[CAREER NEWS] How can you bounce back after a setback in your career?

Are you facing a crisis in your career? Are you finding yourself at odds with the values of the company you work for? Do you think redundancy might be on the horizon? Not many people achieve success at work without a few setbacks along the way. What if you learned to accept these bumps in the road as opportunities to learn?


A career setback, whatever the cause, can be a difficult event to deal with. If this setback occurs during the course of an unbroken career, it may be even harder to overcome because the person is faced with the unknown. As a rule, such a person will go through the five stages of grief defined by psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and finally acceptance.

Without wishing to under-play the pain a person might experience when faced with a career crisis, it is important that they find an opportunity for growth that will allow them to embrace their vulnerability and acknowledge their strengths in order to be able to bounce back.

Here are some tips to help you cope with setbacks in your career:

Accept the new reality

When you hit a bump in the road at work, you are brought face to face with a new reality that you are forced to accept. Remember there will be times when you feel disappointed, upset, angry or even discouraged. These are quite normal and will pass ...

Give free rein to your emotions and express them - don’t bottle things up.

Seek support from those around you. Identify a trustworthy person who you can open up to and who will listen to you without judging you, while helping you get some perspective on what you are going through.

Think about what has gone wrong

Analyse the reasons that have led to this setback. Look at the factors you had control over and your attitude towards those factors beyond your control. Identify what you did well and what went less well. Could you have done anything differently? What are the behaviours, strengths and reflexes you can count on and continue to have faith in?

Don’t let this career setback define you

Our behaviour is distinct from who we are as a person. Indeed, the reality you are faced with does not reflect your value as an individual or a member of a team. In other words, do not let yourself be overwhelmed by your defeat. It’s right that you should recognise your share of responsibility for the situation (even if it is sometimes difficult to do so!). This will help you let go and move on. However, in many cases, you will quickly come to realise that there were other factors in play that are unrelated to your own abilities and/or behaviour.

So cut yourself some slack and be kind to yourself.

Change perspective to break the deadlock

Hitting a stumbling block in your career means facing up to change ... You can choose to accept the situation or put up resistance…
The way you see things and your state of mind will make all the difference to the way you manage a career setback. Think of it as a strategy that didn't work. Not all strategies are successful and you know that!

Learn from the experience

The setback that has just occurred is an experience. The idea is not to dwell on what went wrong or did not go the way you wanted it, but to identify what you have learned from this failure. Taking a step back from the situation, what aspects are you grateful for? How has this setback made things better for you or how can it make things better? By asking yourself these constructive questions, your state of mind and your energy are focussed on the positive and this will allow you to bounce back more quickly!

See every challenge and obstacle as a stepping stone that leads you to a better version of yourself.

Take care of yourself

Look after your health. Make sure you incorporate activities into your day that allow you to re-charge your batteries, but also reduce stress during this period of transition from your old circumstances to your new ones.

Get help

How can you bounce back from this career setback? Assess the possibilities open to you objectively, whether that is transferring to a different position in your own company, moving to a new company, launching your own business or a complete change of career to a new sector or another profession.

You can get the support of a coach to do this, to help you work on personal development, remove any possible blockages or obstacles to your progress and to help you have a serious think about what is important to you now at a professional level.

Remember that over the course of your career, your needs and priorities change. Some opportunities are becoming outdated, but new growth challenges are emerging. Indeed, choosing the right opening will depend a lot on where you are in your life.

Look to the future

A career setback is a signpost on your own journey, with a meaning you will undoubtedly understand later and at your own pace. Once you have outlined your new career path with or without the help of a coach, it is time to:
-    bring the vision of your new career plan to life by taking action and…
-    get started!

To help you during this period of uncertainty, how would you like to benefit from the support sessions that Elizabeth offers you as part of IÉSEG Network to reinvent your professional identity and review your definition of success while capitalising on your experience and your strengths? Don’t hesitate to get in touch!

Elizabeth TOUCAS – Executive Strengths Coach & Career Manager – IÉSEG Network

For coaching/personalised support or for any request for information on the  Careers service, contact her: e.toucas@ieseg.fr or

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