Maggie Stamets is a writer for BUILT BY GIRLS, which prepares the next generation of female and non-binary leaders to step into their power and break into their careers. WAVE is the backbone of BUILT BY GIRLS: it’s a 1:1 matching program that connects high school and college students with top tech professionals across the country. For more information and to sign up check out builtbygirls.com.
We all strive to bounce back after experiencing stress, setbacks, or even trauma, and while it comes easier for some, being resilient takes work and active practice. Think of it like exercise or meditation where repetition is key to becoming better. As we all struggle through a global crisis, we're getting plenty of chances to flex our resiliency muscle — especially if you're searching for a job.
Psychologists have found that people tend to develop “Learned Helplessness,” which means that when people experience something out of their control, they will eventually just accept it and stop trying to fix it. The cure? Optimism and an active shift in perspective. They found that one-third of animals studied will continue trying despite the lack of control.
So how do we strive for post-traumatic growth — aka embodying the Kelly Clarkson mentality of “What doesn’t kill you, makes me stronger” while job-hunting. Here are five ways.
Prioritize personal connections and relationships
Surround yourself with the people who can always lend an empathetic ear. We’re all going through a tough time that affects us differently, so your community is more likely to understand what you’re feeling.
Now isn’t the time to isolate yourself. Plan some virtual hangouts with your favorite people to get your mind off the job search or commiserate if your friends are in a similar place.
Take care of your brain and body
Building a self-care practice will help you strengthen your resiliency. Incorporating movement, meditation, good food and sleep helps combat emotions like anxiety and depression and will give you a way to express those emotions in a healthy way. Remember you are much more than your job. There is so much more that defines you and self-care is how you honor those parts of yourself.
Make a plan of action
There’s a lot out of your control in a typical job search, let alone one in the middle of economic uncertainty and a global health crisis. But there are still things you can control.
Set goals of how many applications you want to send out a week. Create a timeline to finish that revamp on your portfolio website. Sign up for that online class to build a skill that will make you even more marketable. Reach out to your past mentors and managers. Achieving these things will give you some wins and positivity amongst the rejection.
Shift your perspective and remain optimistic
This is the toughest one if you ask me. But it’s crucial to take stock of the things that are going right. I have to remind myself to be grateful for the safe place I have to bide my time while we wait and I’m really thankful for the ways I feel more connected with my friends and community.
This all will end and maybe you’ll be on a different career path than you ever imagined, or had time to kick off that passion project, or build a really strong network. According to psychologists, optimism is the key to remaining resilient.
Seek help when you need it
I suffer from anxiety and know it’s not always as simple as “just stay positive!” There are disorders and circumstances that are at times stronger than our positive thinking. If you are struggling with anxiety, depression, or are just not feeling yourself, seek help. There are many affordable therapy options.
Building resilience isn’t an easy process and it will take time. Be patient with yourself as you grow and prepare for setbacks. You have the ability to not just make it through this time, but also come out a stronger person who is impervious to change.
Read more information and tips in our Advice section