How to get back on track after a career setback

By Robert Half on 22 November 2017

It's not the end of the world when you have been passed over for a promotion or even retrenched at some point in your career.

Consider the following work-related scenarios.

You’ve just received a less-than-flattering performance review, and your face is still flushed with embarrassment: Your career has taken a detour.

You were sure you had the promotion in the bag, but your boss overlooked you completely and gave it to someone else: Your career has reached a standstill.

You’ve been retrenched: Your career has crashed.

Now what? Well, that really depends on you.

Unforeseen circumstances like these can definitely derail your career. But how quickly you get back on track depends largely on how you handle the aftermath of the situation.

Let’s take a look at how you can recover from a career setback:

Give yourself a grace period

Allow yourself a sufficient amount of time to deal with your anger and resentment when suffering from professional disappointment. Wait until those feelings have subsided before deciding how to move on.

Being able to look at the situation objectively can help you make more rational decisions about your future.

Own up to your mistakes

Looking for a scapegoat to blame instead of focusing on your own failings will hurt you most in the long run. Be honest with yourself about what you could have done differently to achieve a more positive outcome.

For example, were there issues you failed to address? Exactly when did things go wrong?

Using a tough experience as a way to learn from your mistakes is a good way to keep from repeating them.

Take back the reins

You have no control over what’s already happened, but you’re in the driver’s seat in terms of what happens next. Ask yourself what you need to do to be successful the next time round.

For example, a possible reason why you were passed over for a promotion was because you lacked the necessary qualifications. Consider taking classes or working with a mentor to improve your skill sets.

This can make you a more viable candidate when another opportunity presents itself.

A career setback can be turned around

Most successful professionals probably have a tale or two to tell about the challenges that hindered or even ended their careers.

But their stories didn’t end there, and yours doesn’t have to either. In the end, perhaps a hard-won, successful career is more rewarding than a smooth ride to the top.

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