, employers need help to bail themselves out as well. While they may not be able to afford, or even know exactly who they need, this does present opportunity for a job seeker who can identify a problem and provide its solution.

Here’s a strategy you can try as a form of resilience in your job seeking: Learn how to write and pitch your own job description

Find an industry, identify some of the challenges to it, and present your skills and expertise as a direct form of support. This will demonstrate that you are well-equipped to join a company during, particularly difficult times, and that your knowledge and insight will be a valuable asset for the business.

3. Consider New Career Paths

If you are in an industry that has been completely devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic, then you may want to consider alternative industries where you can apply your skills and expertise.

It’s a very rare circumstance that anyone’s skills are so niche-specific that there is zero translation to a new type of role. Furthermore, if you truly want to be resilient in your job search, then you must embrace a willingness to learn and adapt.

The resilient job seeker will find avenues of opportunity where others see a dead-end.

While this might feel like a difficult creative feat , try this method next time you are searching for a job opening:

  • Write down a list of job titles / positions that reflect your skillset and experience (ie. project manager, director of communications, etc.).
  • Enter the job title in your next search, but filter to include all industries.
  • Review the available positions to get ideas for new fields that speak to your expertise
  • Refine your search based on the new industries that you have identified

This is a mental exercise that will help you expand your thinking within the job market. You can also try to inspire direction in your search by drawing from other passions or hobbies in your life. During these times of contraction, you will need to look everywhere you can to find the opportunity that you need.

What Next?

The most important aspect of applying resilience theory to your job search is to never give up hope. While there are many job hunting strategies during this time, the ones who will succeed are those who can rise up against the adversity that we are all facing.

Be agile. Be adaptable. Be resilient.

You will find what you put your mind towards.


You are not in this alone! Meet with a mentor to get support through this challenging time.


About the Author

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