Rebounding from a career setback can be hard.


I hadn’t expected to like the human services job I took four months ago when I moved to Alaska. My world in Florida, where I’d worked my way up to assistant general manager, had crashed around me. I’d been working 10-hour days and coming home sapped of energy. My wife of two years said a “never-at-home” husband hadn’t been “what she’d signed up for” and divorced me.

The whole situation had stressed me beyond belief. I didn’t handle it well, and took my anger out at my boss and co-workers. I told off my boss, not once but several times and in front of others. He fired me.

So I picked the state furthest away, packed up my car and came north to Alaska. When I got here, I knew I needed to change careers and found a low-paying human services position. It turns out I found my calling, but three weeks ago I learned I’d be laid off because our agency isn’t weathering Alaska’s recession well.

I know I wasn’t fired because I wasn’t doing a good job, that it was only “last hired, first fired,” but the fact I was working for peanuts and still got fired makes me feel like a loser. I’m having a hard time getting enough enthusiasm going to hit the streets and look for another job.


You weren’t working for peanuts; you were working for people, in a job you chose because you decided you needed a career shift. You’re painting the whole situation blacker than it is because it’s the third time you’ve been slammed this year and you’re understandably taking it hard.

Since you’ve just moved to Alaska, and don’t have the network of friends you left behind in Florida, you may need to find a job coach to help you deal with loss and develop your skills for managing stress and anger — so you don’t again derail your career.

You also need as much reinforcement as possible, so ask your most recent supervisor for a reference letter. If you think your former boss has cooled down, you might give him a call as well, and see if he’ll give you a reference.

Meanwhile, it took guts to move across the country and make a career change, so dig deep into your inner well of courage by asking yourself “am I down and out” or “down, but not out”? If the latter, remind yourself that you had a viable job in management and recently developed additional skills in human service — thus opening up more job opportunities.

Dig in as well to what motivated you to drive across the country. Were you running from or running to? My guess — you wanted a different future and saw Alaska as the place to make that happen. If so, that dream still exists.

Sure, your first job ended, but you suffered only a temporary job setback and gained a calling. Further, you proved you could arrive in a new state and quickly land a job you liked. Enthusiasm builds when you focus on what’s going right and not what’s wrong.

Finally, we all fall down or experience setbacks. It’s what we do when we hit the ground that matters. Do we stay down or transmute our failures and get back up?  So, take another look at your present situation and make peace with it.

If you’ve been asking yourself, “why did I have to lose everything?” and “why did I screw things up?”, then change your questions into “how can I turn this into a positive?” and “what do I have to learn to achieve the future I want”?

© Dr. Lynne Curry is author of ”Beating the Workplace Bully” and ”Solutions” as well as Regional Director of Training and Business Consulting for The Growth Company, an Avitus Group Company. Follow her on Twitter @lynnecury10 or at



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