Create your breakout moment: Take risks to get the job you really want

By putting yourself out there and overcoming anxieties, you just might land your dream job.

Sally Susman: Overcoming anxieties when you're trying to make a big move is tough, and I would encourage people to not get hung up on the small details. Often, people will ask me, is this sentence right in my cover letter? Or did I get this absolutely perfect in my resume? And the answer is, no. You'll never get it perfect. But don't let your pursuit of perfection be the enemy of what's good and certainly good enough to try to take the next step. You have to get out there, meet people, express your ambition, be able to speak openly about what you hope to do, and understand that a rejection is not a death sentence. It's just a temporary setback. And keep going, and be brave, and be bold, but don't sweat the small details.

My advice is to go for the bold move and take a risk. And if that risk means putting yourself way out there in an interview, or if that risk means having to move to a city you weren't sure you wanted to live in, or if that risk means trying a field that wasn't your first choice, do it. It is really true that you never regret the risks you take, but the ones you don't take.

My breakout moment was when I decided that I would leave Capitol Hill. It was a great place and a potentially interesting career, but I thought there was more out there. And so I called up somebody I knew in business. I pushed and pushed and pushed with his secretary until I could get an appointment. They offered me 30 minutes at 7:30 in the morning on a Monday morning. I came up the night before. I took the train from Washington to New York. I stayed at a friend's house. I got there early. And I went to talk to this guy and tell him why I wanted to come to corporate America, and specifically why I wanted to work for him. And he sort of chuckled and suggested to me that, I had a good job in Washington, and I should stay on Capitol Hill. And I thought, in that moment, it's now or never.

And I said to him, no, I am leaving Capitol Hill, and I'm giving you the first chance-- the first choice-- at hiring me. And if you're not interested, I have an appointment later today with your competitor. I had no other appointment. I knew no one else at the competitor. But I knew I had to bust a move in order to get him to pay attention to me. And he kind of paused and looked up from his coffee. And suddenly, I was different in his eyes. And shortly thereafter, he offered me a position, and that is where I started my corporate career in New York. I love hearing the stories from people who do keep trying, and find their breakout moment, and take the next step, and advance their career and their life by virtue of having taken that risk.

  • When it comes to advancing your career, taking those first steps can be intimidating. Making a big move often incites anxiety and fear surrounding imperfection.
  • Sally Susman, Executive Vice President and Chief Corporate Affairs Officer at Pfizer, reminds that the pursuit of perfection can be the enemy of taking that next step. She urges us to express ambition and embrace rejection, which should be considered a temporary setback — not a death sentence.
  • Go for the bold move, whether that means moving to a new city or entering a new field. Taking the risk could lead to your breakout moment in your career.

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