Re-Engaging After a Job Setback: How to Change Career Challenges into Opportunities

11 / 17 / 20 | Candidates

Research has shown that early-career setbacks can actually result in a stronger career in the long term. People who dealt with challenges became better versions of themselves and were able to build stronger careers than those who never experienced a setback.

Atlas consultant Kara knows this better than most.

She was working for a company in project management when the pandemic hit, and her employer had to lay her off. After some time on unemployment struggling to find new opportunities, Kara was introduced to Atlas. With the help of her Atlas recruiter, she landed a new job. Unfortunately, she quickly encountered new challenges.

Kara’s story is a great example of what to do when you encounter job setbacks and how to turn hard times into lessons that lead to long-term success. Follow along as we share Kara’s story and what you should do to re-engage after a job setback.

Leave on Good Terms

When things aren’t going well on the job, it can be tempting to want to get out as quickly as possible. Some people will stop showing up, others will tell management but leave without the usual two weeks-notice. On the flip side, maybe you’ve been let go. You might feel angry or hurt so instead of wrapping up your current projects, you leave your work unfinished. It’s the next persons problem, right?

The issue with all of these scenarios is that they result in bad feelings on both sides and can even hurt your prospects with potential employers. That’s why it’s crucial to leave a job on good terms even when things go south.

In Kara’s case, not long after starting her new job, she could tell things at the new company weren’t going well. The job wasn’t what she expected and the company itself wasn’t hitting their target numbers. Her manager started telling the team they’d have to let someone go if the business didn’t turn around. “I felt like my job was threatened and I’d barely started,” said Kara.

As the workplace became increasingly toxic, Kara started to dread work. She knew the job wasn’t good for her mental or physical health, so she reached out to Atlas for help as she considered her options and planned her exit. Eventually, she decided it was time to leave, and with Atlas’s help she gave her employer her notice. Kara wanted to leave on the best terms possible, so she gave the company plenty of time to prepare and she made sure to wrap up her projects and hand off her responsibilities before her final day.

Leaving a job, no matter the circumstances, is hard. Leaving on good terms will help soften the blow and set you up for some important next steps on your path to new opportunities.

Reset and Reframe

Whatever the reasons, you now find yourself out of work and in-between opportunities. You may want to rush through this phase and immediately begin planning your next move, but this period can actually be helpful to your long-term career growth. Give yourself time to grieve the loss, even if it was a job you didn’t enjoy. Taking a little time to reflect on the work, what you liked and what you didn’t, can help you determine what’s most important in your next opportunity. It’s also a good idea not to rush into new things when you’re anxious or stressed. You might not be thinking clearly and can easily wind up in another role that doesn’t fit your needs or goals.

Of course, it’s important not to slack off entirely and avoid doing anything while you’re unemployed. Sleeping in late and binge-watching Netflix may be fun at first, but they aren’t going to help you land a new job. Instead, create some structure for your days or find daily rituals that help anchor your time and provide stability while you navigate the transition.

It’s also important to stay positive and reframe the current setback as an opportunity. For Kara, that meant focusing on what she could control and not getting caught up in negative thoughts. She knew her situation was only temporary, so she resolved to stay busy and stick to a schedule while doing what she could to prepare for the job search process.

Learn New Skills

A great way to stay busy and engaged during periods of unemployment is to learn new skills. Maybe there’s an online course you’ve always wanted to take but never had the time. Or perhaps there are skills you need to improve on in order to move up in your industry or land a great new job. Lucky for you, this is the perfect time to pursue them.

In Kara’s case, she decided to upgrade her excel skills by taking an online course. She also attended webinars through the Better Business Bureau to sharpen her skills and stay up to date on important topics.

Similarly, you might use your time to discover a new hobby or expand on your interests. You never know when a new passion might lead your career in an exciting direction you never imagined.

Partner with a Staffing Firm

The job search process can be stressful and time consuming, especially when you’re unemployed and looking for a new position. But you don’t have to go it alone. Partnering with a staffing firm ensures you have someone on your side, keeping your best interests in mind while identifying jobs that are a good fit for you.

Staffing firms have close relationships with companies and access to jobs you won’t find on job sites or internet job boards. With the pandemic and ongoing economic challenges, employers are especially cautious right now when it comes to hiring. Working with a staffing firm ensures both the candidate and company find what they’re looking for.

For Kara, working with Atlas after getting laid off was great decision. Even when things with her new job got challenging, she knew Atlas had her back and they were actively looking out for her. They were supportive of her decision to give notice, and her Atlas recruiter got to work finding her temporary opportunities that offered her flexibility and allowed her to build up her experience and skills.

Long-term, Kara plans to continue working with Atlas to find a more permanent career opportunity, but the challenges she experienced taught her a lot. Ultimately, dealing with setbacks and learning to turn challenges into opportunities is an important skill that everyone should have.

Are you looking to re-engage after a job setback? Searching for new career opportunities? Atlas is ready to help! Contact us to get started.


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