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How to Rebound From a Career Setback

October 2009 (SmartPros) The road to a successful career is frequently paved with disappointments, delays and detours. Whether it’s a job loss, a missed promotion or a poor performance review, everyone faces setbacks during the course of his or her professional life.

And while you can’t necessarily prevent running into job-related hurdles, you can work on developing coping skills that enable you to quickly bounce back. Following are tips on becoming more resilient and turning adversity into opportunity: 

Take time to collect your thoughts. Anger, shock, frustration and resentment are common emotions following a setback. It’s critical to regain your composure before making any decisions about next steps. Give yourself a cooling-off period to regroup so you can objectively analyze your situation.

Avoid playing the blame game. Rather than blaming other people, focus on the sequence of events that led to the setback. Try to identify what you could have done differently to generate a more positive outcome. Ask yourself tough questions. Were there issues you failed to address? At what point did things take a turn for the worse? Look back and learn before looking forward.

Empower yourself. Instead of succumbing to self-pity, recognize that you can take a proactive approach to your dilemma. Although you may not have been able to control what happened, you are in the driver’s seat as to what comes next.

Set specific goals.
Turn your attention to what you need to do to successfully move forward. For example, if you missed a promotion, perhaps you didn’t have all of the required skills or qualifications. What can you do to land the job next time? Develop a list of action items, such as pursuing continuing education courses, working with a mentor, or seeking the certified public accountant (CPA) designation.

For more advice on management and career issues, listen to The Management Minute, Robert Half’s podcast series at

Accountemps is the world’s first and largest temporary staffing service specializing in the placement of accounting, finance and bookkeeping professionals. The company has more than 360 offices nationwide and offers online job search services at

2009 SmartPros Ltd. All rights reserved.

Source: Accountemps

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