Five Top Tips to Build Resilience by Sally Walker

In previous articles I have shared ideas about identifying your career goals. Very often a lack of confidence or even our negative self-talk prevent us from fulfilling these ambitions. We procrastinate and put off transforming our careers. The purpose of this article is to help you to become more resilient and thus, better able to persevere with your career plans.

  1. Alter your mind-set. Start to be aware of when you’re thinking negatively about yourself and your career, for example when you catch yourself thinking, I’m no good at interviews”, or “I don’t think my analytical skills are as good as hers.” Our negative thoughts feed into how we feel and affect how we behave. Change those negative stories into helpful ones. “This year I’m going to get some coaching to learn how to present myself better in interviews.” Or “I’ll ask my boss and colleagues for some feedback about my analytical skills and whether they have suggestions for improving them.” Be positive, create a helpful story.
  2. Focus on things that you can control and influence. Rather than thinking of yourself as a victim, unhappy with your career and/or current employer, take responsibility for identifying what YOU can do to change things. When I’m coaching individuals who have experienced redundancy, sometimes they share feelings of bitterness about what has, in their words “been done to them.” That sense of being hard done by is understandable, but the situation has happened and there’s nothing that individual can do to alter the past. Now is the time to look to the future, to move towards accepting what has happened and to take proactive career management steps. For example, you could set up an information gathering coffee with a network contact who works in a sector that has always been of interest you. By finding out more about the culture and work environment you can start to explore whether this might be a good fit with your values and if so, move to further research and checking out openings and opportunities.
  3. Gain perspective. To become more resilient, it helps to stand back from your life, and look at it as a whole. This exercise helps you to recognise that although one aspect of your life, such as you career, might be dissatisfying you a present other parts might be very positive. These might include your personal development, your relationships with family and friends, your health, your life balance or your financial situation. 
  4. Seek support. People who are resilient tend to be aware of the importance of reaching out to others to ask for help during challenging times in their lives. This is not something to feel embarrassed or awkward about. Problems tend to be easier to solve when you share them with others. We gain new ideas, feedback, confidence and support. You know that if someone asked you for advice or information that you would be very happy to help them. Most people at some stage will experience uncertainty in their careers, as well as job change and quite possibly redundancy. As a delegate on a recent career management webinar I was delivering said, “It’s not personal.”  Change in the working world is a constant now and we need to help each other through these times.
  5. Be kind to yourself. If you’re not, who else will be? Give yourself permission to do something you love every week (or every day come to that!), and don’t feel guilty about it. This is particularly true if you are trying to transform your career at present. You really need to take a break from it, get some balance back and do something that energises you. Often it can be as simple as making time for fresh air each day, some form of exercise or alternatively sitting reading a gripping novel. Very many people do not make time for their hobbies, passions and true “callings” because they are “too tired” or “too busy”. If this applies to you then why not take that first step to reconnect with a former hobby or alternatively check out online courses or local education centres if you feel like trying something new? Remember to celebrate your successes as part of being kind to yourself. We tend to undersell our good points and our achievements so you should feel proud if you have taken control of your life and your career and moved a notch forward.


Sally Walker is an accredited Career Coach with twenty years’ experience of energising and supporting individuals who are seeking to transform their careers. She is Director of her own business, SW Career Coaching Limited, as well as a senior associate consultant for several global consultancies where she delivers pan-European career-related coaching, interactive webinars and workshops. She is a regular social media contributor on career matters, as well as guest presenter on the radio and has published an e-book on Assessment Centres.

Sally is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development as well as a registered member of the Career Development Institute. She has an international Human Resource leadership background having worked for a number of world-leading multinationals and has had assignments based in Belgium and France.