A Valuable Lesson On Resilience (Fired from first job out of university, sent 526 resumes to land next job)

September 17, 2017



Upon graduating from one of Australia’s top universities, I was ready to take on the world and begin my career journey.


I had lots of plans during the final weeks of my studies and couldn’t wait to step into the marketplace, coupled with the fact that I was offered a job at a tech start up.


But I was in for a shocking reality check.


An article from ABC news reported that from 2008 to 2014, the graduate employment rate dropped from 56.4% to 41.7%.


This report reflected the harsh reality of the job market – it was getting more competitive to secure work as universities churn out more graduates into the mix each year.


A few months into my job within the startup, I was fired because I was underperforming as I could not hit my sales targets each month. I went back to university and was disregarded by the careers director when I asked her for advice relating to a careers magazine project.


It was only after developing my self-confidence, networking skills, discovering my strengths and sending out tailored applications, that I managed to land a job offer as a business and management trainer. By this stage, I had my fair share of disappointments and had sent 526 resumes over the course of 561 days.


Here’s what I learnt about resilience in the face of adversity, that will forever be etched in my memory.


1- As long as you don’t stop, you are unstoppable


My friend and I were trying to pitch our careers magazine project to the university’s career director. She blatantly refused, questioned our credibility and doubted our qualifications.


But that didn’t stop us from reaching out to other universities. In the course of 6 months, we went from zero to reaching 3000-4000 students across 6 universities.


I was discouraged by not hearing back from the companies and started doubting my competence. But, despite this, I chose to just keep moving forward and not stop.


2 - Take full responsibility for your situation


When you are unemployed for an extended period of time, it is tempting to shift the blame onto the government, the economy, the industry, the employers, your university, your friends and even yourself.


But don’t. If you want things to change, you have to change first.


To do this means taking full responsibility of your situation. Responsibility means having the ability to choose your response, regardless of how the situation unfolds.


Sure, you might be stuck in the dumps, but what options do you have to improve your situation?

Many factors may be beyond your control, but what can you do to actively move yourself forward?


3 - Use adversity to your advantage


There will be times in your life where you will hit rock bottom or hit the wall.


I’ve felt this several times, whether it’s guarding a machine gun nest at 5am during my military service, striving to complete a 50km ultra-marathon, battling fatigue in a 100km hike or sending my 525th resume.


You will have your moments, but resolve that you will not allow these moments to discourage you and find a way to use it to your advantage.


After the 526th resume, I resolved to make it my mission to inspire others towards career greatness and that gave me the opportunity to speak to more than 1000 individuals locally, interstate and (soon) internationally.


There will be tough challenges and setbacks in your life, however you can be tougher. Failures and setbacks don’t define you, they refine you.


So keep going and never give up. You will never know what you’re truly capable of, unless you keep going.


Dominic Soh was a Jobless international student turned author and international speaker. Going from being fired from his first job and having to send 526 resumes to land his next one, Dominic’s on a mission to inspire millions to career success in the marketplace.

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