4 Simple strategies to build resilience in your job search

By Rebecca Wagner

There is a tendency to view a job search solely as a means to an end. Conduct a job search, land a job. Landing a job is of course the primary purpose of a job search. But there is a host of benefits that the job search process itself entails.

Embracing a job search to the fullest will allow you to develop a suite of skills that will propel you to heights you never imagined.

The job search as an incubator of marketable skills is increasingly being recognized. Job search expert Steve Dalton laments the tremendous learning opportunity that is lost when students move from post-secondary education directly into the workforce.

One skill that I have found to be infinitely valuable in every area of life is resiliency. This skill can come in particularly handy during a job search, as every job search is (unfortunately!) guaranteed to have multiple setbacks. Luckily, the job search process can help develop this skill.

Success in a job search, and in life, comes from our ability to pick ourselves up, and move quickly past disappointments. This may sound daunting, but there are four simple strategies that you can implement to build resiliency.

1. Be active in your job search!

Being an active participant in your job search builds confidence, allows you to take charge, and have at least some degree of control over a largely externally-controlled process.

Get out there and network – don’t spend your days behind a computer launching resumes into the abyss! The more networking meetings I set up with industry insiders, the greater my knowledge and my network become. This adds tools to my job search toolkit, and fosters a sense of self-efficacy.

Feeling in charge of your career path builds resiliency, and can help propel you past disappointment.

2. Recognize it’s not you, it’s them

Job seekers do have some degree of control over their job search (as just discussed), but there is so much of the hiring process that they have absolutely no control over.

The majority of rejections you will face as a job seeker will have very little, if anything, to do with what you bring to the table. Human resources guru and founder of the Human Workplace, Liz Ryan, lists common reasons why talented people don’t get hired – and they have nothing to do with your talents!

Learn to take nothing personally, as often very little is directly attributable to your education, your skills, your experience, or even to your job search strategy. Attribute setbacks in part to external factors, not to innate qualities.

This realization can be frustrating, as no one likes to not be in control, but the shift in perspective can also be incredibly reassuring.  

3. Acknowledge that retail is in the details

I was recently told mid-hiring process (upon soliciting feedback following an unsuccessful interview) by the company’s Senior Vice-President/Chief Operating Officer (COO) that what set the top few candidates apart were exceptionally small  ‘details. ‘

When job competitions are tight, often very small nuances can make or break a candidate.

While I shook the hands of and thanked my four interviewers, the successful candidate shook the hands of and addressed all four interviews by name while thanking them.

While I sent a follow-up email to the COO and requested he pass my thanks on to the other three interviewers, the successful candidate sent a similar follow-up email to the COO, but requested that he pass his/her thanks on to the other three interviewers whom he/she addressed by name.

In this case, details had a significant impact. Recognizing that it is often details that distinguish job candidates can be reassuring, and can build resiliency by forcing you to acknowledge that you weren’t passed over in the interview process due to some fatal flaw.

4. Solicit feedback upon rejection

Always solicit feedback upon rejection from a hiring process. This may seem daunting and force you to swallow your pride, but what better way to turn a negative into a positive? 

Of course, not every company is willing to make this investment (but this should tell you something about the company then, shouldn’t it?). 

The feedback I have received from organizations following interviews has been overwhelmingly positive, and has highlighted skills that I hadn’t even thought to articulate about myself.

Actively seeking out feedback arms you with knowledge and confidence, and makes overcoming rejection a little bit easier. So embrace your failures and setbacks, and turn them into something constructive!

Rebounding from setbacks is no easy task. Fortunately, resiliency is a skill that can be developed and strengthened over time. Implementing even one of the above four strategies will help you recover much more quickly from the disappointments you will face throughout a job search.

Although job searching often seems like a horrible, never-ending process, you can take comfort in the fact that at the end of it, you will not only end up with a job, but you will have developed a skill set that puts you miles above those who move from school to job to job.

Overcoming setbacks gives you the confidence needed to pursue alternate avenues, and to open those doors that were temporarily closed to you. We all have something to offer that someone else wants. Keeping this in mind propels us forward.

This article first appeared on the Career Skills Incubator website.