A Reminder: Have You Thanked Your Problems Yet?

(Editor’s Note: This was originally posted in June 2012 and was subsequently picked up a few other places, but I thought it was fitting as a reminder for Thanksgiving here in the U.S.). 

Let’s pause and look around us – and be grateful for everything that we do have. It’s so easy to get caught up in our own world: things that are driving us crazy, holding us back, or not turning out as we planned. But have you recently looked outside of your sphere (and your current woes), to reflect on what you have?

I’m in the business of turning negatives, challenges, questions, into amazing positives. Don’t have a job that brings in six-figures, I’ll help you land that. Not sure if you should stay in grad school or take a promotion at work, no problem. Can’t seem to break into the corporate world with your current set of resume materials, easy breezy fix. I listen to people’s problems and help them on their path to find a solution – and I love every moment. But are our problems really that bad?

After watching the first half of the Secret Millionaire, I was touched, inspired, and questioning my own world perspective. A little disclaimer – I love this show; I love how it highlights how different people live throughout the United States, that it attempts to show and share the reality of life for so many people that are not represented in media, that it reminds us of the impact that volunteering (and yes, money), can have to so many people. But as I was watching kids being taught how to landscape a cemetery so they can add that skill to their resume, I paused the show and literally stepped away from my TV.

When was the last time that you stepped out of your current life woes and reflected on the things you do have? I know that it has been too long when I was worrying this morning about how to bring in new clients while sitting at Starbucks with my venti iced coffee in my hand and my laptop computer on the table (not to mention all of the other gadgets in my purse). It’s not about things – but how amazing is it, that these issues are the ones that I’m lucky enough to worry about. I have a beautiful apartment, I don’t have to worry about my next meal, clothes, things galore, and so much more.

Our own life decisions and challenges are important – it’s not about how you compare to people who may be less or more fortunate. But at what point do we give our personal crises a break and realize that we are very lucky to be having those types of problems in the first place? When you put your decisions into the perspective of others, the problem doesn’t seem so big or overwhelming.

So I urge all of you to take a moment and reflect on how lucky you are to be struggling YOUR struggle. Even as difficult, challenging or overwhelming it may seem, there are so many others who are struggling for things/decisions/options that you have either overcome or accomplished. Remember that: you have accomplished! Each time you pay your rent check, buy groceries, get in your car, call someone on your cell phone – your hard work, dedication, determination, and perhaps luck, have helped you do that. Be grateful for what you have and figure out how to pay it forward.

About Melissa


Melissa Anzman is the creator of Launch Your Job  where she equips ambitious leaders with practical ways to grow their career. She is the author of two books: How to Land a Job and Stop Hating Your Job. Follow her @MelissaAnzman.


My Passion Failed Me

Written by Melissa Anzman

I have a confession to make… it’s something that I’ve alluded to in the past, maybe even said it in different words, but it’s time to come clean. My “dream job,” the thing I was most passionate about, the thing I built my business around… sucked in reality.

Let me explain a bit more.

For ages, I kept hearing the advice: follow your passion. “When you do something you love, you’ll never work another day in your life.” And various other iterations of the passion is awesome advice.

First I agonized over what the heck “finding my passion” meant… and how to go about doing that. I had always approached work as following opportunities and leveraging my strengths or growing my skills. I didn’t understand how passion should be incorporated into that. But I kept searching and finally “found my passion.” Or maybe, what my ideal job is.

I spent time figuring out what my ideal day looked like, listing out all of my skills, what I did and didn’t want in my future career, and so on. And all answers pointed to me being my own boss. If you know me, that’s not a far stretch.

So I opened a career coaching business… and felt burned out within a year. It’s not that I didn’t like what I was doing or the people I was working with it, it’s that it felt like a J-O-B again. And my default with that feeling is, “If I’m going to work in a J-O-B, I may as well go back to corporate and get a high paying job that makes me feel the same way as I do now.”

Not the right mindset, I’ll be the first to admit. But I have this weird career-quirk, maybe it’s a personality quirk, I’m not sure. But when I feel like I’m “in a job,” I am MISERABLE. That’s not me being overly dramatic, it feels so taxing and awful and… miserable. Everything else in my life suffers to.

And I felt lied to – I followed my passion, I created a business based around it, and within a year, that same corporate drone misery set-in. Again.

So I followed the next shiny object – another passion of mine. Hey, follow your bliss, right? Built another company around that passion and thought the problem was solved.

But of course, the same thing happened. I hit my burnout point or “misery level”… and was left feeling stuck and like a huge failure (even though I had officially created two successful businesses!).

Why am I telling you this? First, to let you know that if you’re feeling the same way, you’re definitely not alone. Sometimes your passions don’t pan out as a business or career choice. It’s not you, you’re not failing in some way, you’re not defective (like how I felt). Also, to let you know that passions don’t have to be forever things. And sometimes, when you build your career around your passion, it kills it.

Of course I keep pivoting to new paths and ideas, trying to find the intersection of my skills, my “passion,” and what people will pay me for. Or better yet, how I can build something that has a shorter shelf-life, but continues to move me forward on my path.

