How to Bounce Back After a Career Setback

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Whether it’s bad feedback on a major piece of work, missing out on a promotion, or redundancy, career setbacks are the pits. If you need to mope for a while, then go forth and mope. Once you’ve spent your feelings, though, it’s time to think about getting back on the horse (and better than ever). So just how do you bounce back after a career setback? This fool-proof guide is sure to get you back on track.

  1. Step back and evaluate

Career setbacks are like breakups: you don’t want to leap headfirst into a “rebound” situation. Rather, you need to step back and assess what’s happened – so as soon as you feel ready to put your damaged ego aside and don your objectivity hat, do it.

It’s time to deconstruct the situation that’s gotten you here. This doesn’t mean bashing yourself for what’s happened, mind you. Seek impartial advice from friends or colleagues outside of the office to discover whether you can learn from this setback. Missed out on a fantastic position in your current company? Ask an informed colleague how best to improve your C.V. Would a training course increase your chances? Do you need more face-to-face client experience to convince your boss you’re up to the task?

You can only determine your options going forward if you know the specifics of what kept you from achieving your goal this time. Once you know, you can decide whether you want to work harder and try again for the same thing, or whether it’s time to readjust your goals.

  1. Keep it professional

In select circumstances, it’s absolutely necessary to air your grievances at work. If your employer or immediate superior has harassed you or treated you unfairly, under no circumstances should you stay quiet.

If you’re experiencing the rejection that comes with learning, however, don’t bring your sour grapes to the office. Everyone must deal with constructive criticism and setbacks, but some stamp their feet and whine about it in public. Instead, handle your emotions while you’re at work, and act graciously. If your colleague deserves congratulations, extend your hearty well-wishes! Your fellow workers will appreciate your maturity in the face of disappointment, and your behavior won’t go unnoticed by your boss.

  1. Look towards the future

Failure is a fantastic self-assessment tool. Once we fail, we pause rushing to the next material achievement and start thinking about what actually inspires us. Was what you thought you wanted really what you wanted? Or is there a silver lining to your failure? Is there something out there that you’d actually like to do more? Failure might give you the push you need to pick up an old passion or to start a new pursuit. At the end of the day, know that any setbacks you face will only make you stronger.

If you decide to stay in your current line of work, then you need to put the past behind you and move forward. Instead of wallowing in your sorrows, network with people who can extend bigger, better opportunities. Think of it this way: your previous manager or boss didn’t have the eyes to see how brilliant you are, but others will!

This article was contributed by Cloe Matheson. Cloe is a freelance writer based in Dunedin, New Zealand. Her favourite books span a massive range of topics, from lifestyle and business tips to career and travel advice. She shares her ideas through her writing and has previously collaborated with local blogs and sites including Strata. Visit Cloe Writes to read more of her published work.

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