You’ve sent your CV to numerous companies as you searched for your first job but haven’t heard back from a single employer. Naturally, you’re feeling a little anxious and possibly upset. But you shouldn’t lose hope – science is proving that early setbacks in your career can actually increase your chances of success in the future!

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger!

Several studies have already proven that the well-known saying “What doesn’t kill you makes stronger”, holds more than a little truth. For example, in a 2018 study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology, researchers discovered that “moderate adversity can foster resilience later in life.” This study, and several others, have found that many people who experience hardship early in life are better able to deal with setbacks and find ways to recover from them. Most of these studies have focused on people who have suffered traumatic events such as the loss of a loved one or a near-death experience. But a more recent study produced similar findings when it comes to career setbacks.

Early career setbacks can actually benefit you

Carried out by the Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management in the United States, the study, Early-career setback and future career impact, analysed the records of young scientists who applied for grants early in their careers.

The study found that scientists who just missed out on grants but ‘stuck it out’ and tried again, generally performed better in the long term than scientists who received grants immediately. In fact, those who just missed the cut were 6.1% more likely to publish a hit paper within the next 10 years. This is despite the fact that they received less money than the scientists who received grants. 

The study therefore shows that there is actually value in failure, especially in terms of determination, lessons learnt and building resilience.

What does this mean for you?

These studies prove that you shouldn’t give up hope after falling at the first few obstacles. If you’re a student, for example, then you shouldn’t become too disheartened if you fail your first assignment. An early setback in your studies can be viewed as an opportunity to learn from your mistakes and strive to do better next time.

Similarly, if you’re a recent graduate, then you should not lose hope when you face difficulties such as struggling to find your first job. If you stand strong in the face of adversity and keep trying, then there is a good chance that you will find success. And, even more importantly, you will be better able to handle any setbacks that happen in the future.

In summary, it is much better to face and overcome difficult situations early in your study journey or career. Persevere through the hardship, and you’ll come out the other side as a more resilient, confident and determined person.

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