Resilience and You

What is resilience and do you have it? More than that, how can you build it to help you through this time of crisis?
 Sarah Si Yan Ying
Sarah Si

The global economy has taken a massive hit, some industries are hollowed out, and experts are saying that Singapore’s post-recession economy will be vastly different.

But job searches wait for no one, and neither do graduation dates. You’ve probably already been left gutted at the thought of a cancelled convocation and the reality of finding a job you like in a recession. Now, on top of everything else, how can you get over this new reality without dwelling on it so much?

With dignity, grace, and most importantly, resilience, of course!


gradsingapore_Resilience and You_What is resilience

What is resilience?

When you ask “What is resilience?”, you might find yourself fed lines on adaptability or how you react to unplanned events or how quickly you can recover when things don’t go as planned.

It isn’t. Yes, resilience is about being able to adapt to and navigate through unknown circumstances. It’s also about the capability to bounce back with minimal stress even when things don’t go according to plan.

But there’s also career resilience. And it’s about awareness, a certain ability and agility to change along with the challenges you have to face in order to achieve your goal, and the strength to grow and learn from the obstacles you’ve successfully hurdled.

The good news is that we all have both resilience and career resilience to a certain degree. For example, have you been looking for ways to future-proof your career? Taught yourself how to solve an unknown problem through Google searches or YouTube tutorials? Learned from a time where you made a mistake or where things did not go as planned? These are all examples of resilience at work.

The most important thing to remember is that resilience is a trait that you can strengthen with practice. Just like how you can improve public speaking skills through practice presentations, you can also improve your resilience through facing tough situations with the right mindset and figuring out how to adapt.  


gradsingapore_Resilience and You_Why is resilience important?

Why is resilience important?

Without sounding overdramatic, resilience can make or break your job search – especially now, with the present environment surrounding job prospects and career progression being so unpredictable.

Challenges will inevitably pop up, like your job search definitely not going the way you want it to, or taking much longer than you expected. These factors can weigh you down over time and cause you to question your own self-worth as jobseeker and a person. This is why it is important to approach the process with the right mindset so that the journey continues to be a positive learning experience for you.

Resilience is not about irrational positivity or burying your head in the sand. It is about approaching your career planning with a growth-oriented mindset. That is, learning to keep your eye on the bigger picture and not let temporary setbacks pull you down, being confident enough in your strengths to be honest about your own weaknesses, and actively approaching any task with the intent to learn from it and improve.

Learning to maintain a resilient mindset is key to a meaningful long-term career journey as well. For instance, a survey by LinkedIn Learning listed adaptability as one of the skills employers need the most in 2020. And a huge part of staying adaptable and nimble in the marketplace is to actively cultivate a resilient mindset within yourself.


gradsingapore_Resilience and You_How to start building resilience?

How to start building resilience

With the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and talk of an upcoming recession, developing resilience may now seem more important than ever. But where do you start?

Remember that resilience is largely about facing uncertainty with the right mindset. So you should begin by looking inward and understanding what makes you tick. Here are some places you can start:

  • Look back on times in your life where things went well and when they didn’t. How did you respond to these two scenarios? What were your actions? What do they say about how you react in both good times and bad times?
  • Be honest with yourself about your weaknesses and fears. Why do they scare you or bother you? Are you satisfied with how they are? And if not, what will you do to try and remedy that?
  • Check if your campus career services centre runs workshops for self-awareness. If they do, go check them out.
  • Pinpoint strategies or measures that have kept you calm and helped you address unforeseen circumstances in the past. It could be just mapping things out on paper or talking them through with someone. Or it could be meditation or turning to spirituality. Just go with what works for you.
  • Be kind to yourself. Being confident in your strengths starts with loving yourself more. If you have no idea how, here are some ideas to start.
  • Accept that change is the only constant in life, and learn to embrace it good-naturedly.
  • Learn to approach mistakes and rejection positively – see them as learning experiences or opportunities for feedback instead of just burying them into the back of your mind.
  • Remember this simple truth: your past setbacks are not an indicator of your future success!


gradsingapore_Resilience and You_Putting resilience to work

Putting resilience to work

Now that you’ve started cultivating a resilient mindset, how do you make it work for you in your career planning, especially now that the world is a very different place from what it once was even four months ago?

Let’s say you’ve submitted dozens of job applications but received no response, or been invited for a few interviews that ultimately didn’t go anywhere. Being resilient means not dwelling on that rejection or letting it drag you down, but channelling your focus into how you can do better next time instead.

A resilient mindset is not set in its ways. If job applications alone aren’t working, then try attending online events to broaden your professional network and search for other avenues in. Relook your resume and applications and get external feedback on how you might improve them further. And if your dream industry isn’t hiring at the moment, then what are some alternative options you can consider?   

But you can also turn your attention to picking up more skills to ensure career resilience as well. If you find out that the industry you want to enter requires certain skills or knowledge you don’t currently have, don’t throw your hands up in defeat! Take the time to go for courses or read up on those topics to add to your repertoire. These courses don’t have to be long ones – in fact, there are six-hour courses on popular sites such as Coursera.

So if you’re facing rejection, give yourself some time to grieve, regroup, and clear self-defeating scenarios from your mind before moving on, both stronger and wiser. Remember, you are not defined by the words “We regret to inform you”. Being resilient is having the will to be better than that.


The bottom line is, learning to approach your career journey with a resilient mindset is a key part of staying employable – whether during uncertain times or stable ones. Make it a point to keep practicing it every chance you get, and see the difference it makes in terms of how you think about yourself – both as a person and a professional!