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What Career Resilience Looks Like – A Real-Life Example

What Career Resilience Looks Like – A Real-Life Example

One of my clients was up for the CEO role for a biotech start-up, but it was in an area of science that was not his expertise. As a result, the hiring company told him that he was a dark horse candidate – they liked him enough that they were willing to put him in front of the board, but they wanted to be upfront and manage his expectations.

[Related: If You Don’t Know WHAT You Want, HOW to Get it Doesn’t Matter]

My client could have dropped out. It takes a lot of time and effort to prepare for a series of interviews and a board presentation, and he was just told that he was a long-shot. I have seen other professionals dial down their efforts when prospects look bleak.

My client also could have gotten defensive. He had two Master’s degrees and an impressive record in Big Pharma. They should be glad to have him, and shouldn’t this company appreciate an outsider who could shake things up or bring a fresh perspective? I have seen other professionals meet bad news with frustration or anger.

My client could have stopped his search. He was a rising star at his current company, and maybe this was a sign that his desired pivot from Fortune 100 to start-up was unrealistic. I have seen other professionals second-guess themselves or their career goal at the first obstacle.

[Related: Seven Strategies to Transform Your Career and Boost Your Success]

Instead, my client bounced back. He was grateful that the hiring company was so candid with him. We focused our efforts on how he could assuage the board’s concerns, as well as how to position his dark horse status as a competitive differentiator. If he wasn’t going to wow them with technical expertise, he could compete on his business acumen – his vision for the new company, his command of strategy.

My client got the offer (though he declined this particular one for another start-up CEO role). He exemplified what career resilience looks like. Tough feedback is information, not destiny. Professionals who are able to make a career pivot, break into the C-level ranks, achieve a long-shot dream (or in my client’s case all of the above) bounce back from setbacks.

[Related: Going from Blocked to Boosted in Four Steps]


Caroline Ceniza-Levine is a longtime Ellevate member whose mission is helping experienced professionals in tech, media, financial services, and other industries find work they love, earn more doing it, and achieve FI (financial independence). Visit the Dream Career Club to learn more. She is a Senior Contributor to Forbes Leadership and has appeared on CNN, CBS, and other media on job market issues.

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