Oh, and that “passion stuff”… I’ve started to look at it as things I like doing. Not what gets me out of bed. Not what is an awesome hobby. But what I wouldn’t mind doing for work.

Maybe follow your passion was the worst advice I’ve ever gotten – but I’ve learned that passion flame outs, don’t equate to failure. And more important – for me, passion needs to stay in my side projects/hobbies. Not the center focus of my business (unless I’m ready to explore a new passion!).   

About Melissa

Melissa Anzman is the creator of Launch Your Job  where she equips ambitious leaders with practical ways to grow their career. She is the author of two books: How to Land a Job and Stop Hating Your Job. Follow her@MelissaAnzman.

Skype Interview Mastery

Written by Melissa Anzman skype-interview

There are so many new ways to interview these days, that having a Skype interview is most likely going to happen during your job hunt. I had my first one about four years ago and I remember being completely freaked out about the whole situation. Since then, I’ve had many Skype interviews and have been the one conducting them as well. Here are a few tips to help you ace your next one.

How to Ace Your Skype Interview

Do a test run.

Before every single interview, test your technology. I cannot stress this enough. Just because Skype worked perfectly yesterday, does not mean that it will be functional when you need it (speaking from experience here). And let's not forget that lately, Skype has been notorious for pushing out updates that take ages to populate on your machine.

Do a quick video chat with a friend about 20 minutes before your interview to test everything out, so you’re set to go before the interview - or at a minimum, do a test run with yourself to make sure you can a) open/access Skype; b) have a stable connection; c) nothing looks ridiculous in the background. 

Keep your Skype name professional.

Same principles apply as using a ridiculous email address on your resume. Your user-name should be your name or some variation of it, to make it easy and professional. If you have to set-up a new “job interview/professional” account, do it – it’s simple and free.

I once interviewed a great candidate, who's Skype name was something like... "partyhardyo" - let's just say I was a bit skeptical when it came time to interview her.

Pay attention to your background setting.

Since we typically Skype with friends and family, our surroundings are usually not the main focus. But remember, just like a phone interview, this is an impression situation – you only have a few seconds to make the strongest impression via the screen, so make sure that you have planned everything.

You don’t need to redo your office to make it designer-ready, just be sure to remove any offensive materials behind you. Think: posters, post-it notes, clutter, and so on. Test what is seen through your webcam and make sure it looks decent and comes off as professional, clean and put together.

I'll give you a personal example here - I was going a video interview last year with our very own Paul Angone, and he started laughing when he could finally see me. In the place I was renting, there was a stuffed animal moose head on the wall above me - not really the look I was going for. Be sure you test those things as well - and take a screenshot if needed, so you are able to review everything the interviewer can see.

Professional on the top, party on the bottom.

Just like a mullet, your shirt (top) needs to be business professional clothes, but there can be a party in back (bottom). This is an INTERVIEW. Wear a top that you would wear to an in-person interview such as a suit coat, button-up, etc.

No one can see below your waist, so no need to go all out. It actually helps me calm down knowing that I’m wearing silly pajama pants with a blazer. Do not forget that this interview should be taken seriously and make sure your top-half is groomed accordingly.

And I can't believe I have to remind you, but please do your normal grooming routine - make sure your hair looks presentable. I was interviewing another candidate who was a front-runner for the role, but when we had our Skype interview, she looked like she just rolled out of bed (hair was in serious award-winning bed-head style). I know it isn't always fun or easy to get ready for a 30 minute call, but it will be well worth it.

Figure out where to look.

Skype is strange – it’s hard to figure out where you’re supposed to look on the screen. If you look at the person on your screen, you’re looking down to the person on the other side. That’s ok – the person on the other side is struggling with the same thing as well.

I would advise sitting a bit further away from the camera (if you can), so you can do a better job at looking at the camera and the person. If you need to choose one, I tend to vote for looking at the camera – it’s easier to make a connection on the other end, and is closest to eye contact in an in-person conversation.

And while we're talking about where to look, make sure you position your camera appropriately: you want it at least eye-level to you, but having the camera slightly higher than you - looking down, gives you a better angle. Alas, remember the lighting too - I always look like I'm in the witness protection program when I go with natural light in my home... make sure you don't do that too! If so, I've found that placing a bright light right in front of the camera so you're basically staring into it, sheds the best light and gets me out of shadow. Try a few different angles in your workspace too.

Remember there is a camera on.

I am sure you’ve all heard the funny and scary things that have been captured on a webcam when the owner forgot the camera was on. Don’t be one of those videos on YouTube. Please. Right before and right after the interview, people tend to forget that they are on candid camera and either say or do silly things, forgetting that someone is on the other line.

I’ve seen people fixing their hair, flossing, using the webcam like a mirror to make sure they are prettied up, commenting on how it went (or their opinion about the interviewer… ahem, me), and so on. Remember that the camera is on and someone is watching you. Wow, that just turned a bit Big Brother, but I think you know what I mean.

