From a first-time job seeker to a seasoned professional, every career journey will have its setbacks. No matter where you’re at in your career, you’ll face some sort of setback, whether it’s a bad interview, a layoff, or a failed project. There’s always something that can go wrong, and many of these things are outside of our control. Sometimes, it’s simply a bad time to be a job seeker or part of a specific industry.

Make sure not to let these inconveniences derail your career and keep them as mere setbacks by taking time to reflect. Keep these ideas in mind as you reframe your mindset and come up with a plan to get back on track.

Define your goals

During any setback, it’s a good time to consider the opportunity lost and think about your ultimate career goals. Ask yourself what about this lost opportunity would have advanced you toward your goals and whether it was a realistic step. By stopping to think about where you’re at in your journey, you can gain some valuable insight.

ABC Corp says to keep your goals realistic and achievable. Was this opportunity something you were truly ready for, or would it have been too much of a leap forward? By breaking down your objectives into manageable steps, you can reframe your journey and target actionable goals.

Octavia Goredema says that these setbacks are a good time to consider what your non-negotiables are. What are your absolute necessities for your dream role? Was that lost opportunity something that could have taken you there? Even if the answer is yes, this setback offers a good opportunity to revisit your ultimate goals before looking to your next chance.

Embrace growth

Generally, job descriptions are more of a wishlist than an accurate description of the role. Hiring managers likely want every bullet point, but the best candidate will have a solid foundation and be able to grow into the role. Sometimes, the hiring manager won’t realize that themselves and will leave a solid candidate on the bench. But don’t only look at opportunities where you perfectly meet every requirement. Instead, try to keep growing and finding ways to use your transferable skills.

“Think of your career like a video game. You encounter new challenges, and you level up by learning new skills. Embrace webinars, workshops, or books to boost your expertise!” –Sahil Maniar, preplaced

Find ways to grow and highlight your skills so that the next time an opportunity comes along, you’ll be even more extraordinary. Take online classes, find workshops, find a side project, enlist the help of a mentor, or read a book to build your skills. Your setback likely offered a chance to understand where you need to grow, so find a way to use that knowledge.

Seek support

Setbacks can take a massive toll on mental health, and recognizing that everyone experiences them doesn’t erase the sting. But it helps to know you’re not alone, and never be shy about looking to others for help. By utilizing your support system, you can both heal your mental health and find valuable solutions.

Adidas’ Sophia Obrecht reminds us that there is someone in your circle, whether it be a teacher, mentor, colleague, or manager, that you can learn from. If there isn’t, it’s worth seeking someone out. This helper likely knows what it takes to succeed in your target role or can introduce you to people who do. But it’s up to you to reach out and find a way to learn from them!

“When you surround yourself with optimistic people, positivism rubs off, and the potentials for career possibilities are more likely to be realized.” –Bryan Robinson, Forbes

Redefine success and find the upside

Finally, you can’t change the setback that happened, but you can change how you view the event. If you can frame this as a mere setback and minor roadblock on your journey, or even better, a chance for learning, it makes the experiment easier to swallow.

Mind Tools says to align your mindset and focus on the future opportunities that will arise. Let’s say you were interviewing for a dream job or promotion but didn’t get it. Now, you have experience going through the process, a better idea of what questions will be asked and what qualifications are needed, and what you can improve on. You can also embrace that you got a chance to interview in the first place, which means someone sees the potential in you for that type of role. This is a success in and of itself.

Wrap up

Career setbacks are disappointing, and there is no reason to pretend they aren’t! Don’t be afraid to acknowledge your feelings. But don’t let that setback define you. Take some time to think about what you want and how you can get it, and view the setback as a challenge to be overcome. When you’re ready, consider these lessons and get back at it!

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