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Made A Bad Career Move? Five Moves To Help You Recover

Made A Bad Career Move? Five Moves To Help You Recover

The idea for Skimlinks came from the previous business I started, Skimbit.…It failed, but through that process we invented a means of monetizing our site that I realised was the most innovative and exceptional aspect of what I’d built. I pivoted quickly, dumped Skimbit, and launched Skimlinks. – Alicia Navarro, CEO and Co-Founder of

I interviewed Alicia Navarro on her career pivot, which resulted in an 85-person, $625 million firm. While we covered a range of issues, I was especially struck by her recovery from an initial business failure. She built another company over two years but was willing to set it aside for Skimlinks, something else, something better.

How about you? Are you in a job that isn’t working for some (or many) reason(s) – doesn’t fulfill your interests, doesn’t pay what you feel you’re worth, doesn’t challenge you, doesn’t excite you, doesn’t make you greet the day with joy? If your career has taken a bad turn, you also can pivot into something else. Here are five moves to help you recover from a bad career move:

Acknowledge the mistake

Don’t just tough it out. Yes, you may decide that it makes more sense to stay longer – e.g., to reach an anniversary or to finish a project. But you want to proactively decide this, not just suffer in silence and assume there is no other way. If something isn’t working, admit that it’s not working.

Resolve to make a change

Even if you stay, you can make a change where you are –  in your work environment, colleague relations, interaction with your boss. You might negotiate for more money or more resources. You might make changes outside your job, such as in your relationships, your habits and your personal interests. Or, you might decide to leave on your own terms. Draw up a job search calendar and recognize that the fall season is a great time to look for a new job.

Embrace your active role in the story

If you’re in a bad work situation, learn how to accept and even embrace your role in creating this situation. You chose this job. You chose to stay in this job. You contribute to the work environment. Get to a point where you can talk in a neutral, non-judgmental tone of voice about your experience. By embracing your active role in the story, you show that you are an empowered professional who makes choices and takes action. Yes, this was not your best choice – like a first business idea that failed – but you actively manage your career and are moving on from here.

Focus on the future

Once you have decided that a new job is the best next step, focus on the jobs that are out there. Identify your unique value in relation to these jobs, not just what you did previously. Articulate your specific interest in the jobs out there, not just that you don’t want to be here. Keep an outward, future focus to attract and enroll people (including employers) into your vision, and to keep your negative feelings about your soon-to-be past at a minimum.

Don’t confuse success with staying power

Don’t wait too long to make a change. I know many job seekers who recognize they’re in a bad situation quickly but feel obligated to stay to reach a particular time milestone (say, one year or even two) or to prove they have the staying power to tough it out. Sure, success is about staying power – you want repeat, sustainable, positive results. But staying put is just one metric for success and may not even be relevant, if you’re staying put in a bad situation. Success is about meeting the criteria that you value – whether it’s growth, challenge, collegiality, compensation, or some combination of the above. Don’t stay put just to prove a point

Have you made a wrong career move and successfully pivoted? What worked for you?


Caroline Ceniza-Levine is a career and business coach with SixFigureStart®. She has worked with executives from Amazon, American Express, Condé Nast, Gilt, Goldman Sachs, Google, McKinsey, and other leading firms. Follow Caroline’s weekly leadership column on Forbes (where this post originally appeared).

Have more questions? Follow up with the expert herself.


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