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How I Bounced Back After a Massive Career Failure

I managed to get myself into a sticky situation, to say the least.

When I say that I’m no stranger to making failures, you’ll probably laugh at how often I make them – and how ridiculous they tend to be. Unlike the majority of people who make little failures every so often, I make them on a bigger scale. So much so that I almost got fired by one of my clients.

Since I’m a freelancer, I set my own rates, the days I work and the clients I work with. It’s one of the best things about my job but the worst at the same time. It means that I’m in charge and can create my own workload but with that same token, if I make a failure, it directly backfires on me. I suppose that’s the most difficult part of being self-employed, eh?

A few months ago, I made what was probably the biggest failure I could think of for my career. I was just getting to grips with working for a new client. Our relationship was great; he loved my work, I was getting paid my worth and I really enjoyed the project we were working on.

A few weeks after I started work, I went on holiday but being the workaholic that I am, I couldn’t face the thought of leaving this client behind and not getting any work done for the week. (On second thought, this may be why I’m so burnt out. Not a great idea – noted for the future!)

So, before I left, I spent some time Googling the best cafes that had WiFi for me to get some work done. The only one I found was an internet café so I headed off one morning to crack on with some work.

After spending about two hours there, I logged off the computer and got back to my holiday. The client and I ended on great terms as I sent over the next batch of work and it was all fine, until two days later when I got an email back.

The person that I’d spent so long building a good relationship with suddenly emailed me and said that they’d like to cease work. As a freelancer, my income is my livelihood so it’s always difficult to part ways with a client. It was a shock and took me a while to understand why.

I checked the Sent folder of my email box to see if I’d accidentally attached the wrong file and that’s when I realised – someone had gotten into my email and sent a load of spam to the last person I emailed: the client. I remembered that stupidly, I didn’t sign out of my email account when using the shared computer and I was getting the brunt of it.

The person who used the computer after me had gotten hold of my details and sent an abundance of spam (we’re talking 500+ emails about buying gold in China). Understandably, they were annoyed. I would be too; emails are a personal thing and it feels like an invasion of your privacy when someone gets in their unwantedly.

As frustrated as I was at myself, I knew that I didn’t want to lose this client. I emailed back (from a new account) and explained what’d happened – and how stupid I was to not sign out. Thankfully, they understood and wanted to carry on working with me.

Even though the experience is definitely not one that I’d list when writing my resume, it taught me a lot about handling career failures – and the importance of signing out of a shared PC when I’m not using it anymore!  

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