Resilience – We all need it!



I’ve been thinking about resilience recently.

It was my Uncle’s funeral last week.  The eulogy was thought-provoking. He’d been a student in Glasgow when World War 2 broke out.  From that moment, aged just 19, his whole future changed. He was thrust into combat and forced to take a different path.  He sailed  in the Arctic Convoys, enduring some of the most treacherous sea journeys known to man.  He showed resilience.

At the Golden Globes recently we saw black dresses on the red carpet.  The world’s biggest stars were showing solidarity for women who’d taken a stand, spoken out against sexual harassment and violence in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal. Women who’d shown resilience.

Last night a friend told me about a primary school girl she’s been teaching.  From a refugee family, new to Glasgow, she speaks no English and has never used a mobile phone or a keyboard.  She joins in the class with the other children. She shows resilience.

According to the American Psychological Association, resilience is the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, threats or significant sources of stress.  It means ‘bouncing back’ from difficult experiences.

If you’re a student or graduate looking for a job, being resilient will help you in different ways. Firstly, some graduate recruiters, particularly those in sectors with higher levels of stress and longer hours – eg medicine/healthcare, law, investment banking, retail, hospitality – actively seek resilience in potential employees and will assess candidates’ resilience during the recruitment process.  Secondly, anyone on the Job-hunt today requires a good dose of resilience.  It’s very likely that you’ll experience a number of application knockbacks and failed interview attempts before landing that long-awaited graduate job.

So, is resilience nature or nurture?  Is it something we can develop?  The good news is that years of research have shown that resilience is a quality built by attitudes, behaviours and strong social supports and, therefore, can be learned by anyone!

Here are some tips to give your resilience a boost:

  1. Develop your interests and hobbies.Finding an activity or joining a club that’s completely different from your work is a great way to get away from everyday pressures as well as a good way to develop your CV and meet new people.
  2. Make time for friends.When you’ve got a lot on this may seem hard, but it can help you feel more positive, stronger and less isolated. Chatting to friends about the things you’re finding difficult can help you keep things in perspective.
  3. Get active.Being physically active is important for both our physical and mental health. Join the University gym, take up a fitness class or start jogging. Even making small changes such as going for a regular walk outside can help you to feel less stressed.
  4. Eat healthily.When you’re stressed, it can be tempting to skip meals or eat too much of the wrong kinds of food. But what you eat, and when you eat, can make a big difference to how well you feel.
  5. Meet with a Careers Manager. Talking through your career options and getting support with your applications will help build your confidence in the job market.
  6. Build your Network. Having a good professional network will help you build resilience for working life.  Why not join ‘the Network’ and link up with alumni from Glasgow who are there to support you through your career.


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