Professional resilience

Having a degree of resilience and coping with challenges are integral to our professional lives.


We are often presented with stressful situations in the workplace, but knowing how to overcome these hurdles is as crucial as ever in today’s uncertain economic climate.

‘Resilience increases a person’s confidence in their ability to handle pressure and still be productive,’ says Lee Owen, director at Hays specialising in accountancy and finance. ‘By riding the waves instead of being overwhelmed by them, employees reduce their chance of burnout.

‘On top of this, rather than being defeated by difficult times, an organisation significantly benefits when professionals know how to bounce back. It’s often during these times you grow as an individual, which can further benefit your career.’

But is resilience something you can learn? Katya Kim, leadership and development consultant and the founder of WhizzMind, gives a resounding ‘yes’. But, like most things, it’s crucial to put in the practice.

‘The only way to truly build resilience is through trial and error,’ says Kim.

‘By paying attention to our thoughts and feelings, and engaging in self-reflection, we can gain insights into what causes us stress and worry. To manage these feelings, it’s important to identify triggers, seek feedback from others and consider consulting with a mentor, manager or counselling professional if feeling drained or lacking confidence.’

Sam Sullivan, senior recruitment consultant in the finance and accountancy team at Sellick Partnership, agrees that we probably learn more from our failures than successes.

‘While you’re learning from failures, you’re naturally developing resilience,’ he says.

‘If your resilience hasn’t yet been tested properly, try to look at how you handle stress. Although this isn’t the best way to assess resilience, it can give you a strong indication. Think about how you have handled exams in the past, financial obligations, college or school, and any criticism you have had to date.’

Tools for the future

While challenges are opportunities to be resilient in the moment, there’s no doubt they also provide an insight into the tools that may be needed to remain resilient in the future.

‘Becoming better equipped to adjust to hardship and come out the other side is a process,’ says Owen. ‘Plus, it is more rewarding when you achieve something despite difficulties.’

Owen recommends keeping a record of examples where you’ve learnt or implemented resilience: ‘These will not only look great on your CV, but can be there to remind you of how far you’ve come on your resilience journey and illustrate your ability to implement this behaviour going forward.’

But surely there are things you can do to mitigate against the need for resilience in the first place? It helps if you enjoy what you’re doing, according to Sullivan.

‘When you’re doing a job you enjoy, and one that you’re good at, you may not need to be as resilient. After all, when you get a setback, you will be so eager to learn that, rather than having a negative mindset, you will already be moving forward with solutions.

‘Building a stronger relationship with your team can also help. This means that you are not battling with things on your own and have less pressure.’

That said, remember that resilience is healthy and helps builds up invaluable skills that you can utilise in many difficult circumstances.