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Building Resilience for Career Success

Building Resilience for Career Success Icon

Tips and Strategies for Overcoming Challenges

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By Alan Jones, Organisational and Personal Resilience Specialist / Professional Coach +350 5600 2262



Starting or changing a career can be an exciting and challenging time. While having the right skills, education, and experience is essential, it’s equally important to develop the ability to bounce back from setbacks, adapt to change, and persevere through difficult times. That’s where resilience comes in.

Resilience is the ability to overcome obstacles, cope with stress and uncertainty, and adapt to change. In a career context, resilience is an essential skill that can help individuals navigate the ups and downs of their professional lives, from job search to career advancement to unexpected challenges and setbacks. 

This section is aimed at young people starting their careers and career changers looking to succeed. But, whether you’re just starting or taking a new direction in your career, building resilience can help you achieve your goals and overcome obstacles.

This section of the careers portal explores resilience and why it is crucial for career success. We will provide tips and strategies for building resilience, overcoming common challenges, and staying focused on your goals. By the end of this section, you will understand how resilience can help you succeed and the practical tools to strenghten your resilience.

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Understanding Resilience

Often described as the ability to withstand, adapt to, and recover from adversity, resilience is an essential skill for career success. It’s not just about bouncing back from failure or adversity though, but also about thriving and growing in the face of challenges.

There are many misconceptions about resilience, such as the idea that it means always being tough or never feeling stressed. In reality, resilience means acknowledging your emotions and using healthy coping mechanisms to manage them. 

In a career context, resilience means persevering through setbacks, such as job rejections, workplace conflicts, or unexpected changes in your industry. 

Why is Resilience Important?

In today’s fast-paced and ever-changing job market, resilience is more critical than ever, and individuals must be able to adapt to changes in the industry to remain competitive, stay focused on their goals and overcome obstacles along the way. Without resilience, setbacks and failures can lead to discouragement, burnout, and even giving up on your career aspirations.

In the context of a career, there are many challenges you can face. Some of the most common include;

  • Job Search: Finding a job that aligns with your skills, interests, and values can be challenging, especially in a competitive job market. Resilience can help you stay motivated and persistent even in the face of rejection or competition.
  • Career Advancement: Once you’ve landed a job, advancing your career may require additional education or training, networking, or demonstrating your skills and accomplishments. Resilience can help you stay focused on your goals and persevere through challenges as you work to advance in your career.
  • Workplace Conflict: Conflicts with coworkers, managers, or customers can be stressful and require strong communication and conflict-resolution skills. Resilience can help you navigate conflicts with coworkers or managers by staying calm, focused, and seeking constructive solutions.
  • Burnout: Long hours, heavy workloads, and high-stress levels can lead to burnout, which is a state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion. Resilience can help you recognise the signs of burnout and take steps to prioritise self-care and manage stress. In turn, you are better placed to make better decisions.
  • Layoffs or job loss: Economic downturns or changes in a company’s structure can lead to layoffs or job loss, which can be emotionally and financially challenging. Resilience can help individuals cope with job loss’s emotional and financial stress, stay motivated during the job search process, and see layoffs or job loss as an opportunity to reassess their career goals, explore new opportunities, and acquire new skills.
  • Career transition: Changing careers or industries may require additional education or training, networking, and a willingness to take risks and adapt to new roles and responsibilities. Resilience can provide the determination and motivation to pursue additional education or training, take calculated risks, and adapt to new roles and responsibilities. 
  • Imposter syndrome: Feeling like a fraud or doubting your abilities, even when you’ve succeeded, can be a common challenge for many people in their careers. Resilience can help individuals build self-confidence and self-esteem, recognise their accomplishments and strengths, acknowledge their weaknesses, and seek feedback and support.

Change always occurs, whether it be new schools, homes or jobs. When we look back over the changes of the last decade, we see the rise of social media influencers, online shopping, automation, and environmental concerns, which have changed how we work and required us to adapt. The world as we know it continues to change rapidly, with challenges and opportunities arising from external factors that we also need to be resilient to adapt to, including; 

  • Automation and AI: The rise of automation and artificial intelligence is transforming the job market, making some jobs obsolete and creating new opportunities. Individuals may need to reskill or upskill to remain competitive and adapt to these changes.
  • Gig economy: The growth of the gig economy has created new opportunities for flexible work, but it also means that individuals may need to constantly seek out new projects and clients to maintain their income.
  • Economic uncertainty: Economic downturns or market disruptions can create job loss and financial insecurity, making it difficult for individuals to maintain their careers.
  • Remote work: The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the trend of remote work, making individuals need to develop new skills in communication, collaboration, and technology to succeed in virtual work environments.
  • Globalisation: Globalization has created new opportunities for international careers, but it also means that individuals may need to adapt to new cultures, languages, and business practices to succeed.

Understanding resilience is critical for young people starting their careers and career changers looking to succeed. By developing resilience, individuals can stay focused on their goals, overcome all these obstacles, and more to thrive professionally. 

Characteristics of Resilient Individuals

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Resilience is not something we are born with, but like a muscle, it is something we develop over time. Resilient individuals share several key characteristics that help them navigate challenges and bounce back from setbacks. These include:

  • Optimism: Having a positive outlook and believing you can overcome challenges and achieve your goals.
  • Adaptability: Being flexible and able to adapt to changing circumstances. You are willing to learn new skills and take on new challenges.
  • Perseverance: Being persistent and able to keep working towards your goals even in the face of adversity.
  • Self-awareness: Aware of your strengths and weaknesses and willing to seek help, support, and development when needed.