Final Thoughts

Overall, a Skype interview can really work in your favor. You’re able to get across so much more about who you are live via video versus a phone call. Be you, let your personality shine through, and remain calm at all costs. Part of the lore of doing Skype interviews for hiring managers, is that they are very uncomfortable.

I’m not going to lie – I think it’s super strange that you’re interviewing and seeing someone in their own personal space. It’s awkward and surreal at first – how you manage that, is exactly what they’re looking for.

Remember that they are trying to gauge the following from you: your skills, your personality, how you engage others under pressure, what your “space” looks and feels like, cultural fit with the manager and company, and your skills. Good luck and keep Skyping!

melissa anzmanAbout Melissa

Melissa Anzman is the creator of Launch Your Job  where she equips ambitious leaders with practical ways to grow their career. She is the author of two books: How to Land a Job and Stop Hating Your Job. Follow her @MelissaAnzman.

Planning Advice from My Barista

Written by Melissa Anzman pins on map

I was talking to my local barista yesterday morning about her summer plans - with snow still falling every other day, I needed something fun and exciting to look forward to. She said, “I’m not really sure what I’ll be doing this summer, but I KNOW I’ll be in Australia next summer.”

Um... huh?

Me: “That’s awesome... but, um, how do you know what you’ll be doing next summer without plans for this one?”

Barista: “I’ve always been a future planner - I can’t manage the day-to-day well, but give me a year or more out and I know exactly what I’ll be doing.

Huh. That confused me on so many levels. You see, I’m not really a future planner - I can’t create a 5-year plan to save my life; I am happy to put down my annual business goals, but it’s pure guesstimation - not at all based on what will happen; and I wouldn’t even know where to start when thinking about where I’ll be next summer.

Me: “Wow - together we’d be the best planner in the world! We should get right on that.”

I’m not sure why it took a simple conversation to remind of these different approaches to planning and accomplishing goals, it struck me as a light-bulb moment.

Maybe it’s because I was recently asked how I planned to get to where I am in my career and I was left speechless (not a typical state of being for me).

Or maybe it’s because I have been trying to flex my planning muscles recently, growing a new tool for my toolkit.

But whatever the reason, it was a great reminder of the many paths to planning and achieving.

I tried to think like my barista since our conversation... ... If I knew that this time next year I’d be packing for a summer-long adventure in Australia, what would I need to do to get me there?

I was blank - nothing came up other than to pack my suitcase.

How I would save the funds? What I would do with my car? My cat? My things... and so on. No clue at all.

If you’re a future planner like my barista, you probably are yelling at your screen having everything planned out for me already (calculate the money you’ll need for the flight and living expenses, the amount of time you have to earn that much and you’re there... I didn’t come up with that on my own, my barista helped me with that answer).

For the first hour of this exercise yesterday when I was trying to plan for Australia and then more importantly, for my business and career, I was panicked. I could not create a future plan so therefore I will definitely fail... right? But I remembered that I got to where I am now with my shorter-term planning methods and am doing just fine.

I’m not the person who knows what I’ll be doing a year from now or 10 years from now, heck, I hardly know what I’ll be doing a month from now. But what I do know, is that if you are feeling fear or failure because you don’t have the same process as someone else - whether that be in planning, goal making, career pathing, or laundry - it doesn’t mean you can’t succeed at it.

Hearing how other people would tackle a situation is helpful, but it’s not the only way you can make your way through decisions along the way. Had I planned out my career as a future-planner, there is no way in the world I would be doing what I am doing now. Had I listened to the experts out there - I would have never have taken the various leaps I have that have lead my career on its unique path.

Just a little friendly reminder from my barista. Now go plan something - create SMART goals and set the right achievement timeline for you. :)

melissa anzman

About Melissa

Melissa Anzman is the creator of Launch Your Job  where she equips ambitious leaders with practical ways to grow their career. She is the author of two books: How to Land a Job and Stop Hating Your Job. Follow her @MelissaAnzman.

6 Things to Consider Before You Quit Your New Job


Written by Melissa Anzman

We are all questioning our career path and our “job satisfaction” levels to determine how much we want to kick butt during December when we’d rather be spending time laying on a beach or drinking egg nog. But what if instead of just having the year-end blues, you are in a new job or role that you can tell will lead to disaster?

You know, you’ve just been baited and switched. Or perhaps everyone was on their very best behavior during the interview process. Or you made a very bad, desperate decision. It doesn’t really matter why you ended up where you are – you are stuck with a new job that sucks. And you want to quit, like yesterday.

Can I Quit Yet?

I am a proponent of experiencing different jobs – hey, I can’t even count how many I have had throughout my career. But I do think that before you leave a job you need to consider the potential impact on your career trajectory.

{Interruption}: My dear Gen Y’ers – I know that you think that this doesn’t really matter for you. That you can job hop like the best of them without any care or worry on how it will impact your next job. I’ve heard it before – the job market is different for you. There are different rules. Agreed. However,you still have to make strategic career decisions. {end}

6 Things You Need to Consider Before You Leave Your New Job

1. Have you been in the role at least six months?

I know it sounds old-school, but if you haven’t been in your role for at least six months, you haven’t actually experienced enough to make a decision about the position. You may have known that your boss was awful on week two, but other opportunities or long-term solutions will not present itself until you’ve spent some time there learning and growing in the role. Six months also marks inclusion on your resume. Can you stick it out to at least reach this mini-milestone?

