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How to Bounce Back After a Major Career Setback

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Giving setback to the setback

From the hoard of unemployed youth, very few job seekers actually get to follow the career path they have created in their mind. For many, the job hunt easily turns into a series of disappointments. They fail to snag the position they want, or they realize that the job they are getting is nothing like they expected it to be. The difficulties of establishing a career while you are young can be psychologically taxing. In fact, some studies reveal that if a person fails to launch the career he or she wants after six months of venturing into the job hunt scene, his or her level of confidence drops significantly. Indeed, it can be discouraging to experience your first major career setback. You may even start questioning your knowledge, qualifications, and skills.

However, do not let one setback, no matter how big it is, destroy your plans. Instead, use it as a motivation to become better. To assist you with this, here are some proven effective tips to help you bounce back after a career setback:

 1. Give yourself a set period of time for healing

Feel what you need to feel but only for a certain period of time. It’s good to do so and unburden yourself of those heavy feelings of frustration that can prevent you from thinking straight.

Once that period is over, move on.

 2. Think about the reasons behind the setback

This may feel like picking at a fresh wound but it truly helps to identify the reasons why the career setback transpired. You know what, sometimes, it does not really have anything to do with you.

Some more tips on fighting the disappointment in you!

Perhaps the company was downsizing and the easiest people to let go were those who had not been with the company for a long time. Or, the operations have changed directions. These are things that you simply had no control over.

But, if the reason behind the setback has a lot to do with the work you were delivering or other variables related to you. It is good to ponder upon them so you can determine the solutions you’ll need to implement in the future.

Also, you may have been stuck with a pattern that just doesn’t work. If this is the case, remember the words of Albert Einstein about insanity since you may find it crazy that something unfortunate has happened to your career:

“…Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.”

So, snap out of your dysfunctional pattern and resolve to do things differently to find what works.

 3. Set yourself up for your comeback

Here’s another cliché that rings true: “If at first, you don’t succeed, dust yourself off and try again.” However, when you try again, make sure to give it that much-need “oomph” to secure the triumph.

Work on yourself before hitting the job market again to finally launch your career.

Build upon your skills.

Sign up for professional development courses that are relevant to the field you are aiming for, and even a few that are not. There’s nothing like a big set of varied skills to indicate how much you can contribute to an establishment.

For example, being a compelling and effective public speaker is useful in all industries. If you enroll in a public speaking masterclass and get certified, you will be able to sharpen your personal brand and fine-tune your executive presence. This will allow you to have more confidence and opportunities to go for a next-level career move.

 4. Create your own career opportunity

If the job hunt continues to be disappointing because of the stiff competition, getting hired is not your only option.

Consider setting up your own business and being your own boss. A lot of fresh graduates and young pros are heading down this route because seeking employment truly is time-consuming and too competitive.


Some of our venerable losers

Start out small by offering your skills to groups that are looking to outsource certain aspects of their operations. For instance, if you studied accounting but are not yet certified, work as an auditor or accounts clerk for some small businesses you know. You will gain valuable experience and connections in doing so.

Or, place your expertise in the digital realm.

How about creating a blog or a YouTube channel where you can provide people with content that is relevant to them? Say, you have a degree in tourism, create a video that would be helpful to avid and casual travelers. Gain enough subscribers and sponsors, and you can be making more from it than by being in an office as an employee.

 You define what you can become

Remember, a major career setback does not define you and your future unless you let it.

Hopefully, once you implement the tips shared here and expand your career horizon, you’ll be well on your way to securing a fulfilling career.

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By Annick Nuyens

With over 20 years of experience in B2B marketing, Annick Nuyens first worked in the hospitality service industry and th...more

With over 20 years of experience in B2B marketing, Annick Nuyens first worked in the hospitality service industry and then moved to the knowledge industry. She currently works for Informa in the Dubai office, where she oversees marketing for public and in-house training courses, conferences, exhibitions and managed events across the Middle East and Africa. less

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