American Idol and Your Job Search | Career Rocketeer

I admit it; I am a music lover and I’m hooked on watching American Idol from the time they choose the Top 24 and onwards. This week I was reflecting on America’s #1 rated TV program in terms of what I do for a living (I critique and write resumes and coach job seekers on how to find a job), and it dawned on me that there are similarities and lessons to be learned from the show in regards to writing a professional resume and conducting a successful job search.

So that’s what I would like to focus on today.

The first similarity is that there is a tremendous amount of competition for every American Idol slot and just as much competition for the jobs you’re applying for. What’s more, in both cases only one person emerges as the winner of the competition. Therefore every job hunter who feels they have something to offer must enter the competition with the mindset of coming out on top. And if your mindset in writing your resume and conducting a job interview is “just making the cut is good enough,” then you are just setting yourself up for failure. To be a winner you must push yourself the extra mile at all times, and be willingly to extend as much time, effort, money and energy as is needed win the prize. If you don’t already have this mindset, I strongly suggest you rethink your goals and priorities and get them straight.

Next I found several valuable lessons job seekers can learn from the American Idol judges.

The first is simple. During the application and interview process your resume and candidacy will be judged by more than one person, and no two judges are 100% alike. Hence, as you move ahead in the search process each judge will assess you from a different perspective. Your greatest challenge is to show the ‘board of judges’ a body of work and a winning combination of positive attributes so they reach a consensus that you are the #1 candidate for the job.

Now if we explore this thought more closely there are some fine points you can learn from the individual judges.

A: Some judges are easy to please like Randy and Ellen, some are unpredictable like Kara; and lest you forget, you will always come across a judge like Simon in the screening and interview process. This judge knows exactly what he or she expects from you, pulls no punches in confronting you, and has the gravitas to influence their fellow judges and all of the peripheral people who are involved in the decision making process with their point of view.

B: At some point in the process, and it may even be from the onset, one or more of the judges will stop being open-minded and show a prejudice for one of the candidates. More often than not this is based on the likeability factor, as opposed to pure talent.

C: Each judge wants to feel their opinion is correct, but the weakest judges will usually back down and support a presumed front runner rather than go out on the limb for someone they like but have not yet fell in love with.

With this in mind, job seekers need to do your homework and learn as much as possible about each of the judges before you have to deal with them, and if possible throughout the interview process. This is where the value of having an established job search network comes into play. So if you have not begun networking or if your network is limited I suggest you start working on expanding and strengthening it as of today.

Finally let’s examine some of the judges' criticisms and see what else we can learn from American Idol.

There was one theme I heard over and over at some point from all four judges that really resonated to me as a resume writer. These are all variations on the same theme: “You have to make the song your own” or “It’s boring and I would never go out and buy that song,” or “It is so cliché and is just an imitation of the original; that’s not what I am looking for.”

What the judges on American Idol and the judges who are reviewing your resume and candidacy are looking for more than anything else is what sets you apart in the competition. This is the most important thing to consider when you prepare your resume and when preparing and delivering answers to questions you’re likely to be asked on an interview. Remember, one misstep and you will find yourself in the ‘Bottom Three’.

Next and equally important to job seekers is that the judges are looking for someone who has the combination of talent and presence. This too is the key to a winning resume and job interview. Having one without the other also lands you in the ‘Bottom Three’. Early on in the process having this deficiency you may still make it to the next level. However in the end you won’t be selected the overall winner.

Whether you too are an Idol fan or not I hope these pointers help you in your job search; and if you have any questions about your resume or job search strategies please feel free to contact me. (


Perry Newman, CPC CSMS is a nationally recognized executive resume writer, career coach, AIPC certified recruiter and SMMU certified social media strategist known for his ability to help his clients get results. You can view sample resumes at and email him your resume at for FREE telephone resume critique.

Posted via web from Encouragement For You