Taking an Early Career Setback into an Opportunity

Career setback, opportunity
For many, a career setback does not come strictly by being fired or laid off although.

As a woman in business, there also are subtle ways you may experience bumps in the road. Maybe you were just passed up for a promotion or you are coming back from maternity leave to find the company’s culture has changed for the worse. No matter what kind of setback you’re experiencing, here are a few steps to turn your negative experience into an opportunity for career growth.

Make Financial Independence a Goal

When you experience a setback, start working toward financial independence. To be able to make a move to a new company, city, to work for yourself, or going back to school, you’ll need to have money saved. If it’s possible to stay in your current job for a little longer to add to your savings, do so and bide your time. Even though you may be ready to move on, hold on while collecting your regular paycheck.

But remember, don’t stay too long if you’re not mentally prepared for the work ahead of you. If you’re not operating at your best, those around you will notice. Leave a great impression on your colleagues when you finally depart, because you never know when your paths may cross again in the workplace.

If you’re ready to leave or have been fired, take steps immediately to stabilize your financial situation. Even if you can afford your current lifestyle, cut back on those little expenses that add up. Especially if you have less than 6 months’ expenses saved up, take every precaution to use those savings sparingly until you’re back on your feet.

Keep A Positive Attitude

Just because you’ve experienced one setback doesn’t mean you can’t accomplish your goals. Find some time for yourself to take do a little self-care to put your mind in a healthy place. Operating at your best is an important step to being able to tackle the next opportunity head on. You are your best ally, and it’s key to take good care of yourself.

Find Mentors

Having other driven and successful women on your side is an invaluable resource. Reach out to women in your field who have achieved your goals or that you want to emulate. You would be surprised how each person’s path to success varies greatly. Join a professionals group in your field, especially one for women. There are other women out there that understand the unique challenges you may face in the workplace and how to navigate those successfully.

Remember, you won’t want to ask your current peers or supervisors for recommendations if you’re trying to apply for other jobs quietly. If your employer learns you’re leaving before you have an offer in hand, you may be seen as less committed or lose valuable leverage for negotiating. Having mentors outside of your current company helps you have additional flexibility when asking for references, testimonials, and letters of recommendations.

Add To Your Resume

Find opportunities to collect your resume and portfolio assets while you still work for your current organization. You might lose access to some of these projects when you leave. Take an inventory of what you’ve accomplished and save anything you can legally use for your future. Depending on your current employee handbook and contract, be aware that there may be some proprietary information you cannot leverage for a resume. However, save everything else that you can because you never know what may be useful in a future job.

While volunteer experiences won’t directly benefit you financially, you can learn a lot from volunteering and add valuable interest points to your resume. Employers love seeing that a potential candidate is engaged in the community because they are better equipped to create a positive culture in the workplace. Find a volunteer opportunity that is directly applicable to your career, and you may find connections to other people who are in your field.

Get Organized

If you are working towards specific career goals, break it down into manageable pieces. When you set a lofty goal, it can seem too far away to accomplish in the short term and it may become overwhelming. By giving yourself a roadmap to success, it’s much easier to visualize the path you need to take and show each step with the final intention in mind.

In addition, write a list of what you like and don’t like about your career. How can things be better? What type of company do you want to work for? By answering these questions, you know what to ask your next interviewer to get to the heart of their organization.

When you ask the right questions in an interview, it quickly sheds insight on how the organization operates and where the potential problems may lay. Simply asking “What is your culture like?” doesn’t give you everything you need to know about a new company. Instead, ask questions like “do you feel like you have the resources you need for success?” If you’re looking for a job where you feel more supported, this question will open an honest conversation with the interviewer about those attributes.

Check out the infographic below for some more tips on how to deal with career setbacks from entrepreneurs, investors, and creative minds.