Then, silence. And more silence.
Finally, a call comes in. “We went another direction.”
We’ve all had these gut-wrenching moments in our careers. It feels like the end of the world. After all the effort, you have little to show for it.
But these moments are just moments. These feelings of doom and despair are just emotions, and they’re getting in your way.
While it’s important to process and heal from the stress and even the trauma from setbacks during your personal and professional life, it’s more important to focus on moving forward.
Remember, career management is continuous and requires effort every day, including the days that feel like everything is over.
Let’s take a look at some of the worst career setbacks and how to bounce back from them:
When you hear the words, everything goes quiet. You’re stuck in awe as you pack up your desk and leave. It is devastating.
In fact, a study conducted by the What Works Center for Wellbeing and the University of East Anglia found that people care more about being fired than enduring a break up. It even takes longer to recover from the loss of a job than the loss of an intimate relationship.
No matter how it happens, even if you’re blindsided, remember that it’s an opportunity for growth. Career management requires that you find ways to learn and grow, and being let go is the perfect time to find what you need to learn more about and improve.
Before you leave, ask for specific feedback on your performance. Find out where you fell short, and determine where you want to take your career next.
As you look for new jobs, you might be asked about how you ended your employment. Pointing fingers and assigning blame is a huge red flag -- and trying to hide the fact that you were fired is even worse.
Be proactively transparent and share exactly what happened. Highlight how it inspired you to learn new skills and become a better professional.
You Didn’t Get That Dream Job
Despite what it feels like when you hear that you didn’t earn a job offer, you are better off. Remember, your job is more than just a paycheck -- it’s a relationship. You want to feel valued and needed. A good fit comes from both sides, not just yours.
Refine your job search and focus on moving forward and finding your next dream role. There’s always another position that can fulfill you.
Also, reflect on what may have cost you the opportunity. If you have the chance, ask the employer what happened.
For example, let’s say they mention your lack of experience. Instead of merely stressing about feeling undesirable in the talent market, start seeking out volunteer opportunities or internships to add to your resume.
Research your prospective roles, look for gaps in skills you have and skills needed, and start to fill that void.
When you have to take a pay cut or move down to a lower-level position, request one-on-one time with your direct leadership team. Ask how you fell short of expectations and determine a course of action to move back up.
Then, dedicate time to adding more responsibilities to your role and becoming an expert in your field.
Your career management plan should include mentors. Ask tenured employees above you to teach you what it takes to succeed in your role. You can also find mentors at networking events.
Mentors are the best resource because you build a strong rapport with them and have an ally throughout your entire career. Focus on maintaining a mutually beneficial relationship with them.
Your Leadership Changed
Every culture feels the energy change when a new leadership team comes in. It’s not an issue until you realize that they don’t fit your personality or work style.
If you want to quit because your new boss is bad, you’re not alone. In fact, according to an April 2015 Gallup study, around 50 percent of employees leave their company to get away from their bosses.
First, try to establish a good rapport and relationship. However, if you dread work every day and can’t find solutions, it’s time to search elsewhere.
Start researching different roles, industries, and career options. Maybe you’re burnt out because you’re not passionate about your field. Ask yourself what industry you love.
Let’s say you’re an avid baseball fan and you excelled in sales management in your current industry. You can apply your sales expertise and thrive in sales while working for a baseball team or for Major League Baseball.
When it comes to career management, you need to check in with yourself regularly to ensure you’re living by your values and working in a field that fulfills you. When you love what you do, you’re well-equipped to see these setbacks as real opportunities for growth.
Success comes when you overcome adversity and focus on moving forward.