How To Bounce Back From Career Setbacks

Isioma Ononye
4 min readFeb 3, 2020


Life doesn’t always work out the way we want it to. This is especially true for our professional lives. We enter into a role we believe to be our dream job but then we realize, it’s not the dream. You want to be in a different industry. Or maybe you take a role that you expect to be different and interesting but then you are suddenly let go? Life happens. Our career progression and expansion does not occur the way we envision. We take steps forward and are brought back to begin again. Setbacks happen and this is how to deal.

Give Yourself Sometime To Feel & Then Move On

When you encounter disappointments, failures and rejection in your professional life, allow yourself to feel what you need to feel. Admit to yourself that it is painful. You don’t need to bottle it up. Rant to a close friend or family member. Cry if you need to have that release. Write if it helps. Do what you have to do in order to acknowledge and process the emotions. Let yourself feel it fully and then, pick yourself up and then keep it moving.

Access What Went Wrong & How You Can Do Better

As you choose to pick yourself up and move on, you need to access the situation. Consider what went wrong when you encountered failures, disappointments and rejection. Through accessing what went wrong, you evaluate yourself. You address the role you played in your demise. This is important to do because in order to move on better and stronger, you need to consider how you can be better. Failure is always an opportunity to learn.

Equip Yourself with Professional Development Courses

As you move forward, it’s necessary to always update your skills and knowledge. This helps you to be more of an asset in the workforce. This also simply helps you to be a better worker. You should always have the mindset of wanting to learn more and updating your knowledge. Take advantage of classes, courses and workshops to equip yourself with the tools you need to be better in your field and industry. An online class that I started just last month is She Leads Africa Motherland Mogul professional development courses. It’s helped me to truly evaluate the way I function in the work-world and ways that I can do better for myself and those around me.

Attend Networking Events and Speak to Mentors/People You Admire

The best way for you to move on from a career setback is to position yourself for the next opportunity. The way you do is by getting back out there. Networking events put you in contact with other professionals who could offer you support, advice and a job. Attend as much networking events as you can even when you are stable in your career. It’s still a good idea to make time for networking events because you never know how who you could meet could point you in the direction of your next level.

It’s also important you make time to set up meetings with mentors or people that you admire. Speak to those who are much higher up than you in your industry. Those who are doing what you aspire to do. This is going to help you in your own career progression because you learn from them. Mentors provide you with information, resources and valuable advice.

Consider Your Strengths & The Best Environment For You

Moving on from a career setback requires reflection. There needs to be a reflection on your part about what your strengths are? What sort of environments do you thrive in? We all have our different taste in work environments and different environments require different expectations.

Young people are prone to start-ups but is a start-up environment truly the best fit for you? Do you prefer to work in a large organization? Would you rather be with a small company? Do you feel more drawn to the non-profit sector? You have to take all these questions into consideration because it impacts the next career decision. You wouldn’t want to enter into another decision that you could potentially regret. That’s why you should consider your best environment and the value that you bring to the table.

As a young professional, I believe that the best environment is one where we can see growth. By growth, I mean we have the opportunity to learn and evolve in our roles. We are put in positions where we can advance ourselves. We are put in positions where we have superiors to support our growth and invest in our development.

All in all, career setbacks are normal. Life doesn’t happen the way we want it to. Our professional lives take twists and turns and we must ride the wave. Unexpected turns are a fact of life but it should not stop you from still getting back up and moving forward.

How do you bounce back from a career setback?

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Isioma Ononye

I write about finding yourself, self-esteem, christianity, mental health and communications. Join my newsletter here: