Career Resilience in Uncertain Times

I suspect most of us think of resilience as the built-in ability to “bounce back” from problems, setbacks, etc. So what is career resilience? It is defined as the ability to adjust to career change as it happens and…adapt to what the market demands. The possibility of an unexpected job loss should not be the primary motivator for individuals to take stock of their careers.” (Excerpted from a Careerminds blog post) In other words, take the smart course of action and start planning before you have to.

“On Career Resilience in Uncertain Times” provides insight into key points to remember as you navigate today’s quick-changing, uncertain conditions. Those conditions can present daunting challenges to career-minded professionals, including reluctant job seekers (forced to do an unplanned job search). [From CFA Institute, Enterprising Investor]

“To stay resilient in an era of continuous and fast-accelerating change, we have to become more agile and adaptable. … The present crisis, with its abrupt shift to a new normal, has forced us to face this reality head on. We can only expect more of the same. The work roles, skills, and environments that are needed and how they are valued will rapidly shift as business practices evolve.”

How Does YOUR Career Resilience Look?

Let’s start with resilience. For instance, what do you bring to the table now, and what could you add to that? Resilience encompasses at least these 9 traits:Career Resilience

  • Optimism
  • Self-belief
  • Self-control
  • Adaptability
  • Flexibility
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Emotional awareness
  • Social support
  • A sense of honor

Next, make a not-huge mental shift to how you apply career resilience. Most if not all of the above traits match well to career-related situations.

Survival Tools for Career Resilience

Survival toolsYour survival tool chest should include the knowledge that  “prepare for the unexpected” requires you to expand your view of what is possible. For example, no wise person plans to fail, but the unknown can still happen. Moreover, failure to prepare carries some risks you can avoid. Don’t depend on the idea that “it’s always been this way” or “that has never happened before.” You run the risk of a career crisis if you do!

First, then, consider all the outcomes you can think of that you MIGHT run into during your career planning efforts. Postpone the more remote ones for thinking about later, if you have time and want to use it that way. Rank the risks according to your best guess about where they fall on a scale of 1 to 10. Think of 10 as “not in this lifetime” and 1 as “could lurk around the next corner.”

Furthermore, you need to accept that the ranking could change. After all, almost no one in December 2019  foresaw a worldwide pandemic in 2020.

Second, ask yourself, “What can I do if this happens?” “What should I do if it happens?”

Finally, create and adjust your career resilience plan to fit as well as you can, given that uncertainty is still the name of the game.

Survive and Thrive with Career Resilience

Grow in adversity

Don’t let uncertain times deter you from moving forward. Things change, and you can change with them if you stay tuned to what’s going on. During a time of rapid change, you may just need to exert more effort to remain aware–both self-aware and externally.

What’s more, you can beat the odds in many cases by being both prepared and flexible. (Look back at the aspects of resilience mentioned above.) As a result, you can even grow–thrive, not just survive–in tough conditions. Much depends on how you view the conditions and what you decide to do about them.

So here’s to your career resilience and your ongoing success in these uncertain times!


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