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How Setbacks Can Be Positive Parts Of Your CV

14 September 2018

Setbacks are an inevitable part of life, particularly when it comes to work. It is important to prepare for challenging questions in interviews, including any area of the CV that we may fear reflect badly on us. Mindset is vital when it comes to approaching gaps in a CV - whether it be in the past or something you are going through at present. Be aware and proud of your strengths - and the fact that any so-called setbacks in your CV can actually be regarded as some of its positive aspects.

Disappointing exam results

Graduate jobs are incredibly competitive, putting even more pressure on exam results. It is worth trying a form of meditation to help calm any stress and find clarity regarding your next step. When it comes to your CV, however, exam results don’t have to ruin your chances of getting the job you’re after. If you are able to reflect on what prevented you from fulfilling your potential in the exam - whether it be time management, anxiety, not having revised appropriately, etc - what matters is your ability to identify the reason and to improve on this obstacle in future. This willingness to self-reflect and improve is an invaluable trait that will stand you in good stead for any job. This is particularly true of roles in teaching, training or leadership; not only are these characteristics important for you to succeed at your job, but they will rub off on your students or team members, inspiring them to follow suit. So don’t get too hard on yourself if your exams don’t go to plan; learn from the experience and move forward.

Being made redundant

Redundancy is something that no one is truly immune to and which can be extremely traumatic for people. In fact, research has shown the profound impact redundancy has had on people’s ability to trust others. On the other hand, though, redundancy can be viewed as an exciting opportunity for a career change, upskilling or further study in an area that might help your career prospects. It is also a valuable reminder of the importance to not become complacent in a job, no matter how experienced you are. It acts as a motivator to keep learning and progressing personally, as well as professionally. Always bear in mind that redundancy is not your fault, it is commonplace and prospective employers will not penalise you for it.

Leaving a job relatively quickly

It could be that you realize soon after starting a job that it is not what you had anticipated, or does not suit you in the way you had imagined. While it is often worth trying to stick out a job and see whether it can lead on to something more appealing in the long run, it is not worth allowing the job to affect your emotional wellbeing. In fact, as long as you do not make a habit of only being in jobs for a short while, employers will probably appreciate your honesty. It can save you time and stress, while saving the company time and money. Be aware too of the fact that probationary periods are in place to allow the employer and amplitude the time to decide whether you make a good fit. 

Don’t hide away from setbacks

It’s what you do with a setback that matters most. In the case of disappointing exam results, an ability to self-reflect and improve will impress future employers. As for redundancy, seize the opportunity for self-development and change (if change is what you are after). Meanwhile, sometimes it may well be the case that you realise soon into a job that it is simply not right for you. Try to remember that recruiters are human too and will not be put off by so-called ‘negative’ experiences in your career. Their main concern will be what you have learnt from these experiences and how you have used them in a positive way.



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