2. Did you make connections at the company that will be useful to you during your career?

It’s hard to think long-term when you are so miserable in the short-term. But I can’t tell you the number of people I met along my career journey in crappy jobs that have helped me later down the road. Seriously, some of my favorite people and mentors were added to my circle during my shorter gigs. Think BIG about this – is there an impressive leader who is in the role you want; what about a client that makes you genuinely excited to be working with them; or a coworker that you just know is going places? If you have awesome people to meet and build relationships with, it’s not yet time to leave.

3. Have you fully received the lesson(s) that you need to get?

Warning, I think I just went uncharacteristically woo-woo for a minute. But you are in that job to learn something. Maybe it was the “thing” that attracted you to the position in the first place or perhaps it’s a bigger life lesson. Whatever it may be, have you actually changed because of it yet? Will you be smarter and wiser for the experience in your next job? If you are rolling your eyes at this bullet, you haven’t embraced the lesson.

4. Did you exhaust your internal resources or lateral move options?

Six months tends to be the door-opener at many companies for when they will consider you for an internal position or lateral move. You may think the company is the problem, and it very well may be, but a different position may even out your Balance Scale appropriately. Have you applied for open internal positions? Being able to remain at a company longer, will absolutely help you further your career, so having a new role can feel like you’re starting something new and fun without the hassle of a full-blown job search.

5. Have you truly evaluated what you are going to do next?

I can’t really be a strong proponent for “making sure you have a new job lined up before you quit,” although I do think that’s smart advice, but what are you going to do next Monday morning after you’ve left your job? Are you prepared for the very real possibility of looking for a job for six months or more? Can you pay all of your bills without going into debt for even longer? Will you be able to motivate yourself to continue to look for income sources even when faced with rejection or no response… for months on end? Um, yeah – just make sure you’ve given this a lot of thought.

6. Can your role become a bridge job?

Are you able to shift your mindset from a stop along the career train, to this position being a bridge job? It is always ok to go to work to simply work. Can this awful job be re-framed into something that helps you earn money while you build your empire outside of work? Try it for two weeks and see if it’s something you can do for a longer period of time. No need to set long-term goals about it, but perhaps commit to it being a bridge job one month at a time and reevaluate where you are at with questions 1 – 5 at the end of each chunk of time.

The bottom line is this: Before you quit a new job, you need to consider the long-term impact on not only your career, but also how it can shape your credibility for future employers. It can imply that you are a “quitter” or not loyal – neither of which are good characteristics. But even more than that, it can prevent you from being considered for future positions because the recruiter/hiring manager will see it as a red flag of your poor performance. So if you can stick it out… a little bit longer, do.

What do you think? Is it worth sticking it out, or time to move on? Tell us more in the comments below!

melissa anzman

About Melissa

Melissa Anzman is the creator of Launch Your Job  where she equips ambitious leaders with practical ways to grow their career. She is the author of two books: How to Land a Job and Stop Hating Your Job. Follow her @MelissaAnzman.

Waiting for Perfect Alignment

Written by Melissa Anzman ducks

Our fears present themselves in many different ways – procrastination, frustration, anger, excuses, and so on. The easiest way to prolong anything is waiting for perfect alignment. You know, “I can’t do X because Y isn’t in place yet.”

When I was working in the corporate world, it usually looked like:

  • I can’t apply for that job because I don’t match the job posting 100%.
  • I’m not ready for a promotion because I haven’t been at the company long enough.
  • I’m not a leader because I don’t have any experience with people management.

As a solopreneur, my alignment excuses have presented in many ways, recently:

  • I can’t launch my new design because it’s not perfect yet.
  • I am not ready to write a new book because the first two weren’t best sellers.
  • I can’t pursue an exciting opportunity because it does not match my current trajectory.

The funny thing is, I’ve found that we’re all waiting for perfect alignment before we take risks of any kind. Whether we’re using perfection as a comparison tool or as a procrastination method, it’s holding all of us back.

Stop Waiting for Perfection

I wish I had a guaranteed method to walk you through to start bursting through your perfection and alignment ideals, but honestly, it’s hard work – and not a one-size-fits-all solution. But here’s what I know for sure:

  • You are missing out on opportunities while you are waiting on the sidelines.
  • The impact of “failure” or imperfection, is never as bad as you make it out to be.
  • Perfect alignment will never come.

You are missing out on opportunities while you are waiting on the sidelines.

Good piece of advice there, no? A few years ago I was having lunch with one of my friends and we were talking about going out on our own and why some people make it “big” while others don’t. Because they actually put themselves out there to try.”

That conversation and our eventual landing place, has never stopped bouncing around in my mind. Sure there are people out there who may be more qualified, or better equipped, or more experienced, or…. (enter any excuse here). But they are doing it while you just continue to ponder all of the things that can go wrong.

There is never going to be a job description that matches your skills 100%. You are never going to be hired for a job you don’t apply to. Your niche market is not going to be completely untapped. Your website isn’t going to be perfect – ever. But if you don’t apply, or pick a market, or publish the site – you won’t be any closer to your goals.

The impact of “failure” or imperfection, is never as bad as you make it out to be.

We’ve all failed – some more than others. And guess what – we’ve lived to tell the story. Sure it isn’t always easy or kind to our egos, but it’s a big part of learning. “Failure” teaches us what not to do again and forces us how to try again.

If you don’t get the job offer – it’s not failure, but a good indication that you weren’t a good fit with the company (or vice versa). And how awesome is it to know that before you spend your time and energy onboarding?

Perfect alignment will never come.

I used to wait for perfection – for a sign of complete alignment. For completing steps 1 – 4 so then step 5 can be PERFECT. I hate to tell you this, but it has never happened. I spent YEARS thinking and pondering and doing the what-if treadmill.

And I missed out on doing while waiting for alignment. I denied myself the joy of writing because I was waiting for a “sign” that people would want to read what I wrote. I didn’t travel because I was waiting for the perfect mate to travel with.

Stop waiting for everything to align perfectly. It’s NEVER going to happen. Perfection or the idea of perfection, does not allow you to pursue. To create. To explore. To achieve. To be you.

Start doing – take little steps if the big ones seem overwhelming. Stop saying one day and start going after the things you want, even if things aren’t “lined up.”

What are you stalling on? How does perfection alignment present itself in your life? Tell us more in the comments below!

melissa anzman

About Melissa

Melissa Anzman is the creator of Launch Your Job  where she equips ambitious leaders with practical ways to grow their career. She is the author of two books: How to Land a Job and Stop Hating Your Job. Follow her @MelissaAnzman.

3 Ways to Make the Most of Your Holiday Party

Written by Melissa Anzman holiday-776x350

It’s officially holiday party season – woot woot! I know we’re knee-deep in reflection and being thankful, but party time is right around the corner.

Holiday parties used to be a big deal. And the bigger the company’s revenue, the bigger the event was. After the crash in 2008, many companies have scaled back their party budget and perks, but still have some sort of year-end celebration. While the ostentatious-ness of the occasion may have been subdued, there is still a right way to party.

I’m not going to point out all of the things you shouldn’t be doing while celebrating, you can read all about how to shake your tail feather and what gift to get your boss here. Instead, I’m going to share three ways to make the most of your holiday party, and how partying can propel your career to the next level.

3 Ways to Leverage Your Holiday Party

Many of us attend several holiday parties – this advice can be applied whether you are going to your office party or a friend’s party. Essentially, these parties are a great informal way to network and learn important things about your performance and career trajectory.

1. Meet People You Want to Know

It’s so easy to stick to the people we know when we arrive at a party – we want to drink, be merry, have fun! But by doing so, you are foregoing the easiest “networking event” out there.

At parties, people are more relaxed, their game faces aren’t as in tact (especially after a drink) – which means it’s prime time for you to easily step outside of your comfort zone and meet influencers that can help you.

Before you attend the party, think about who could influence your career: they can be leaders, higher ups, or connectors. All of the people at work who have a seat at the table when discussing your career – then add them to your list to meet.

When you are at the party, you have so many warm introductions available to you – unlike most networking events. You can ask someone you work with to introduce you; you can mosey on up to the person and make small chat about the company/party/achievements/speeches; you can complement them on a project they completed.

In other words, you have built in reasons to meet the people you want to know. Take advantage of it.

2. Investigate the Gossip

I’m not a huge fan of gossiping at work in general, but when you are at a party, it’s a great opportunity for you to hear about all of the goings on. You don’t have to participate in the gossip, but it is an excellent way for you to understand what people are saying – about you, your team, and so on.

Whether you overhear something or someone makes a seemingly innocuous comment, you can learn a lot by being a listener more than a talker. And since this is likely one of the last opportunities you will get to improve your performance and create a halo effect before year-end, it can be career-boosting information.

3. Getting Your Cheer Back

I remember walking in to a HUGE holiday party I attended several years back – lights, glamour, food galore, and fancy people everywhere. I was beyond done with my job at the time – and I wasn’t able to find one positive thing to help me get through another year in my role.

But a crazy thing happened at the company party – I was smiling, happy, and started to get my cheer back. I think part of it was the holiday rubbing off on me, but it was also reaffirming to see my buttoned up colleagues relaxed, dancing, enjoying their time outside of work (hello, they are apparently human too), that made me see things through a different lens.

You can’t bring your negativity and disappoint in all things company/career, to your holiday party. Make a conscious effort to actually enjoy your time and learn more about the people you work with every day. Drink the cool-aid a bit.

Instead of looking for the doom and gloom, let the holiday party remind you of the upside… even if it feels like you have to stretch a bit to see it (gone are the days of super fancy people everywhere).Celebrate the year you had – the ups and downs, and the things you delivered.

Set Yourself Up for Year-end Career Success - Now

Written by Melissa Anzman gathering

Somehow we’re already in the fourth quarter busy planning our holiday vacations and realizing exactly how much we need to start doing to achieve our annual goals, which of course has us questioning “where did this year go?” The last two months of the year are probably the most important months for your career – it’s you last opportunity to make an impact, achieve milestones that seem light-years away, and continue to tell the story of who you are as an employee.

Unfortunately, it is also the time of year that we are soooo close to wanting to check out – vacation, take a break, slow things down a bit as much as possible. While there is definitely some room for that, you also need to set yourself up for year-end success.

Writing Your Own Story of Success

1. Start Gathering Your Successes

Even though you know at the beginning of each year that you should be accumulating your successes as they happen, work can be too busy to keep that practice up. Now is the time to start compiling and gathering – so you can start crafting your performance story.

Look back at the projects you’ve worked on, the milestones you’ve achieved, the feedback you’ve earned – and make a list. This will be the backbone of your story – think of it as an outline of sorts for your self-assessment or year-end review.

If you find pieces of your story missing, now is the time to reach out to your colleagues to get their feedback and gain their support. If you wait until January when most everyone else will be reaching out for their input, it will get lost in a sea of requests and not be as telling. Now, is better.

2. Review Your Milestones

Most of us have annual goals or milestones that we aim to meet – the goal is obviously to meet and exceed them as often as possible. Take out your goal sheet, ahem – the one buried at the bottom of your desk, and start scoring your progress.

Look at the goals you’ve accomplished and the items outstanding. Where can you add even more value to the goals you’ve achieved (superstar status) and where do you need to push yourself and team members to deliver?

Create a specific and actionable plan to reach these goals. Burying the goal sheet back in your desk doesn’t count… piece it all out so you know exactly the steps you need to achieve to accomplish your goals. If that’s not your thing, check out Make Sh*t Happen – Jenny will be sure you know what needs to happen.

3. Talk to Your Manager

Likely you already are interacting with your manager on a somewhat regular basis – but are you actually learning anything? Remember, your manager holds many of the keys to the kingdom in the valuation and progression of your career – so find out what they’re thinking before you have to read all about it in your review.

When you have your one-on-one meetings with them, come in with a focused agenda. Fill them in on the various things you’re working on, provide status updates on items that may be stalled out and ask them for specific guidance on your performance. Ask questions like:

  • I wanted to check in with you on this project X. How do you think it’s going? What can I do to make it a homerun?
  • Here’s an update on my annual goals – which items should take priority?
  • How do you think my performance is going (enter a specific area of focus here)?

Once your manager knows that you are not only interested in their opinion but also interested in your own career success, he/she will be a lot more inclusive in your overall standing – making it less likely for your year-end review to be a surprise.


Remember that year-end is always going to be a stressful time of year – especially at work. But it is also the most important time of year to create long-lasting “halo effects” of your performance and capabilities.

If you start building in these practices now in an ongoing basis, you will increase your success factors for career success – and help eliminate and manager any type of issues that come up before it’s too late. Getting started now, allows you to tell your own story – not waiting for someone else to write it for you.  

We’d love to hear from you in the comments below: What’s one thing you will do today to start writing your year-end story of success?

melissa anzman

About Melissa

Melissa Anzman is the creator of Launch Your Job  where she equips ambitious leaders with practical ways to grow their career. She is the author of two books: How to Land a Job and Stop Hating Your Job. Follow her @MelissaAnzman.

Changing the Lens on Job Opportunities

Written by Melissa Anzman Camera_Lens

The stories that we grew up hearing, the advice that we listened to whether willingly or not, and the modeling our families showed us – create the fiber of who we are, for better and worse. We start seeing the world through various lens and viewpoints, with some biases and “shoulds.” And for most of us, it gets confusing when we look at our own career.

I was taught to get a good, stable job; make heaps of money so you never have to worry about it; work hard – it gets recognized; climb the ladder; and pick one path and stay on it. You probably have your own story about what your career should be about, where today’s world of work or your own personal work style/preferences, don’t even enter the equation.

That’s why it is so difficult for us to make career changes. It’s why other people sometimes can’t understand our perspective.

But it’s time to shift the lens in which we make career decisions, ever so slightly. Breaking free a little piece of our own stories, will open up opportunities you’ve never knew were possible.

On a daily basis, I hear clients pondering turning down a job offer because they weren’t going to make “enough” money or because it didn’t have the next-level title. And instead, they go back to their job search miserable trying to find their very own purple unicorn.

What if this is the place where we shift our lenses? What if the way we look at opportunities, overt and hidden, change – taking us on a slightly different than originally planned course, but much more satisfying in the long run?

Here are some things to consider when you evaluating your next career move: try these lenses on for size.

1. Determine the skills you can gain in the opportunity

Starting with what you are going to get out of the experience, is a great place to start when evaluating any type of job opportunity. Ignore the money and title for now, and instead focus on the various ways you will grow as an employee and as an individual (or leader) in the role.

Is there a software program that you will get to interact with? A new cutting edge marketing tactic that you will get to employ? Will you be able to lead a small team for the first time?

Look for possible toolbox growth in all types of skills – interpersonal and job-specific, and evaluate how flexing those muscles will benefit your overall career package in the long-run. Consider the opportunities it could open the door on, five or ten years from now – then decide if it matches where you are today.

2. Understand the level of interaction with others that will be required

That sounds funny, I know. But one of the most critical things in your career, is knowing the right people at all different levels. When looking back at some of my horrible jobs, the only thing I came away from them with was a life-long mentor, one of my best friends, a career advocate, and so on.

I wish I could say I had the foresight to understand this earlier in my career, but I didn’t and probably missed out on opportunities to meet some great people and mentors.

For each new opportunity, determine who you will be working with closely and who will be in your sphere of interaction. You can look at levels or titles, but I would recommend looking at the people themselves. For example, if you interviewed with four different people, it’s safe to assume that they will be people that you will interact with often. Based on your interview interactions: can you learn from them; will you be able to collaborate and partner with them; did they seem like they would take the time to teach you; and so on?

Consider the players in a role and the potential friendships, partnerships and business connections you can create and foster for the rest of your career.

3. Get real about the money

This is the part where I tend to get in my own way, the most. When you get used to continuously making more and more money, your ego around money grows bigger too.

When evaluating an offer, get real about the money – quickly. Maybe the amount isn’t what you were making in your previous role, or perhaps it doesn’t come with a 15% increase over what you are used to, but is the number enough to cover your life expenses?

Not is the money ideal or more, but will it sufficiently cover what you need it to and have the type of life you want?

For some, it means being able to work remotely or having a flexible schedule or not having the kind of stress that comes with an “always on” job. Whatever that lifestyle is for you, do the money tradeoffs make it worthwhile? If the answer is yes, then forget about the number.

Overall, evaluating job opportunities is a difficult process. We think the next choice we make is our forever choice – it’s not. We consider where this choice will lead to for the next opportunity – it’s usually not a linear line. And we think that we can never get back “on track” if we make a choice that creates a detour – you can.

Jobs and roles are more than the money and title – even if the story we grew up with tends to leave that part out. Try putting on a different lens when you are evaluating your next opportunity, and see if you get better results.

We’d love to hear from you in the comments below: What’s one thing you will do today, to change the lens of your career?

melissa anzman

About Melissa

Melissa Anzman is the creator of Launch Your Job  where she equips ambitious leaders with practical ways to grow their career. She is the author of two books: How to Land a Job and Stop Hating Your Job. Follow her @MelissaAnzman.

5 Ways to Make Your “Entry Level Job” Better

Written by Melissa Anzman lacpost

No one likes starting at the bottom – and yet, to build your career, you have to start somewhere. Your first real job may seem like a waste of time or a noose holding you back from what you’re supposed to do. But it can be so much more.

My first “real job” out of college was working at a jewelry manufacturing company in account management and sales – also known as doing everything that no one else wanted to do. Including, ahem, putting price tags on the items and stringing pendants. It was as bottom as you can get.

It was miserable, I’m not going to lie. I felt entitled to do more, be more, to not be the grunt person. And that’s where I went wrong. I was so wrapped up in how much better I thought I was than the job, that I missed many important lessons that I had to relearn later in my career.

When you’re in an entry level job, you can make it better than it sounds – and here’s how.

1. Plan your next two steps

I’m a fly-by-the-seat kind of gal for most things, but when you are just starting out in your career, having an idea or hope as to where you want your career to (realistically) be in the next two moves, is critical. It’s too easy to be aimless when you don’t quite have enough experience to be known for something, and are just too recent a grad to know nothing.

When you have your career plan in mind, you can start creating your map to get there and begin learning the tools and lessons you need for each step along the way. Know that your steps will probably change – and that’s ok, it’s about starting with a vision.

2. Create your toolbox checklist

Based on your forward-thinking plan, create a checklist of skills and tools that you will need to get you there. College is great for helping you learn, grow, try things out, and become a functioning human being – but it’s not so great with on-the-job “real life” experience training.

There will be HUGE gaps that will pop-up between your education and what you are expected to do at work. Figure out what those gaps are through research and being an awesome interviewer, and add them to your checklist.

For example, if you want to have a career in publicity, you will learn that the communications courses you took in school didn’t necessarily teach you how to customize pitches for different audiences or people; how to get a call back or an answered phone; how to find the right person; and how to use niche software to find your audience. These are four areas that you can add to your checklist of “tools to learn.”

3. Ask questions and make mistakes

Your entry level job is where you can make mistakes – it’s scary and can be stressful, but it’s sometimes the best way to learn. And I hate to say this, but it’s also where you are expected to make mistakes.

You have lack of knowledge and experience working for you when you are starting out – so leverage that. Ask questions about everything that doesn’t make sense to you and learn the information through other people’s experiences.

Try and ask at least a few big questions a week – and build your toolbox with knowledge and skills. It can be a game, making copy-machine duty not as dull.

4. Everyone started somewhere

I remember thinking in my first job, that that is my “start.” That at some point in the proverbial future when I would retell the story of my career, I would always look back to the jewelry manufacturing position as something I conquered.

Your first few jobs are your starting point. Sometimes the more awful the place or duties, the better the story is later on. The more lessons in skill and personal knowledge will come from it.

Says the girl who didn’t have internet because the company was afraid of... the internet and email – now can you see why I don't prefer the phone?

5. It’s your launch pad

The easiest way to make your entry-level job better than it is, is to use it as your launch pad to what’s ahead. If you are engaged with your work, your boss, your team, your company – you can create the type of job you want it to be.

In other words, you can take your own destiny back through delivering and adding more value. Don’t see your entry level title or job duties as limitations, but as the expectation boundary – then you know everything above and beyond that is more.

When you control your mindset around your entry-level job and to listen to lessons you can learn, your job can be so much more.


We’d love to hear from you in the comments below: What was the best lesson you learned from your entry-level job? 

melissa anzman

About Melissa

Melissa Anzman is the creator of Launch Your Job  where she equips ambitious leaders with practical ways to grow their career. She is the author of two books: How to Land a Job and Stop Hating Your Job. Follow her @MelissaAnzman.

From Overly Ambitious to Moving Up

Written by Melissa Anzman

reaching for star

Impatience is a virtue… said the overly ambitious employee with their eyes set on their next move. Ambition is a great characteristic to have, especially early on in your career. It will help you stay on track, push yourself outside of your comfort zone, and keep you far away from the dreaded work complacency bug.

But while you are busy being ambitious, you tend to miss important lessons and skillsets around you. Ambition changes your focus forward – to what’s next, blurring out what is.

I know the narrowing of focus first-hand. I spent the first seven (that’s generous) years of my career so overly ambitious that I missed critical opportunities that would have propelled my career forward even faster.

I ignored the small things, the lessons, the connections, and the work.

My ambition scared people. My bosses felt threatened; their bosses didn’t know what to do with me; my peers didn’t want to be on the same team as me because I was too intense; and so on.

Only as I look back can I see how the approach I took wasn’t the best one, it wasn’t the most efficient one to move up. Learn from my seven-year ambition cloud.

How to Stop Being Overly Ambitious and Still Move Up

Create a Clear Map of What You Need to Learn in Each Role

For every job you take or create, you need to go into it with a clear set of skills and knowledge that you want to learn from the position. You shouldn’t see a role only as a bump in salary, a higher title, or the next stop on the promotion chain.

Each job can teach you something – usually it’s a lot of somethings. But if you are only worried about what’s next, the same lessons will keep hitting you in the head.

Use the roles that you are given, the projects that are handed to you, the annoying coworkers or boss who just doesn’t “get it,” to create your learning plan. Be specific and think outside of your everyday role. “Hard skills” are great – learning a program, how to process something, etc., but also focus on the “softer skills” – interpersonal communications, how to change perceptions, creating your work persona, and so on.

These skills should absolutely be part of what you will need to be successful at the next level, but here’s the catch: until you have learned each and every one of them, the next level shouldn’t be a second thought. Your map will get you there when you focus on your needed skills while doing the job you are in.

Fully Understand Your Why

I talk about “the why” a lot when it comes to your career – in general and in specifics. Understanding “the why” for you, will help you stay ambitious, but also keep it in check. If you know why moving up, getting promoted, or focusing on ruling the world is so important to you, you will be able to constantly remind yourself and work towards something specific.

One of my own worries when I was overly ambitious was that if I took my eye off the prize, I wouldn’t make it to the next level. It took growing up (ugh – how old-sounding is that?) and realizing that I wouldn’t wake up tomorrow with a personality transplant. I will still be motivated, focused, driven, ambitious, and so on – even if my immediate focus was on the present.

I had no "why" at the time. My ambition was solely focused on moving up, earning more money, and proving the proverbial “someone” wrong. I’m still not sure who that someone is, but I digress.

Create your why. Not your parents why; not your friends why; not the why you think you should have. Be true in why your ambition is so important to you, and that truth will keep you moving in the right direction.

Ambition Isn’t the Same for Everyone

Drive and ambition shows up differently for people. You may be externally ambitious, in that everyone knows what you’re seeking, while your cube-mate may be thinking the same thing but never express that out loud.

Your ambition belongs to you. Don’t judge someone else for “not being as ambitious” as you or for being ok with the position they are in. Maybe they have mastered the above two points and are moving along with their career stealthily; or maybe they are ambitious in a different way.

The point is, like religion and politics, ambition is off-limits in the work environment (ok, maybe that’s my work utopia world, but you get my point). Focus on your own growth, development, learning, and path – not what others are or are not doing to help you get there.

We’d love to hear from you in the comments below: How has your ambition helped or hurt your career path? 

melissa anzman

About Melissa

Melissa Anzman is the creator of Launch Your Job  where she equips ambitious leaders with practical ways to grow their career. She is the author of two books: How to Land a Job and Stop Hating Your Job. Follow her @MelissaAnzman.