21 Dec 2020

It’s not Personal: How to develop a resilient mindset when job searching

Guest post by Edel King, Maynooth University Library. Edel is an MLIS graduate currently working as a Library Assistant in MU Library. Her professional interests include Information Literacy, User Experience and Social MediaIntroduction

I graduated from University College Dublin (UCD) with a Master’s Degree in Library and Information Studies in 2015. Since then, I have been interviewed about 30 times for various posts and was successful on only five occasions. That’s not the best success rate. As a result, I have had to develop resilience in the face of all of that rejection. It has been so hard not to take it personally, to not be put off the next interview, to try again and try harder. In this blog, I will be giving some of the tips and resources that I have found useful, in developing my resilience.

What is resilience and Why is it important?

Resilience has been variously defined as the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; the ability to “bounce back” and learn from experience; the ability to move on and not dwell on failures. Resilience is about having a growth mind-set. A growth mindset says that intelligence is to be developed. With a growth mind-set, you embrace challenges, persist in the face of setbacks, see effort at the path to mastery, learn from criticism and find lessons and inspiration in the success of others.

Resilience while job seeking

Job seeking can be difficult as a lot of the time it may not go your way, and it can take longer to achieve your goal than you expected. This is where resilience comes in. Bouncing back from the latest rejection, learning from it and staying motivated to move on to the next application/interview are all skills that you can learn to help you on the journey. 

With that in mind, the following are some resources and tips that I have found helpful to me as I seek to advance in my career.

Some resources and tips to help build resilience


Don’t take it personally. It can be easy, when you get a rejection to think, oh I’m not good enough, they didn’t want me. But this is a direct road to losing motivation and stalling or stopping the job search. The interviewers have a position to fill, just one. They may have really liked you, thought you had great experience and the skills necessary for the job. But the successful applicant might just have an edge on you. It could be tiny but maybe it was enough to get them over the line. It’s not that you were bad. Use it as a reason to further develop your skills, get more varied experience and practice selling yourself better.

Ask for Feedback. When you come out of an interview and then again when you get a rejection, you could easily fixate on an answer you gave, where you could have done better. But you don’t really know why you didn’t get the job. The only people who do know are the ones who interviewed you. So approach them and ask for feedback. You need to do this through the appropriate channels. It may be via your Human Resources Department or directly from the chair of the interview panel.  Most interviewers will be happy to help you and pleased that you were interested enough to ask for feedback in the first place. Then the mystery is removed – you know why you didn’t get the job and what you need to improve on for the next interview.

Get Networking. Get out there and talk to others in the field you want to enter/advance in. Networking can be difficult; putting yourself out there and introducing yourself to strangers can be daunting but it can also be one of the best things you can do. You never know who you will end up talking to; what tips they will give, opportunities they know of or courses they have done that have helped them. 


I undertook a course on LinkedIn aimed at building resilience (What, Why and How to Become Resilient). Topics covered include “Build a resilience threshold”, “Face uncomfortable situations” and “Connect with your Advisory Board”. The course takes you through, step by step, manageable everyday ways of building resilience and being able to apply it to lots of different, work based, situations. 

American psychologist Carol Dweck’s TED talk on the concept of “Not Yet” is useful (Developing a Growth Mind Set). It’s aimed at school teachers but the ideas within can be applied anywhere. She posits that instead of telling somebody when they don’t do well in a test or challenge of some sort (or in my case, an interview) that they failed, you switch the perspective to “not yet” with notes on how to improve. Switching your mind set from, “I didn’t get that job because I am not good enough” to “I didn’t get that job because I wasn’t ready for it yet but I know what I need to improve on to get there” can really help develop a positive mind set.


Job searching can be very difficult. But there is plenty of support and advice out there to help you build resilience and develop a positive mind set. The one take away I learned from all of the resources that I consulted was not to struggle alone; to reach out, whether by taking a course or talking to someone you trust. 

Best of luck with it – you’ll get there!


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