See how to show resilience in a CV or job interview

resilience cv interview

Resilience is something every employer looks for. It’s a self-belief skill. You can use your CV to show  your future boss you believe in yourself and can handle life’s challenges and setbacks. Here’s how.

What is resilience?

We’ll start with the basics. Resilience is all about how quickly you recover from little (and big) setbacks in life. You know how the greatest boxers bounce back to try again when they’re on the ropes? Resilience is like that. It’s how well you can keep on growing and learning if something goes wrong. It’s about bouncing back, and trying again to succeed without losing your sense of self-worth.

We all fail sometimes. We all mess up and make mistakes we have to learn from. We all end up in situations where we were shooting for the stars but fell flat on our face.

Failure is going to happen. It’s how we deal with it that counts.

Resilience is doing stuff and feeling stuff to stay positive and work round life’s problems.

Why is resilience important when you’re in a job or looking for one?

Resilience in your current or new job

The boss wants you to be happy in your new job and give it your best shot. They’re rooting for you to succeed.

Your boss doesn’t want you to hide under your desk and refuse to come out ever again because you sent a work email to the wrong person.

They also don’t want you to rage-quit your job just because they pointed out you had timekeeping issues and needed to start coming into work on time.

They don’t want you to literally tear your hair out because you didn’t reach a hoped-for sales goal.

Yes, they want you to do your job well, because it makes them money. But… they also want you to feel good about how you’re getting something out of working in their organisation. They want you to feel like you’re growing into your full potential.

Employers these days understand that mental health matters. When things don’t go as expected, your boss is rooting for you to bend, not break – because they’ve also had to learn from their own mistakes. They remember what it was like to mess up, how bad it felt. And they know resilience will help you increase your confidence over time.

Resilience when looking for jobs

Oh, here’s a big one. Anyone who’s ever done job hunting knows how tough it can be. Sending out all those perfectly-crafted cover letters and triple-checked CVs, and not a single interview in sight. Trying week after week, and still not landing a job you just know you’d be perfect for.

When you’re looking for jobs, you NEED resilience. You’re that boxer on the ropes. But you’re going to keep training, keep trying, and always believe in yourself. You’re going to keep looking for ways to succeed. There’ll be other boxing matches, other dream jobs to apply for. What matters is you stay flexible, hold on to your understanding that failure doesn’t have any reflection on your true value as a person.


How to show you have resilience in your CV

To show resilience on your CV, you want to show:

  • You can adapt to a change in a work or study situation
  • You can cope when things get challenging at work
  • You can cope when you are given more responsibility, or asked to do something you’ve never done before

In a CV, showing your resilience is not about saying how you learned from past mistakes, but showing how well you can cope in a change of situation.

Examples of showing resilience in your CV:

  • Mention taking on extra responsibilities or working longer hours to support a small team
  • Mention undertaking extra training to adjust to a challenging workload or work environment
  • Mention your role changing and growing over time

How to show you have resilience in job interviews

Quite often, you’ll be asked to talk about your weaknesses in an interview, or talk about how you dealt with a stressful situation in past employment. They’re common interview questions. When your employer asks you these questions they’re not trying to trick you. They’re trying to see if you have a positive attitude when things get tough.

With resilience, you can turn any weakness into a strength if you say what steps you’ve taken to overcome the challenge.

Job interview questions like these are to do with resilience, or how well you adapt and bounce back from tricky situations!

When you’re talking about resilience, always talk about a specific situation.

  • Say what the situation was.
  • Say why it presented a challenge.
  • Say what steps you took to overcome the challenge.

Examples of showing resilience in your job interview:

Never forget that just turning up to interview shows resilience. You’ve spent time job hunting, you’ve sweated through the application process, and you’ve handled yourself so well during this tough time that an employer is excited to meet you and see if you could be part of their team.

Can you think of a time where you showed grace under fire? Maybe you took on unfamiliar tasks when your place of work lost team members or made redundancies. Maybe a client was unhappy and you personally took on the task of making things better. Maybe you struggled with extra responsibilities and started coming in early so you could prepare for the work day in advance. All of these show resilience, or bouncing back from tough times.

Speaking of which…

Young Professional Challenge

Think of a time when you bounced back from tough times. Pick a situation that relates to work, or study if you haven’t had any work experience.

Really can’t think of anything? Try this exercise first with a situation in your personal life. Then see if you can think of something work or study related once you’ve got the hang of it.

Now try this:

  • Out loud or on paper, briefly describe the situation the way you would to an employer.
  • Explain why the situation was challenging.
  • Say how you rose to the occasion, adapting in a way where you tested yourself and came out on top. Even if it was a steep mountain to climb and you fell now and then.

Now you’ve got at least one situation where you can talk about how you showed resilience, all ready for tweaking your CV or heading to a job interview.

Even reading this pep talk and doing this challenge shows you’ve got resilience.


Boost your Young Professional skills…

For more information, please email or call 01536 513388.

Looking for Youth Friendly Employers?

Find out more about some of the organisations offering high quality training and work opportunities to young people. Your next dream role could be just a click away…

Are you getting your free training in the 5 top Young Professional skills?

Problem Solving
Self Belief
Self Management

Sign up for free Young Professional training.

  • Life hacks and pep talks in a weekly newsletter
  • Opportunities from youth-friendly employers and organisations
  • Grow the 5 top life and work skills at your own pace
Registration Options
Please fill in your details
password strength indicator
Additional Info


Are you a real person? If so, click the box
Let's stay in touch
IMPORTANT: When you click ‘sign me up’, you’ll be asked to log in using your new username and password. Then you’ll be taken straight to your Young Professional dashboard with lots of info and things to do. You can find this dashboard at any time when you click the orange ‘My Dashboard’ button at the top of the site page and log in!

Latest articles

Go to Dashboard

Scandinavian Wellbeing Tips on Surviving Winter

The UK may not get as dark and cold as Scandinavia in winter but it can still dampen your mood! […]

Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Goto Meeting, and Google Meet: What You Need to Know

Though video conferencing has been around for years, it has taken off like never before in 2020. See our handy […]

What has Working Remotely Taught us About Teamwork?

You don’t have to be in the same room as someone to work well as a team. The pandemic has […]

Ways to Job Search with Resilience in the Time of COVID-19

As if job hunting wasn’t hard enough, now COVID-19 comes along. Use this time to upskill, choose your applications wisely, […]