Career Setbacks Are Opportunities to Grow…

You’ll likely face a setback or two at some point in your career. Maybe you’ll be passed over for a promotion or job you want or even be laid off. But short-term setbacks can actually fuel long-term success. Here’s how to grow through a difficult moment in your career.

First, explore whether your career goals truly fit your current aspirations, skills, and knowledge. Reflect and be honest with yourself if they’re in need of an update. And if you find they are, consider what pivots you’ll need to make to help you achieve these new goals.

Then, open yourself to unorthodox opportunities in your wider field. Once you let go of self-imposed boundaries that constrain you, new pathways will open up. Ask yourself what aspects of your work you’ve enjoyed the most, and what other settings your skill set could be useful in. Tap into your network and have conversations with people inside your industry—and beyond—to think through what an unorthodox move could look like.

Finally, develop new habits that reflect a growth mindset. Use this setback as a motivator to learn about yourself and improve in ways that serve you. That could mean building a new daily routine, going back to school (or taking a course), building your network—or anything else that might help you grow into the next chapter of your career.

Harness the Power of Curiosity at Work…

When you can’t focus, your mind tells you that a “quick” look, click, or check is what you should do right now. If you find yourself constantly derailed by your unfettered curiosity, here’s how to intentionally direct it to help you identify new ideas, opportunities, and creative solutions to problems.

First, identify what’s useful—and hold off on everything else. Productive curiosity is directed toward something that you actually want and need to get done. If you come across something else that catches your interest, add it to a list of future items to explore when you have more time.

Then, apply intentional curiosity to problem solving. Give yourself some time and space to figure out what’s truly causing an issue before leaping to solve it. This pause is where you can apply intentional curiosity by doing research, investigating the data, and talking with stakeholders.

Finally, be curious about your work relationships. Challenge the assumptions you hold about your colleagues. Consider what challenges they might be facing, both at work and at home, and express interest in offering support where you can. This sort of collegial curiosity will uncover opportunities to deepen your relationships and improve your team’s culture.

The Skills You Need to Grow as a Leader…

If you are a mid-level manager, you might be surprised to learn that your skills, while highly valuable, don’t directly align with those needed for the top position. Here are the attributes you need to develop to get there.

Forward-thinking mindset. To transition to a leader perspective, actively participate in strategic planning sessions, contribute to defining the organization’s future direction, and align your projects with these strategic objectives. Stay informed about industry trends and emerging technologies that can shape the future of your business.

Calculated risk-taking. To develop a leader’s comfort with calculated risks, take on projects where you need to assess and mitigate risks strategically. Gradually expand your risk tolerance and learn from the outcomes of your risk-management decisions.

Optimism. Practice mentoring and motivating your team members, emphasizing chances for learning and growth. Focus on opportunities rather than obstacles, and develop a collective resilience to inevitable setbacks.

Resilience. Seek critical feedback—and respond to it with gratitude, composure, and a growth mindset. And practice approaching stress with a measured composure.

Empathy. Engage in active listening during project meetings and cultivate an understanding of team dynamics and diverse perspectives.

Inclusiveness and trust. Solicit input from team members with varied perspectives and backgrounds, and build trust by consistently delivering on commitments and being transparent in your communication.

Make Your Career Transition Easier on Yourself…

The accelerated pace of technological change is reshaping jobs in ways that require you to constantly reinvent your career. Here are three ways to make what can feel like a daunting transition easier.

First, finding your next role almost always takes longer than you expect. If you want your liminal period—where you must navigate between a past that’s over and a future that’s still uncertain—to lead to real discovery, you need to experiment with divergent possibilities while delaying commitment to any one of them.

Next, human beings are very good at either-or thinking: Either I’m leveraging my old skill set or I’m pivoting to something new. But making a career transition usually entails doing both simultaneously. Consider staying in your old job while exploring your options until something new becomes viable.

Finally, when it comes to making a career change, the connections you already have might not be that helpful. You need to build new relationships in two ways: by bridging, which involves creating or reactivating relationships beyond your current social circle; and by bonding, which involves deepening ties and finding community within a close circle of kindred spirits.

Silence Your Inner Critic Before Your Next Job Interview…

Job interviews can make even the most confident person question themselves. But it’s important to quash those negative thoughts so that you can allow your best self to shine.

First, remember that the interview isn’t about proving your technical expertise or subject-matter mastery. You already demonstrated that in your application, and the interviewers want to know what it will be like to work with you. So let go of needing the interview to be technically perfect.

As with every skill, the more you do it, the better you’ll be, so practice, practice, and practice some more. As your aptitude improves, so will your confidence level. Manage your anxiety by focusing on the elements you can control. For example, if you’re worried about arriving on time, try taking multiple routes to your destination before the day of the interview to see which one gets you there fastest. Above all, put yourself in the hiring manager’s shoes. Articulate the team’s needs as you understand them, and tell a story of how you’ve solved similar problems.

Following these tips will help you overcome your nerves and place yourself head and shoulders above the competition.

Leaders Need to Learn How to Take Criticism…

If you’re in a leadership position, you need to know how to take criticism well. Being resilient will help you stay focused on what the company needs, rather than on the naysayers.

One strategy is to brainstorm several ways to respond to criticism and write them down for reference. It can be hard to know what to say at the moment, so general responses will ensure you have something ready. They could include: “Thank you for sharing your point of view. I’d like to consider it more and get back to you” or “Let me repeat what you said, to make sure I understood you.” Another good strategy is to remind yourself that the criticism may be aimed at your role rather than at you personally. If you’re the head of product, for example, it’s possible that the head of sales will always clash with you, no matter who has the job.

Distancing yourself from criticism this way can help you think through what was said — and what the criticism is really about.

Keep Up Your Confidence During a Long Job Search…

If you’ve lost your job, it can be hard to stay positive and remember your past successes. But in order to sell yourself to prospective employers and land the next job, you need to believe in your abilities. Here’s how to hold onto your confidence during a lengthy job hunt.

  • Write down 10 reasons why you’re successful—and read them every morning. What led to your past accomplishments? What skills do you possess? What relationships do you value? Remind yourself of these facts every day.
  • Set daily and weekly goals. Determine the specific period of time you’ll spend updating your resume, practicing interviewing, researching opportunities, and applying to jobs. And don’t just look at your career—consider personal goals you haven’t had time to reach.
  • Network. Reach out to former colleagues, managers, and classmates. You don’t have to do this alone.
  • Take care of yourself. Job hunting can be exhausting. Take time to do things you’re good at or love, such as playing a sport, biking, or simply reading a book. Adding low-pressure, achievable goals to those activities—for example, “I will read 30 pages a day,” or “I will bike 10 miles this week”—can help you feel accomplished.
  • Volunteer. This is a great way to keep your skills sharp and even develop new ones. Bringing your expertise to a volunteer space will remind you of your value, and helping others will boost your confidence, gratitude, and mood.