Be resilient

Find out what resilience is, why it is important and how you can develop it as a researcher


  • Resilience is the ability to bounce back after a setback or disappointment, to think and learn - and try again.  

Why is this important? 

  • everybody meets setbacks during their study or work. They are a common feature of a research degree, where there will always be times when you hit blocks in your research or it doesn’t go to plan. Seeing these setbacks not as failures, but as opportunities to learn important lessons and recognise how to do things differently and better next time will help you to develop personally and professionally – and to stay positive

  • some of these setbacks will be out of your control, and when it comes to your career this is particularly true in times of economic uncertainty. Even before COVID-19 we recognised that the future of work was starting to look very different.  Developing your resilience will help you to be flexible in your planning, adapt well to uncertainty and navigate your way through a constantly changing landscape 

How can you develop resilience? 

Look back at your experiences to date, identify the challenges and setbacks you’ve faced and what you have learned from them. The Reflectors’ Toolkit will help with this: 

 The Reflectors’ Toolkit 

Listen to people’s stories. In the media, or amongst your own contacts, or when you’re networking, you’ll hear many examples of how people have handled setbacks and come back from failure. Talk to other researchers so you can normalise your experiences and share tips which can be helpful. 

Where to find out more 

Posts about resilience on the Careers Service blog 

Posts about resilience on the Institute for Academic Development blog

Take a Risk (YouTube)

CV of failure (Nature journal) (access the article, and search for other articles on ‘CV of failure’) 

The following resources need your University of Edinburgh log in: 

How to improve your resilience  

Video: Starting your career with resilience 

Video: Resilience is a key career skill