Strategies for Building Resilience

Building resilience is an ongoing process that requires practice and commitment. Here are some strategies for building resilience that can help young people starting their careers and career changers succeed:

  • Develop a vision

A vision is essential for resilience because it provides clear, meaningful, achievable goals that can help individuals stay focused and motivated, even in the most challenging circumstances. A clear vision of what you want to achieve in your career can serve as a guiding force and provide a sense of purpose, even during setbacks and failures. It helps you prioritise actions and make decisions that align with their long-term goals rather than getting caught up in short-term distractions or obstacles.

Practical Tip: Define your career goals and aspirations (keep them realistic and achievable to avoid frustration) – Write down or draw a picture of your long-term career goals and break them down into smaller, achievable milestones.

  • Develop a Growth Mindset

A growth mindset believes that dedication and hard work can develop intelligence and abilities. By adopting a growth mindset, individuals can learn from their mistakes and setbacks and see them as opportunities for growth and improvement.

To develop a growth mindset, reframe your thinking by replacing negative self-talk with positive affirmations. For example, instead of saying, “I’m not good enough for this job,” try saying, “I’m capable of learning and growing in this role.”

Practical Tip: Challenge yourself to learn something new every day, whether reading an industry publication or taking an online course.

  • Develop your self-composure

Composure is essential for resilience because it allows you to maintain a sense of calm and control in the face of stress and adversity. When faced with difficult situations, it is natural for individuals to experience a range of emotions, including fear, frustration, anger and overwhelm. By maintaining composure, we are better equipped to handle these emotions and respond more constructively.

Composure is not just about being able to return to a state of poise but also about considering your own beliefs, expectations, and biases that produce emotions in the first place.

Practical Tip: Practice mindfulness; focus on your breath, observe your thoughts and emotions, and bring your attention back to the present moment whenever your mind wanders. Focus on one task at a time, taking breaks throughout the day to clear your mind.

  • Develop a problem-solving mindset.

When faced with challenges, it is important to approach them logically and analytically, to make informed decisions congruent with our vision. Think critically, evaluate options, and make informed decisions, even when faced with ambiguity or uncertainty.

Practical Tip: Consider the challenges you may face and proactively plan how to deal with them, and when faced with a challenge, focus on finding solutions rather than dwelling on the problem.

  • Practice Self-Care

Self-care is essential for building resilience. Taking care of your physical, emotional, and mental health can help you cope with stress and stay focused on your goals.

There is no one right fit for everyone, but some self-care practices to consider include the following:

  • Exercise: Physical activity can reduce stress and improve mood. Getting moving has been proven to allow your brain to be more imaginative in resolving challenges.
  • Sleep: Getting enough restful sleep is essential for maintaining good health and managing stress.
  • Meditation or mindfulness: These practices can help you stay calm and centred in the face of challenges. 
  • Time management: Effective time management can help you prioritise self-care activities and reduce stress.
  • Nutrition: Eating a balanced diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, and protein can help maintain energy levels and reduce the risk of illness.

Practical Tip: Schedule regular breaks throughout the day to stretch, walk, or practice mindfulness.

  • Develop Persistence and Persevere 

Individuals who possess tenacity are more likely to persist through adversity and view setbacks as opportunities for growth and learning, stay motivated and focused on their goals, even when faced with obstacles or setbacks, and are more likely to achieve long-term success.

Practical Tip: Set specific and achievable goals, and break them down into smaller, manageable tasks. Then celebrate small victories towards your goals, even if it’s just a small step forward. This will help you stay motivated and prevent overwhelm.

  • Collaborate with others

Building a support network can help you stay resilient in facing challenges. This can include friends, family members, mentors, and colleagues who can provide encouragement, advice, and support.

Practical Tip: Attend networking events or join professional organisations, online forums, and social media groups and seek out mentors to connect with like-minded individuals in your industry. Locally this could include the Federation of Small Business, Start-up GRIND, Gibraltar Young Entrepreneurs

  • Continuous Learning and Adaptability

Finally, continuous learning and adaptability are essential for building resilience. In a rapidly changing job market, individuals must be willing to learn new skills, adapt to new technologies and industry trends, and take on new challenges.

To build these skills, consider taking on new projects or assignments at work, seeking out training or education opportunities, or pursuing certifications or additional degrees.

Practical Tip: Attend conferences or industry events to stay up-to-date on your field’s latest trends and developments.

By implementing these strategies, young people starting their careers and career changers can build resilience and succeed professionally. Remember, resilience is a skill that can be developed and strengthened over time. With practice and dedication, anyone can become more resilient and overcome the challenges of a dynamic and rapidly changing job market. 


In conclusion, building resilience is essential for young people starting their careers and career changers looking to succeed in a constantly changing job market. Understanding the characteristics of resilient individuals, practising self-care, and seeking support are just a few strategies that can help develop resilience. By applying these strategies and staying focused on their goals, individuals can overcome career challenges such as job search, workplace conflict, and burnout. It’s important to remember that building resilience is an ongoing process and that continuous learning and adaptability are key to long-term success.

If you are struggling to build resilience or facing specific career challenges, don’t hesitate to seek support from a coach or other resources. Remember, you are not alone, and with the right mindset and tools, you can overcome any obstacles and achieve your career goals. So, take a step forward, implement the strategies discussed in this article, and continue building your resilience to reach greater heights in your career.

Get in Touch

We encourage young people to reach out to their careers teams in their schools and universities, or engage directly with the industries featured here.