Dealing With an Accounting Career Setback


At some point or another you may have to deal with a setback in your finance or accounting career. Perhaps you got caught in the cross-fire of an acquisition. Maybe your performance hasn’t met management’s expectations.  Whether all of this equals a forced transition, or a lack of promotion, how you deal with a setback can define your future success. Here are some insights into how resilient people deal with a setback and come out stronger in the process.

Deal With Initial Emotions
Feelings of disbelief, denial and sadness are common.  Perhaps you’ve never experienced failure, or been told that you’re not meeting expectations. Process the emotions so that you can move forward.

Pro Tip: Don’t be reactive after being given bad news. When emotions are raw, we can say and do things that we’ll regret in the future. Remember the GTA is a small place. Alienating a co-worker or manager will not help you land your future opportunity.

Learn From the Experience
Accepting feedback can be challenging, particularly if it doesn’t equate with our self-perception.  According to this article in the Harvard Business Review, “…high achievers usually take too much credit for their successes and assign too much external blame for their failures. It’s a type of attribution bias that protects self-esteem but also prevents learning and growth.”

The solution: Don’t seek feedback from sympathetic friends. Understand, instead, how you contributed to what went wrong, and determine what you could do differently. For example, let’s say that you were expecting a promotion that went to someone else. Ask for a meeting with your boss. Explain that you accept the decision but want to learn from the experience. Listen carefully. Don’t get defensive. Then actively seek to change your career limiting behaviours, or address your skill gap. 

Read: "How to Accept Feedback in Your Accounting Job” to learn how to accept constructive criticism and grow from it.

Identify Opportunity
Sometimes a loss gives you an opportunity to truly ask yourself what you want. This may mean a new job, a different organization, or even career. Don’t dismiss a lateral move, or going back to school as viable options. Seek out a career counselor, feedback from a mentor or colleague and shape your next steps. Consider reaching out to a recruiter who can offer you interview tips, resume advice and market information. The key here is to avoid being reactive. Your goal is to gain perspective and set goals. And while a little escapism can give you a reprieve, (think a small trip somewhere), ultimately you want to process your emotions and channel your energy into productive action.

Make a Plan
Once you’ve set goals, it’s time to develop a plan to achieve them. Change like this requires adaptability which is not always easy for everyone. Making a plan, however, is a constructive process that will help you feel a sense of control and forward movement. Accept that things will not always go smoothly, and be prepared to deal with smaller challenges along the way.

Pro Tip: Remember to use social media to your advantage in landing your next opportunity. Here are some resources to help you leverage the power of LinkedIn and other social media platforms.

Key Takeaways
A setback in your finance or accounting career doesn’t spell the end of your professional success. Allow yourself some time to process your emotions and determine what you might want in the future. Don’t act rashly and send an email, or have a conversation that you’ll regret. Instead, solicit feedback to determine what your career limiting behaviors are, or if there is a skill gap that you can address. If your setback is the product of a merger, or company re-organization, evaluate where your next opportunity might be. Make a plan to achieve your goals and accept that small challenges might be a part of the process. If you can see a career setback as an opportunity for growth and a new start, then you can let go of your self-doubt, denial or frustration and turn it into something productive.

Your Next Step
No one should walk the job search or hiring road alone. At Clarity Recruitment we help others realize their success through a process that marries proprietary technology with unwavering commitment. Contact us today to take control of your career, or to partner with us to hire well.

Clarity Recruitment, connecting exceptional people with remarkable companies.

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