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Data & Behavioural Insights

Techniques for boosting the 7 pillars of resilience

Resilience is critical for job seekers seeking to progress towards work readiness. It is also important once they've secured an employment opportunity, and need to flexibly deal with the challenges of the workplace, so that they stick work out, rather than leave.


Here's a few techniques for strengthening the 7 pillars of resilience.


1. Emotional regulation


Emotional regulation is the ability to identify what you are feeling and the ability to control your feelings when necessary. Journaling can help job seekers identify, accept and let go of difficult or painful emotions, while calming and focusing exercises like mindfulness, 7/11 breathing (breathing in for seven seconds and out for 11 seconds) or activities that get them into flow can help. They can also tune into more positive emotions like awe, love, amusement and others to improve the positivity ratio of their emotions, and challenge unhelpful and reactive beliefs about adversity by disputing them and finding alternative and helpful solutions to problems.



 2. Impulse control


Highly resilient people are able to think before acting rather than giving into ‘knee-jerk’ reactions. Job seekers can practice catching unhelpful thoughts before reacting, for example if jumping to conclusions, 'minimising' their achievements, engaging in black and white thinking, or suffering from tunnel vision. They can create a plan of action for controlling reactive impulses, like planning to go for a 5 minute walk if they feel upset or angry until the initial reaction has calmed down. They can put the situation in perspective to identify best and worst case scenarios and prevent catastrophising by listing likely alternatives to a problem or event.


3. Realistic optimism


Rather than ‘pie in the sky’ positivity, optimism needs to be linked to the realm of reality. Job seekers can support this by writing down the best possible future version of themselves, using as much detail as possible. For example, it might include their dream job or dream location. This can increase hope for the future. They could also pen some Big Hairy Audacious Goals. They can seek out the positives in life by listing good things that happened today, and express gratitude to boost optimism. They can also approach adversity with optimism by disputing initial negative reactions and coming up with possible alternative explanations to events.


4. Causal analysis 


Causal analysis is correctly identifying the true causes of good or bad things that happen. When job seekers are faced with a negative situation, they can brainstorm several reasons for why that event might have happened, and make a point of identifying reasons that cannot be attributed to them and that are essentially out of their control. They will feel less stressed. They can make their list of good things that happened to them that day, and reflect on what caused the good thing, and was it something they were in control of making happen?


5. Empathy


Reading and understanding the emotions of others with empathy helps build relationships and social support. Job seekers can practice conversation skills, like mirroring non verbal body language, as well as actively listening and being present, through nodding, eye contact, smiling and subtle gestures. Job seekers can notice when someone performs a kind act for them and see what simple acts of kindness they can perform each day. Also, they can be aware of their character strengths and spot strengths in others to understand why someone might react the way they do or have a different perspective if their buttons are pushed. 


6. Self-efficacy


Self-efficacy is the belief you can change your own future and having confidence in your ability to solve problems. Job seekers can remind themselves of their resilience in the past, through previous successes like passing a driving test or finishing a course. They can revisit their top five character strengths and what they are good at to reinforce their abilities and competencies to achieve with hard work and practice. They can practice activities to support a growth mindset, as those with a growth mindset embrace challenge, persist through setbacks, learn from criticism and see effort as a path to mastery, which all feed into self-efficacy.


7. Reaching out


Reaching out is being prepared to try new things and ask for help from people around you when necessary. Job seekers can reach out more by 'flipping' their failures, or challenging their thoughts about failing to gain confidence to take on new challenges and opportunities. They can make an effort to identify and contact weak tie connections through Facebook and LinkedIn (where jobs are likely to come from). And they can reframe thinking about asking for help and support from thinking it's a sign of weakness to it being a sign of strength and resilience. They could also identify people who could be their mentor when faced with challenges or setbacks. 


Want to support job seeker resilience to improve job outcomes? Try Esher House's new digital resilience workshops for employment services providers. Click here.