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Sometimes life throws us a curve ball that up ends our career plans. It might have been completely out of our control and forced upon us, or maybe a series of decisions or events lead us down the wrong path.
Being made redundant. Stuffing up that crucial interview for your dream job, being overlooked for a promotion that you dearly wanted. Failing that university qualification for the career you wanted to launch. I don’t think there is a single person in the workforce that can claim that they have never felt that their career is not going the way they had planned or dreamed. We’ve all been there. In the moment, at the time, it can feel like the most devastating blow, or it can be a series of events that occur over a period of time and before we know it we have ended up somewhere where we didn’t plan on being. Chances are that at that pivotal moment you’ll feel it’s a career ending mistake; one that you won’t be able to recover from. I see these scenarios regularly with the career transition and outplacement programs I deliver.
Redundancy can be the biggest curve ball you can be thrown in your career. One day you have a job, the next you don’t. I’ve coached many individuals who have invested the majority of their career in a single workplace only to be made redundant in the later stages of their working life. Naturally, they are devastated, their world has been turned upside down. In working with them through a career transition program one of the most common phrases I hear is “I’ll never find another job like that one” and “my career is over, I’ll never find another job.”
These kinds of feelings are completely natural when working through a life changing situation like redundancy. However, I’m a firm believer that things happen for a reason. Absolutely there are things you can do to increase your chances of winning that interview, or that you can do to reduce your chances of redundancy but sometimes things happen for a reason. I have received many phone calls, weeks and months after an individual has completed a career transition program letting me know that they have never been happier, that they didn’t realise how bored or complacent they had become in their last role and how they realise now the universe was telling them there was something more out there for them. Some have started their own business, a move they would never have made if they hadn’t been made redundant and forced to take a leap of faith. Sometimes things happen for a reason because there is something else – another opportunity out their waiting for us.
I’ve also seen this happen when someone stuffs up an interview for a job that they considered to be their dream job. For whatever reason they weren’t on their game for interview day, they couldn’t get the words out, couldn’t articulate their skills and expertise for the role, they simply weren’t well enough prepared. They are shattered, they are down on themselves and feel that they’ll never get the same opportunity again. And on so many occasions, weeks or months later a new opportunity arises and this time the individual is successful at interview. It’s not until this new opportunity presents that we realise the first opportunity we were so focused on was not the right opportunity.
By no means am I saying to sit back and let your career cruise along because whatever will be will be. Here’s my four key tips for getting back on track when life throws you a career curve ball:
- Take the time to work through your emotions. If you’ve been made redundant; it’s like a grieving process, the shock, the anger, the resentment. They are all normal emotions, take the time to work through the emotions you experience.
- Reflect on your Circle of Control, Influence and Concern. If you stuffed up the interview reflect on what you could have done differently. If you were overlooked for the big promotion, where did you miss the mark and could you have controlled or influenced those areas? Learn the lesson from your experience.
- Once you have identified if there was anything you had control over and could have done differently, work on developing and improving that area. Complete some interview coaching, get a career coach to help you prepare for a promotion next time an opportunity arises. Work on your career not just in it.
- Bounce back. Working through your emotions takes time and the amount of time you need will vary significantly to someone else. There is no right or wrong period of time but make sure you bounce back and don’t get stuck in a poor me rut. If you are struggling to work through the experience, utilise your support network – your family, friends, colleagues, managers, career coach. Whoever it might be, having someone to help you through the period will be key.
And remember, everything happens for a reason; the right opportunity will appear when the time is right and until then keep working on your career.
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Angela Connor is the Founder and Director of Inspire HQ, one of regional Victoria’s leading recruitment, human resource and career coaching companies. She understands the significance of having the right team of people in a business and is passionate about helping business to attract, recruit and engage the right people so those people can inject their talents into the business; creating an environment where they can do great work and love what they do. Find more useful information and advice at www.inspirehq.com.au or by following Angela on LinkedIn.