Your 6 step Plan B for any career setback

Start crafting your safety net now, not later.
Your 6 step Plan B for any career setback
Your 6 step Plan B for any career setback

Draft Your Plan B

In the unpredictable currents of career growth, fallback plans are your anchor. They’re strategic, not pessimistic. Think of them as a career GPS recalculating your route when a road is closed, not a sign you’re lost. They’re about being ready, not scared.

Imagine this: a dream job slips away due to a last-minute hiring freeze. Or a promotion fades into thin air because the company hits a rough patch. It’s not failure; it’s business. Being prepared means you’ve got a plan for what’s next, not just hope. It’s having a map when the GPS fails.


  • Fallback plans are proactive, not defeatist.
  • Be ready to pivot without pause.
  • Security lies in strategy, not just success.

Define Your Deal-Breakers

Know your must-haves and deal-breakers up front.

What’s non-negotiable for you in your career? Location, salary, industry? These are your career cornerstones, the non-movables that guide your choices in good times and buffer you in bad ones. They’re your career compass, ensuring you navigate in the right direction, no matter the weather.

Consider what’s critical for you. Maybe it’s staying in your city, or not dipping below a salary threshold. These aren’t just preferences; they’re the pillars of your professional life. When things go south, these deal-breakers are your north star, guiding you to your next opportunity with clarity.


  • Non-negotiables are your career constants.
  • Your deal-breakers direct your decisions.
  • Use them to navigate career setbacks confidently.

Spot the Hurdles Early

Identify potential roadblocks before they appear.

Career snags happen. If you’re blindsided by a setback, what’s the plan? Visualize the hurdles in advance. This isn’t about fearing the fall; it’s about knowing there’s a net. Do this once, do it well, and then push forward with confidence.

For instance, you ace the interview, negotiate the offer, but the job vanishes before day one. Or you’re eyeing a promotion, but it’s suddenly off the table. Pinpoint these possible pitfalls early. Recognize them, plan for them, and you won’t be floored if they happen.


  • Predict pitfalls to avoid paralysis.
  • A plan for the worst-case scenario is a plan for peace of mind.
  • Visualize the challenges to vault over them.

Weigh Your Options

Lay out your action steps now.

Facing an obstacle? Brainstorm now, not when you’re in the thick of it. Write down your game plan. This could be as simple as bullet points, but get it on paper. In the heat of the moment, your cool, collected strategies will serve as your guide.

Let’s say you’ve moved cities for a job that falls through. A fallback plan might mean consulting a lawyer, or reaching out to contacts who’ve been in your shoes. Align this with your non-negotiables and keep it as your action blueprint.


  • Document your strategies in advance.
  • A written plan is a clear-headed plan.
  • Prioritize actions that align with your non-negotiables.

Secure Your Strategy

File away your plan for when you need it most.

Once you’ve crafted your contingency plan, store it. If your offer is withdrawn, your next move could be reconnecting with old bosses or reaching out to recruiters. Tuck away this game plan where it’s easy to find and remember it’s there to be tweaked as needed.

Your documented strategy is your calm in the career storm. It’s the voice of past you guiding future you through rough waters. Store it where you can easily update it – your future self will thank you.


  • Your fallback plan is a living document.
  • Keep it accessible and adaptable.
  • It’s your clarity in chaos, your roadmap in a rout.

Make Self-Care Your Cornerstone

Self-care isn’t an afterthought; it’s part of the plan.

Navigating career turbulence? Don’t neglect your well-being. Prioritize rest, exercise, and mental health. It’s not just about staying afloat; it’s about being in good shape to swim to the next shore.

If a promotion doesn’t pan out, it’s okay to feel the sting. But then, prioritize your health to keep your career aspirations alive. Sleep and exercise aren’t just good for your body; they’re your mental armor in the job jungle.


  • Self-care is a critical piece of your career strategy.
  • Your well-being is the bedrock of your bounce-back.
  • Stay healthy to stay agile in your career journey.

Example Fallback Plan: Aiming for a Promotion

Worst-case scenario: Your promotion is a no-go.


Fallback Blueprint: Shooting for a Promotion

If your promotion bid falls flat, here’s how your Plan B could shape up:

Worst-case scenario:
You’re passed over for the promotion.

Non-negotiable for worst-case scenario:
Land a VP-level position within the year.

Potential obstacles to navigate:
Battling the blues and the frustration.
Getting the straight talk from higher-ups on where you stand.

Strategic moves to make:
Lock in a chat with your boss to hash out what success looks like and where your skills need sharpening.
Map out a six-month skill-upgrade itinerary.
Network horizontally; tap colleagues from different branches for intros to folks who’ve recently climbed the ladder.