Blood, sweat, and tears



Losing a job is stressful. Being in a job you don’t like can be stressful. Your feelings about yourself after being out of work for a while might make it difficult for you to get out of bed. All of which can result in negative attitudinal, emotional, and physiological changes that compound the difficulty of finding new employment or making the changes you want.

The idea of ‘resilience’ has been shown to be an important factor in recovering from adversity – even though you might find psychologists struggling to agree what resilience is. However, Canadian psychologists McLarnon, Rothstein and King studied the effect of resiliency on re-employment after job loss. Specifically, they examined the role of ‘self-regulation’ in effective job search strategies.

We can think of resilience as the general ability to ‘bounce back’ after setbacks. Self-regulation can be thought of as the process part of resilience – the processes we use to control our emotions, maintain our self-belief, and give us a sense of purpose.

As McLarnon et al. note, “Self-regulation functions to restrain negative affect, to adjust behaviour to focus on goal-directed pursuits, and to enact cognitive strategies to consider adversity as a positive challenge rather than a hindrance.” These are the mechanisms that contribute to positive outcomes in the face of adversity.

When you’re not feeling good about yourself, enacting such mechanisms is hard – but if you want change to happen, act, you must.

McLarnon et al.’s study involved collaborating with two outplacement consulting groups based in Canada to source participation from individuals who had recently been laid off and had not yet been re-employed. The sample included 185 individuals (60% male). Most participants (79%) had a degree, 53% were senior managers and 31% were mid-level managers.

Resilience is often thought of as a trait, or characteristic, that individuals possess. McLarnon et al.’s study is important in identifying process-based components of resilience – self regulation - that offer positive outcomes over and above any trait related outcomes.

This is important in relation to job seeking because you may be stuck with the resilience related characteristics you have – personality or intelligence. However, what you do to manage both yourself and your interactions with other people is perhaps more important in relation to job seeking efforts than your personal characteristics.

This idea of self-regulation of emotional, behavioural, and cognitive processes as a predictor of success over and above personal characteristics is consistent with work in the field of emotional intelligence (EI).  EI is concerned with how people manage themselves to be both personally and interpersonally effective (Maddocks & Sparrow, 1998).

Unfortunately, we at Brave Starts have no free tickets to change. If you’re on one of our career change programmes, you’ll notice we encourage you to do a lot of things to make change happen. We also believe that working in groups with other people like you provides you with the emotional support and extra resource of ideas to help you along the way.

Self-regulation is hard. It’s blood, sweat and tears. But it’s also what you need to make the changes you want.


McLarnon, M.J.W., Rothstein, M.G and King, G. (2020). Resiliency, Self‐Regulation, and Reemployment After Job Loss. Journal of Employment Counselling, 57(3), p.p.115-129

Maddocks, J. & Sparrow, T. (1998). The Individual Effectiveness Questionnaire. JCA Global Ltd.

Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.